1Christ is gentle and free of pride. So I make my appeal to you. I, Paul, am the one you call shy when I am face to face with you. But when I am away from you, you call me bold.2I beg you that when I come I won't have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people. They think that I live the way the people of this world live.3I do live in the world. But I don't fight my battles the way the people of the world do.4The weapons I fight with are not the weapons the world uses. In fact, it is just the opposite. My weapons have the power of God to destroy the camps of the enemy.5I destroy every claim and every reason that keeps people from knowing God. I keep every thought under control in order to make it obey Christ.6Until you have obeyed completely, I will be ready to punish you every time you don't obey.7You are looking only at what appears on the surface of things. Suppose you are sure you belong to Christ. Then you should consider again that I belong to Christ just as much as you do.8Do I brag too much about the authority the Lord gave me? If I do, it's because I want to build you up, not pull you down. And I'm not ashamed of that kind of bragging.9Don't think that I'm trying to scare you with my letters.10Some say, "His letters sound important. They are powerful. But in person he doesn't seem like much. And what he says doesn't amount to anything."11People like that have a lot to learn. What I say in my letters when I'm away from you, I will do in my actions when I'm with you.12I don't dare to compare myself with those who praise themselves. I'm not that kind of person. They measure themselves by themselves. They compare themselves with themselves. When they do that, they are not wise.13But I won't brag more than I should. Instead, I will brag only about what I have done in the area God has given me. It is an area that reaches all the way to you.14I am not going too far in my bragging. I would be going too far if I hadn't come to where you live. But I did get there with the good news about Christ.15And I won't brag about work done by others. If I did, I would be bragging more than I should. As your faith continues to grow, I hope that my work among you will greatly increase.16Then I will be able to preach the good news in the areas beyond you. I don't want to brag about work already done in someone else's territory.17But, "The one who brags should brag about what the Lord has done."(Jeremiah 9:24)18Those who praise themselves are not accepted. Those the Lord praises are accepted.
1I hope you will put up with a little of my foolish bragging. But you are already doing that.2My jealousy for you comes from God himself. I promised to give you to only one husband. That husband is Christ. I wanted to be able to give you to him as if you were a pure virgin.3But Eve was tricked by the snake's clever lies. And I'm afraid that in the same way your minds will somehow be led down the wrong path. They will be led away from your true and pure love for Christ.4Suppose someone comes to you and preaches about a Jesus different from the Jesus we preached about. Or suppose you receive a spirit different from the one you received before. Or suppose you receive a message of good news different from the one you accepted earlier. You put up with those kinds of things easily enough.5But I don't think I'm in any way less important than those "super-apostles."6I may not be a trained speaker. But I do have knowledge. I've made that very clear to you in every way.7When I preached God's good news to you free of charge, I put myself down in order to lift you up. Was that a sin?8Did I rob other churches when I received help from them so that I could serve you?9When I was with you and needed something, I didn't cause you any expense. The believers who came from Macedonia gave me what I needed. I haven't caused you any expense at all. And I won't ever do it.10I'm sure that the truth of Christ is in me. And I'm just as sure that nobody in Achaia will keep me from bragging.11Why? Because I don't love you? No! God knows I do!12And I will keep on doing what I'm doing. That will stop those who claim they have things to brag about. They think they have a chance to be considered equal with us.13People like that are false apostles. They work hard to trick others. They only pretend to be apostles of Christ.14That comes as no surprise. Even Satan himself pretends to be an angel of light.15So it doesn't surprise us that those who serve Satan pretend to be serving God. They will finally get exactly what they should.16I will say it again. Don't let anyone think I'm a fool. But if you do, receive me just as you would receive a fool. Then I can do a little bragging.17When I brag about myself like this, I'm not talking the way the Lord would. I'm talking like a fool.18Many are bragging the way the people of the world do. So I will brag like that too.19You are so wise! You gladly put up with fools!20In fact, you even put up with anyone who makes you a slave or uses you. You put up with those who take advantage of you. You put up with those who claim to be better than you. You put up with those who slap you in the face.21I'm ashamed to have to say that I was too weak for that! What anyone else dares to brag about, I also dare to brag about. I'm speaking like a fool!22Are they Hebrews? So am I. Do they belong to the people of Israel? So do I. Are they Abraham's children? So am I.23Are they serving Christ? I am serving him even more. I'm out of my mind to talk like this! I have worked much harder. I have been in prison more often. I have suffered terrible beatings. Again and again I almost died.24Five times the Jews gave me 39 strokes with a whip.25Three times I was beaten with sticks. Once they tried to kill me by throwing stones at me. Three times I was shipwrecked. I spent a night and a day in the open sea.26I have had to keep on the move. I have been in danger from rivers. I have been in danger from robbers. I have been in danger from people from my own country. I have been in danger from those who aren't Jews. I have been in danger in the city, in the country, and at sea. I have been in danger from people who pretended they were believers.27I have worked very hard. Often I have gone without sleep. I have been hungry and thirsty. Often I have gone without food. I have been cold and naked.28Besides everything else, every day I am concerned about all the churches. It is a very heavy load.29If anyone is weak, I feel weak. If anyone is led into sin, I burn on the inside.30If I have to brag, I will brag about the things that show how weak I am.31I am not lying. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus knows this. May God be praised forever.32In Damascus the governor who served under King Aretas had their city guarded. He wanted to arrest me.33But I was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall. So I slipped through the governor's hands.
