The word of the LORD came to me:
"Son of man, confront Jerusalem with her detestable practices
and say, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says to Jerusalem: Your ancestry and birth were in the land of the Canaanites; your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite.
On the day you were born your cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water to make you clean, nor were you rubbed with salt or wrapped in cloths.
No one looked on you with pity or had compassion enough to do any of these things for you. Rather, you were thrown out into the open field, for on the day you were born you were despised.
" 'Then I passed by and saw you kicking about in your blood, and as you lay there in your blood I said to you, "Live!"
I made you grow like a plant of the field. You grew up and developed and became the most beautiful of jewels. Your breasts were formed and your hair grew, you who were naked and bare.
" 'Later I passed by, and when I looked at you and saw that you were old enough for love, I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness. I gave you my solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Sovereign LORD, and you became mine.
" 'I bathed you with water and washed the blood from you and put ointments on you.
I clothed you with an embroidered dress and put leather sandals on you. I dressed you in fine linen and covered you with costly garments.
I adorned you with jewelry: I put bracelets on your arms and a necklace around your neck,
and I put a ring on your nose, earrings on your ears and a beautiful crown on your head.
So you were adorned with gold and silver; your clothes were of fine linen and costly fabric and embroidered cloth. Your food was fine flour, honey and olive oil. You became very beautiful and rose to be a queen.
And your fame spread among the nations on account of your beauty, because the splendor I had given you made your beauty perfect, declares the Sovereign LORD.
" 'But you trusted in your beauty and used your fame to become a prostitute. You lavished your favors on anyone who passed by and your beauty became his.
You took some of your garments to make gaudy high places, where you carried on your prostitution. Such things should not happen, nor should they ever occur.
You also took the fine jewelry I gave you, the jewelry made of my gold and silver, and you made for yourself male idols and engaged in prostitution with them.
And you took your embroidered clothes to put on them, and you offered my oil and incense before them.
Also the food I provided for you--the fine flour, olive oil and honey I gave you to eat--you offered as fragrant incense before them. That is what happened, declares the Sovereign LORD.
" 'And you took your sons and daughters whom you bore to me and sacrificed them as food to the idols. Was your prostitution not enough?
You slaughtered my children and sacrificed them to the idols.
In all your detestable practices and your prostitution you did not remember the days of your youth, when you were naked and bare, kicking about in your blood.
" 'Woe! Woe to you, declares the Sovereign LORD. In addition to all your other wickedness,
you built a mound for yourself and made a lofty shrine in every public square.
At the head of every street you built your lofty shrines and degraded your beauty, offering your body with increasing promiscuity to anyone who passed by.
You engaged in prostitution with the Egyptians, your lustful neighbors, and provoked me to anger with your increasing promiscuity.
So I stretched out my hand against you and reduced your territory; I gave you over to the greed of your enemies, the daughters of the Philistines, who were shocked by your lewd conduct.
You engaged in prostitution with the Assyrians too, because you were insatiable; and even after that, you still were not satisfied.
Then you increased your promiscuity to include Babylonia, a land of merchants, but even with this you were not satisfied.
" 'How weak-willed you are, declares the Sovereign LORD, when you do all these things, acting like a brazen prostitute!
When you built your mounds at the head of every street and made your lofty shrines in every public square, you were unlike a prostitute, because you scorned payment.
" 'You adulterous wife! You prefer strangers to your own husband!
Every prostitute receives a fee, but you give gifts to all your lovers, bribing them to come to you from everywhere for your illicit favors.
So in your prostitution you are the opposite of others; no one runs after you for your favors. You are the very opposite, for you give payment and none is given to you.
" 'Therefore, you prostitute, hear the word of the LORD!
This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Because you poured out your wealth and exposed your nakedness in your promiscuity with your lovers, and because of all your detestable idols, and because you gave them your children's blood,
therefore I am going to gather all your lovers, with whom you found pleasure, those you loved as well as those you hated. I will gather them against you from all around and will strip you in front of them, and they will see all your nakedness.
