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13 This third time I am really coming to you in person. Remember the ancient law: ‘By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established’.

2-4 My previous warning, given on my second visit, still stands and, though absent, I repeat it now as though I were present—my coming will not mean leniency for those who had sinned before that visit and those who have sinned since. It will in fact be a proof that I speak by the power of Christ. The Christ you have to deal with is not a weak person outside you, but a tremendous power inside you. He was “weak” enough to be crucified, yes, but he lives now by the power of God. I am weak as he was weak, but I am strong enough to deal with you for I share his life by the power of God.

Why not test yourselves instead of me?

5-8 You should be looking at yourselves to make sure that you are really Christ’s. It is yourselves that you should be testing, not me. You ought to know by this time that Christ is in you, unless you are not real Christians at all. And when you have applied your test, I am confident that you will soon find that I myself am a genuine Christian. I pray God that you may find the right answer to your test, not because I have any need of your approval, but because I earnestly want you to find the right answer, even if that should make me no real Christian. For, after all, we can make no progress against the truth; we can only work for the truth.

9-10 We are glad to be weak if it means that you are strong. Our ambition for you is true Christian maturity. Hence the tone of this letter, so that when I do come I shall not be obliged to use that power of severity which God has given me—though even that is not meant to break you down but to build you up.

Finally, Farewell

11 Last of all then, my brothers, good-bye! Set your hearts on this maturity I have spoken of, consider my advice, live in harmony, be at peace with one another. So shall the God of love and peace be ever with you.

12-13 A handshake all round, please! All the Christians here send greeting.

14 The grace that comes through our Lord Jesus Christ, the love that is of God the Father, and the fellowship that is ours in the Holy Spirit be with you all!