1We can't gain anything by bragging. But I have to do it anyway. I am going to tell you what I've seen. I want to talk about what the Lord has shown me.2I know a believer in Christ who was taken up to the third heaven 14 years ago. I don't know if his body was taken up or not. Only God knows.3I don't know if that man was in his body or out of it. Only God knows. But I do know that4he was taken up to paradise. He heard things that couldn't be put into words. They were things that people aren't allowed to talk about.5I will brag about a man like that. But I won't brag about myself. I will brag only about how weak I am.6Suppose I decide to brag. That would not make me a fool, because I would be telling the truth. But I don't do it. Then no one will think more of me than he should because of what I do or say.7I could have become proud of myself because of the amazing and wonderful things God has shown me. So I was given a problem that caused pain in my body. It is a messenger from Satan to make me suffer.8Three times I begged the Lord to take it away from me.9But he said to me, "My grace is all you need. My power is strongest when you are weak." So I am very happy to brag about how weak I am. Then Christ's power can rest on me.10Because of how I suffered for Christ, I'm glad that I am weak. I am glad in hard times. I am glad when people say mean things about me. I am glad when things are difficult. And I am glad when people make me suffer. When I am weak, I am strong.11I have made a fool of myself. But you made me do it. You should have praised me. Even though I am nothing, I am in no way less important than the "super-apostles."12You can recognize apostles by the signs, wonders and miracles they do. Those things were faithfully done among you no matter what happened.13How were you less important than the other churches? The only difference was that I didn't cause you any expense. Forgive me for that wrong!14Now I am ready to visit you for the third time. I won't cause you any expense. I don't want what you have. What I really want is you. After all, children shouldn't have to save up for their parents. Parents should save up for their children.15So I will be very happy to spend everything I have for you. I will even spend myself. If I love you more, will you love me less?16In any case, I haven't caused you any expense. But I'm such a tricky fellow! I have caught you by tricking you!17Did I take advantage of you through any of the men I sent to you?18I asked Titus to go to you. And I sent our brother with him. Titus didn't take advantage of you, did he? Didn't I act in the same spirit? Didn't I follow the same path?19All this time, have you been thinking that I've been speaking up for myself? No, I've been speaking with God as my witness. I've been speaking like a believer in Christ. Dear friends, everything I do is to help you become stronger.20I'm afraid that when I come I won't find you as I want you to be. I'm afraid that you won't find me as you want me to be. I'm afraid there will be arguing, jealousy and fits of anger. I'm afraid you will separate into your own little groups. Then you will tell lies about each other. You will talk about each other. I'm afraid you will be proud and cause trouble.21I'm afraid that when I come again my God will put me to shame in front of you. Then I will be sad about many who sinned earlier and have not turned away from it. They have not turned away from uncleanness, sexual sins and wild living. They have done all those things.
1This will be my third visit to you. Scripture says, "Every matter must be proved by the words of two or three witnesses."(Deuteronomy 19:15)2I already warned you during my second visit. I now say it again while I'm away. When I return, I won't spare those who sinned earlier. I won't spare any of the others either.3You are asking me to prove that Christ is speaking through me. He is not weak in dealing with you. He is powerful among you.4It is true that Christ was nailed to the cross because he was weak. But he lives by God's power. In the same way, I share his weakness. But by God's power I will live with him to serve you.5Take a good look at yourselves to see if you are really believers. Test yourselves. Don't you realize that Christ Jesus is in you? Unless, of course, you fail the test!6I hope you will discover that I haven't failed the test.7I pray to God that you won't do anything wrong. I don't pray so that people will see that I have passed the test. Instead, I pray so that you will do what is right, even if it seems I have failed.8I can't do anything to stop the truth. I can only work for the truth.9I'm glad when I am weak but you are strong. I pray that you will become perfect.10That's why I write these things before I come to you. Then when I do come, I won't have to be hard on you when I use my authority. The Lord gave me the authority to build you up. He didn't give it to me to tear you down.11Finally, brothers and sisters, good-by. Try to be perfect. Pay attention to what I'm saying. Agree with one another. Live in peace. And the God who gives love and peace will be with you.12Greet one another with a holy kiss.13All of God's people send their greetings.14May the grace shown by the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love that God has given us, and the sharing of life brought about by the Holy Spirit be with you all.