Bible: 2 Corinthians 2-7
2:14 But thanks be to God who always leads us in triumphal procession 22 in Christ 23 and who makes known 24 through us the fragrance that consists of the knowledge of him in every place. 2:15 For we are a sweet aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing – 2:16 to the latter an odor 25 from death to death, but to the former a fragrance from life to life. And who is adequate for these things? 26 2:17 For we are not like so many others, hucksters who peddle the word of God for profit, 27 but we are speaking in Christ before 28 God as persons of sincerity, 29 as persons sent from God.
A Living Letter
3:1 Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? We don’t need letters of recommendation to you or from you as some other people do, do we? 30 3:2 You yourselves are our letter, 31 written on our hearts, known and read by everyone, 3:3 revealing 32 that you are a letter of Christ, delivered by us, 33 written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on stone tablets 34 but on tablets of human hearts.
3:4 Now we have such confidence in God through Christ. 3:5 Not that we are adequate 35 in ourselves to consider anything as if it were coming from ourselves, but our adequacy 36 is from God, 3:6 who made us adequate 37 to be servants of a new covenant 38 not based on the letter but on the Spirit, for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
The Greater Glory of the Spirit’s Ministry
3:7 But if the ministry that produced death – carved in letters on stone tablets 39 – came with glory, so that the Israelites 40 could not keep their eyes fixed on the face of Moses because of the glory of his face 41 (a glory 42 which was made ineffective), 43 3:8 how much more glorious will the ministry of the Spirit be? 44 3:9 For if there was glory in the ministry that produced condemnation, 45 how much more does the ministry that produces righteousness 46 excel 47 in glory! 3:10 For indeed, what had been glorious now 48 has no glory because of the tremendously greater glory of what replaced it. 49 3:11 For if what was made ineffective 50 came with 51 glory, how much more has what remains 52 come in glory! 3:12 Therefore, since we have such a hope, we behave with great boldness, 53 3:13 and not like Moses who used to put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites 54 from staring 55 at the result 56 of the glory that was made ineffective. 57 3:14 But their minds were closed. 58 For to this very day, the same veil remains when they hear the old covenant read. 59 It has not been removed because only in Christ is it taken away. 60 3:15 But until this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds, 61 3:16 but when one 62 turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 63 3:17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is present, 64 there is freedom. 3:18 And we all, with unveiled faces reflecting the glory of the Lord, 65 are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another, 66 which is from 67 the Lord, who is the Spirit. 68
Paul’s Perseverance in Ministry
4:1 Therefore, since we have this ministry, just as God has shown us mercy, 69 we do not become discouraged. 70 4:2 But we have rejected 71 shameful hidden deeds, 72 not behaving 73 with deceptiveness 74 or distorting the word of God, but by open proclamation of the truth we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience before God. 4:3 But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing, 4:4 among whom the god of this age has blinded the minds of those who do not believe 75 so they would not see the light of the glorious gospel 76 of Christ, 77 who is the image of God. 4:5 For we do not proclaim 78 ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves 79 for Jesus’ sake. 4:6 For God, who said “Let light shine out of darkness,” 80 is the one who shined in our hearts to give us the light of the glorious knowledge 81 of God in the face of Christ. 82
An Eternal Weight of Glory
4:7 But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that the extraordinary power 83 belongs to God and does not come from us. 4:8 We are experiencing trouble on every side, 84 but are not crushed; we are perplexed, 85 but not driven to despair; 4:9 we are persecuted, but not abandoned; 86 we are knocked down, 87 but not destroyed, 4:10 always carrying around in our body the death of Jesus, 88 so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible 89 in our body. 4:11 For we who are alive are constantly being handed over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible 90 in our mortal body. 91 4:12 As a result, 92 death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. 93 4:13 But since we have the same spirit of faith as that shown in 94 what has been written, “I believed; therefore I spoke,” 95 we also believe, therefore we also speak. 4:14 We do so 96 because we know that the one who raised up Jesus 97 will also raise us up with Jesus and will bring us with you into his presence. 4:15 For all these things are for your sake, so that the grace that is including 98 more and more people may cause thanksgiving to increase 99 to the glory of God. 4:16 Therefore we do not despair, 100 but even if our physical body 101 is wearing away, our inner person 102 is being renewed day by day. 4:17 For our momentary, light suffering 103 is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison 4:18 because we are not looking at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen. For what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.
