Bible: 2 Corinthians 4-6
Paul’s Perseverance in Ministry
4:1 Therefore, since we have this ministry, just as God has shown us mercy, 1 we do not become discouraged. 2 4:2 But we have rejected 3 shameful hidden deeds, 4 not behaving 5 with deceptiveness 6 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 7 so they would not see the light of the glorious gospel 8 of Christ, 9 who is the image of God. 4:5 For we do not proclaim 10 ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves 11 for Jesus’ sake. 4:6 For God, who said “Let light shine out of darkness,” 12 is the one who shined in our hearts to give us the light of the glorious knowledge 13 of God in the face of Christ. 14
An Eternal Weight of Glory
4:7 But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that the extraordinary power 15 belongs to God and does not come from us. 4:8 We are experiencing trouble on every side, 16 but are not crushed; we are perplexed, 17 but not driven to despair; 4:9 we are persecuted, but not abandoned; 18 we are knocked down, 19 but not destroyed, 4:10 always carrying around in our body the death of Jesus, 20 so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible 21 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 22 in our mortal body. 23 4:12 As a result, 24 death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. 25 4:13 But since we have the same spirit of faith as that shown in 26 what has been written, “I believed; therefore I spoke,” 27 we also believe, therefore we also speak. 4:14 We do so 28 because we know that the one who raised up Jesus 29 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 30 more and more people may cause thanksgiving to increase 31 to the glory of God. 4:16 Therefore we do not despair, 32 but even if our physical body 33 is wearing away, our inner person 34 is being renewed day by day. 4:17 For our momentary, light suffering 35 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, 36 is dismantled, 37 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 38 we groan, because we desire to put on 39 our heavenly dwelling, 5:3 if indeed, after we have put on 40 our heavenly house, 41 we will not be found naked. 5:4 For we groan while we are in this tent, 42 since we are weighed down, 43 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 44 is God, who gave us the Spirit as a down payment. 45 5:6 Therefore we are always full of courage, and we know that as long as we are alive here on earth 46 we are absent from the Lord – 5:7 for we live 47 by faith, not by sight. 5:8 Thus we are full of courage and would prefer to be away 48 from the body and at home with the Lord. 5:9 So then whether we are alive 49 or away, we make it our ambition to please him. 50 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, 51 so that each one may be paid back according to what he has done while in the body, whether good or evil. 52
The Message of Reconciliation
5:11 Therefore, because we know the fear of the Lord, 53 we try to persuade 54 people, 55 but we are well known 56 to God, and I hope we are well known to your consciences too. 5:12 We are not trying to commend 57 ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to be proud of us, 58 so that you may be able to answer those who take pride 59 in outward appearance 60 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 61 controls us, since we have concluded this, that Christ 62 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. 63 5:16 So then from now on we acknowledge 64 no one from an outward human point of view. 65 Even though we have known Christ from such a human point of view, 66 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 67 – look, what is new 68 has come! 69 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 70 the message of reconciliation. 5:20 Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making His plea 71 through us. We plead with you 72 on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to God!” 5:21 God 73 made the one who did not know sin 74 to be sin for us, so that in him 75 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. 76 6:2 For he says, “I heard you at the acceptable time, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” 77 Look, now is the acceptable time; look, now is the day of salvation! 6:3 We do not give anyone 78 an occasion for taking an offense in anything, 79 so that no fault may be found with our ministry. 6:4 But as God’s servants, 80 we have commended ourselves in every way, 81 with great endurance, in persecutions, 82 in difficulties, in distresses, 6:5 in beatings, in imprisonments, in riots, 83 in troubles, 84 in sleepless nights, in hunger, 6:6 by purity, by knowledge, by patience, by benevolence, by the Holy Spirit, 85 by genuine 86 love, 6:7 by truthful 87 teaching, 88 by the power of God, with weapons of righteousness both for the right hand and for the left, 89 6:8 through glory and dishonor, through slander and praise; regarded as impostors, 90 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 91 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, 92 Corinthians; our heart has been opened wide to you. 6:12 Our affection for you is not restricted, 93 but you are restricted in your affections for us. 6:13 Now as a fair exchange – I speak as to my 94 children – open wide your hearts to us 95 also.
6:14 Do not become partners 96 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? 97 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 98 the temple of the living God, just as God said, “I will live in them 99 and will walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” 100 6:17 Therefore “come out from their midst, and be separate,” says the Lord, “and touch no unclean thing, 101 and I will welcome 102 you, 103 6:18 and I will be a father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters,” 104 says the All-Powerful Lord. 105