Now I, Paul, plead with you. I plead with the gentleness and kindness that Christ himself would use, even though some of you say I am bold in my letters but timid in person.
I hope it won't be necessary, but when I come I may have to be very bold with those who think we act from purely human motives.
We are human, but we don't wage war with human plans and methods.
We use God's mighty weapons, not mere worldly weapons, to knock down the Devil's strongholds.
With these weapons we break down every proud argument that keeps people from knowing God. With these weapons we conquer their rebellious ideas, and we teach them to obey Christ.
And we will punish those who remained disobedient after the rest of you became loyal and obedient.
The trouble with you is that you make your decisions on the basis of appearance. a You must recognize that we belong to Christ just as much as those who proudly declare that they belong to Christ.
I may seem to be boasting too much about the authority given to us by the Lord. But this authority is to build you up, not to tear you down. And I will not be put to shame by having my work among you destroyed.
Now this is not just an attempt to frighten you by my letters.
For some say, "Don't worry about Paul. His letters are demanding and forceful, but in person he is weak, and his speeches are really bad!"
The ones who say this must realize that we will be just as demanding and forceful in person as we are in our letters.
Oh, don't worry; I wouldn't dare say that I am as wonderful as these other men who tell you how important they are! But they are only comparing themselves with each other, and measuring themselves by themselves. What foolishness!
But we will not boast of authority we do not have. Our goal is to stay within the boundaries of God's plan for us, and this plan includes our working there with you.
We are not going too far when we claim authority over you, for we were the first to travel all the way to you with the Good News of Christ.
Nor do we claim credit for the work someone else has done. Instead, we hope that your faith will grow and that our work among you will be greatly enlarged.
Then we will be able to go and preach the Good News in other places that are far beyond you, where no one else is working. Then there will be no question about being in someone else's territory.
As the Scriptures say, "The person who wishes to boast should boast only of what the Lord has done." b18
When people boast about themselves, it doesn't count for much. But when the Lord commends someone, that's different!
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)