Living by Faith, Not by Sight
5:1 For we know that if our earthly house, the tent we live in, 104 is dismantled, 105 we have a building from God, a house not built by human hands, that is eternal in the heavens. 5:2 For in this earthly house 106 we groan, because we desire to put on 107 our heavenly dwelling, 5:3 if indeed, after we have put on 108 our heavenly house, 109 we will not be found naked. 5:4 For we groan while we are in this tent, 110 since we are weighed down, 111 because we do not want to be unclothed, but clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5:5 Now the one who prepared us for this very purpose 112 is God, who gave us the Spirit as a down payment. 113 5:6 Therefore we are always full of courage, and we know that as long as we are alive here on earth 114 we are absent from the Lord – 5:7 for we live 115 by faith, not by sight. 5:8 Thus we are full of courage and would prefer to be away 116 from the body and at home with the Lord. 5:9 So then whether we are alive 117 or away, we make it our ambition to please him. 118 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, 119 so that each one may be paid back according to what he has done while in the body, whether good or evil. 120
The Message of Reconciliation
5:11 Therefore, because we know the fear of the Lord, 121 we try to persuade 122 people, 123 but we are well known 124 to God, and I hope we are well known to your consciences too. 5:12 We are not trying to commend 125 ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to be proud of us, 126 so that you may be able to answer those who take pride 127 in outward appearance 128 and not in what is in the heart. 5:13 For if we are out of our minds, it is for God; if we are of sound mind, it is for you. 5:14 For the love of Christ 129 controls us, since we have concluded this, that Christ 130 died for all; therefore all have died. 5:15 And he died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised. 131 5:16 So then from now on we acknowledge 132 no one from an outward human point of view. 133 Even though we have known Christ from such a human point of view, 134 now we do not know him in that way any longer. 5:17 So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away 135 – look, what is new 136 has come! 137 5:18 And all these things are from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and who has given us the ministry of reconciliation. 5:19 In other words, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting people’s trespasses against them, and he has given us 138 the message of reconciliation. 5:20 Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making His plea 139 through us. We plead with you 140 on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to God!” 5:21 God 141 made the one who did not know sin 142 to be sin for us, so that in him 143 we would become the righteousness of God.
God’s Suffering Servants
6:1 Now because we are fellow workers, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 144 6:2 For he says, “I heard you at the acceptable time, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” 145 Look, now is the acceptable time; look, now is the day of salvation! 6:3 We do not give anyone 146 an occasion for taking an offense in anything, 147 so that no fault may be found with our ministry. 6:4 But as God’s servants, 148 we have commended ourselves in every way, 149 with great endurance, in persecutions, 150 in difficulties, in distresses, 6:5 in beatings, in imprisonments, in riots, 151 in troubles, 152 in sleepless nights, in hunger, 6:6 by purity, by knowledge, by patience, by benevolence, by the Holy Spirit, 153 by genuine 154 love, 6:7 by truthful 155 teaching, 156 by the power of God, with weapons of righteousness both for the right hand and for the left, 157 6:8 through glory and dishonor, through slander and praise; regarded as impostors, 158 and yet true; 6:9 as unknown, and yet well-known; as dying and yet – see! – we continue to live; as those who are scourged 159 and yet not executed; 6:10 as sorrowful, but always rejoicing, as poor, but making many rich, as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
6:11 We have spoken freely to you, 160 Corinthians; our heart has been opened wide to you. 6:12 Our affection for you is not restricted, 161 but you are restricted in your affections for us. 6:13 Now as a fair exchange – I speak as to my 162 children – open wide your hearts to us 163 also.
6:14 Do not become partners 164 with those who do not believe, for what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship does light have with darkness? 6:15 And what agreement does Christ have with Beliar? 165 Or what does a believer share in common with an unbeliever? 6:16 And what mutual agreement does the temple of God have with idols? For we are 166 the temple of the living God, just as God said, “I will live in them 167 and will walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” 168 6:17 Therefore “come out from their midst, and be separate,” says the Lord, “and touch no unclean thing, 169 and I will welcome 170 you, 171 6:18 and I will be a father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters,” 172 says the All-Powerful Lord. 173
7:1 Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves 174 from everything that could defile the body 175 and the spirit, and thus accomplish 176 holiness out of reverence for God. 177 7:2 Make room for us in your hearts; 178 we have wronged no one, we have ruined no one, 179 we have exploited no one. 180 7:3 I do not say this to condemn you, for I told you before 181 that you are in our hearts so that we die together and live together with you. 182
A Letter That Caused Sadness
7:4 I have great confidence in you; I take great pride 183 on your behalf. I am filled with encouragement; 184 I am overflowing with joy in the midst of 185 all our suffering. 7:5 For even when we came into Macedonia, our body 186 had no rest at all, but we were troubled in every way – struggles from the outside, fears from within. 7:6 But God, who encourages 187 the downhearted, encouraged 188 us by the arrival of Titus. 7:7 We were encouraged 189 not only by his arrival, but also by the encouragement 190 you gave 191 him, as he reported to us your longing, your mourning, 192 your deep concern 193 for me, so that I rejoiced more than ever. 7:8 For even if I made you sad 194 by my letter, 195 I do not regret having written it 196 (even though I did regret it, 197 for 198 I see that my letter made you sad, 199 though only for a short time). 7:9 Now I rejoice, not because you were made sad, 200 but because you were made sad to the point of repentance. For you were made sad as God intended, 201 so that you were not harmed 202 in any way by us. 7:10 For sadness as intended by God produces a repentance that leads to salvation, leaving no regret, but worldly sadness brings about death. 7:11 For see what this very thing, this sadness 203 as God intended, has produced in you: what eagerness, what defense of yourselves, 204 what indignation, 205 what alarm, what longing, what deep concern, 206 what punishment! 207 In everything you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter. 7:12 So then, even though I wrote to you, it was not on account of the one who did wrong, or on account of the one who was wronged, but to reveal to you your eagerness on our behalf 208 before God. 7:13 Therefore we have been encouraged. And in addition to our own encouragement, we rejoiced even more at the joy of Titus, because all of you have refreshed his spirit. 209 7:14 For if I have boasted to him about anything concerning you, I have not been embarrassed by you, 210 but just as everything we said to you was true, 211 so our boasting to Titus about you 212 has proved true as well. 7:15 And his affection for you is much greater 213 when he remembers the obedience of you all, how you welcomed him with fear and trembling. 7:16 I rejoice because in everything I am fully confident in you.