Bible: 2 Corinthians 10-12

Paul’s Authority from the Lord

10:1 Now I, Paul, appeal to you 1  personally 2  by the meekness and gentleness 3  of Christ (I who am meek 4  when present among 5  you, but am full of courage 6  toward you when away!) – 10:2 now I ask that when I am present I may not have to be bold with the confidence that (I expect) I will dare to use against some who consider us to be behaving 7  according to human standards. 8  10:3 For though we live 9  as human beings, 10  we do not wage war according to human standards, 11  10:4 for the weapons of our warfare are not human weapons, 12  but are made powerful by God 13  for tearing down strongholds. 14  We tear down arguments 15  10:5 and every arrogant obstacle 16  that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to make it obey 17  Christ. 10:6 We are also ready to punish every act of disobedience, 18  whenever your obedience is complete. 10:7 You are looking at outward appearances. 19  If anyone is confident that he belongs to Christ, he should reflect on this again: Just as he himself belongs to Christ, so too do we. 10:8 For if I boast somewhat more about our authority that the Lord gave us 20  for building you up and not for tearing you down, I will not be ashamed of doing so. 21  10:9 I do not want to seem as though I am trying to terrify you with my letters, 10:10 because some say, “His letters are weighty and forceful, but his physical presence is weak 22  and his speech is of no account.” 23  10:11 Let such a person consider this: What we say 24  by letters when we are absent, we also are in actions when we are present.

Paul’s Mission

10:12 For we would not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who recommend themselves. But when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding. 25  10:13 But we will not boast beyond certain limits, 26  but will confine our boasting 27  according to the limits of the work to which God has appointed us, 28  that reaches even as far as you. 10:14 For we were not overextending ourselves, as though we did not reach as far as you, because we were the first to reach as far as you with the gospel about Christ. 29  10:15 Nor do we boast beyond certain limits 30  in the work 31  done by others, but we hope 32  that as your faith continues to grow, our work may be greatly expanded 33  among you according to our limits, 34  10:16 so that we may preach the gospel in the regions that lie beyond you, and not boast of work already done in another person’s area. 10:17 But the one who boasts must boast in the Lord. 35  10:18 For it is not the person who commends himself who is approved, but the person the Lord commends.

Paul and His Opponents

11:1 I wish that you would be patient with me in a little foolishness, but indeed you are being patient with me! 11:2 For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy, because I promised you in marriage to one husband, 36  to present you as a pure 37  virgin to Christ. 11:3 But I am afraid that 38  just as the serpent 39  deceived Eve by his treachery, 40  your minds may be led astray 41  from a sincere and pure 42  devotion to Christ. 11:4 For if someone comes and proclaims 43  another Jesus different from the one we proclaimed, 44  or if you receive a different spirit than the one you received, 45  or a different gospel than the one you accepted, 46  you put up with it well enough! 47  11:5 For I consider myself not at all inferior to those “super-apostles.” 48  11:6 And even if I am unskilled 49  in speaking, yet I am certainly not so in knowledge. Indeed, we have made this plain to you in everything in every way. 11:7 Or did I commit a sin by humbling myself 50  so that you could be exalted, because I proclaimed 51  the gospel of God to you free of charge? 11:8 I robbed other churches by receiving support from them so that I could serve you! 52  11:9 When 53  I was with you and was in need, I was not a burden to anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia fully supplied my needs. 54  I 55  kept myself from being a burden to you in any way, and will continue to do so. 11:10 As the truth of Christ is in me, this boasting of mine 56  will not be stopped 57  in the regions of Achaia. 11:11 Why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do! 58  11:12 And what I am doing I will continue to do, so that I may eliminate any opportunity for those who want a chance to be regarded as our equals 59  in the things they boast about. 11:13 For such people are false apostles, deceitful 60  workers, disguising themselves 61  as apostles of Christ. 11:14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself 62  as an angel of light. 11:15 Therefore it is not surprising his servants also disguise themselves 63  as servants of righteousness, whose end will correspond to their actions. 64 