I will sentence you to the punishment of women who commit adultery and who shed blood; I will bring upon you the blood vengeance of my wrath and jealous anger.
Then I will hand you over to your lovers, and they will tear down your mounds and destroy your lofty shrines. They will strip you of your clothes and take your fine jewelry and leave you naked and bare.
They will bring a mob against you, who will stone you and hack you to pieces with their swords.
They will burn down your houses and inflict punishment on you in the sight of many women. I will put a stop to your prostitution, and you will no longer pay your lovers.
Then my wrath against you will subside and my jealous anger will turn away from you; I will be calm and no longer angry.
" 'Because you did not remember the days of your youth but enraged me with all these things, I will surely bring down on your head what you have done, declares the Sovereign LORD. Did you not add lewdness to all your other detestable practices?
" 'Everyone who quotes proverbs will quote this proverb about you: "Like mother, like daughter."
You are a true daughter of your mother, who despised her husband and her children; and you are a true sister of your sisters, who despised their husbands and their children. Your mother was a Hittite and your father an Amorite.
Your older sister was Samaria, who lived to the north of you with her daughters; and your younger sister, who lived to the south of you with her daughters, was Sodom.
You not only walked in their ways and copied their detestable practices, but in all your ways you soon became more depraved than they.
As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, your sister Sodom and her daughters never did what you and your daughters have done.
" 'Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.
They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.
Samaria did not commit half the sins you did. You have done more detestable things than they, and have made your sisters seem righteous by all these things you have done.
Bear your disgrace, for you have furnished some justification for your sisters. Because your sins were more vile than theirs, they appear more righteous than you. So then, be ashamed and bear your disgrace, for you have made your sisters appear righteous.
" 'However, I will restore the fortunes of Sodom and her daughters and of Samaria and her daughters, and your fortunes along with them,
so that you may bear your disgrace and be ashamed of all you have done in giving them comfort.
And your sisters, Sodom with her daughters and Samaria with her daughters, will return to what they were before; and you and your daughters will return to what you were before.
You would not even mention your sister Sodom in the day of your pride,
before your wickedness was uncovered. Even so, you are now scorned by the daughters of Edom and all her neighbors and the daughters of the Philistines--all those around you who despise you.
You will bear the consequences of your lewdness and your detestable practices, declares the LORD.
" 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will deal with you as you deserve, because you have despised my oath by breaking the covenant.
Yet I will remember the covenant I made with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you.
Then you will remember your ways and be ashamed when you receive your sisters, both those who are older than you and those who are younger. I will give them to you as daughters, but not on the basis of my covenant with you.
So I will establish my covenant with you, and you will know that I am the LORD.
Then, when I make atonement for you for all you have done, you will remember and be ashamed and never again open your mouth because of your humiliation, declares the Sovereign LORD.' "
Now about the collection for God's people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do.
On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.
Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem.
If it seems advisable for me to go also, they will accompany me.
After I go through Macedonia, I will come to you--for I will be going through Macedonia.
Perhaps I will stay with you awhile, or even spend the winter, so that you can help me on my journey, wherever I go.
I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits.
But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost,
because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.
If Timothy comes, see to it that he has nothing to fear while he is with you, for he is carrying on the work of the Lord, just as I am.
No one, then, should refuse to accept him. Send him on his way in peace so that he may return to me. I am expecting him along with the brothers.
Now about our brother Apollos: I strongly urged him to go to you with the brothers. He was quite unwilling to go now, but he will go when he has the opportunity.
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.
Do everything in love.
You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints. I urge you, brothers,
to submit to such as these and to everyone who joins in the work, and labors at it.
I was glad when Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus arrived, because they have supplied what was lacking from you.
For they refreshed my spirit and yours also. Such men deserve recognition.
The churches in the province of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets at their house.
All the brothers here send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss.
I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand.
If anyone does not love the Lord --a curse be on him. Come, O Lord !
