1From Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by God's will, and from our brother Timothy —
To the church of God in Corinth, and to all God's people throughout Achaia:
2May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.
Paul Gives Thanks to God
3Let us give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the merciful Father, the God from whom all help comes! 4He helps us in all our troubles, so that we are able to help others who have all kinds of troubles, using the same help that we ourselves have received from God. 5Just as we have a share in Christ's many sufferings, so also through Christ we share in God's great help. 6If we suffer, it is for your help and salvation; if we are helped, then you too are helped and given the strength to endure with patience the same sufferings that we also endure. 7So our hope in you is never shaken; we know that just as you share in our sufferings, you also share in the help we receive.
8We want to remind you, brothers and sisters, of the trouble we had in the province of Asia. The burdens laid upon us were so great and so heavy that we gave up all hope of staying alive. 9We felt that the death sentence had been passed on us. But this happened so that we should rely, not on ourselves, but only on God, who raises the dead. 10From such terrible dangers of death he saved us, and will save us; and we have placed our hope in him that he will save us again, 11as you help us by means of your prayers for us. So it will be that the many prayers for us will be answered, and God will bless us; and many will raise their voices to him in thanksgiving for us.
The Change in Paul's Plans
12We are proud that our conscience assures us that our lives in this world, and especially our relations with you, have been ruled by God-given frankness and sincerity, by the power of God's grace, and not by human wisdom. 13-14We write to you only what you can read and understand. But even though you now understand us only in part, I hope that you will come to understand us completely, so that in the Day of our Lord Jesus you can be as proud of us as we shall be of you.
15I was so sure of all this that I made plans at first to visit you, in order that you might be blessed twice. 16For I planned to visit you on my way to Macedonia and again on my way back, in order to get help from you for my journey to Judea. 17In planning this, did I appear fickle? When I make my plans, do I make them from selfish motives, ready to say “Yes, yes” and “No, no” at the same time? 18As surely as God speaks the truth, my promise to you was not a “Yes” and a “No”. 19For Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who was preached among you by Silas, Timothy, and myself, is not one who is “Yes” and “No”. On the contrary, he is God's “Yes”; 20for it is he who is the “Yes” to all God's promises. This is why through Jesus Christ our “Amen” is said to the glory of God. 21It is God himself who makes us, together with you, sure of our life in union with Christ; it is God himself who has set us apart, 22who has placed his mark of ownership upon us, and who has given us the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the guarantee of all that he has in store for us.
23I call God as my witness — he knows my heart! It was in order to spare you that I decided not to go to Corinth. 24We are not trying to dictate to you what you must believe; we know that you stand firm in the faith. Instead, we are working with you for your own happiness.
1So I made up my mind not to come to you again to make you sad. 2For if I were to make you sad, who would be left to cheer me up? Only the very persons I had made sad. 3That is why I wrote that letter to you — I did not want to come to you and be made sad by the very people who should make me glad. For I am convinced that when I am happy, then all of you are happy too. 4I wrote to you with a greatly troubled and distressed heart and with many tears; my purpose was not to make you sad, but to make you realize how much I love you all.
Forgiveness for the Offender
5Now, if anyone has made somebody sad, he has not done it to me but to all of you — in part at least. (I say this because I do not want to be too hard on him.) 6It is enough that this person has been punished in this way by most of you. 7Now, however, you should forgive him and encourage him, in order to keep him from becoming so sad as to give up completely. 8And so I beg you to let him know that you really do love him. 9I wrote you that letter because I wanted to find out how well you had stood the test and whether you are always ready to obey my instructions. 10When you forgive someone for what he or she has done, I forgive them too. For when I forgive — if, indeed, I need to forgive anything — I do it in Christ's presence because of you, 11in order to keep Satan from getting the upper hand of us; for we know what his plans are.
Paul's Anxiety in Troas
12When I arrived in Troas to preach the Good News about Christ, I found that the Lord had opened the way for the work there. 13But I was deeply worried, because I could not find our brother Titus. So I said goodbye to the people there and went on to Macedonia.
Victory through Christ
14But thanks be to God! For in union with Christ we are always led by God as prisoners in Christ's victory procession. God uses us to make the knowledge about Christ spread everywhere like a sweet fragrance. 15For we are like a sweet-smelling incense offered by Christ to God, which spreads among those who are being saved and those who are being lost. 16For those who are being lost, it is a deadly stench that kills; but for those who are being saved, it is a fragrance that brings life. Who, then, is capable of such a task? 17We are not like so many others, who handle God's message as if it were cheap merchandise; but because God has sent us, we speak with sincerity in his presence, as servants of Christ.
