1 We know that our body -- the tent we live in here on earth -- will be destroyed. But when that happens, God will have a house for us. It will not be a house made by human hands; instead, it will be a home in heaven that will last forever. 2 But now we groan in this tent. We want God to give us our heavenly home, 3 because it will clothe us so we will not be naked. 4 While we live in this body, we have burdens, and we groan. We do not want to be naked, but we want to be clothed with our heavenly home. Then this body that dies will be fully covered with life. 5 This is what God made us for, and he has given us the Spirit to be a guarantee for this new life. 6 So we always have courage. We know that while we live in this body, we are away from the Lord. 7 We live by what we believe, not by what we can see. 8 So I say that we have courage. We really want to be away from this body and be at home with the Lord. 9 Our only goal is to please God whether we live here or there, 10 because we must all stand before Christ to be judged. Each of us will receive what we should get -- good or bad -- for the things we did in the earthly body. 11 Since we know what it means to fear the Lord, we try to help people accept the truth about us. God knows what we really are, and I hope that in your hearts you know, too. 12 We are not trying to prove ourselves to you again, but we are telling you about ourselves so you will be proud of us. Then you will have an answer for those who are proud about things that can be seen rather than what is in the heart. 13 If we are out of our minds, it is for God. If we have our right minds, it is for you. 14 The love of Christ controls us, because we know that One died for all, so all have died. 15 Christ died for all so that those who live would not continue to live for themselves. He died for them and was raised from the dead so that they would live for him. 16 From this time on we do not think of anyone as the world does. In the past we thought of Christ as the world thinks, but we no longer think of him in that way. 17 If anyone belongs to Christ, there is a new creation. The old things have gone; everything is made new! 18 All this is from God. Through Christ, God made peace between us and himself, and God gave us the work of telling everyone about the peace we can have with him. 19 God was in Christ, making peace between the world and himself. In Christ, God did not hold the world guilty of its sins. And he gave us this message of peace. 20 So we have been sent to speak for Christ. It is as if God is calling to you through us. We speak for Christ when we beg you to be at peace with God. 21 Christ had no sin, but God made him become sin so that in Christ we could become right with God.
1 We are workers together with God, so we beg you: Do not let the grace that you received from God be for nothing. 2 God says, "At the right time I heard your prayers. On the day of salvation I helped you." I tell you that the "right time" is now, and the "day of salvation" is now. 3 We do not want anyone to find fault with our work, so nothing we do will be a problem for anyone. 4 But in every way we show we are servants of God: in accepting many hard things, in troubles, in difficulties, and in great problems. 5 We are beaten and thrown into prison. We meet those who become upset with us and start riots. We work hard, and sometimes we get no sleep or food. 6 We show we are servants of God by our pure lives, our understanding, patience, and kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by true love, 7 by speaking the truth, and by God's power. We use our right living to defend ourselves against everything. 8 Some people honor us, but others blame us. Some people say evil things about us, but others say good things. Some people say we are liars, but we speak the truth. 9 We are not known, but we are well known. We seem to be dying, but we continue to live. We are punished, but we are not killed. 10 We have much sadness, but we are always rejoicing. We are poor, but we are making many people rich in faith. We have nothing, but really we have everything. 11 We have spoken freely to you in Corinth and have opened our hearts to you. 12 Our feelings of love for you have not stopped, but you have stopped your feelings of love for us. 13 I speak to you as if you were my children. Do to us as we have done -- open your hearts to us. 14 You are not the same as those who do not believe. So do not join yourselves to them. Good and bad do not belong together. Light and darkness cannot share together. 15 How can Christ and Belial, the devil, have any agreement? What can a believer have together with a nonbeliever? 16 The temple of God cannot have any agreement with idols, and we are the temple of the living God. As God said: "I will live with them and walk with them. And I will be their God, and they will be my people." 17 "Leave those people, and be separate, says the Lord. Touch nothing that is unclean, and I will accept you." 18 "I will be your father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty."