Paul’s Sufferings for Christ

11:16 I say again, let no one think that I am a fool. 65  But if you do, then at least accept me as a fool, so that I too may boast a little. 11:17 What I am saying with this boastful confidence 66  I do not say the way the Lord would. 67  Instead it is, as it were, foolishness. 11:18 Since many 68  are boasting according to human standards, 69  I too will boast. 11:19 For since you are so wise, you put up with 70  fools gladly. 11:20 For you put up with 71  it if someone makes slaves of you, if someone exploits you, if someone takes advantage of you, if someone behaves arrogantly 72  toward you, if someone strikes you in the face. 11:21 (To my disgrace 73  I must say that we were too weak for that!) 74  But whatever anyone else dares to boast about 75  (I am speaking foolishly), I also dare to boast about the same thing. 76  11:22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. 11:23 Are they servants of Christ? (I am talking like I am out of my mind!) I am even more so: with much greater labors, with far more imprisonments, with more severe beatings, facing death many times. 11:24 Five times I received from the Jews forty lashes less one. 77  11:25 Three times I was beaten with a rod. 78  Once I received a stoning. 79  Three times I suffered shipwreck. A night and a day I spent adrift in the open sea. 11:26 I have been on journeys many times, in dangers from rivers, in dangers from robbers, 80  in dangers from my own countrymen, in dangers from Gentiles, in dangers in the city, in dangers in the wilderness, 81  in dangers at sea, in dangers from false brothers, 11:27 in hard work and toil, 82  through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, many times without food, in cold and without enough clothing. 83  11:28 Apart from other things, 84  there is the daily pressure on me of my anxious concern 85  for all the churches. 11:29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is led into sin, 86  and I do not burn with indignation? 11:30 If I must boast, 87  I will boast about the things that show my weakness. 88  11:31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is blessed forever, knows I am not lying. 11:32 In Damascus, the governor 89  under King Aretas was guarding the city of Damascus 90  in order to arrest 91  me, 11:33 but I was let down in a rope-basket 92  through a window in the city wall, and escaped his hands.

Paul’s Thorn in the Flesh

12:1 It is necessary to go on boasting. 93  Though it is not profitable, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. 12:2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago (whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows) was caught up to the third heaven. 12:3 And I know that this man (whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows) 12:4 was caught up into paradise 94  and heard things too sacred to be put into words, 95  things that a person 96  is not permitted to speak. 12:5 On behalf of such an individual I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except about my weaknesses. 12:6 For even if I wish to boast, I will not be a fool, for I would be telling 97  the truth, but I refrain from this so that no one may regard 98  me beyond what he sees in me or what he hears from me, 12:7 even because of the extraordinary character of the revelations. Therefore, 99  so that I would not become arrogant, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to trouble 100  me – so that I would not become arrogant. 101  12:8 I asked the Lord three times about this, that it would depart from me. 12:9 But 102  he said to me, “My grace is enough 103  for you, for my 104  power is made perfect 105  in weakness.” So then, I will boast most gladly 106  about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reside in 107  me. 12:10 Therefore I am content with 108  weaknesses, with insults, with troubles, with persecutions and difficulties 109  for the sake of Christ, for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.

The Signs of an Apostle

12:11 I have become a fool. You yourselves forced me to do it, for I should have been commended by you. For I lack nothing in comparison 110  to those “super-apostles,” even though I am nothing. 12:12 Indeed, the signs of an apostle were performed among you with great perseverance 111  by signs and wonders and powerful deeds. 112  12:13 For how 113  were you treated worse than the other churches, except that I myself was not a burden to you? Forgive me this injustice! 12:14 Look, for the third time I am ready to come to you, and I will not be a burden to you, because I do not want your possessions, but you. For children should not have 114  to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. 12:15 Now I will most gladly spend and be spent for your lives! 115  If I love you more, am I to be loved less? 12:16 But be that as it may, I have not burdened you. Yet because I was a crafty person, I took you in by deceit! 12:17 I have not taken advantage of you through anyone I have sent to you, have I? 116  12:18 I urged Titus to visit you 117  and I sent our 118  brother along with him. Titus did not take advantage of you, did he? 119  Did we not conduct ourselves in the same spirit? Did we not behave in the same way? 120  12:19 Have you been thinking all this time 121  that we have been defending ourselves to you? We are speaking in Christ before God, and everything we do, dear friends, is to build you up. 122  12:20 For I am afraid that somehow when I come I will not find you what I wish, and you will find me 123  not what you wish. I am afraid that 124  somehow there may be quarreling, jealousy, intense anger, selfish ambition, 125  slander, gossip, arrogance, and disorder. 12:21 I am afraid that 126  when I come again, my God may humiliate me before you, and I will grieve for 127  many of those who previously sinned and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and licentiousness that they have practiced.

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