2 Corinthians 10 Good News Translation (GNT)
Paul Defends His Ministry
10 I, Paul, make a personal appeal to you—I who am said to be meek and mild when I am with you, but harsh with you when I am away. By the gentleness and kindness of Christ 2 I beg you not to force me to be harsh when I come; for I am sure I can deal harshly with those who say that we act from worldly motives. 3 It is true that we live in the world, but we do not fight from worldly motives. 4 The weapons we use in our fight are not the world's weapons but God's powerful weapons, which we use to destroy strongholds. We destroy false arguments; 5 we pull down every proud obstacle that is raised against the knowledge of God; we take every thought captive and make it obey Christ. 6 And after you have proved your complete loyalty, we will be ready to punish any act of disloyalty.
7 You are looking at the outward appearance of things. Are there some there who reckon themselves to belong to Christ? Well, let them think again about themselves, because we belong to Christ just as much as they do. 8 For I am not ashamed, even if I have boasted somewhat too much about the authority that the Lord has given us—authority to build you up, not to tear you down. 9 I do not want it to appear that I am trying to frighten you with my letters. 10 Someone will say, “Paul's letters are severe and strong, but when he is with us in person, he is weak, and his words are nothing!” 11 Such a person must understand that there is no difference between what we write in our letters when we are away and what we will do when we are there with you.
12 Of course we would not dare classify ourselves or compare ourselves with those who rate themselves so highly. How stupid they are! They make up their own standards to measure themselves by, and they judge themselves by their own standards! 13 As for us, however, our boasting will not go beyond certain limits; it will stay within the limits of the work which God has set for us, and this includes our work among you. 14 And since you are within those limits, we were not going beyond them when we came to you, bringing the Good News about Christ. 15 So we do not boast about the work that others have done beyond the limits God set for us. Instead, we hope that your faith may grow and that we may be able to do a much greater work among you, always within the limits that God has set. 16 Then we can preach the Good News in other countries beyond you and shall not have to boast about work already done in someone else's field.
17 But as the scripture says, “Whoever wants to boast must boast about what the Lord has done.” 18 For it is when the Lord thinks well of us that we are really approved, and not when we think well of ourselves.
2 Corinthians 10 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Paul Defends His Ministry
10 I myself, Paul, appeal to you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—I who am humble when face to face with you, but bold toward you when I am away!— 2 I ask that when I am present I need not show boldness by daring to oppose those who think we are acting according to human standards.[a] 3 Indeed, we live as human beings,[b] but we do not wage war according to human standards;[c] 4 for the weapons of our warfare are not merely human,[d] but they have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments 5 and every proud obstacle raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ. 6 We are ready to punish every disobedience when your obedience is complete.
7 Look at what is before your eyes. If you are confident that you belong to Christ, remind yourself of this, that just as you belong to Christ, so also do we. 8 Now, even if I boast a little too much of our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for tearing you down, I will not be ashamed of it. 9 I do not want to seem as though I am trying to frighten you with my letters. 10 For they say, “His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.” 11 Let such people understand that what we say by letter when absent, we will also do when present.
12 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. 13 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. 14 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[e] of Christ. 15 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, 16 so that we may proclaim the good news[f] in lands beyond you, without boasting of work already done in someone else’s sphere of action. 17 “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 18 For it is not those who commend themselves that are approved, but those whom the Lord commends.
2 Corinthians 10 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
10 Now it is I myself, Sha’ul, making an appeal to you with the meekness and forbearance that come from the Messiah, I who am considered timid when face-to-face with you but intimidating from a distance. 2 But I beg you not to force me to be intimidating when I am with you, as I expect to be toward some who regard us as living in a worldly way. 3 For although we do live in the world, we do not wage war in a worldly way; 4 because the weapons we use to wage war are not worldly. On the contrary, they have God’s power for demolishing strongholds. We demolish arguments 5 and every arrogance that raises itself up against the knowledge of God; we take every thought captive and make it obey the Messiah. 6 And when you have become completely obedient, then we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience.
7 You are looking at the surface of things. If anyone is convinced that he belongs to the Messiah, he should remind himself that we belong to the Messiah as much as he does. 8 For even if I boast a little too much about the authority the Lord has given us — authority to build you up, not tear you down — I am not ashamed. 9 My object is not to seem as if I were trying to frighten you with these letters. 10 Someone says, “His letters are weighty and powerful, but when he appears in person he is weak, and as a speaker he is nothing.” 11 Such a person should realize that what we say in our letters when absent, we will do when present.
12 We don’t dare class or compare ourselves with some of the people who advertise themselves. In measuring themselves against each other and comparing themselves with each other, they are simply stupid. 13 We will not boast about what lies outside the area of work which God has given us; rather, we will boast within our assigned area, and that area does reach as far as you. 14 We are not overextending our boasting as if we had not reached as far as you; for we did come all the way to you with the Good News of the Messiah. 15 We do not boast about the area in which others labor; but our hope is that as your trust grows, we will be magnified in your midst in relation to our own area of work, so that we can go on to do even more, 16 namely, to proclaim the Good News in regions beyond you. Our hope is not to boast about the work already done by someone else.
17 So, let anyone who wants to boast, boast about Adonai;[a] 18 because it is not the one who recommends himself who is worthy of approval, but the one whom the Lord recommends.
2 Corinthians 10 The Message (MSG)
Tearing Down Barriers
10 1-2 And now a personal but most urgent matter; I write in the gentle but firm spirit of Christ. I hear that I’m being painted as cringing and wishy-washy when I’m with you, but harsh and demanding when at a safe distance writing letters. Please don’t force me to take a hard line when I’m present with you. Don’t think that I’ll hesitate a single minute to stand up to those who say I’m an unprincipled opportunist. Then they’ll have to eat their words.
3-6 The world is unprincipled. It’s dog-eat-dog out there! The world doesn’t fight fair. But we don’t live or fight our battles that way—never have and never will. The tools of our trade aren’t for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture. We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity.
7-8 You stare and stare at the obvious, but you can’t see the forest for the trees. If you’re looking for a clear example of someone on Christ’s side, why do you so quickly cut me out? Believe me, I am quite sure of my standing with Christ. You may think I overstate the authority he gave me, but I’m not backing off. Every bit of my commitment is for the purpose of building you up, after all, not tearing you down.
9-11 And what’s this talk about me bullying you with my letters? “His letters are brawny and potent, but in person he’s a weakling and mumbles when he talks.” Such talk won’t survive scrutiny. What we write when away, we do when present. We’re the exact same people, absent or present, in letter or in person.
12 We’re not, understand, putting ourselves in a league with those who boast that they’re our superiors. We wouldn’t dare do that. But in all this comparing and grading and competing, they quite miss the point.
13-14 We aren’t making outrageous claims here. We’re sticking to the limits of what God has set for us. But there can be no question that those limits reach to and include you. We’re not moving into someone else’s “territory.” We were already there with you, weren’t we? We were the first ones to get there with the Message of Christ, right? So how can there be any question of overstepping our bounds by writing or visiting you?
15-18 We’re not barging in on the rightful work of others, interfering with their ministries, demanding a place in the sun with them. What we’re hoping for is that as your lives grow in faith, you’ll play a part within our expanding work. And we’ll all still be within the limits God sets as we proclaim the Message in countries beyond Corinth. But we have no intention of moving in on what others have done and taking credit for it. “If you want to claim credit, claim it for God.” What you say about yourself means nothing in God’s work. It’s what God says about you that makes the difference.