When I am Weak, then I am Strong

About 2 Corinthians

Paul was working in Macedonia, which was north from the country called Greece now. Corinth was a city in Achaia (the south part of Greece). We think that Paul wrote this letter about AD 55. That was about 25 years after Jesus died. Something was wrong among the Christians at Corinth. Some people there had been doing very wrong things (see 2:5 and 12:21). Also, some of the Christians there had been listening to false teachers (see 11:4). Some of the Christians at Corinth were saying that Paul was not really Christ’s servant (see 13:3).

Paul had written to the people at Corinth before and he had visited there twice. Before he wrote this letter, Paul had met his friend Titus again. Titus had just returned from a visit to the Christians at Corinth, and he told Paul good news about them. (See 7:5-7.) So, Paul wrote this letter to say how happy he was to hear this good news. He explains also that he really is working on Christ’s behalf. And he says that he will visit Corinth again soon. He does not want to be angry with the Christians there. But he will be angry with anyone who is still not ready to put right any wrong things.

Chapter 1

1 This letter is from me, Paul, and from our friend Timothy, who is like a brother to us. God chose me to be a special worker and teacher on behalf of Christ Jesus. He sent me to tell people about Christ. I am sending this letter to you believers, who are God’s church in Corinth city. I am sending it also to all of God’s people who are in Achaia. 2 I pray that God, our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ will continue to be very kind to you. I pray that they will cause you to be without trouble deep inside yourselves.

God himself comforts us

3 We thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, because he is so good to us. He is such a very, very kind Father, and only he himself can really comfort us. 4 He comforts us during all things that cause trouble and pain for us. So then, as a result, we ourselves can comfort other people who have any kind of trouble or pain. We can comfort them because God himself has comforted us. 5 We have very much trouble and pain, as Christ did. We have very much trouble and pain because we are his. But, in the same way, we know also how very much Christ comforts us.

6 If we are sad because of troubles and pain, that helps you. It helps to comfort you, and it helps to save you. Or, if God comforts us, that helps to comfort you also. It helps you to be patient and strong during the same kind of troubles and pain as we have. 7 So, we continue to be completely sure about you. You have the same troubles and pain as we have. And, in the same way also, God will comfort you as he comforts us. We know this.

8 Friends, we want you to know about the great trouble that we had in Asia. It was very, very difficult, like a heavy weight that was much too heavy for us to carry. We ourselves were not strong enough to carry it. We thought that we were going to die.

9 Deep inside ourselves, we thought that we would certainly die. But these things happened so that we would learn not to believe in ourselves. No, but instead, we would learn to believe God, who causes dead people to live again. We would learn to believe that God would certainly help us. 10 And God did save us from such great danger that would have killed us. And he will save us. We believe strongly that he will continue to save us at future times. 11 Also, you help us because you join together to pray for us. Many people pray for us. And God will answer what they pray. He will be good to us. And so, many people will thank him on our behalf.

Paul explains why he did not visit Corinth earlier

12 We have lived in this world as God’s people should live. We have been careful to be honest and good with everyone. And we have been like that very much with you. We ourselves are sure that this is true. And we are very happy about it. We have not tried to be clever as human people can be clever. But instead, we have done only what God has made us able to do. 13 We are writing to you only things that you yourselves can read and understand. And I hope that you will understand completely. 14 You do not understand us completely yet. But I hope that you will understand. On the day when our Lord Jesus will return, you will be very happy because of us. You will be as happy because of us as we will be happy because of you. I hope that you will understand this completely.

15-16 And because I was so sure about you, I decided to visit you first. I decided to visit you on my way to Macedonia. And then I would visit you again on my way back from Macedonia. So then you would see me twice and I could help you twice. And then you could help to send me on my journey to Judea. 17 When I decided this, I was serious about it. I do not decide to do things only because I myself want to do them. I am not ready to say ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ at the same time, like someone who does not know God.

Verses 15-16 Macedonia was north from the country that is called Greece now. Judea was the south part of Israel.

18 As certainly as God is true, our message to you was not ‘Yes’ and ‘No’. 19 Silas, Timothy and I told you about Jesus Christ, who is God’s Son. He is not someone who is ‘Yes’ and ‘No’. Instead, by him God was and is saying ‘Yes’ to us. 20 Everything that God has promised becomes ‘Yes’ because of Christ. That is why, by Christ, we can thank God. By him, we can agree that all God’s promises are true. And we can say how very great and good God is.

21 God causes both us and you to be sure and strong because we are united with Christ. It is God himself who does this. And he has chosen us to be his own special servants. 22 God has also put his mark on us, to show that we are his. He has given his Spirit to us, to live deep inside us. And his Spirit causes us to be sure about what we will receive from God.

23 I decided not to come to Corinth at that time, for this reason. It was because I wanted to be kind to you. I did not want to be angry with you. God knows that this is true! 24 We are not trying to be like masters. Masters would tell you what to believe about everything. We are not trying to have authority over you like that. We know that you believe the right things. And you are strong because you believe those things. But instead, we are working with you so that you will be happy.

Chapter 2

1 So, I thought about what would be the best thing to do. And I decided not to visit you again at that time, because I did not want to make you sad. 2 If I make you sad, there will be nobody to make me happy. Only you, the people that I had made sad, could make me happy. 3 That is why I wrote that letter to you. I did not want you to make me sad when I visited you. But instead, you ought to make me happy. I felt sure about all of you. If I was happy, then all of you would be happy too. I was sure about that.