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.
My love to all of you in Christ Jesus. Amen.
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God in Corinth, together with all the saints throughout Achaia:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,
who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.
For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.
If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.
And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.
We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life.
Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.
He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us,
as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.
Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, in the holiness and sincerity that are from God. We have done so not according to worldly wisdom but according to God's grace.
For we do not write you anything you cannot read or understand. And I hope that,
as you have understood us in part, you will come to understand fully that you can boast of us just as we will boast of you in the day of the Lord Jesus.
Because I was confident of this, I planned to visit you first so that you might benefit twice.
I planned to visit you on my way to Macedonia and to come back to you from Macedonia, and then to have you send me on my way to Judea.
When I planned this, did I do it lightly? Or do I make my plans in a worldly manner so that in the same breath I say, "Yes, yes" and "No, no"?
But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not "Yes" and "No."
For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by me and Silas and Timothy, was not "Yes" and "No," but in him it has always been "Yes."
For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ. And so through him the "Amen" is spoken by us to the glory of God.
Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us,
set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
I call God as my witness that it was in order to spare you that I did not return to Corinth.
Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm.
The word of the LORD came to me:
"Son of man, set forth an allegory and tell the house of Israel a parable.
Say to them, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: A great eagle with powerful wings, long feathers and full plumage of varied colors came to Lebanon. Taking hold of the top of a cedar,
he broke off its topmost shoot and carried it away to a land of merchants, where he planted it in a city of traders.
" 'He took some of the seed of your land and put it in fertile soil. He planted it like a willow by abundant water,
and it sprouted and became a low, spreading vine. Its branches turned toward him, but its roots remained under it. So it became a vine and produced branches and put out leafy boughs.
" 'But there was another great eagle with powerful wings and full plumage. The vine now sent out its roots toward him from the plot where it was planted and stretched out its branches to him for water.
It had been planted in good soil by abundant water so that it would produce branches, bear fruit and become a splendid vine.'
"Say to them, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Will it thrive? Will it not be uprooted and stripped of its fruit so that it withers? All its new growth will wither. It will not take a strong arm or many people to pull it up by the roots.
Even if it is transplanted, will it thrive? Will it not wither completely when the east wind strikes it--wither away in the plot where it grew?' "
Then the word of the LORD came to me:
"Say to this rebellious house, 'Do you not know what these things mean?' Say to them: 'The king of Babylon went to Jerusalem and carried off her king and her nobles, bringing them back with him to Babylon.
Then he took a member of the royal family and made a treaty with him, putting him under oath. He also carried away the leading men of the land,
so that the kingdom would be brought low, unable to rise again, surviving only by keeping his treaty.
But the king rebelled against him by sending his envoys to Egypt to get horses and a large army. Will he succeed? Will he who does such things escape? Will he break the treaty and yet escape?
" 'As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, he shall die in Babylon, in the land of the king who put him on the throne, whose oath he despised and whose treaty he broke.
Pharaoh with his mighty army and great horde will be of no help to him in war, when ramps are built and siege works erected to destroy many lives.
He despised the oath by breaking the covenant. Because he had given his hand in pledge and yet did all these things, he shall not escape.
" 'Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: As surely as I live, I will bring down on his head my oath that he despised and my covenant that he broke.
I will spread my net for him, and he will be caught in my snare. I will bring him to Babylon and execute judgment upon him there because he was unfaithful to me.
All his fleeing troops will fall by the sword, and the survivors will be scattered to the winds. Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken.
" 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will take a shoot from the very top of a cedar and plant it; I will break off a tender sprig from its topmost shoots and plant it on a high and lofty mountain.
On the mountain heights of Israel I will plant it; it will produce branches and bear fruit and become a splendid cedar. Birds of every kind will nest in it; they will find shelter in the shade of its branches.
All the trees of the field will know that I the LORD bring down the tall tree and make the low tree grow tall. I dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish. " 'I the LORD have spoken, and I will do it.' "