Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by God's will, and Timothy our brother: To God's church at Corinth, with all the saints who are throughout Achaia.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort.
He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
For as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so our comfort overflows through Christ.
If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is experienced in the endurance of the same sufferings that we suffer.
And our hope for you is firm, because we know that as you share in the sufferings, so you will share in the comfort.
For we don't want you to be unaware, brothers, of our affliction that took place in the province of Asia: we were completely overwhelmed-- beyond our strength-- so that we even despaired of life.
However, we personally had a death sentence within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead.
He has delivered us from such a terrible death, and He will deliver us; we have placed our hope in Him that He will deliver us again.
And you can join in helping with prayer for us, so that thanks may be given by many on our behalf for the gift that came to us through [the prayers of] many.
For our boast is this: the testimony of our conscience that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you, with God-given sincerity and purity, not by fleshly wisdom but by God's grace.
Now we are writing you nothing other than what you can read and also understand. I hope you will understand completely--
as you have partially understood us-- that we are your reason for pride, as you are ours, in the day of our Lord Jesus.
In this confidence, I planned to come to you first, so you could have a double benefit,
and to go on to Macedonia with your help, then come to you again from Macedonia and be given a start by you on my journey to Judea.
So when I planned this, was I irresponsible? Or what I plan, do I plan in a purely human way so that I say "Yes, yes" and "No, no" [simultaneously]?
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 us-- by me and Silvanus and Timothy-- did not become "Yes and no"; on the contrary, "Yes" has come about in Him.
For every one of God's promises is "Yes" in Him. Therefore the "Amen" is also through Him for God's glory through us.
Now the One who confirms us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, is God;
He has also sealed us and given us the Spirit as a down payment in our hearts.
I call on God as a witness against me: it was to spare you that I did not come to Corinth.
Not that we have control of your faith, but we are workers with you for your joy, because you stand by faith.
In fact, I made up my mind about this: not to come to you on another painful visit.
For if I cause you pain, then who will cheer me other than the one hurt?
I wrote this very thing so that when I came I wouldn't have pain from those who ought to give me joy, because I am confident about all of you that my joy is yours.
For out of an extremely troubled and anguished heart I wrote to you with many tears-- not that you should be hurt, but that you should know the abundant love I have for you.
If anyone has caused pain, he has not caused pain to me, but in some degree-- not to exaggerate-- to all of you.
The punishment by the majority is sufficient for such a person,
so now you should forgive and comfort him instead; otherwise, this one may be overwhelmed by excessive grief.
Therefore I urge you to confirm your love to him.
It was for this purpose I wrote: so I may know your proven character, if you are obedient in everything.
Now to whom you forgive anything, I do too. For what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, it is for you in the presence of Christ,
so that we may not be taken advantage of by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his intentions.
When I came to Troas for the gospel of Christ, a door was opened to me by the Lord.
I had no rest in my spirit because I did not find my brother Titus, but I said good-bye to them and left for Macedonia.
But thanks be to God, who always puts us on display in Christ, and spreads through us in every place the scent of knowing Him.
For to God we are the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.
To some we are a scent of death leading to death, but to others, a scent of life leading to life. And who is competent for this?
For we are not like the many who make a trade in God's message [for profit], but as those with sincerity, we speak in Christ, as from God and before God.
Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or like some, do we need letters of recommendation to you or from you?
You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, recognized and read by everyone,
since it is plain that you are Christ's letter, produced by us, not written with ink but with the Spirit of the living God; not on stone tablets but on tablets that are hearts of flesh.
We have this kind of confidence toward God through Christ:
not that we are competent in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our competence is from God.
He has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit produces life.
Now if the ministry of death, chiseled in letters on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel were not able to look directly at Moses' face because of the glory from his face-- a fading [glory]--
how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious?
For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness overflows with even more glory.
In fact, what had been glorious is not glorious in this case because of the glory that surpasses it.
For if what was fading away was glorious, what endures will be even more glorious.
Therefore having such a hope, we use great boldness--
not like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the sons of Israel could not look at the end of what was fading away.
But their minds were closed. For to this day, at the reading of the old covenant, the same veil remains; it is not lifted, because it is set aside [only] in Christ.
However, to this day, whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their hearts,
but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.
Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
We all, with unveiled faces, are reflecting the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit.