1 We know that if the life we live here on earth is ever taken down like a tent, we still have a building from God. It is an eternal house in heaven that isn't made by human hands. 2 In our present tent-like existence we sigh, since we long to put on the house we will have in heaven. 3 After we have put it on, we won't be naked. 4 While we are in this tent, we sigh. We feel distressed because we don't want to take off the tent, but we do want to put on the eternal house. Then [eternal] life will put an end to our mortal existence. 5 God has prepared us for this and has given us his Spirit to guarantee it. 6 So we are always confident. We know that as long as we are living in these bodies, we are living away from the Lord. 7 Indeed, our lives are guided by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident and prefer to live away from this body and to live with the Lord. 9 Whether we live in the body or move out of it, our goal is to be pleasing to him. 10 All of us must appear in front of Christ's judgment seat. Then all people will receive what they deserve for the good or evil they have done while living in their bodies. 11 As people who know what it means to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. God already knows what we are, and I hope that you also know what we are. 12 We are not trying to show you our qualifications again, but we are giving you an opportunity to be proud of us. Then you can answer those who are proud of their appearance rather than their character. 13 So if we were crazy, it was for God. If we are sane, it is for you. 14 Clearly, Christ's love guides us. We are convinced of the fact that one man has died for all people. Therefore, all people have died. 15 He died for all people so that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for the man who died and was brought back to life for them. 16 So from now on we don't think of anyone from a human point of view. If we did think of Christ from a human point of view, we don't anymore. 17 Whoever is a believer in Christ is a new creation. The old way of living has disappeared. A new way of living has come into existence. 18 God has done all this. He has restored our relationship with him through Christ, and has given us this ministry of restoring relationships. 19 In other words, God was using Christ to restore his relationship with humanity. He didn't hold people's faults against them, and he has given us this message of restored relationships to tell others. 20 Therefore, we are Christ's representatives, and through us God is calling you. We beg you on behalf of Christ to become reunited with God. 21 God had Christ, who was sinless, take our sin so that we might receive God's approval through him.
1 Since we are God's coworkers, we urge you not to let God's kindness be wasted on you. 2 God says, "At the right time I heard you. On the day of salvation I helped you." Listen, now is God's acceptable time! Now is the day of salvation! 3 We don't give people any opportunity to find fault with how we serve. 4 Instead, our lives demonstrate that we are God's servants. We have endured many things: suffering, distress, anxiety, 5 beatings, imprisonments, riots, hard work, sleepless nights, and lack of food. 6 [People can see] our purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit's presence [in our lives], our sincere love, 7 truthfulness, and the presence of God's power. We demonstrate that we are God's servants 8 as we are praised and dishonored, as we are slandered and honored, and as we use what is right to attack what is wrong and to defend the truth. We are treated as dishonest although we are honest, 9 as unknown although we are well-known, as dying although, as you see, we go on living. We are punished, but we are not killed. 10 People think we are sad although we're always glad, that we're beggars although we make many people spiritually rich, that we have nothing although we possess everything. 11 We have been very open in speaking to you Corinthians. We have a place for you in our hearts. 12 We haven't cut you off. Your own emotions have cut you off [from us]. 13 I'm talking to you as I would talk to children. Treat us the same way we've treated you. Make a place for us in your hearts too. 14 Stop forming inappropriate relationships with unbelievers. Can right and wrong be partners? Can light have anything in common with darkness? 15 Can Christ agree with the devil? Can a believer share life with an unbeliever? 16 Can God's temple contain false gods? Clearly, we are the temple of the living God. As God said, "I will live and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people." 17 The Lord says, "Get away from unbelievers. Separate yourselves from them. Have nothing to do with anything unclean. Then I will welcome you." 18 The Lord Almighty says, "I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters."
1 Since we have these promises, dear friends, we need to cleanse ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit and live a holy life in the fear of God. 2 Open your hearts to us. We haven't treated anyone unjustly, ruined anyone, or cheated anyone. 3 I'm not saying this to condemn you. I've already told you that you are in our hearts so that we will live and die together. 4 I have great confidence in you, and I have a lot of reasons to be proud of you. Even as we suffer, I'm encouraged and feel very happy. 5 Ever since we arrived in the province of Macedonia, we've had no rest. Instead, we suffer in a number of ways. Outwardly we have conflicts, and inwardly we have fears. 6 Yet God, who comforts those who are dejected, comforted us when Titus arrived. 7 We were comforted not only by his arrival but also by learning about the comfort he had received while he was with you. He told us how you wanted to see me, how sorry you are for what you've done, and how concerned you are about me. This made me even happier. 8 If my letter made you uncomfortable, I'm not sorry. But since my letter did make you uncomfortable for a while, I was sorry. 9 But I'm happy now, not because I made you uncomfortable, but because the distress I caused you has led you to change the way you think and act. You were distressed in a godly way, so we haven't done you any harm. 10 In fact, to be distressed in a godly way causes people to change the way they think and act and leads them to be saved. No one can regret that. But the distress that the world causes brings only death. 11 When you became distressed in a godly way, look at how much devotion it caused you to have. You were ready to clear yourselves of the charges against you. You were disgusted with the wrong that had been done. You were afraid. You wanted to see us. You wanted to show your concern for us. You were ready to punish the wrong that had been done. In every way you have demonstrated that you are people who are innocent in this matter. 12 So, when I wrote to you, I didn't write because of the man who did the wrong or the man who was hurt by it. Rather, I wrote because I wanted you to show your devotion to us in God's sight. 13 This is what has comforted us. In addition to being comforted, we were especially pleased to see how happy Titus was. All of you had put his mind at ease. 14 I didn't have to be ashamed of anything I had said to him when I bragged about you. Since everything we told you was true, our bragging to Titus has also proved to be true. 15 His deepest feelings go out to you even more as he remembers how obedient all of you were, and how you welcomed him with fear and trembling. 16 I'm pleased that I can be confident about you in every way.
