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Our bodies are like tents that we live in here on earth. But when these tents are destroyed, we know that God will give each of us a place to live. These homes will not be buildings that someone has made, but they are in heaven and will last forever. While we are here on earth, we sigh because we want to live in that heavenly home. We want to put it on like clothes and not be naked.

These tents we now live in are like a heavy burden, and we groan. But we don’t do this just because we want to leave these bodies that will die. It is because we want to change them for bodies that will never die. God is the one who makes all of this possible. He has given us his Spirit to make us certain that he will do it. So always be cheerful!

As long as we are in these bodies, we are away from the Lord. But we live by faith, not by what we see. We should be cheerful, because we would rather leave these bodies and be at home with the Lord. But whether we are at home with the Lord or away from him, we still try our best to please him. 10 After all, Christ will judge each of us for the good or the bad that we do while living in these bodies.

Bringing People to God

11 We know what it means to respect the Lord, and we encourage everyone to turn to him. God himself knows what we are like, and I hope you also know what kind of people we are. 12 We are not trying once more to brag about ourselves. But we want you to be proud of us, when you are with those who are not sincere and brag about what others think of them.

13 If we seem out of our minds, it is between God and us. But if we are in our right minds, it is for your good. 14 We are ruled by Christ’s love for us. We are certain that if one person died for everyone else, then all of us have died. 15 And Christ did die for all of us. He died so we would no longer live for ourselves, but for the one who died and was raised to life for us.

16 We are careful not to judge people by what they seem to be, though we once judged Christ in that way. 17 Anyone who belongs to Christ is a new person. The past is forgotten, and everything is new. 18 God has done it all! He sent Christ to make peace between himself and us, and he has given us the work of making peace between himself and others.

19 What we mean is that God was in Christ, offering peace and forgiveness to the people of this world. And he has given us the work of sharing his message about peace. 20 We were sent to speak for Christ, and God is begging you to listen to our message. We speak for Christ and sincerely ask you to make peace with God. 21 Christ never sinned! But God treated him as a sinner, so that Christ could make us acceptable to God.

We work together with God, and we beg you to make good use of God’s kindness to you. In the Scriptures God says,

“When the time came,
    I listened to you,
and when you needed help,
    I came to save you.”

That time has come. This is the day for you to be saved.

We don’t want anyone to find fault with our work, and so we try hard not to cause problems. But in everything and in every way we show that we truly are God’s servants. We have always been patient, though we have had a lot of trouble, suffering, and hard times. We have been beaten, put in jail, and hurt in riots. We have worked hard and have gone without sleep or food. But we have kept ourselves pure and have been understanding, patient, and kind. The Holy Spirit has been with us, and our love has been real. We have spoken the truth, and God’s power has worked in us. In all our struggles we have said and done only what is right.

Whether we were honored or dishonored or praised or cursed, we always told the truth about ourselves. But some people said we did not. We are unknown to others, but well known to you. We seem to be dying, and yet we are still alive. We have been punished, but never killed, 10 and we are always happy, even in times of suffering. Although we are poor, we have made many people rich. And though we own nothing, everything is ours.

11 Friends in Corinth, we are telling the truth when we say that there is room in our hearts for you. 12 We are not holding back on our love for you, but you are holding back on your love for us. 13 I speak to you as I would speak to my own children. Please make room in your hearts for us.

The Temple of the Living God

14 Stay away from people who are not followers of the Lord! Can someone who is good get along with someone who is evil? Are light and darkness the same? 15 Is Christ a friend of Satan?[a] Can people who follow the Lord have anything in common with those who don’t? 16 Do idols belong in the temple of God? We are the temple of the living God, as God himself says,

“I will live with these people
    and walk among them.
I will be their God,
and they will be
    my people.”

17 The Lord also says,

“Leave them and stay away!
Don’t touch anything
    that isn’t clean.
Then I will welcome you
18     and be your Father.
You will be my sons
    and my daughters,
as surely as I am God,
    the All-Powerful.”

My friends, God has made us these promises. So we should stay away from everything that keeps our bodies and spirits from being clean. We should honor God and try to be completely like him.

The Church Makes Paul Happy

Make a place for us in your hearts! We haven’t mistreated or hurt anyone. We haven’t cheated anyone. I am not saying this to be hard on you. But, as I have said before, you will always be in our thoughts, whether we live or die. I trust you completely.[b] I am always proud of you, and I am greatly encouraged. In all my trouble I am still very happy.

After we came to Macedonia, we didn’t have any chance to rest. We were faced with all kinds of problems. We were troubled by enemies and troubled by fears. But God cheers up people in need, and that is what he did when he sent Titus to us. Of course, we were glad to see Titus, but what really made us glad is the way you cheered him up. He told how sorry you were and how concerned you were about me. And this made me even happier.

I don’t feel bad anymore, even though my letter[c] hurt your feelings. I did feel bad at first, but I don’t now. I know that the letter hurt you for a while. Now I am happy, but not because I hurt your feelings. It is because God used your hurt feelings to make you turn back to him, and none of you were harmed by us. 10 When God makes you feel sorry enough to turn to him and be saved, you don’t have anything to feel bad about. But when this world makes you feel sorry, it can cause your death.

