Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God in Corinth, together with all the saints throughout Achaia:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,
who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.
For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.
If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.
And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.
We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life.
Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.
He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us,
as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.
Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, in the holiness and sincerity that are from God. We have done so not according to worldly wisdom but according to God's grace.
For we do not write you anything you cannot read or understand. And I hope that,
as you have understood us in part, you will come to understand fully that you can boast of us just as we will boast of you in the day of the Lord Jesus.
Because I was confident of this, I planned to visit you first so that you might benefit twice.
I planned to visit you on my way to Macedonia and to come back to you from Macedonia, and then to have you send me on my way to Judea.
When I planned this, did I do it lightly? Or do I make my plans in a worldly manner so that in the same breath I say, "Yes, yes" and "No, no"?
But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not "Yes" and "No."
For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by me and Silas and Timothy, was not "Yes" and "No," but in him it has always been "Yes."
For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ. And so through him the "Amen" is spoken by us to the glory of God.
Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us,
set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
I call God as my witness that it was in order to spare you that I did not return to Corinth.
Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm.
2 Corinthians 2
So I made up my mind that I would not make another painful visit to you.
For if I grieve you, who is left to make me glad but you whom I have grieved?
I wrote as I did so that when I came I should not be distressed by those who ought to make me rejoice. I had confidence in all of you, that you would all share my joy.
For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you.
If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you, to some extent--not to put it too severely.
The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient for him.
Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.
I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him.
The reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything.
If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven--if there was anything to forgive--I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake,
in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.
Now when I went to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me,
I still had no peace of mind, because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I said good-by to them and went on to Macedonia.
But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.
For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.
To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?
Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God.
2 Corinthians 3
Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you?
You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody.
You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God.
Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.
He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant--not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was,
will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious?
If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness!
For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory.
And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!
Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.
We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away.
But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away.
Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts.
But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. NIV. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.
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