I, Paul, make a personal request to you with the gentleness and kindness of Christ. I'm shy when I'm with you, but I'm bossy when I'm away from you!
I beg you that when I'm with you in person, I won't have to boss you around. I'm afraid that I may have to use that kind of behavior with those people who think we live by human standards.
Although we live in the world, we don't fight our battles with human methods.
Our weapons that we fight with aren't human, but instead they are powered by God for the destruction of fortresses. They destroy arguments,
and every defense that is raised up to oppose the knowledge of God. They capture every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
Once your obedience is complete, we are ready to punish any disobedience.
Look at what is right in front of you! If anyone is sure about belonging to Christ, that person should think again. We belong to Christ just like that person.
Even if I went on to brag about our authority, I wouldn't be ashamed of it. The Lord gave us that authority to build you up and not to destroy you.
I don't want it to seem like I'm trying to intimidate you with my letters.
I know what some people are saying: "His letters are severe and powerful, but in person he is weak and his speech is worth nothing."
These people need to think about this—that when we are with you, our actions will show that we are the same as the words we wrote when we were away from you.
We won't dare to place ourselves in the same league or to compare ourselves with some of those who are promoting themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves, and compare themselves with themselves, they have no understanding.
We won't take pride in anything more than what is appropriate. Let's look at the boundaries of our work area that God has assigned to us. It's an area that includes you.
We aren't going out of bounds, as if our work area doesn't extend as far as you. We were the first ones to travel as far as Corinth with the gospel of Christ.
We don't take pride in what other people do outside of our boundaries. We hope that our work will be extended even more by you as your faith grows, until it expands fully (within the boundaries, of course).
We hope that our work grows even to the point of the gospel being preached in places beyond Corinth, without bragging about what has already been done in another person's work area.
But, the one who brags should brag in the Lord.
It isn't the person who promotes himself or herself who is approved but the person whom the Lord commends.