Paul Describes Himself
1Now I, Paul, urge you by the gentleness and graciousness of Christ—I who am meek [so they say] when with you face to face, but bold [outspoken and fearless] toward you when absent! 2 I ask that when I do come I will not be driven to the boldness that I intend to show toward those few who regard us as if we walked according to the flesh [like men without the Spirit]. 3 For though we walk in the flesh [as mortal men], we are not carrying on our [spiritual] warfare according to the flesh and using the weapons of man. 4 The weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood]. Our weapons are divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 5 We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ, 6 being ready to punish every act of disobedience, when your own obedience [as a church] is complete.
7 You are looking [only] at the outward appearance of things. If anyone is confident that he is Christ’s, he should reflect and consider this, that just as he is Christ’s, so too are we. 8 For even though I boast rather freely about the authority the Lord gave us for building you up and not for destroying you, I will not be ashamed [of the truth], 9 nor do I want to seem to be trying to frighten you with my letters; 10 for they say, “His letters are weighty and forceful and impressive, but his [a]personal presence is unimpressive and his speech contemptible [of no account].” 11 Let such people realize that what we say by word in letters when we are absent, is the same as what we are in action when present.
12 We do not have the audacity to put ourselves in the same class or compare ourselves with some who [supply testimonials to] commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they lack wisdom and behave like fools. 13 We, on the other hand, will not boast beyond our proper limit, but [will keep] within the [b]limits of our commission (territory, authority) which God has granted to us as a measure, which reaches and includes even you. 14 We are not overstepping the limits of our province, as if we did not [legitimately] reach to you, for we were the [very] first to come even as far as you with the good news of Christ. 15 We do not go beyond our proper limit, boasting in the work of other men, but we have the hope that as your faith [in Christ and His divine power] continues to grow, our field among you may be greatly expanded [but still within the limits of our commission], 16 so that we may preach the gospel even in the lands beyond you, but not to boast in work already accomplished in another one’s field of activity. 17 However, “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” 18 For it is not he who commends and praises himself who is approved [by God], but it is the one whom the Lord commends and praises.