Now concerning the ministry to the saints, it is unnecessary for me to write to you. 2 For I know your eagerness, and I boast about you to the Macedonians: “Achaia has been ready since last year,” and your zeal has stirred up most of them. 3 But I am sending the brothers so that our boasting about you in this matter would not prove empty, and so that you would be ready just as I said. 4 Otherwise, if any Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we, not to mention you, would be put to shame in that situation.[a] 5 Therefore I considered it necessary to urge the brothers to go on ahead to you and arrange in advance the generous gift you promised, so that it will be ready as a gift and not as an extortion.
6 The point is this:[b] The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each person should do as he has decided in his heart—not reluctantly or out of compulsion, since God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work. 9 As it is written:
He distributed freely;
he gave to the poor;
his righteousness endures forever.[c]
10 Now the one who provides seed for the sower and bread for food will also provide and multiply your seed and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way for all generosity, which produces thanksgiving to God through us. 12 For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. 13 Because of the proof provided by this ministry, they will glorify God for your obedient confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone. 14 And as they pray on your behalf, they will have deep affection for you because of the surpassing grace of God in you. 15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
Paul’s Apostolic Authority
Now I Paul, myself, appeal to you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—I who am humble among you in person but bold toward you when absent. 2 I beg you that when I am present I will not need to be bold with the confidence by which I plan to challenge certain people who think we are behaving according to the flesh. 3 For although we live in the flesh, we do not wage war according to the flesh, 4 since the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments 5 and every proud thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ. 6 And we are ready to punish any disobedience, once your obedience is complete.
7 Look at what is obvious.[d] If anyone is confident that he belongs to Christ, let him remind himself of this: Just as he belongs to Christ, so do we. 8 For if I boast a little too much about our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for tearing you down, I will not be put to shame. 9 I don’t want to seem as though I am trying to terrify you with my letters. 10 For it is said, “His letters are weighty and powerful, but his physical presence is weak and his public speaking amounts to nothing.” 11 Let such a person consider this: What we are in our letters, when we are absent, we will also be in our actions when we are present.
12 For we don’t dare classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. But in measuring themselves by themselves and comparing themselves to themselves, they lack understanding. 13 We, however, will not boast beyond measure but according to the measure of the area of ministry that God has assigned to us, which reaches even to you. 14 For we are not overextending ourselves, as if we had not reached you, since we have come to you with the gospel of Christ. 15 We are not boasting beyond measure about other people’s labors. On the contrary, we have the hope that as your faith increases, our area of ministry will be greatly enlarged, 16 so that we may preach the gospel to the regions beyond you without boasting about what has already been done in someone else’s area of ministry. 17 So let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.[e] 18 For it is not the one commending himself who is approved, but the one the Lord commends.