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Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,

To the church of God that is in Corinth, together with all the saints who are everywhere in Achaia:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

God Comforts and Rescues Us

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our trouble, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the same comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so through Christ our comfort also overflows. If we are troubled, it is for your comfort and salvation. If we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you the ability to endure the same sufferings that we are also suffering. Our hope for you is sure, since we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so you also share in our comfort.

Brothers,[a] we do not want you to be unaware of the trouble that happened to us in the province of Asia. We were burdened so greatly, so far beyond our ability to bear it, that we even gave up hope of living. Yes, we even felt the sentence of death within ourselves. This happened so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God, who raises the dead. 10 He rescued us from such a terrible death, and he will continue to rescue us. We have set our hope on him that he will also rescue us again, 11 as you join in helping us with your prayers for us. Then many people will thank God for the gracious gift given to us through many prayers.

Paul Explains a Change in Plans

12 Indeed, this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world with God-given holiness[b] and sincerity, not with the wisdom of the flesh, but rather in God’s grace—especially toward you. 13 In fact, we are not writing you anything other than what you read or also understand. And I hope you will understand completely— 14 as you have also understood us in part—that on the day of our Lord Jesus we are going to be your reason for boasting, just as you are our reason.

15 In this confidence, I was planning to visit you first, so that you would have a second gracious gift. 16 Then I planned to travel from you on to Macedonia, and to return again from Macedonia to you to receive help from you on my way to Judea. 17 So when I made this plan, I did not do it lightly, did I? Or the things I plan, am I planning them the way the sinful flesh does, so that I would be saying both “Yes, yes” and “No, no” at the same time?

18 As surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not “Yes” and “No.” 19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us (by me, Silas,[c] and Timothy), was not “Yes” and “No,” but in him the “Yes” stands firm. 20 In fact, as many promises as God has made, they have always been “Yes” in him. For that reason we also say “Amen” through him to the glory of God.

21 God is the one who makes both us and you to be strong in Christ. He anointed us. 22 He sealed us as his own and gave us the Spirit as the down payment in our hearts.

23 I call God as my witness, on my very life, that I avoided coming to Corinth in order to spare you. 24 Not that we are lording it over your faith, but we are working together with you for your joy. For you stand firm by faith.

That is why I made up my mind that I would not make another sad visit to you. For if I make you sad, then who is there to make me glad, other than those I made sad? I am writing[d] for this very purpose: That when I arrive, I will not be made sad by those who should make me glad. I am confident about all of you—that what gives me joy is what gives joy to all of you. In fact, out of much trouble and anguish of heart I wrote to you with many tears. My goal was not to make you sad, but that you would know how very much I love you.

Forgive and Comfort the Repentant Sinner

Now if anyone has caused sorrow, he has not done it to me, but to all of you to some extent (not to overstate it). This punishment inflicted on such a person by the majority is enough, so that instead you should rather forgive and comfort him, or else such a person could be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. For that reason, I urge you to reaffirm your love for him. In fact, this was also the purpose of my writing: I wanted to know the result of your being tested, that is, if you are obedient in all things.

10 If you forgive anyone anything, I do too. To be sure, if I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven it in the presence of Christ for your sake, 11 so that Satan would not take advantage of us. We are certainly not unaware of his schemes.

The Fragrance of Christ

12 When I came to Troas to proclaim the gospel of Christ and a door was opened for me by the Lord, 13 I had no rest in my spirit, because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I said good-bye to them and went on to Macedonia.

14 But thanks be to God, who always causes us to triumph in Christ and reveals the fragrance of his knowledge through us in every place. 15 Yes, we are the fragrance of Christ for God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 16 To some we are the odor of death that is a prelude to death, to the others the fragrance of life that is a prelude to life. And who is qualified for these things? 17 To be sure, we are not like many who peddle the word of God for profit. Instead, in Christ we speak with sincerity in the sight of God, as men from God.

Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. It is clear that you are a letter from Christ, delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on stone tablets but on tablets that are hearts of flesh.

Such is the confidence we have through Christ before God. Not that we are competent by ourselves to claim that anything comes from us; rather, our competence is from God. He also made us competent as ministers of a new testament[e] (not of letter, but of spirit).[f] For the letter kills, but the spirit[g] gives life.

The Ministry of the Spirit

If the ministry that brought death (which was engraved in letters on stone) came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look directly at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face (though it was fading), how will the ministry of the spirit[h] not be much more glorious? For if the ministry that brought condemnation has glory, the ministry that brought righteousness has even more glory. 10 In fact, in this case, what was glorious is no longer very glorious, because of the greater glory of that which surpasses it. 11 Indeed, if what is fading away was glorious, how much more glorious is that which is permanent!

