The Collection for Christians in Jerusalem
9 Now lit is superfluous for me to write to you about mthe ministry for the saints, 2 for I know your readiness, nof which I boast about you to the people of Macedonia, saying that Achaia has been ready osince last year. And your zeal has stirred up most of them. 3 But pI am sending1 the brothers so that our boasting about you may not prove empty in this matter, so that you may be ready, qas I said you would be. 4 Otherwise, if some Macedonians rcome with me and find that you are not ready, we would be humiliated—to say nothing of you—for being so confident. 5 So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to go on ahead to you and arrange in advance for the sgift2 you have promised, so that it may be ready tas a willing gift, unot as an exaction.3
The Cheerful Giver
6 The point is this: vwhoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully4 will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, wnot reluctantly or under compulsion, for xGod loves a cheerful giver. 8 And yGod is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency5 in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. 9 As it is written,
z“He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor;
his righteousness endures forever.”
10 He who supplies aseed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and bincrease the harvest of your righteousness. 11 cYou will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which dthrough us will produce thanksgiving to God. 12 For the ministry of this service is not only supplying ethe needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. 13 By their approval of this service, fthey6 will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your gconfession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, 14 while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. 15 hThanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!
Paul Defends His Ministry
10 iI, Paul, myself entreat you, by the jmeekness and gentleness of Christ—I who am humble when face to face with you, but bold toward you when I am away!— 2 I beg of you kthat when I am present I may not have to show lboldness with such confidence as I count on showing against some who suspect us of walking according to the flesh. 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the mweapons of nour warfare are not of the flesh but have odivine power pto destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and qevery lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to robey Christ, 6 sbeing ready to punish every disobedience, twhen your obedience is complete.
7 uLook at what is before your eyes. vIf anyone is confident that he is Christ’s, let him remind himself that just as whe is Christ’s, xso also are we. 8 For even if I boast a little too much of your authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you, I will not be ashamed. 9 I do not want to appear to be frightening you with my letters. 10 For they say, “His letters are weighty and strong, but zhis bodily presence is weak, and ahis speech of no account.” 11 Let such a person understand that what we say by letter when absent, we do when present. 12 Not that we dare to classify or bcompare ourselves with some of those who care commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are dwithout understanding.
13 But we will not boast ebeyond limits, but will fboast only with regard to the area of influence God assigned to us, gto reach even to you. 14 For we are not overextending ourselves, as though we did not reach you. hFor we were the first to come all the way to you with the gospel of Christ. 15 We do not boast beyond limit in the labors of others. But our hope is that ias your faith increases, our area of influence among you may be jgreatly enlarged, 16 so that we may preach the gospel in lands beyond you, without boasting of work already done in another’s area of influence. 17 “Let kthe one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 18 For it is lnot the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one mwhom the Lord commends.
Paul and the False Apostles
11 I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me! 2 For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since nI betrothed you to one husband, oto present you pas a pure virgin to Christ. 3 But I am afraid that qas the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts rwill be led astray from a ssincere and tpure devotion to Christ. 4 For if someone comes and uproclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept va different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. 5 Indeed, I consider that wI am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles. 6 xEven if I am unskilled in speaking, yI am not so in knowledge; indeed, in every way zwe have made this plain to you in all things.
7 Or adid I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because bI preached God’s gospel to you free of charge? 8 I robbed other churches by accepting support from them in order to serve you. 9 And when I was with you and was cin need, dI did not burden anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia esupplied my need. So I refrained and will refrain ffrom burdening you in any way. 10 gAs the truth of Christ is in me, this boasting of mine hwill not be silenced in the regions of Achaia. 11 And why? iBecause I do not love you? jGod knows I do!
12 And what I am doing I will continue to do, kin order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. 13 For such men are lfalse apostles, mdeceitful workmen, ndisguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as oan angel of light. 15 So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as pservants of righteousness. qTheir end will correspond to their deeds.