4 When I wrote that letter, I was very, very sad. I had very much trouble and pain deep inside myself, and I cried very much. I did not want to make you sad. Instead, I wanted you to know how very, very much I love you.

Forgive the person who did wrong things

5 Someone has done things that have made other people sad. And that person has made not only me sad. No, but really he has made all of you sad too. I do not want to say too much about the wrong things that he did. 6 Most of you have punished him, and that is enough for him. 7 Now, instead, you ought to forgive him and you ought to comfort him. So then, as a result, he will not become so very sad that he stops hoping to get better. 8 So, I ask you strongly to show him that you really do love him. 9 It was for this reason that I wrote to you. I wanted to know what you would do. I wanted to know whether you would obey me always. 10 When you forgive somebody for anything, I forgive that person also. Anything that I have forgiven, I have forgiven because of you, with Christ present. 11 I have done that so that Satan has no chance to be cleverer than us. We know very well the ways by which he tries to beat us.

God makes us winners in Christ

12 When I arrived at Troas city to tell the good news about Christ, the way was open for me. I discovered that the Lord had opened the way for my work there. 13 But in my spirit I could not rest, because I could not find my friend Titus. So, I said goodbye to the people there and I travelled on to Macedonia.

Verse 13 Troas was a city on the west coast of the country called Turkey now.

14 But I thank God, who leads us always as winners. He makes us winners because we are united with Christ. And by us, God shows people everywhere about Christ. In every place, like a lovely smell that comes to them, people come to know Christ. 15 Because, to God, we ourselves are the lovely smell that brings Christ. We are like that among those people that God is saving. And we are like it among those people who are dying. They are dying because they are far from God. 16 To the people that God is saving, we are like a lovely smell. We are like a lovely smell that causes them to live. To the people who are dying, far from God, we are like a bad smell from a dead thing. That bad smell leads them to death.

No person could think that he himself was able enough to do this work! 17 But we are not like so many other people, who sell God’s message for money. No, God himself has sent us. And God sees what we are doing. So, we speak honestly because we really want people to know God’s message. We speak as those who are united with Christ.

Chapter 3

God’s new agreement is much greater than the old one

1 We are not trying again to make you think good things about us. We do not need letters, either to you or from you, that say good things about us. Some other people need letters like that, but we do not need them. 2 You yourselves are our letter, that God has written deep inside us. Everybody can know and can read this letter. 3 It is clear that you are a letter from Christ. And he has given this letter to us to deliver. Nobody wrote this letter with a pen. Instead, the Spirit of God, who is alive, wrote it deep inside us. He did not write it on flat pieces of stone. Instead, he wrote it deep inside us.

Verse 3 Moses wrote God’s rules for Israel’s people on flat pieces of stone. See Exodus 34:27-28.

4 We say these things only because, by Christ, we are sure about our work. We are sure that God makes us able to do it. 5 We are not able by ourselves even to think that we could do this work. No, but it is God who makes us able to do it. 6 God has made us able to be his servants, who tell people about his new agreement. This new agreement is not only rules. Rules tell people what to do. But this new agreement is not like that. No, instead it is something that happens by God’s Spirit. Rules like that kill. But the Spirit causes us to live.

Verse 6 This does not mean that God’s rules themselves caused Israel’s people to die. The rules caused the people to see what they themselves were really like. They were not good enough to obey those rules completely. The people could not, by themselves, really make God happy. They needed God to save them.

7 Moses wrote down on stones the words of the old agreement, that caused people to die. But that agreement was still great and good, because it came from God. And Moses’ face shone so brightly with God’s light that Israel’s people could not continue to look at it. The light on his face was becoming less bright, but still Israel’s people could not look at it. That old agreement came by words that someone wrote on stones. 8 So certainly, the new agreement, which comes by God’s Spirit, will be even greater and better. 9 As a result of the old agreement, God had to punish people. But still, that agreement was great and good. So, how very much greater and better must the new agreement be, that makes people right with God!

10 The old agreement was great and good once. But the new agreement is so very, very much greater and better than the old one. So, as a result, the old agreement does not seem to be anything now. 11 The old agreement, that had to come to an end, was great and good. So, how much greater and better must the new agreement be, that will continue always!

12 So, because we hope certainly for such great things, we speak bravely. 13 We are not like Moses. He covered his face with a cloth because the light from God was becoming less bright. So then Israel’s people could not see that the light was coming to an end. 14 But those people could not understand anyway. Even until this day, they cannot understand the old agreement when they read it. They are like people who have a cloth over their minds. The cloth is still there because only Christ can remove it. He removes it when a person is united with him. 15 Even today, when they read Moses’ rules, a cloth still covers their minds. 16 But when a person turns to the Lord, then the Lord takes the cloth away.

17 The Lord is the Spirit. And where the Lord’s Spirit is, there people are free. 18 But all of us are like people who have no cloth over our faces. Like mirrors, we shine with God’s bright light. And he is changing us so that we become more and more like him. We become brighter and brighter as the Lord’s Spirit changes us.

Verses 7-18 See Exodus 34:29-35.

