For we are not overstepping the limits of our province and stretching beyond our ability to reach, as though we reached not (had no legitimate mission) to you, for we were [the very first] to come even as far as to you with the good news (the Gospel) of Christ.
[L For] We are not ·bragging too much [or going beyond our commission; L overreaching/overextending ourselves], as we would be if we had not already come to you. But we have come to you with the Good News of Christ [C Paul’s opponents claimed the Corinthians were their sphere of ministry; Paul counters that he first brought the Gospel to Corinth (Acts 18)].
Of course we shouldn’t dare include ourselves in the same class as those who write their own testimonials, or even to compare ourselves with them! All they are doing, of course, is to measure themselves by their own standards or by comparisons within their own circle, and that doesn’t make for accurate estimation, you may be sure. No, we shall not make any wild claims, but simply judge ourselves by that line of duty which God has marked out for us, and that line includes our work on your behalf. We do not exceed our duty when we embrace your interests, for it was our preaching of the Gospel which brought us into contact with you. Our pride is not in matters beyond our proper sphere nor in the labours of other men. No, our hope is that your growing faith will mean the expansion of our sphere of action, so that before long we shall be preaching the Gospel in districts beyond you, instead of being proud of work that has already been done in someone else’s province.
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?
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