12 Therefore, since we have this kind of hope, we act with great boldness. 13 We are not like Moses, who put a veil over his face, so that the Israelites could not continue to look at the end of the radiance, as it was fading away. 14 In spite of this, their minds were hardened. Yes, up to the present day, the same veil remains when the Old Testament is read. It has not been removed because it is taken away only in Christ. 15 Instead, to this day, whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their hearts. 16 But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 But all of us who reflect the Lord’s glory with an unveiled face are being transformed into his own image, from one degree of glory to another. This too is from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Treasure in Clay Jars

Therefore, since we have this ministry as a result of the mercy shown us, we are not discouraged. On the contrary, we have renounced shameful, underhanded methods. We do not operate in a deceitful way, and we do not distort the word of God. Instead, by proclaiming the truth clearly, we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.

But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled among those who are perishing. In the case of those people, the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from clearly seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is God’s image.

Indeed, we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For the God who said, “Light will shine out of darkness,”[i] is the same one who made light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the person[j] of Jesus Christ.

We hold this treasure in clay jars to show that its extraordinary power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; perplexed, yet not despairing; persecuted, yet not forsaken; struck down, yet not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of the Lord Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 To be sure, while we are living we are continually being handed over to death because of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our mortal flesh. 12 So then, death is working in us, but life is working in you.

13 Since we have that same spirit of faith, which corresponds to what is written: “I believed; therefore, I have spoken,”[k] we also believe, and therefore we speak. 14 For we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will also raise us with Jesus and bring us (together with you) into his presence. 15 In fact, all this is for your benefit, so that as grace increases, it will overflow to the glory of God, as more and more people give thanks.

16 Therefore we are not discouraged. But even if our outer self is wasting away, yet our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 Yes, our momentary, light trouble produces for us an eternal weight of glory that is far beyond any comparison. 18 We are not focusing on what is seen, but on what is not seen. For the things that are seen are temporary, but the things that are not seen are eternal.

We Long for Heaven

Now we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal home in heaven, which is not made by human hands. In fact, the reason we groan is that we long to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven. If we do indeed put it on,[l] we will certainly not be found naked. To be sure, while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed, but to be clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave us the Spirit as the down payment.

Therefore we are always confident and know that while we are at home in the body, we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. But we are confident and would much prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. And for this reason we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home or away. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he did while in the body, whether good or bad.

11 So, since we know the fear of the Lord, we are trying to persuade people. Now, we are well known by God, and I hope that we are also well known in your consciences. 12 We are not commending ourselves to you again, but we are giving you an opportunity to boast about us, so that you have a reply for those who boast about outward appearance rather than what is in the heart.

13 Actually, if we were out of our minds, it was for God. If we are in our right minds, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ compels[m] us, because we came to this conclusion: One died for all; therefore, all died. 15 And he died for all, so that those who live would no longer live for themselves but for him, who died in their place and was raised again.

God Was in Christ Reconciling the World

16 As a result, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we knew Christ according to the flesh, we no longer know him that way. 17 So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away. The new has come![n] 18 And all these things are from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. 19 That is, God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them. And he has entrusted to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, inasmuch as God is making an appeal through us. We urge you, on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him, who did not know sin, to become sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.


  1. 2 Corinthians 1:8 When context indicates it, the Greek word for brothers may refer to all fellow believers, male and female.
  2. 2 Corinthians 1:12 Some witnesses to the text read honesty. (“Witnesses to the text” mentioned in footnotes may include Greek manuscripts, lectionaries, translations, and quotations in the church fathers.)
  3. 2 Corinthians 1:19 Silvanus in Greek
  4. 2 Corinthians 2:3 Or I wrote
  5. 2 Corinthians 3:6 As in last will and testament. See Galatians 3:15.
  6. 2 Corinthians 3:6 Or Spirit
  7. 2 Corinthians 3:6 Or Spirit
  8. 2 Corinthians 3:8 Or Spirit
  9. 2 Corinthians 4:6 See Genesis 1:3.
  10. 2 Corinthians 4:6 Or face
  11. 2 Corinthians 4:13 Psalm 116:10
  12. 2 Corinthians 5:3 A few witnesses to the text read put it off.
  13. 2 Corinthians 5:14 Or controls
  14. 2 Corinthians 5:17 Some witnesses to the text read All things have become new!