Paul speaks about his work as Christ's servant
1I, Paul, myself am asking you something strongly. Some people say that, when I am present there with you, I am weak. They say that I am afraid to speak strong, angry words to you. But when I am away from you, I am brave enough to speak very strongly to you. That is what they say about me. But still, it is I who am asking you this. And I am asking it because Christ himself is so patient and so kind. 2This is what I am asking. When I come to visit you, do not make me have to say angry words to you. Do not make me angry, as some people make me angry. Some people think that we live by our own human power. So, I am sure that I will have to speak angry words to them.
3It is true that we are human. We live in human bodies. But we do not fight by our own human power. 4We do not use human weapons to fight God's war. Instead, we use the weapons that come from God. These weapons are powerful enough to destroy the enemy's strong places. With these weapons, we destroy wrong ideas that people think. 5We pull down every high thing that tries to stop people from knowing God. With these weapons, we take hold of every thought and we bring it to obey Christ. 6You must obey completely everything that we have explained to you. And then we will be ready to punish anyone who will not obey God.
7You are looking at things only as they seem to be on the outside. Anyone who is sure that he is Christ's should think again about himself. In the same way that he is Christ's, so we are Christ's. He should remember that we are Christ's also. 8Maybe I say too many great things about the authority that the Lord has given to us. But I am not ashamed to say those things. He gave that authority to us so that we could help you to become stronger. He did not give it so that we could destroy you.
9I do not want you to think that I am trying to frighten you by my letters. 10Some people say: ‘Paul's letters are very serious and strong, and his words are powerful. But when he is here with us, he is weak. And it is not worth listening to the words that he speaks.’ 11Anyone who says things like that should understand this. He should understand that there is no difference. We write certain things in our letters when we are away from you. And we will do certain things when we are present there with you. And those things are the same. There is no difference between them.
12Some people say how very good and clever they themselves are. But we are not brave enough to include ourselves with them. We would not even want anyone to think that we were like those people. Those people are fools. They see what each other is like. Then, as a result, they decide how good they themselves are. They decide that only among themselves. So, they are fools. 13But we will not say any good things about ourselves that are not proper. We will say good things only about the work that God has chosen to give to us. And that includes our work among you. 14We are not trying to do anything more than what God has given to us to do. If we had not visited you, then we would be trying to do more. But we did come as far as where you are to tell the good news about Christ.
15We do not say good things about ourselves as a result of other people's work. That would not be proper. Instead, we hope that you will continue to believe more and more strongly. Then, as a result, our proper work among you will become much greater. 16We hope to tell the good news to people in places beyond where you are. But we will not say good things about ourselves as a result of work that other people have done already. That is their proper work; it is not ours. 17But, as it says in the Bible:
‘If a person says good and great things about anyone,
they should speak only about the Lord.
That person should say how good and great the Lord is.’
18If someone says good things about himself, that does not really matter. But if the Lord says good things about a person, that does really matter. That means that the person has really done well.