1 Dear friends, we have these promises from God, so we should make ourselves pure -- free from anything that makes body or soul unclean. We should try to become holy in the way we live, because we respect God. 2 Open your hearts to us. We have not done wrong to anyone, we have not ruined the faith of anyone, and we have not cheated anyone. 3 I do not say this to blame you. I told you before that we love you so much we would live or die with you. 4 I feel very sure of you and am very proud of you. You give me much comfort, and in all of our troubles I have great joy. 5 When we came into Macedonia, we had no rest. We found trouble all around us. We had fighting on the outside and fear on the inside. 6 But God, who comforts those who are troubled, comforted us when Titus came. 7 We were comforted, not only by his coming but also by the comfort you gave him. Titus told us about your wish to see me and that you are very sorry for what you did. He also told me about your great care for me, and when I heard this, I was much happier. 8 Even if my letter made you sad, I am not sorry I wrote it. At first I was sorry, because it made you sad, but you were sad only for a short time. 9 Now I am happy, not because you were made sad, but because your sorrow made you change your lives. You became sad in the way God wanted you to, so you were not hurt by us in any way. 10 The kind of sorrow God wants makes people change their hearts and lives. This leads to salvation, and you cannot be sorry for that. But the kind of sorrow the world has brings death. 11 See what this sorrow -- the sorrow God wanted you to have -- has done to you: It has made you very serious. It made you want to prove you were not wrong. It made you angry and afraid. It made you want to see me. It made you care. It made you want the right thing to be done. You proved you were innocent in the problem. 12 I wrote that letter, not because of the one who did the wrong or because of the person who was hurt. I wrote the letter so you could see, before God, the great care you have for us. 13 That is why we were comforted. Not only were we very comforted, we were even happier to see that Titus was so happy. All of you made him feel much better. 14 I bragged to Titus about you, and you showed that I was right. Everything we said to you was true, and you have proved that what we bragged about to Titus is true. 15 And his love for you is stronger when he remembers that you were all ready to obey. You welcomed him with respect and fear. 16 I am very happy that I can trust you fully.
1 And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace God gave the churches in Macedonia. 2 They have been tested by great troubles, and they are very poor. But they gave much because of their great joy. 3 I can tell you that they gave as much as they were able and even more than they could afford. No one told them to do it. 4 But they begged and pleaded with us to let them share in this service for God's people. 5 And they gave in a way we did not expect: They first gave themselves to the Lord and to us. This is what God wants. 6 So we asked Titus to help you finish this special work of grace since he is the one who started it. 7 You are rich in everything -- in faith, in speaking, in knowledge, in truly wanting to help, and in the love you learned from us. In the same way, be strong also in the grace of giving. 8 I am not commanding you to give. But I want to see if your love is true by comparing you with others that really want to help. 9 You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. You know that Christ was rich, but for you he became poor so that by his becoming poor you might become rich. 10 This is what I think you should do: Last year you were the first to want to give, and you were the first who gave. 11 So now finish the work you started. Then your "doing" will be equal to your "wanting to do." Give from what you have. 12 If you want to give, your gift will be accepted. It will be judged by what you have, not by what you do not have. 13 We do not want you to have troubles while other people are at ease, but we want everything to be equal. 14 At this time you have plenty. What you have can help others who are in need. Then later, when they have plenty, they can help you when you are in need, and all will be equal. 15 As it is written in the Scriptures, "The person who gathered more did not have too much, nor did the person who gathered less have too little." 16 I thank God because he gave Titus the same love for you that I have. 17 Titus accepted what we asked him to do. He wanted very much to go to you, and this was his own idea. 18 We are sending with him the brother who is praised by all the churches because of his service in preaching the Good News. 19 Also, this brother was chosen by the churches to go with us when we deliver this gift of money. We are doing this service to bring glory to the Lord and to show that we really want to help. 20 We are being careful so that no one will criticize us for the way we are handling this large gift. 21 We are trying hard to do what the Lord accepts as right and also what people think is right. 22 Also, we are sending with them our brother, who is always ready to help. He has proved this to us in many ways, and he wants to help even more now, because he has much faith in you. 23 Now about Titus -- he is my partner who is working with me to help you. And about the other brothers -- they are sent from the churches, and they bring glory to Christ. 24 So show these men the proof of your love and the reason we are proud of you. Then all the churches can see it.
1 I really do not need to write you about this help for God's people. 2 I know you want to help. I have been bragging about this to the people in Macedonia, telling them that you in Southern Greece have been ready to give since last year. And your desire to give has made most of them ready to give also. 3 But I am sending the brothers to you so that our bragging about you in this will not be empty words. I want you to be ready, as I said you would be. 4 If any of the people from Macedonia come with me and find that you are not ready, we will be ashamed that we were so sure of you. (And you will be ashamed, too!) 5 So I thought I should ask these brothers to go to you before we do. They will finish getting in order the generous gift you promised so it will be ready when we come. And it will be a generous gift -- not one that you did not want to give. 6 Remember this: The person who plants a little will have a small harvest, but the person who plants a lot will have a big harvest. 7 Each one should give as you have decided in your heart to give. You should not be sad when you give, and you should not give because you feel forced to give. God loves the person who gives happily. 8 And God can give you more blessings than you need. Then you will always have plenty of everything -- enough to give to every good work. 9 It is written in the Scriptures: "He gives freely to the poor. The things he does are right and will continue forever." 10 God is the One who gives seed to the farmer and bread for food. He will give you all the seed you need and make it grow so there will be a great harvest from your goodness. 11 He will make you rich in every way so that you can always give freely. And your giving through us will cause many to give thanks to God. 12 This service you do not only helps the needs of God's people, it also brings many more thanks to God. 13 It is a proof of your faith. Many people will praise God because you obey the Good News of Christ -- the gospel you say you believe -- and because you freely share with them and with all others. 14 And when they pray, they will wish they could be with you because of the great grace that God has given you. 15 Thanks be to God for his gift that is too wonderful for words.