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.
41God in his mercy has given us this work to do, and so we are not discouraged. 2We put aside all secret and shameful deeds; we do not act with deceit, nor do we falsify the word of God. In the full light of truth we live in God's sight and try to commend ourselves to everyone's good conscience. 3For if the gospel we preach is hidden, it is hidden only from those who are being lost. 4They do not believe, because their minds have been kept in the dark by the evil god of this world. He keeps them from seeing the light shining on them, the light that comes from the Good News about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God. 5For it is not ourselves that we preach; we preach Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. 6
The God who said, “Out of darkness the light shall shine!” is the same God who made his light shine in our hearts, to bring us the knowledge of God's glory shining in the face of Christ.
7Yet we who have this spiritual treasure are like common clay pots, in order to show that the supreme power belongs to God, not to us. 8We are often troubled, but not crushed; sometimes in doubt, but never in despair; 9there are many enemies, but we are never without a friend; and though badly hurt at times, we are not destroyed. 10At all times we carry in our mortal bodies the death of Jesus, so that his life also may be seen in our bodies. 11Throughout our lives we are always in danger of death for Jesus' sake, in order that his life may be seen in this mortal body of ours. 12This means that death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
The scripture says, “I spoke because I believed.” In the same spirit of faith, we also speak because we believe. 14We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus to life, will also raise us up with Jesus and take us, together with you, into his presence. 15All this is for your sake; and as God's grace reaches more and more people, they will offer to the glory of God more prayers of thanksgiving.
16For this reason we never become discouraged. Even though our physical being is gradually decaying, yet our spiritual being is renewed day after day. 17And this small and temporary trouble we suffer will bring us a tremendous and eternal glory, much greater than the trouble. 18For we fix our attention, not on things that are seen, but on things that are unseen. What can be seen lasts only for a time, but what cannot be seen lasts for ever.