Their Ministry Commended
1 Working together with Him, we strongly urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain [by turning away from sound doctrine and His merciful kindness].2 For He says,
“At the acceptable time (the time of grace) I listened to you,
And I helped you on the day of salvation.”
Behold, now is “the acceptable time,” behold, now is “the day of salvation”--
3 we put no obstruction in anyone’s path, so that the ministry will not be discredited,4 but we commend ourselves in every way as servants of God: in great endurance, in sufferings, in hardships, in distresses,5 in beatings, in imprisonments, in riots, in labors, in sleepless nights, in hunger,6 in purity and sincerity, in knowledge and spiritual insight, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love,7 in [speaking] the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand [like holding the sword to attack] and for the left [like holding the shield to defend],8 amid glory and dishonor; by evil report and good report; branded as deceivers and yet [vindicated as] truthful;9 as unknown [to the world], yet well-known [by God and His people]; as dying, yet we live; as punished, yet not killed;10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet bestowing riches on many; as having nothing, yet possessing all things.
11 We are speaking freely to you, Corinthians [we are keeping nothing back], and our heart is opened wide. 12 There is no limit to our affection for you, but you are limited in your own affection [for us].13 Now in the same way as a fair exchange [for our love toward you]--I am speaking as [I would] to children--open wide [your hearts] to us also.
14 Do not be unequally bound together with unbelievers [do not make mismatched alliances with them, inconsistent with your faith]. For what partnership can righteousness have with lawlessness? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?15 What harmony can there be between Christ and Belial (Satan)? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said:
“I will dwell among them and walk among them;
And I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
17 “So come out from among unbelievers and be separate,” says the Lord,
“And do not touch what is unclean;
And I will graciously receive you and welcome you [with favor],
18 And I will be a Father to you,
And you will be My sons and daughters,”
Says the Lord Almighty.