Chapter 4

The good news brings light

1 God has given this work to us because he is so very kind. So, we do not let ourselves become sad about it. 2 We have turned away completely from secret things that people should be ashamed to do. We refuse to do anything that is not honest. We refuse to say anything that is not true. We do not change God’s message, to include things that are not really true. God is watching us. And we tell clearly only what is true. So, everyone should know that we are honest and good. 3 Not everyone can understand the good news that we tell. People who are dying because they are far from God cannot understand it. 4 Those people do not believe it, because the god of this world has kept their minds in the dark. He stops them from seeing the light. Christ is completely like God. And that light shines from the good news about how great Christ is.

5 We tell people about Christ Jesus because we want them to know him as Lord. We do not want anyone to think that we ourselves are Lord. We say only that we ourselves are your servants because of Jesus. 6 God said: ‘Let light shine in the dark.’ And the same God has caused his light to shine deep inside us. He has given light to us because he has caused us to know him. He has caused us to know how great and good he is. And this light is in Christ’s face. In Christ, we see how great and good God is.

Verse 6 See Genesis 1:3.

We are like weak pots that contain something very valuable and powerful from God

7 But we, who have this very valuable gift in us, are quite like weak clay pots. And, as a result, it is clear that this very great power is from God, and not from ourselves. 8 We have every kind of bad trouble and pain, but those things do not beat us. Sometimes we do not understand what to do, but we never stop believing God. 9 We have many enemies, but we are never completely alone. People hurt us badly, but they never destroy us. 10 We carry Jesus’ death in our bodies always. And so, we can show also in our bodies that Jesus is alive. 11 Yes, God is always sending us, who are alive, to death because of Jesus. So then, as a result, people can see in our weak, human bodies that Jesus is alive. 12 So, death is working in us but you are becoming more and more alive.

Verse 7 Clay is sticky material from the ground that people use to make pots.

13 It says in the Old Testament: ‘I believed, and so I spoke.’ [Psalm 116:10] And we believe by the same Spirit. So, we also speak because we believe. 14 God, who raised the Lord Jesus, to become alive again after his death, will also raise us with Jesus. God will bring us, together with you, to the place where he is. We know that. 15 All this is helping you. God is showing to more and more people how very, very kind he is. And so, people will thank God more and more. They will show how very great and good God is.

16 That is why we do not let ourselves become sad about our work. The person that we are on the outside is getting older and less able. But the person that we are on the inside is becoming newer day by day. 17 We have these little troubles that continue only during this time now. But these troubles are preparing something much, much greater for us, which will continue always. As a result of them, we will enjoy something much better always with God, who is so great and so good. 18 So, we do not look at the things that we can see. But instead, we look at the things that we cannot see. The things that we can see are there for only a short time. But the things that we cannot see continue always.

Chapter 5

God has prepared a new body for us

1 Our body that we live in here on earth is like a tent. It is like a tent that God will tear down one day. But we have a building that God has made for us to live in. No human person made that house. It will always be there, in heaven. We know that. 2 Now, while we are in our body here, we cry inside ourselves. We want to put our house from heaven over us, like someone puts on new clothes. We want that very much. 3 We want to put on that new house, and then we will never be like people without clothes. 4 While we still live in our body here on earth, as in a tent, we cry inside ourselves. We do not really want to take off our old body. But instead, we want to put our new body over us, like new clothes. So then our new body, that will live always, will completely take the place of our old body. It will take the place of our old body, which had to die. 5 God is the one who has prepared us for this change. He has prepared us because he has given his Spirit to us. And his Spirit causes us to know that this change will certainly happen.

Verse 1-4 A tent is a house that people have made out of cloth or animals’ skins. They put the cloth or the skins over long pieces of wood or metal to hold them up. People can move a tent to different places.

6 So, we are happy and brave because we are always sure. While we are at home in this body, we are away from the Lord. We know that. 7 We know it because we believe God. We believe him, and so we obey him. We do not live by the things that we can see. 8 I say again that we are always sure. It would be better if we could leave our home in this body. That is what we think. So then, we could be at home with the Lord. 9 But, more than anything else, we want to make God happy. We want to do that, whether we are at home in our body here or away from it. 10 Because all of us must stand in front of Christ when he decides about us. He will decide about the things that we have done during our lives. So then, each person will receive from God as a result of the things that they have done. What each person has done while they lived in the body here may be either good or bad. And each person will receive from God what they ought to have as a result of those things.

God makes us new people in Christ

11 We know what it means to be afraid of the Lord. And so, because of this, we try to tell other people, so that they turn to him. But God himself knows what we really are. And I hope that, deep inside yourselves, you know us clearly also. 12 We are not trying again to make you think great things about us. No, but instead we want to give you the chance to show that you are happy about us. So then you will be able to answer those people who look at the outside of a person. To those people, the important thing is what somebody is like on the outside. But they do not think about what a person is like on the inside. 13 If we seem crazy, that is because we are God’s. Or, if we are serious, and not crazy, that is to help you.

14 We want to obey only Christ, because he loves us so very much. And we are completely sure that one man died on behalf of all people. This means that all people died with him. 15 He died on behalf of all people, so that they should not live for themselves any more. But instead, all those people who live should live for him. They should live for him, who died on their behalf. He died and then he rose, to live again.

16 So, from now on, we do not know anyone only because they are human like us. We have even known Christ as a human person, but we do not know him like that any more. 17 When anyone is united with Christ, they become a new person. God makes them new. Old things have gone. See, they have become new! 18 All this is the work of God, who, because of Christ, has stopped being angry with us. By Christ, we have become God’s friends instead of his enemies. And he wants us to bring other people to be his friends also. This is the job that he has given to us. 19 God wants us to tell people that, by Christ, he was bringing the world to himself. He was bringing all people in the world back to himself, to be his friends. God was not continuing to remember all the wrong things that people do. This is the message that God has given to us. He wants us to tell people that he has brought them back to himself.

