From Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by God's will, and from our brother Timothy —
To the church of God in Corinth, and to all God's people throughout Achaia:
2May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.
3Let us give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the merciful Father, the God from whom all help comes! 4He helps us in all our troubles, so that we are able to help others who have all kinds of troubles, using the same help that we ourselves have received from God. 5Just as we have a share in Christ's many sufferings, so also through Christ we share in God's great help. 6If we suffer, it is for your help and salvation; if we are helped, then you too are helped and given the strength to endure with patience the same sufferings that we also endure. 7So our hope in you is never shaken; we know that just as you share in our sufferings, you also share in the help we receive.
We want to remind you, brothers and sisters, of the trouble we had in the province of Asia. The burdens laid upon us were so great and so heavy that we gave up all hope of staying alive. 9We felt that the death sentence had been passed on us. But this happened so that we should rely, not on ourselves, but only on God, who raises the dead. 10From such terrible dangers of death1.10 terrible dangers of death; some manuscripts have terrible death. he saved us, and will save us; and we have placed our hope in him that he will save us again, 11as you help us by means of your prayers for us. So it will be that the many prayers for us will be answered, and God will bless us; and many will raise their voices to him in thanksgiving for us.
12We are proud that our conscience assures us that our lives in this world, and especially our relations with you, have been ruled by God-given frankness1.12 frankness; some manuscripts have holiness. and sincerity, by the power of God's grace, and not by human wisdom. 13-14We write to you only what you can read and understand. But even though you now understand us only in part, I hope that you will come to understand us completely, so that in the Day of our Lord Jesus you can be as proud of us as we shall be of you.
15I was so sure of all this that I made plans at first to visit you, in order that you might be blessed twice. 16
For I planned to visit you on my way to Macedonia and again on my way back, in order to get help from you for my journey to Judea. 17In planning this, did I appear fickle? When I make my plans, do I make them from selfish motives, ready to say “Yes, yes” and “No, no” at the same time? 18As surely as God speaks the truth, my promise to you was not a “Yes” and a “No”. 19
For Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who was preached among you by Silas, Timothy, and myself, is not one who is “Yes” and “No”. On the contrary, he is God's “Yes”; 20for it is he who is the “Yes” to all God's promises. This is why through Jesus Christ our “Amen” is said to the glory of God. 21It is God himself who makes us, together with you, sure of our life in union with Christ; it is God himself who has set us apart, 22who has placed his mark of ownership upon us, and who has given us the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the guarantee of all that he has in store for us.
23I call God as my witness — he knows my heart! It was in order to spare you that I decided not to go to Corinth. 24We are not trying to dictate to you what you must believe; we know that you stand firm in the faith. Instead, we are working with you for your own happiness.
21So I made up my mind not to come to you again to make you sad. 2For if I were to make you sad, who would be left to cheer me up? Only the very persons I had made sad. 3That is why I wrote that letter to you — I did not want to come to you and be made sad by the very people who should make me glad. For I am convinced that when I am happy, then all of you are happy too. 4I wrote to you with a greatly troubled and distressed heart and with many tears; my purpose was not to make you sad, but to make you realize how much I love you all.
5Now, if anyone has made somebody sad, he has not done it to me but to all of you — in part at least. (I say this because I do not want to be too hard on him.) 6It is enough that this person has been punished in this way by most of you. 7Now, however, you should forgive him and encourage him, in order to keep him from becoming so sad as to give up completely. 8And so I beg you to let him know that you really do love him. 9I wrote you that letter because I wanted to find out how well you had stood the test and whether you are always ready to obey my instructions. 10When you forgive someone for what he or she has done, I forgive them too. For when I forgive — if, indeed, I need to forgive anything — I do it in Christ's presence because of you, 11in order to keep Satan from getting the upper hand of us; for we know what his plans are.
When I arrived in Troas to preach the Good News about Christ, I found that the Lord had opened the way for the work there. 13But I was deeply worried, because I could not find our brother Titus. So I said goodbye to the people there and went on to Macedonia.
14But thanks be to God! For in union with Christ we are always led by God as prisoners in Christ's victory procession. God uses us to make the knowledge about Christ spread everywhere like a sweet fragrance. 15For we are like a sweet-smelling incense offered by Christ to God, which spreads among those who are being saved and those who are being lost. 16For those who are being lost, it is a deadly stench that kills; but for those who are being saved, it is a fragrance that brings life. Who, then, is capable of such a task? 17We are not like so many others, who handle God's message as if it were cheap merchandise; but because God has sent us, we speak with sincerity in his presence, as servants of Christ.
31Does this sound as if we were again boasting about ourselves? Could it be that, like some other people, we need letters of recommendation to you or from you? 2You yourselves are the letter we have, written on our hearts for everyone to know and read. 3
It is clear that Christ himself wrote this letter and sent it by us. It is written, not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, and not on stone tablets but on human hearts.
4We say this because we have confidence in God through Christ. 5There is nothing in us that allows us to claim that we are capable of doing this work. The capacity we have comes from God; 6
it is he who made us capable of serving the new covenant, which consists not of a written law but of the Spirit. The written law brings death, but the Spirit gives life.
The Law was carved in letters on stone tablets, and God's glory appeared when it was given. Even though the brightness on Moses' face was fading, it was so strong that the people of Israel could not keep their eyes fixed on him. If the Law, which brings death when it is in force, came with such glory, 8how much greater is the glory that belongs to the activity of the Spirit! 9The system which brings condemnation was glorious; how much more glorious is the activity which brings salvation! 10We may say that because of the far brighter glory now the glory that was so bright in the past is gone. 11For if there was glory in that which lasted for a while, how much more glory is there in that which lasts for ever!
12Because we have this hope, we are very bold. 13
We are not like Moses, who had to put a veil over his face so that the people of Israel would not see the brightness fade and disappear. 14Their minds, indeed, were closed; and to this very day their minds are covered with the same veil as they read the books of the old covenant. The veil is removed only when a person is joined to Christ. 15Even today, whenever they read the Law of Moses, the veil still covers their minds. 16
But it can be removed, as the scripture says about Moses: “His veil was removed when he turned to the Lord.”3.16 Verse 16 may be translated: But the veil is removed whenever someone turns to the Lord. 17Now, “the Lord” in this passage is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is present, there is freedom. 18All of us, then, reflect the glory of the Lord with uncovered faces; and that same glory, coming from the Lord, who is the Spirit, transforms us into his likeness in an ever greater degree of glory.