1Does this sound as if we were again boasting about ourselves? Could it be that, like some other people, we need letters of recommendation to you or from you? 2You yourselves are the letter we have, written on our hearts for everyone to know and read. 3It is clear that Christ himself wrote this letter and sent it by us. It is written, not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, and not on stone tablets but on human hearts.
4We say this because we have confidence in God through Christ. 5There is nothing in us that allows us to claim that we are capable of doing this work. The capacity we have comes from God; 6it is he who made us capable of serving the new covenant, which consists not of a written law but of the Spirit. The written law brings death, but the Spirit gives life.
7The Law was carved in letters on stone tablets, and God's glory appeared when it was given. Even though the brightness on Moses' face was fading, it was so strong that the people of Israel could not keep their eyes fixed on him. If the Law, which brings death when it is in force, came with such glory, 8how much greater is the glory that belongs to the activity of the Spirit! 9The system which brings condemnation was glorious; how much more glorious is the activity which brings salvation! 10We may say that because of the far brighter glory now the glory that was so bright in the past is gone. 11For if there was glory in that which lasted for a while, how much more glory is there in that which lasts for ever!
12Because we have this hope, we are very bold. 13We are not like Moses, who had to put a veil over his face so that the people of Israel would not see the brightness fade and disappear. 14Their minds, indeed, were closed; and to this very day their minds are covered with the same veil as they read the books of the old covenant. The veil is removed only when a person is joined to Christ. 15Even today, whenever they read the Law of Moses, the veil still covers their minds. 16But it can be removed, as the scripture says about Moses: “His veil was removed when he turned to the Lord.”17Now, “the Lord” in this passage is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is present, there is freedom. 18All of us, then, reflect the glory of the Lord with uncovered faces; and that same glory, coming from the Lord, who is the Spirit, transforms us into his likeness in an ever greater degree of glory.
1God in his mercy has given us this work to do, and so we are not discouraged. 2We put aside all secret and shameful deeds; we do not act with deceit, nor do we falsify the word of God. In the full light of truth we live in God's sight and try to commend ourselves to everyone's good conscience. 3For if the gospel we preach is hidden, it is hidden only from those who are being lost. 4They do not believe, because their minds have been kept in the dark by the evil god of this world. He keeps them from seeing the light shining on them, the light that comes from the Good News about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God. 5For it is not ourselves that we preach; we preach Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. 6The God who said, “Out of darkness the light shall shine!” is the same God who made his light shine in our hearts, to bring us the knowledge of God's glory shining in the face of Christ.
7Yet we who have this spiritual treasure are like common clay pots, in order to show that the supreme power belongs to God, not to us. 8We are often troubled, but not crushed; sometimes in doubt, but never in despair; 9there are many enemies, but we are never without a friend; and though badly hurt at times, we are not destroyed. 10At all times we carry in our mortal bodies the death of Jesus, so that his life also may be seen in our bodies. 11Throughout our lives we are always in danger of death for Jesus' sake, in order that his life may be seen in this mortal body of ours. 12This means that death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
13The scripture says, “I spoke because I believed.” In the same spirit of faith, we also speak because we believe. 14We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus to life, will also raise us up with Jesus and take us, together with you, into his presence. 15All this is for your sake; and as God's grace reaches more and more people, they will offer to the glory of God more prayers of thanksgiving.
Living by Faith
16For this reason we never become discouraged. Even though our physical being is gradually decaying, yet our spiritual being is renewed day after day. 17And this small and temporary trouble we suffer will bring us a tremendous and eternal glory, much greater than the trouble. 18For we fix our attention, not on things that are seen, but on things that are unseen. What can be seen lasts only for a time, but what cannot be seen lasts for ever.
1For we know that when this tent we live in — our body here on earth — is torn down, God will have a house in heaven for us to live in, a home he himself has made, which will last for ever. 2And now we sigh, so great is our desire that our home which comes from heaven should be put on over us; 3by being clothed with it we shall not be without a body. 4While we live in this earthly tent, we groan with a feeling of oppression; it is not that we want to get rid of our earthly body, but that we want to have the heavenly one put on over us, so that what is mortal will be transformed by life. 5God is the one who has prepared us for this change, and he gave us his Spirit as the guarantee of all that he has in store for us.
6So we are always full of courage. We know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord's home. 7For our life is a matter of faith, not of sight. 8We are full of courage and would much prefer to leave our home in the body and be at home with the Lord. 9More than anything else, however, we want to please him, whether in our home here or there. 10For all of us must appear before Christ, to be judged by him. We will each receive what we deserve, according to everything we have done, good or bad, in our bodily life.