20 So, we are speaking on behalf of Christ. It is quite as if God himself is asking you strongly by us. On behalf of Christ, we are asking you very strongly to become God’s friends. 21 Christ never thought or did any wrong things. But God punished Christ as if, like us, he was wrong. God punished him on our behalf. So then, as a result, we become right with God when we are united with Christ.

Chapter 6

1 So we, who work together with God, ask you strongly to be careful. God is very good to us because he is so very kind. But be careful not to waste the good things that God has done for you. 2 In the Old Testament God says:

                        ‘I listened to you at the time when I was ready to be kind.

                        I helped you on the day when I was ready to save you.’

                        [Isaiah 49:8]

Listen! Now is the time when God is ready to be kind! Now is the day when he is ready to save you!

3 We do nothing that might cause anyone to be angry or sad because of us. We do not want anyone to think bad things about our work. 4 Instead, we want to show, by everything, that we are God’s servants. We show that because we are very patient and brave during bad troubles and pain. Sometimes we have many difficulties and so we are very sad. 5 Sometimes people hit us. Sometimes they put us in prison. Sometimes people attack us. Sometimes we work very, very much. Sometimes we stay awake at night to watch. Sometimes we have no food. 6 But still we show that we are God’s servants. We are good and clean inside ourselves and we have no bad purposes. We know what is true. We are patient and kind. We have God’s Spirit, who is completely good. And we really love God and other people.

7 We speak only words that are true. We have God’s power in us. We are right with God, and that makes us strong to fight on his behalf. It makes us strong, like people who fight with both their right hand and their left hand. 8 Sometimes people think that we are great and important. And sometimes they think that we are worth nothing. Sometimes people say bad things about us and sometimes they say good things. Sometimes people think that we are not honest about ourselves. But we are always honest and we say only true things. 9 People say that they do not know us. But really, everybody knows what we are. People think that we are dying. But see, we are still alive! People punish us but they do not kill us. 10 We seem sad, but we are always happy really. We seem poor, but we make many people rich. We seem to have nothing, but really we have everything.

11 Our friends at Corinth, we have spoken to you very honestly. We have hidden nothing from you. You know everything that we feel. 12 We have done nothing to stop you from being our friends that we know well. No, but you yourselves have not been completely honest with us. It is you yourselves who have not told us everything. 13 I am speaking to you as I would speak to my own children. Be fair to us! Be completely honest with us also. Tell us everything that you feel.

God’s people are separate from people who do not believe God

14 Do not try to be united with people who do not believe Christ. God has made you right with himself. So, you cannot work together with people who are not right with him. Light and dark are completely different. 15 Christ and the Devil cannot agree. People who believe Christ have nothing in common with other people. Christ’s people have nothing in common with people who do not believe Christ. 16 God’s house has nothing in common with false gods. And we are the house of the God who is alive. As God has said:

                        ‘I will live with them and I will be among them.

                        I will be their God and they will be my people.’

                        [Leviticus 26:12] [Jeremiah 32:38] [Ezekiel 37:27]

17 And so, the Lord says:

                        ‘Come out from among them and be separate.

                        Touch nothing that is not good and clean.

                        And I will accept you.’

                        [Isaiah 52:11] [Ezekiel 20:34] [Ezekiel 20:41]

18                  ‘I will be a Father to you,

                        and you will be my sons and my daughters.

                        This is what the Lord with all authority says.’

                        [2 Samuel 7:14] [2 Samuel 7:8]

Chapter 7

1 So, my friends, that I love, God has promised these things to us. And so we must keep ourselves clean from everything that makes our bodies or our spirits dirty. We must remember always how very great and powerful God is. And, as a result, we should become more and more completely as God wants his own people to be.

2 Make room deep inside yourselves to love us. We have done nothing wrong to anyone. We have not hurt anyone. We have not used anyone for any wrong purposes of our own. 3 I am not saying this to show that you have done anything wrong. As I have told you before, you are very special to us. We love you so very much that, deep inside ourselves, you are always with us. And so, we live or die with you. 4 I am very sure about you. I am very happy because of you. God has comforted me very much. Even in all our troubles, I am still very, very happy.

5 When we arrived in Macedonia, our bodies did not rest at all. We had troubles everywhere. On the outside, other people were quarrelling with us. On the inside, we were afraid. 6 But God comforts people who are feeling sad and weak. And God comforted us because Titus arrived to be with us. 7 God comforted us not only because Titus came to us. He comforted us even more by what Titus told us about you. Titus said that you had comforted him. He told us how very much you want to see me. He told us how very sorry you are. He told us also how ready you are to help me. And so, I am even happier now.

Verse 5 Macedonia was north from the country called Greece today.

8 But even if I made you sad by my letter, I am not sorry about that. I was sorry about it before. I saw that my letter made you sad for a short time. 9 But now I am happy, not because my letter made you sad. No, instead I am happy because it made you sad enough to turn away from wrong things. You became sad as God wanted you to be sad. So, as a result, we did not really hurt you or cause you loss in any way by our letter. 10 People need to become sad in the way that God wants. When they are sad like that, it causes them to turn away from wrong things. It causes them to turn to God, who saves them. And they will never be sorry that they did that! But this world makes people sad only because they have troubles or pain. It does not make them sad in a way that leads them to God. When the world makes people sad like that, it only causes them to die.