11 Just look what God has done by making you feel sorry! You sincerely want to prove that you are innocent. You are angry. You are shocked. You are eager to see that justice is done. You have proved that you were completely right in this matter. 12 When I wrote you, it wasn’t to accuse the one who was wrong or to take up for the one who was hurt. I wrote, so that God would show you how much you do care for us. 13 And we were greatly encouraged.

Although we were encouraged, we felt even better when we saw how happy Titus was, because you had shown that he had nothing to worry about. 14 We had told him how much we thought of you, and you did not disappoint us. Just as we have always told you the truth, so everything we told him about you has also proved to be true. 15 Titus loves all of you very much, especially when he remembers how you obeyed him and how you trembled with fear when you welcomed him. 16 It makes me really glad to know that I can depend on you.

Generous Giving

My friends, we want you to know that the churches in Macedonia[d] have shown others how kind God is. Although they were going through hard times and were very poor, they were glad to give generously. They gave as much as they could afford and even more, simply because they wanted to. They even asked and begged us to let them have the joy of giving their money for God’s people. And they did more than we had hoped. They gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us, just as God wanted them to do.

Titus was the one who got you started doing this good thing, so we begged him to have you finish what you had begun. You do everything better than anyone else. You have stronger faith. You speak better and know more. You are eager to give, and you love us better.[e] Now you must give more generously than anyone else.

I am not ordering you to do this. I am simply testing how real your love is by comparing it with the concern that others have shown. You know that our Lord Jesus Christ was kind enough to give up all his riches and become poor, so that you could become rich.

10 A year ago you were the first ones to give, and you gave because you wanted to. So listen to my advice. 11 I think you should finish what you started. If you give according to what you have, you will prove that you are as eager to give as you were to think about giving. 12 It doesn’t matter how much you have. What matters is how much you are willing to give from what you have.

13 I am not trying to make life easier for others by making life harder for you. But it is only fair 14 for you to share with them when you have so much, and they have so little. Later, when they have more than enough, and you are in need, they can share with you. Then everyone will have a fair share, 15 just as the Scriptures say,

“Those who gathered
too much
    had nothing left.
Those who gathered
only a little
    had all they needed.”

Titus and His Friends

16 I am grateful that God made Titus care as much about you as we do. 17 When we begged Titus to visit you, he said he would. He wanted to because he cared so much for you. 18 With Titus we are also sending one of the Lord’s followers who is well known in every church for spreading the good news. 19 The churches chose this follower to travel with us while we carry this gift that will bring praise to the Lord and show how much we hope to help. 20 We don’t want anyone to find fault with the way we handle your generous gift. 21 But we want to do what pleases the Lord and what people think is right.

22 We are also sending someone else with Titus and the other follower. We approve of this man. In fact, he has already shown us many times that he wants to help. And now he wants to help even more than ever, because he trusts you so much. 23 Titus is my partner, who works with me to serve you. The other two followers are sent by the churches, and they bring honor to Christ. 24 Treat them in such a way that the churches will see your love and will know why we bragged about you.

The Money for God’s People

I don’t need to write you about the money you plan to give for God’s people. I know how eager you are to give. And I have proudly told the Lord’s followers in Macedonia that you people in Achaia have been ready for a whole year. Now your desire to give has made them want to give. That’s why I am sending Titus and the two others to you. I want you to be ready, just as I promised. This will prove that we were not wrong to brag about you.

Some followers from Macedonia may come with me, and I want them to find that you have the money ready. If you don’t, I would be embarrassed for trusting you to do this. But you would be embarrassed even more. So I have decided to ask Titus and the others to spend some time with you before I arrive. This way they can arrange to collect the money you have promised. Then you will have the chance to give because you want to, and not because you feel forced to.

Remember this saying,

“A few seeds make
    a small harvest,
but a lot of seeds make
    a big harvest.”

Each of you must make up your own mind about how much to give. But don’t feel sorry that you must give and don’t feel that you are forced to give. God loves people who love to give. God can bless you with everything you need, and you will always have more than enough to do all kinds of good things for others. The Scriptures say,

“God freely gives his gifts
to the poor,
    and always does right.”

10 God gives seed to farmers and provides everyone with food. He will increase what you have, so that you can give even more to those in need. 11 You will be blessed in every way, and you will be able to keep on being generous. Then many people will thank God when we deliver your gift.

12 What you are doing is much more than a service that supplies God’s people with what they need. It is something that will make many others thank God. 13 The way in which you have proved yourselves by this service will bring honor and praise to God. You believed the message about Christ, and you obeyed it by sharing generously with God’s people and with everyone else. 14 Now they are praying for you and want to see you, because God used you to bless them so very much. 15 Thank God for his gift that is too wonderful for words!

Footnotes

  1. 6.15 Satan: The Greek text has “Beliar,” which is another form of the Hebrew word “Belial,” meaning “wicked” or “useless.” The Jewish people sometimes used this as a name for Satan.
  2. 7.4 I trust you completely: Or “I have always spoken the truth to you” or “I can speak freely to you.”
  3. 7.8 my letter: There is no copy of this letter that Paul wrote to the church at Corinth.
  4. 8.1 churches in Macedonia: The churches that Paul had started in Philippi and Thessalonica. The church in Berea is probably also meant.
  5. 8.7 you love us better: Some manuscripts have “we love you better.”

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