Gospel-Shaped Warfare

Paul Defends His Ministry

I, Paul, myself entreat you, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—I who amhumble when face to face with you, but bold toward you when I am away!— I beg of youthat when I am present I may not have to show boldness with such confidence as I counton showing against some who suspect us of walking according to the flesh. For though wewalk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of ourwarfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroyarguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take everythought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when yourobedience is complete.

Look at what is before your eyes. If anyone is confident that he is Christ’s, let himremind himself that just as he is Christ’s, so also are we. For even if I boast a little toomuch of our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you,I will not be ashamed. I do not want to appear to be frightening you with my letters. Forthey say, “His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and hisspeech of no account.” Let such a person understand that what we say by letter whenabsent, we do when present. Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with someof those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by oneanother and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.

But we will not boast beyond limits, but will boast only with regard to the area ofinfluence God assigned to us, to reach even to you. For we are not overextendingourselves, as though we did not reach you. For we were the first to come all the way to youwith the gospel of Christ. We do not boast beyond limit in the labors of others. But ourhope is that as your faith increases, our area of influence among you may be greatlyenlarged, so that we may preach the gospel in lands beyond you, without boasting of workalready done in another’s area of influence. “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lordcommends.