11 You became sad as God wanted you to be sad. And see what good results that has brought! It has made you think so seriously and so carefully. It has made you want so much to show that you have turned away from wrong things. It has made you so angry, so afraid, and so ready to change. It has made you want so very much to do better things. It has made you want to punish someone who was doing wrong things. You have shown that you yourselves have done everything possible to make things right.

12 I did not write that letter to you because of the person who had done something wrong. I did not write it to help that person. Neither did I write it to help the person that somebody had done something wrong to. Instead, I wrote the letter so that you could understand something. I wanted you to understand clearly how very much you yourselves love us. And God knows how much you love us. 13 That is what has comforted us.

Yes, that comforted us. And Titus made us even happier, because he himself was so happy. Titus was happy because all of you had helped him to feel stronger and braver. 14 I did say good things about you to Titus, and you have not disappointed me. We have always spoken only true things to you. And, in the same way, when we said good things about you to Titus, those things were true also. It has become clear that those things are true. 15 And Titus loves you even more when he thinks about you. He remembers how ready all of you were to obey. You were happy that he had come to visit you. But you were also very afraid. 16 I am happy because I am sure about you. I am completely sure that you will do only what is good and right.

Chapter 8

Paul wants the Christians at Corinth to give money for the poor people at Jerusalem

1 Friends, we want you to know how very good God has been to the groups of believers in Macedonia. 2 They have had very bad troubles. But those troubles caused them to show how much they really believed God. They were so very, very happy, and so they gave a lot of money to help other people. They themselves were very poor, but still they gave so much money. 3 I tell you this, which is certainly true. They gave as much money as they were able to give. They even gave more than they could. They themselves wanted to give that much money. 4 They asked us very strongly to receive their gift of money. They wanted very much to do something that would help God’s people. 5 They did more than we had even hoped for! They gave themselves first to the Lord, and then they gave themselves to us also. They did that because God wanted them to do it.

6 So, because of this, we asked Titus if he would continue to help you. He is the person who started this good work. So, he will help you to finish it. He will help you to be kind in this way. 7 You have so very much of everything. You believe God very much. You speak well and you understand a lot. You want very much to help, and you love us. So, be ready also to give plenty so that you can be good and kind in this way.

8 I am not telling you that you must do this. But I have told you how very much other groups of believers want to help. And this is a way to show how much you really love other people. 9 You know how very, very kind our Lord Jesus Christ is. He was rich, but he made himself poor to help you. So then, because he became poor, as a result you could become rich.

10 Last year, you were the first people who wanted to give. And you were the first to begin that work. So, the best thing for you to do is to finish that work. That is what I think. 11 Now finish the work. When you started, you wanted very much to do it. Now be as ready to finish it. Give what you can give. 12 If you really want to give, then God will accept your gift. He will not want you to give more than you are able to give. But he will be happy because you have given. You have given as much as you can give.

13 You will make other people’s lives easier because of your gift. But my purpose is not that your lives should become more difficult as a result. No, instead I want things to be equal. 14 At this time now, you yourselves have plenty. So, you should give to those people who do not have enough. Then, at a future time when they have plenty, they will be able to give to you. They will be able to help you when you do not have enough. So then, they will help you in the same way as you helped them. 15 As it says in the Old Testament:

                        ‘The person who brought back a lot did not have too much.

                        And the person who brought back a small amount still had enough.’

                        [Exodus 16:18]

Paul is sending Titus and other Christian men to Corinth

16 God has caused Titus to love you so much that he really wants to help you. So, we thank God because of this. Titus wants to help you as much as we ourselves want to help you. 17 He was so happy when we asked him to help you. He already wanted so much to help you that he himself had decided to visit you. 18 We are sending another man, who is a believer like us, with Titus. All the groups of believers say very good things about this other man. He is famous among them because he tells the good news about Christ so very well. 19 And that is not everything. Also, the groups of believers have chosen this man to travel with us. They wanted him to help us when we take your gifts. They wanted him to help with this work that we do for God. We are doing it to show how great and good God is. We are doing it also because we want to help people.

20 We are being very careful about this large gift of money that we will take to people. We do not want anyone to say that we have done anything wrong. We want everyone to see that we are honest. 21 We want to do only what is right. We want the Lord to see that we are doing the right thing. Also, we want people to see that we are doing the right thing.

22 We are sending another man also, with these men. Many times, in many ways, this man has shown certainly that he wants very much to help. And now that he is so very sure about you, he wants to help even more. 23 If anyone asks about Titus, he works with me. He works together with me, to help you. If anyone asks about the other men, they are coming on behalf of the groups of believers. And those men are good servants of Christ. They show how great and good Christ is. 24 So, show these men certainly that you love them. Then all the groups of believers will be sure about you. They will be sure that we are right to say good things about you.

Chapter 9

1 I do not need to write to you about the money that we are sending to help God’s people. 2 I know how much you want to help. I say good things about you to the people in Macedonia. I tell them that you people in Achaia have been ready to help since last year. And because you are so ready to help, most of them now want very much to help also. 3 But still, I am sending these men, who are believers like us. I am sending them to you so that you will really be ready to give your money. I have told people that you were ready. And now everyone will know that I spoke true words.

4 Perhaps some people from Macedonia might come with me. And I would not want them to find that you are not ready to help. Then I would be ashamed that I had been sure about you. And I am saying nothing about how ashamed you yourselves would be! 5 So, I thought that I must ask these men to visit you first. They will visit you before I myself come. They will help you to prepare the gift that you promised. Then it will be ready when I arrive. So, everyone will know that you really want to give this gift. You are not giving it because anyone is making you give it. Everyone will know that.

It is good to give plenty

6 Remember this: A farmer who plants only a few seeds will not get much as a result. But a farmer who plants plenty of seeds will bring plenty from his field as a result. 7 Each person should give as much as he himself has decided to give. He should not give because he has to give. He should not give if he does not really want to give. God loves a giver who is really happy to give. 8 And God is able to give you more than you need of every good thing. You will always have everything that you need for yourselves. Also, you will have enough so that you can give plenty to every good work. 9 The Old Testament says this (about a person who lives for God):

                        ‘He has given very much to the poor people.

                        God will always remember how good and kind that person has been.’

                        [Psalm 112:9]

10 It is God who supplies seeds for the farmer to plant. It is God who supplies bread for food. And God will make you like a farmer who plants good seeds. He will supply your seeds, and he will give more and more seeds to you. Also, he will cause those seeds to grow, to give more and more good results. You will have good results from all the good seeds that you plant. 11 God will make you rich always, so that you will always be able to give plenty to other people. Many people will thank God because of your gifts that they have received by us.

12 This good work that you are doing is helping God’s people. It is helping to supply what God’s people need. And it is not only doing that. It is also causing many people to thank God very, very much. 13 Your gift will show people what you are really like. You say that you believe the good news about Christ. And your gift will show how much you really want to obey God. You are happy to give so much to these people, and to everyone else. So, as a result, many people will say how good and great God is. 14 And they will pray on your behalf because they really love you very much. They will love you because God has caused you to be so very, very kind. 15 We should thank God because of the very great gift that he has given to us. His gift is so great that no words could ever describe it!

Chapter 10

Paul speaks about his work as Christ’s servant

1 I, 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. 2 This 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.

3 It is true that we are human. We live in human bodies. But we do not fight by our own human power. 4 We 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. 5 We 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. 6 You must obey completely everything that we have explained to you. And then we will be ready to punish anyone who will not obey God.

Verses 4-6 Weapons are things that people use to fight with.

7 You 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. 8 Maybe 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.

9 I do not want you to think that I am trying to frighten you by my letters. 10 Some 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.’ 11 Anyone 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.

12 Some 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. 13 But 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. 14 We 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.

15 We 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. 16 We 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. 17 But, as it says in the Old Testament:

                        ‘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.’

                        [Jeremiah 9:24]

18 If 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.

Chapter 11

Paul explains how dangerous false teachers are

1 Even if I seem to speak like a fool, please be patient with me. But you are being patient already! 2 I want you very much to continue being Christ’s, as God himself wants that, too. I have brought you to one husband, who is Christ. And I want you to be only Christ’s, like a good woman who has never had sex with any man. 3 But I am afraid that you might become like Eve. The snake told her things that were not true. And, because he was so clever, she believed him. And I am afraid that you might start to believe wrong ideas too. So then, as a result, you might stop believing and loving only Christ. 4 You are happy to listen to any other teachers who come to you. They might tell you about a different Jesus from the Jesus that we told you about. And you are happy to listen to them. You are happy to receive a different spirit from the one that you received by us. You are happy to believe a different ‘good news’ from the one that you first believed.

Verse 3 See Genesis, chapter 3.

5 But I think that I am quite as good as those special teachers. I am not less able than those teachers that you enjoy listening to so much. 6 Perhaps I do not speak as well as they speak. But certainly, I do know what I am speaking about. We have made this very clear to you in every way and in all things.

7 When I told you the good news from God, I never asked you to pay me anything. I made myself less important so that you could be more important. I do not think that I was wrong to do that. 8 Other groups of believers gave money to me so that I could work among you. Perhaps I could say that I was robbing them. I was robbing them so that I could help you. 9 When I was present with you, I never asked anyone to give anything to me. Even when I needed something, I still did not ask you to give anything to me. Instead, the believers who came from Macedonia helped me. They supplied everything that I needed. I was very careful never to ask you for anything that I needed. And I will continue to be careful like that, so that I will never be any trouble to you. 10 As certainly as Christ’s true message is in me, nothing will stop me saying these true things about myself. Nothing anywhere, in all of Achaia, will stop me. 11 I love you. That is the reason that nothing will stop me. And God knows that I love you.

12 I will continue to do the things that I am doing now. Then there will be no chance for those other teachers to say great things about themselves. They want a chance to say that they do the same work as us. They want everyone to think that they themselves are quite like us. 13 But those people are false teachers. They say things about their work that are not true. They want people to believe that they are really Christ’s special workers and teachers. 14 And that should not surprise you! Even Satan can make himself seem like an angel who belongs to the light. 15 So, it should not surprise you if Satan’s servants make themselves seem good also. They can make themselves seem to be good and right, like God’s servants. But God will punish them in the end as a result of the bad things that they do.

Paul describes all the troubles and pain that he has had as Christ’s servant

16 I say again: nobody should think that I am a fool. But even if you do think that, still listen to me. Listen to me as you would listen to a fool. So then I may say a few good things about myself. 17 I am not saying what the Lord has told me to say. Instead, I am talking like a fool when I say these good things certainly about myself. 18 There are so many people who say good things about themselves. They speak about the reasons why they themselves are so important as human people. So, I will say things like that about myself too.

