Apostles Are Servants of Christ
1People should think of us as servants of Christ, the ones God has trusted with his secrets. 2Now in this way those who are trusted with something valuable must show they are worthy of that trust. 3As for myself, I do not care if I am judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself. 4I know of no wrong I have done, but this does not make me right before the Lord. The Lord is the One who judges me. 5So do not judge before the right time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light things that are now hidden in darkness, and will make known the secret purposes of people’s hearts. Then God will praise each one of them.
6Brothers and sisters, I have used Apollos and myself as examples so you could learn through us the meaning of the saying, “Follow only what is written in the Scriptures.” Then you will not be more proud of one person than another. 7Who says you are better than others? What do you have that was not given to you? And if it was given to you, why do you brag as if you did not receive it as a gift?
8You think you already have everything you need. You think you are rich. You think you have become kings without us. I wish you really were kings so we could be kings together with you. 9But it seems to me that God has put us apostles in last place, like those sentenced to die. We are like a show for the whole world to see—angels and people. 10We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are very wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You receive honor, but we are shamed. 11Even to this very hour we do not have enough to eat or drink or to wear. We are often beaten, and we have no homes in which to live. 12We work hard with our own hands for our food. When people curse us, we bless them. When they hurt us, we put up with it. 13When they tell evil lies about us, we speak nice words about them. Even today, we are treated as though we were the garbage of the world—the filth of the earth.
14I am not trying to make you feel ashamed. I am writing this to give you a warning as my own dear children. 15For though you may have ten thousand teachers in Christ, you do not have many fathers. Through the Good News I became your father in Christ Jesus, 16so I beg you, please follow my example. 17That is why I am sending to you Timothy, my son in the Lord. I love Timothy, and he is faithful. He will help you remember my way of life in Christ Jesus, just as I teach it in all the churches everywhere.
18Some of you have become proud, thinking that I will not come to you again. 19But I will come to you very soon if the Lord wishes. Then I will know what the proud ones do, not what they say, 20because the kingdom of God is present not in talk but in power. 21Which do you want: that I come to you with punishment or with love and gentleness?