By the humility and gentleness of Christ, I’m appealing to you – I, Paul, the man who people say is timid when he’s with you, but bold when he’s far away. Well, I’m trying to sort things out now so that I when I do come and visit you, I won’t have to be bold with those who think we live by the standards of this world.
Yes, we live in this world, but we don’t wage war as the world does. We don’t use the weapons of this world. On the contrary, the weapons we use have divine power to destroy strongholds – the strongholds of those arguments and false claims which some people set up to stop others coming to know God. We take captive every thought and bring it to the feet of Christ. And we’re prepared to correct rebellion among you, too, when you’re ready to receive such discipline.
You’re still judging by appearances. But those who say they belong to Christ should consider that we belong to Christ just as much as they do. So even if I appear to boast too much about the authority the Lord gave us to build you up – and not to tear you down – I refuse to apologize for it.
Please don’t think that I’m trying to frighten you with my letters. Some people say: “his letters may be weighty and forceful, but in the flesh he is weak, and his speech is pathetic!” These people need recognize that what we are in our letters when we’re absent we will also be in our actions when we’re present.
Of course, we wouldn’t dare compare ourselves with those people who keep telling you how wonderful they are! Unfortunately, when they’re only comparing themselves with each other, they’re not really getting anywhere.
But we won’t discuss anything outside our own area of responsibility. We can only tell you about what’s happened within the limits of the area God has given us, an area which includes you. We’re not overreaching the extent of our authority, as if we’d never visited you, because we were the first to come with the gospel of Christ.
Neither do we wish to claim credit for the work done by others. Instead, we hope that your faith continues to grow. Then we’ll be able to extend the boundaries of our work to regions beyond you, because we don’t want to encroach on anyone else’s territory. As it is written: “Let him who boasts, boast only of the Lord.” For it isn’t the person who commends himself who’s approved, but the person who’s commended by the Lord.