Paul’s Sufferings as an Apostle
16 I repeat, rlet no one think me foolish. But even if you do, accept me as a fool, so that I too may boast a little. 17 What I am saying swith this boastful confidence, tI say not as the Lord would1 but as a fool. 18 Since umany boast according to the flesh, I too will boast. 19 For you gladly bear with fools, vbeing wise yourselves! 20 For you bear it if someone wmakes slaves of you, or xdevours you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or ystrikes you in the face. 21 To my shame, I must say, zwe were too weak for that!
But whatever anyone else dares to boast of—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast of that. 22 Are they Hebrews? aSo am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they offspring of Abraham? So am I. 23 Are they bservants of Christ? cI am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, dfar more imprisonments, ewith countless beatings, and foften near death. 24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the gforty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was hbeaten with rods. iOnce I was stoned. Three times I jwas shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, kdanger from my own people, ldanger from Gentiles, mdanger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27 nin toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, oin hunger and thirst, often without food,2 in cold and exposure. 28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for pall the churches. 29 qWho is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?
30 rIf I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 31 sThe God and Father of the Lord Jesus, the who is blessed forever, uknows that I am not lying. 32 At Damascus, the governor under King Aretas vwas guarding the city of Damascus in order to seize me, 33 wbut I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall and escaped his hands.
Paul’s Visions and His Thorn
12 I must go on boasting. Though there is nothing to be gained by it, I will go on to visions and xrevelations of the Lord. 2 I know a man yin Christ who fourteen years ago was zcaught up to athe third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, bGod knows. 3 And I know that this man was caught up into cparadise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, bGod knows— 4 and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. 5 On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, dexcept of my weaknesses— 6 though if I should wish to boast, eI would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth; but I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me. 7 So fto keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations,1 ga thorn was given me in the flesh, ha messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 iThree times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, j“My grace is sufficient for you, for kmy power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that lthe power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 mFor the sake of Christ, then, nI am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For owhen I am weak, then I am strong.
Concern for the Corinthian Church
11 pI have been a fool! You forced me to it, for I ought to have been commended by you. For I was qnot at all inferior to these super-apostles, reven though I am nothing. 12 sThe signs of a true apostle were performed among you twith utmost patience, with signs and wonders and mighty works. 13 For in what were you less favored than the rest of the churches, except that uI myself did not burden you? Forgive me this wrong!
14 Here vfor the third time I am ready to come to you. And I will not be a burden, for wI seek not what is yours but you. For xchildren are not obligated to save up for their parents, but yparents for their children. 15 zI will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls. If aI love you more, am I to be loved less? 16 But granting that bI myself did not burden you, I was crafty, you say, and got the better of you by deceit. 17 Did I take advantage of you cthrough any of those whom I sent to you? 18 dI urged Titus to go, and sent ethe brother with him. Did Titus take advantage of you? Did we not act in the same spirit? Did we not take the same steps?
19 Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? It is fin the sight of God that we have been speaking in Christ, and gall for your upbuilding, beloved. 20 For I fear that perhaps hwhen I come I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish—that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder. 21 I fear that when I come again my God may humble me before you, and I may have to mourn over many of those iwho sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, jsexual immorality, and sensuality that they have practiced.
13 kThis is the third time I am coming to you. Every charge must be established lby the evidence of two or three witnesses. 2 mI warned nthose who sinned before and all the others, and I warn them now while absent, as I did when present on my second visit, that oif I come again I will not spare them— 3 since you seek proof that Christ pis speaking in me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but qis powerful among you. 4 For rhe was crucified in weakness, but slives by the power of God. For twe also are weak in him, but in dealing with you uwe will live with him by the power of God.
5 Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. vTest yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that wJesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! 6 I hope you will find out that we have not failed the test. 7 But we pray to God that you may not do wrong—not that we may appear to have met the test, but that you may do what is right, though we may seem to have failed. 8 For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. 9 For we are glad when xwe are weak and you are strong. Your yrestoration is what we pray for. 10 For this reason I write these things while I am away from you, that when I come zI may not have to be asevere in my use of bthe authority that the Lord has given me for building up and not for tearing down.
11 Finally, brothers,1 rejoice. cAim for restoration, comfort one another,2 dagree with one another, elive in peace; and the God of love and fpeace will be with you. 12 gGreet one another with a holy kiss. 13 hAll the saints greet you.
14 iThe grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and jthe love of God and kthe fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.