19 You think that you yourselves are so very clever! You think that you understand so very much! So, you are happy to listen to fools. 20 You listen to anyone who wants to make you like slaves. You listen to anyone who uses you for his own wrong purposes. You listen to anyone who makes you believe wrong things. You listen to anyone who makes himself seem much more important than you. You listen to anyone who hits you in your face. 21 I am ashamed to say that I was too weak to do things like that to you.

But if anyone else is brave enough to say good things about himself, I will be brave enough also. But now I am talking like a fool! 22 Those other teachers may say that they are Jews. And I am a Jew also. They may say that they belong to Israel’s people. And I belong to Israel’s people also. They may say that they belong to Abraham’s family. And I belong to Abraham’s family also. 23 They may say that they are Christ’s servants. (I speak like a fool.) But I am a better servant than they are. I have worked much more than they have worked. I have been in prisons more often than they have been in prisons. I could not begin to count how many times people have hit me. I have nearly died many times.

24 At five different times, the Jews hit me with a stick 39 times. 25 Other people hit me with sticks three times. People threw stones at me to kill me once. Three times I have been on ships that broke in the sea. Once I was in the sea for a night and a day. 26 I have travelled very much. I have been in danger from rivers and from people who rob. I have been in danger from my own people and from other people, who do not know God. I have been in danger in cities and in country places. I have been in danger on the sea. And I have been in danger from people who said that they were Christ’s. But those people were not really Christ’s.

27 I have worked very much, so that I have been very, very tired. Many times I have not slept. Many times I have been hungry and I have had nothing to drink. Many times I have had no food and I have been cold and without clothes. 28 All these troubles have happened to me. But also, every day I think about all the groups of believers, because they matter so much to me. 29 When one of these believers is weak, then I feel weak too. When something causes one of them to do something wrong, then I am very sad and angry about it.

30 If I must say good things about myself, I will speak only about my own weakness. I will speak only about things that show my weakness. 31 I am saying only true things. And the God and Father of the Lord Jesus, whom everyone should thank always, knows that. 32 When I was in Damascus, the ruler of that city sent soldiers to look for me. The soldiers were round the city and they were trying to catch me. The ruler of the city was under the authority of Aretas, who was king. 33 But I got away from the ruler of the city. I got away in a basket. Some friends put the basket through a window and they let it go down the wall to the ground.

Verses 32-33 See Acts 9:23-25.

Chapter 12

God has shown Paul special things in heaven

1 I must say more things about myself, even if I am a fool to say them. But I will tell you about some of the special, secret things that the Lord has shown to me. 2 I know a man who is united with Christ. Fourteen (14) years ago, God took this man up to the highest heaven. I do not know whether this man was still in his body. I do not know whether he was out of his body. Only God knows. 3-4 I know that God took this man up to heaven. I do not know whether this man was still in his body or not. Only God knows. And when this man was in heaven, he heard special, secret things. He heard things that no words could ever describe. God will not let any human person speak about those things.

Verses 2-4 Paul is speaking about himself in these verses.

5 I will say good things about a man like that. But I will not say good things about myself. I will speak only about the things that show my own weakness. 6 If I did want to say good things about myself, I would not be a fool. No, because I would be saying true things. But I will not say good things about myself, because I want everyone to think properly about me. I do not want anyone to think better things about me than what they themselves see or hear.

God himself makes us strong when we are weak

7 God showed me so many things that were very great and special. But he did not want me to start thinking, as a result, that I myself was too great or special. So, he let me have something sharp and painful in my body, to stop me from thinking like that. This painful thing is an angel from Satan, that he sent to hurt me. 8 I asked the Lord three times to take this painful thing away from me. 9 But he said to me: ‘I myself will help you and I will make you strong. I am everything that you need. When you are weak, then I will be powerful in you. Then I will show more completely how powerful I myself am.’

So, I am very happy to speak about how weak I am. When I am weak, then Christ’s power stays over me. 10 That is why I am very happy to be weak. I am happy when people say bad things about me. Sometimes I do not have things that I need. But I am happy then too. I am happy when people cause trouble and pain for me. I am happy when I am in difficulties. I am happy about these things because of Christ. Because when I am weak, then I am strong.

Paul is afraid about what the believers at Corinth might do

11 I am speaking like a fool but you have made me do it. You yourselves ought to be saying good things about me. You enjoy listening to those other special teachers. But even if I am nothing, I am quite as good as those teachers. 12 When I was there with you, I was very patient. I did many things to show certainly that God had sent me to be a special worker and teacher. I did powerful things that surprised you. You knew that only God could make me do things like that. 13 You were never less important to me than all the other groups of believers. I myself never asked you to give anything to me. That was because I did not want to be any trouble to you. But you should not feel less important because of that. You should not think that I did something wrong to you!

14 This is the third time now that I am ready to visit you. I will not ask you to give anything to me. I do not want the things that are yours. Instead, I want you yourselves. Children should not have to supply what their parents need. No, but instead, parents should supply what their children need. 15 I will be very happy to give everything that I have to you. I will be happy to give myself also, because I want so very much to help you. Perhaps I love you much more than I should love you. But I hope that you will not love me less because of that.