1 Brothers and sisters, we want you to know how God showed his kindness to the churches in the province of Macedonia. 2 While they were being severely tested by suffering, their overflowing joy, along with their extreme poverty, has made them even more generous. 3 I assure you that by their own free will they have given all they could, even more than they could afford. 4 They made an appeal to us, begging us to let them participate in the ministry of God's kindness to his holy people [in Jerusalem]. 5 They did more than we had expected. First, they gave themselves to the Lord and to us, since this was God's will. 6 This led us to urge Titus to finish his work of God's kindness among you in the same way as he had already started it. 7 Indeed, the more your faith, your ability to speak, your knowledge, your dedication, and your love for us increase, the more we want you to participate in this work of God's kindness. 8 I'm not commanding you, but I'm testing how genuine your love is by pointing out the dedication of others. 9 You know about the kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ. He was rich, yet for your sake he became poor in order to make you rich through his poverty. 10 I'm giving you my opinion because it will be helpful to you. Last year you were not only willing [to take a collection] but had already started to do it. 11 So finish what you began to do. Then your willingness will be matched by what you accomplish 12 with whatever contributions you have. Since you are willing to do this, [remember] that people are accepted if they give what they are able to give. God doesn't ask for what they don't have. 13 I don't mean that others should have relief while you have hardship. Rather, it's a matter of striking a balance. 14 At the present time, your surplus fills their need so that their surplus may fill your need. In this way things balance out. 15 This is what Scripture says: "Those who had gathered a lot didn't have too much, and those who gathered a little didn't have too little." 16 I thank God for making Titus as dedicated to you as I am. 17 He accepted my request and eagerly went to visit you by his own free will. 18 With him we have sent our Christian brother whom all the churches praise for the way he tells the Good News. 19 More than that, the churches elected him to travel with us and bring this gift of God's kindness. We are administering it in a way that brings glory to the Lord and shows that we are doing it willingly. 20 We don't want anyone to find fault with the way we are administering this generous gift. 21 We intend to do what is right, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of people. 22 We have also sent with them our Christian brother whom we have often tested in many ways and found to be a dedicated worker. We find that he is much more dedicated now than ever because he has so much confidence in you. 23 If any questions are raised, remember that Titus is my partner and coworker to help you. The other men are representatives of the churches and bring glory to Christ. 24 So give these men a demonstration of your love. Show their congregations that we were right to be proud of you.
1 I don't need to write anything further to you about helping the Christians [in Jerusalem]. 2 I know how willing you are to help, and I brag about you to the believers in the province of Macedonia. I tell them, "The people of Greece have been ready [to send their collection] since last year," and your enthusiasm has moved most of them [to act]. 3 I've sent my coworkers so that when we brag that you're ready, we can back it up. 4 Otherwise, if any Macedonians come with me, they might find out that you're not ready after all. This would embarrass us for feeling so confident as much as it would embarrass you. 5 So I thought that I should encourage our coworkers to visit you before I do and make arrangements for this gift that you had already promised to give. Then it will be the blessing it was intended to be, and it won't be something you're forced to do. 6 Remember this: The farmer who plants a few seeds will have a very small harvest. But the farmer who plants because he has received God's blessings will receive a harvest of God's blessings in return. 7 Each of you should give whatever you have decided. You shouldn't be sorry that you gave or feel forced to give, since God loves a cheerful giver. 8 Besides, God will give you his constantly overflowing kindness. Then, when you always have everything you need, you can do more and more good things. 9 Scripture says, "The righteous person gives freely to the poor. His righteousness continues forever." 10 God gives seed to the farmer and food to those who need to eat. God will also give you seed and multiply it. In your lives he will increase the things you do that have his approval. 11 God will make you rich enough so that you can always be generous. Your generosity will produce thanksgiving to God because of us. 12 What you do to serve others not only provides for the needs of God's people, but also produces more and more prayers of thanksgiving to God. 13 You will honor God through this genuine act of service because of your commitment to spread the Good News of Christ and because of your generosity in sharing with them and everyone else. 14 With deep affection they will pray for you because of the extreme kindness that God has shown you. 15 I thank God for his gift that words cannot describe.