Friendship with God through Christ
11We know what it means to fear the Lord, and so we try to persuade others. God knows us completely, and I hope that in your hearts you know me as well. 12We are not trying again to recommend ourselves to you; rather, we are trying to give you a good reason to be proud of us, so that you will be able to answer those who boast about people's appearance and not about their character. 13Are we really insane? It is for God's sake. Or are we sane? Then it is for your sake. 14We are ruled by the love of Christ, now that we recognize that one man died for everyone, which means that all share in his death. 15He died for all, so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but only for him who died and was raised to life for their sake.
16No longer, then, do we judge anyone by human standards. Even if at one time we judged Christ according to human standards, we no longer do so. 17Anyone who is joined to Christ is a new being; the old is gone, the new has come. 18All this is done by God, who through Christ changed us from enemies into his friends and gave us the task of making others his friends also. 19Our message is that God was making the whole human race his friends through Christ. God did not keep an account of their sins, and he has given us the message which tells how he makes them his friends.
20Here we are, then, speaking for Christ, as though God himself were making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ's behalf: let God change you from enemies into his friends! 21Christ was without sin, but for our sake God made him share our sin in order that in union with him we might share the righteousness of God.
1In our work together with God, then, we beg you who have received God's grace not to let it be wasted. 2Hear what God says:
“When the time came for me to show you favour
I heard you;
when the day arrived for me to save you,
I helped you.”
Listen! This is the hour to receive God's favour; today is the day to be saved!
3We do not want anyone to find fault with our work, so we try not to put obstacles in anyone's way. 4Instead, in everything we do we show that we are God's servants by patiently enduring troubles, hardships, and difficulties. 5We have been beaten, imprisoned, and mobbed; we have been overworked and have gone without sleep or food. 6By our purity, knowledge, patience, and kindness we have shown ourselves to be God's servants — by the Holy Spirit, by our true love, 7by our message of truth, and by the power of God. We have righteousness as our weapon, both to attack and to defend ourselves. 8We are honoured and disgraced; we are insulted and praised. We are treated as liars, yet we speak the truth; 9as unknown, yet we are known by all; as though we were dead, but, as you see, we live on. Although punished, we are not killed; 10although saddened, we are always glad; we seem poor, but we make many people rich; we seem to have nothing, yet we really possess everything.
11Dear friends in Corinth! We have spoken frankly to you; we have opened our hearts wide. 12It is not we who have closed our hearts to you; it is you who have closed your hearts to us. 13I speak now as though you were my children: show us the same feelings that we have for you. Open your hearts wide!
Warning against Pagan Influences
14Do not try to work together as equals with unbelievers, for it cannot be done. How can right and wrong be partners? How can light and darkness live together? 15How can Christ and the Devil agree? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16How can God's temple come to terms with pagan idols? For we are the temple of the living God! As God himself has said:
1All these promises are made to us, my dear friends. So then, let us purify ourselves from everything that makes body or soul unclean, and let us be completely holy by living in awe of God.
2Make room for us in your hearts. We have wronged no one; we have ruined no one, nor tried to take advantage of anyone. 3I do not say this to condemn you; for, as I have said before, you are so dear to us that we are always together, whether we live or die. 4I am so sure of you; I take such pride in you! In all our troubles I am still full of courage; I am running over with joy.
5Even after we arrived in Macedonia, we had no rest. There were troubles everywhere, quarrels with others, fears in our hearts. 6But God, who encourages the downhearted, encouraged us with the coming of Titus. 7It was not only his coming that cheered us, but also his report of how you encouraged him. He told us how much you want to see me, how sorry you are, how ready you are to defend me; and so I am even happier now.
8For even if that letter of mine made you sad, I am not sorry I wrote it. I could have been sorry when I saw that it made you sad for a while. 9But now I am happy — not because I made you sad, but because your sadness made you change your ways. That sadness was used by God, and so we caused you no harm. 10For the sadness that is used by God brings a change of heart that leads to salvation — and there is no regret in that! But sadness that is merely human causes death. 11See what God did with this sadness of yours: how earnest it has made you, how eager to prove your innocence! Such indignation, such alarm, such feelings, such devotion, such readiness to punish wrongdoing! You have shown yourselves to be without fault in the whole matter.
12So, even though I wrote that letter, it was not because of the one who did wrong or the one who was wronged. Instead, I wrote it to make plain to you, in God's sight, how deep your devotion to us really is. 13That is why we were encouraged.
Not only were we encouraged; how happy Titus made us with his happiness over the way in which all of you helped to cheer him up! 14I did boast of you to him, and you have not disappointed me. We have always spoken the truth to you, and in the same way the boast we made to Titus has proved true. 15And so his love for you grows stronger, as he remembers how all of you were ready to obey his instructions, how you welcomed him with fear and trembling. 16How happy I am that I can depend on you completely!