Paul boasts like a fool.
We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another, and compare themselves with one another, they do not show good sense. We, however, will not boast beyond limits, but will keep within the field that God has assigned to us, to reach out even as far as you. For we were not overstepping our limits when we reached you; we were the first to come all the way to you with the good news of Christ. We do not boast beyond limits, that is, in the labors of others; but our hope is that, as your faith increases, our sphere of action among you may be greatly enlarged, so that we may proclaim the good news in lands beyond you, without boasting of work already done in someone else’s sphere of action. “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”For it is not those who commend themselves that are approved, but those whom the Lord commends (vv. 12-18).
Look at what is going on right in front of you. If anyone is convinced that he belongs to the Anointed, then he should think again; even if he belongs to Him, so do we. I’m not embarrassed, even if it seems to others I have gone overboard in speaking about the power the Lord has given us to edify and encourage you and not to destroy anyone who strays. I don’t want it to seem as if I’m simply trying to scare you with my letters; they are not hollow. For some people are saying, “Paul’s letters sound authoritative and strong, but in person he just doesn’t measure up—even his speeches don’t deliver.”They need to understand this: whatever we say through our letters when we are away, that is exactly what we will do when we are looking you in the eye (vv. 7-11).
I, Paul, appeal to you in the same gentle and loving spirit of the Anointed—yes, I who am humble when I’m face-to-face with you but audacious to you in these letters when I’m away (I know what they say). If it were up to me, I’d rather not have to be so bold when I’m with you, especially with the kind of forceful confidence I can work up when I confront those who have accused us of walking in a worldly way. For though we walk in the world, we do not fight according to this world’s rules of warfare. The weapons of the war we’re fighting are not of this world but are powered by God and effective at tearing down the strongholds erected against His truth. We are demolishing arguments and ideas, every high-and-mighty philosophy that pits itself against the knowledge ofthe one true God. We are taking prisoners of every thought, every emotion, and subduing them into obedience to the Anointed One. As soon as you choose obedience, we stand ready to punish every act of disobedience (vv. 1-6).
Paul justifies himself.
You will be made rich in everything so that your generosity will spill over in every direction. Through us your generosity is at work inspiring praise and thanksgiving to God. For this mission will do more than bring food and water to fellow believers in need—it will overflow in a cascade of praises and thanksgivings for our God. When this mission reaches Jerusalem and meets with the approval of God’s people there, they will give glory to God because your confession of the gospel of the Anointed One led to obedient action and your generous sharing with them and with all exhibited your sincere concern. Because of the extraordinary grace of God at work in you, they will pray for you and long for you. Praise God for this incredible, unbelievable, indescribable gift! (vv. 11-15)
The same One who has put seed into the hands of the sower and brought bread to fill our stomachs will provide and multiply the resources you invest and produce an abundant harvest from your righteous actions (v. 10).