Their Ministry Commended
1Working together with Him, we strongly urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain [by turning away from sound doctrine and His merciful kindness]. 2 For He says,
“At the acceptable time (the time of grace) I listened to you,
And I helped you on the day of salvation.”
Behold, now is “the acceptable time,” behold, now is “the day of salvation”—
3 we put no obstruction in anyone’s path, so that the ministry will not be discredited, 4 but we commend ourselves in every way as servants of God: in great endurance, in sufferings, in hardships, in distresses, 5 in beatings, in imprisonments, in riots, in labors, in sleepless nights, in hunger, 6 in purity and sincerity, in knowledge and spiritual insight, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love, 7 in [speaking] the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand [like holding the sword to attack] and for the left [like holding the shield to defend], 8 amid glory and dishonor; by evil report and good report; branded as deceivers and yet [vindicated as] truthful; 9 as unknown [to the world], yet well-known [by God and His people]; as dying, yet we live; as punished, yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet bestowing riches on many; as having nothing, yet possessing all things.
11 We are speaking freely to you, Corinthians [we are keeping nothing back], and our heart is opened wide. 12 There is no limit to our affection for you, but you are limited in your own affection [for us]. 13 Now in the same way as a fair exchange [for our love toward you]—I am speaking as [I would] to children—open wide [your hearts] to us also.
14 Do not be unequally bound together with unbelievers [do not make mismatched alliances with them, inconsistent with your faith]. For what partnership can righteousness have with lawlessness? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony can there be between Christ and Belial (Satan)? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said:
“I will dwell among them and walk among them;
And I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
“So come out from among unbelievers and be separate,” says the Lord,
“And do not touch what is unclean;
And I will graciously receive you and welcome you [with favor],
And I will be a Father to you,
And you will be My sons and daughters,”
Says the Lord Almighty.