I consider myself in league with the so-called great emissaries; I lack nothing. Even if I’m not the greatest speaker, I make up for it by what I know of God and have proved it time and again to you. Was it a sin to humble myself and serve you so that you might be lifted up? Did I wrong you somehow by instructing you in the good news of God without charge? In a sense, I robbed other churches by accepting their support just so I could serve you. If any need arose while I was with you, I didn’t trouble anyone. When the brothers and sisters arrived from Macedonia, they covered all my needs so that I didn’t become a burden to any of you; and I plan on keeping it that way. For I tell you,as the truth of the Anointed One lives in me, I will continue to boast about this all throughout Achaia. Why am I doing this? It’s not because I don’t love you—God knows I do— but I will continue doing what I am doing to cut off any opportunity—clearlysome are looking for one—for these false emissaries, these low-down, untrustworthy preachers, these posers who act as emissaries of the Anointed, to claim that they work under the same terms that we do. No wonder they are so good at it. Satan himself poses as a messenger of heavenly light, so why should we expect less from his servants—plodding over the earth, pretending to be ministers of righteousness—but in the end, they’ll get what’s coming to them (vv. 5-15).
Please endure a little foolishness on my part; you have come so far with me already.To be completely honest, I am extremely jealous for you; but it’s the same kind of jealousy God has for you. You see, like an attentive father, I have pledged your hand in marriage and promised to present you as a pure virgin to the One who would be your husband, the Anointed One. But now I’m afraid that as that serpent tricked Eve with his wiles, so your hearts and minds will be tricked and you will stray from the single-minded love and pure devotion to Him. So then, if someone comes along and presents you with a Jesus different from the one we told you about, or if you receive a spirit different from the one gifted through our Lord Jesus, or even if you hear a gospel different from the one you heard through us; then you’re ready to go with it (vv. 1-4).
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).