16 You must agree that I did not ask you for anything. But some of you say that I was not honest with you. I was clever and, like fools, you believed me. That is what some of you say. 17 I sent people to you. But I did not use any of them to get anything from you for myself. 18 I asked Titus to visit you, because I wanted him very much to do that. And I sent another friend, who is also a believer, with him. But certainly, you could not say that Titus used you to get anything for himself. And I had the same good purpose as Titus. We both wanted the same good things for you. The same Spirit led both of us.

19 Perhaps you think like this about us. All the time, we have been trying to show you how right we ourselves are. Perhaps this is what you think. But we are not doing that. We have been speaking as people who are united with Christ. And we know that God sees us always. Our friends that we love, we want only to help you. Everything that we do is to help you. That is so that you become stronger. 20 I am hoping to see good things when I come there to visit you. I know what kind of people I want you to be. But I am afraid that you might be different from that. You might not be as I wanted you to be. Also, I might be different from what you wanted me to be.

I am afraid that you might be quarrelling. Some of you might not be happy about what other people have got. You might be angry with each other. Some of you might be enemies because you want to be better than each other. You might be saying bad things about each other. Some of you might be thinking that you are more important than other people. You might not be agreeing, nor doing things properly. I am afraid that I might discover all these things about you.

21 I am afraid about something else also. The next time that I come to visit you, perhaps my God will cause me to feel ashamed about you. And so, I will be sad and I will weep. Many people among you did wrong things before. But still, those people are not sorry about those wrong things. So, I will be sad because of those people. Many people among you have done bad, dirty things with their bodies. They have had sex with people who were not their own wife or husband. They have wanted very much to do wrong things like that. But they have not turned away from those things.

Chapter 13

Paul is ready to be angry with the Christians at Corinth

1 This is the third time that I will be coming to visit you. Remember this: ‘There must be two or three people to say certainly that another person has done something wrong. Two or three people must agree about the facts.’ [Deuteronomy 19:15] 2 I am speaking now to you people who did wrong things before. I am speaking also to all the other people. I said this before, when I visited you the second time. And I say it again now, while I am away from you. When I visit you again, I will make you feel sorry. I will make everyone who has done wrong things feel sorry. I will not try to be kind to anyone who has done wrong things.

3 You are demanding to know certainly that Christ speaks by me. So, I will cause you to know that certainly. When Christ works in you, he is not weak. No, but he does powerful things among you. 4 Certainly, Christ was weak when people killed him on the cross. But he lives by God’s power. And, because we are united with him, we are weak too. But, by God’s power, we will live with him so that we are strong to work among you.

5 Think carefully about how you yourselves are living. Ask yourselves whether you are really believing Christ. Decide certainly about yourselves. You ought to know that Jesus Christ is in you. You ought to know this, unless you do not really belong to him. 6 I hope that you will be sure about us. We do really belong to Jesus Christ. I hope that you will know that.

7 Now we pray to God that you will do nothing wrong. We do not pray this to show good things about ourselves. We only want you to do what is right. We want that, even if we seem to have failed. 8 We can only work on behalf of what is true. We cannot do anything against what is true. 9 We are happy when we are weak. If our weakness helps you to be strong, then we are happy. We want you to become completely as God wants you to be. We pray for that also.

10 I am writing these things to you while I am away from you. So then, when I arrive, I will not need to be angry with you. I will not have to use my authority to punish you. The Lord gave this authority to me so that I could help you to become stronger. He did not give it to me so that I could destroy you.

11 And now I say ‘goodbye’ to you, my friends. Try to do only good things. Listen to the things that I am asking you to do. Agree with each other. Do not quarrel, but instead try to be friends with everyone. Then the God who loves will be with you. The God who causes us to be without trouble inside ourselves will be with you. 12 Say ‘hello’ to each other with a friendly kiss because you are God’s people. 13 All God’s people here say ‘hello’ to you. 14 I pray that the Lord Jesus Christ will continue to be very kind to you. I pray that you will love God and each other as God loves you. And I pray that God’s Spirit will cause you to be united.

Word List

AD
AD 50 means the year that was 50 years after Jesus came, and so on.
agreement
when two or more people, or God and people, agree about certain things.
angel
spirit being. Good angels come from God’s home beyond the earth. They are God’s servants and they bring messages from God to people.
being
a person or animal that is alive.
clay
sticky material from the ground that people use to make pots.
comfort
to help someone to be strong when they have trouble or pain, or when they are sad.
Devil
the bad spirit who wants to be God. He is the ruler of bad angels and of all that is bad. He is the enemy of Christians.
forgive
when God (or another person) chooses to forget the wrong things that we do.
heaven
the place beyond the earth where God and Jesus Christ live.
Jew
a person who is born from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their children.
Lord
master. Another name for God. It means that he is greater than everyone else.
Old Testament
the first part of the Bible, that describes events before Jesus’ life on earth.
power
what someone is able to do. Human power includes everything that we can think or do by ourselves, without God’s help.
punish
to hurt someone, or to cause trouble for them, because they have done bad things.
Satan
another name for the Devil.
spirit
a being that is always alive, even without a body. A person’s spirit is the part of them that will always be alive. It will be alive even after their body is dead. There are good spirits, like God’s Spirit and his angels. And there are bad spirits, like Satan and his angels.
tent
a house that people have made out of cloth or animals’ skins. People can move a tent to different places.
weapon
something that people use to fight with.

Book List

A. Marshall ~ The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament

Various Bible versions

Info

© Wycliffe Associates (UK), 1997-2005

This version published July 2005

The translated Bible text has been through Advanced Checking.