10 Think of the Messiah, meek and gentle; then think of me, Paul – yes, Paul himself! – making his appeal to you. You know what I’m like: I’m humble when I’m face to face with you, but I’m bold when I’m away from you! 2 Please, please don’t put me in the position of having to be bold when I’m with you, of having to show how confident I dare to be when I’m standing up to people who think we are behaving in a merely human way. 3 Yes, we are mere humans, but we don’t fight the war in a merely human way. 4 The weapons we use for the fight, you see, are not merely human; they carry a power from God that can tear down fortresses! We tear down clever arguments, 5 and every proud notion that sets itself up against the knowledge of God. We take every thought prisoner and make it obey the Messiah. 6 We are holding ourselves in readiness to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.
7 Look at what’s in front of your face. If anyone trusts that they belong to the Messiah, let them calculate it once more: just as they belong to the Messiah, so also do we! 8 For if I do indeed boast a bit too enthusiastically about the authority which the Lord has given me – which is for building you up, not for pulling you down! – I shan’t be ashamed. 9 I wouldn’t want to look as if I were trying to frighten you with my letters. 10 I know what they say: ‘His letters are serious and powerful, but when he arrives in person he is weak, and his words aren’t worth bothering about.’ 11 Anyone like that should reckon on this: the way we talk in letters, when we’re absent, will be how we behave when we’re present.
Boasting in the Lord
12 We wouldn’t dare, you see, to figure out where we belong on some scale or other, or compare ourselves with people who commend themselves. They measure themselves by one another, and compare themselves with one another. That just shows how silly they are! 13 But when we boast, we don’t go off into flights of fancy; we boast according to the measure of the rule God has given us to measure ourselves by, and that rule includes our work with you! 14 We weren’t going beyond our assigned limits when we reached you; we were the first to get as far as you with the gospel of the Messiah. 15 We don’t boast without a measuring rule in the work someone else has done. This is what we hope for: that, as your faith increases, we will be given a much larger space for work, according to our rule, 16 which is to announce the gospel in the lands beyond you, not to boast in what has already been accomplished through the rule someone else has been given. 17 ‘Anyone who boasts should boast in the Lord!’ 18 Who is it, after all, who gains approval? It isn’t the person who commends himself. It’s the person whom the Lord commends.
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