Paul Defends His Authority
1Now I, Paul, appeal to you with the gentleness and kindness of Christ—though I realize you think I am timid in person and bold only when I write from far away. 2Well, I am begging you now so that when I come I won’t have to be bold with those who think we act from human motives.
3We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. 4# English translations divide verses 4 and 5 in various ways.We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. 5We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ. 6And after you have become fully obedient, we will punish everyone who remains disobedient.
7Look at the obvious facts.# Or You look at things only on the basis of appearance. Those who say they belong to Christ must recognize that we belong to Christ as much as they do. 8I may seem to be boasting too much about the authority given to us by the Lord. But our authority builds you up; it doesn’t tear you down. So I will not be ashamed of using my authority.
9I’m not trying to frighten you by my letters. 10For some say, “Paul’s letters are demanding and forceful, but in person he is weak, and his speeches are worthless!” 11Those people should realize that our actions when we arrive in person will be as forceful as what we say in our letters from far away.
12Oh, don’t worry; we wouldn’t dare say that we are as wonderful as these other men who tell you how important they are! But they are only comparing themselves with each other, using themselves as the standard of measurement. How ignorant!
13We will not boast about things done outside our area of authority. We will boast only about what has happened within the boundaries of the work God has given us, which includes our working with you. 14We are not reaching beyond these boundaries when we claim authority over you, as if we had never visited you. For we were the first to travel all the way to Corinth with the Good News of Christ.
15Nor do we boast and claim credit for the work someone else has done. Instead, we hope that your faith will grow so that the boundaries of our work among you will be extended. 16Then we will be able to go and preach the Good News in other places far beyond you, where no one else is working. Then there will be no question of our boasting about work done in someone else’s territory. 17As the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.”# Jer 9:24.
18When people commend themselves, it doesn’t count for much. The important thing is for the Lord to commend them.