1 As for us apostles, men ought to think of us as ministers of Christ and trustees to handle God's uncovered truths. 2 Now in this matter of trustees the first and final requirement is that they should prove to be trustworthy. 3 As for me, myself, it is of very little concern to me to be examined by you or any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself. 4 For although my conscience does not accuse me, yet I am not entirely vindicated by that. It is the Lord Himself who must examine me. 5 So you must stop forming any premature judgments, but wait until the Lord shall come again, for He will bring to light the secrets hidden in the dark and will make known the motives of men's hearts, and the proper praise will be awarded each of us.
6 Now, brothers, for your sakes I have applied all this to Apollos and myself, that from us as illustrations you might learn the lesson, "Never go beyond what is written," so that you might stop boasting in favor of one teacher against another. 7 For who makes you superior? And what do you have that you did not get from someone? But if you got it from someone, why do you boast as though you had not? 8 Are you satisfied already? Have you grown rich already? Have you ascended your thrones without us to join you? Yes, I could wish that you had ascended your thrones, that we too might join you on them! 9 For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on exhibition at the disgraced end of the procession, as they do with men who are doomed to die in the arena. 10 For we have become a spectacle to the universe, to angels as well as men. For Christ's sake we are held as fools, while you through union with Christ are men of wisdom. We are weak; you are strong. You are held in honor; we in dishonor. 11 To this very hour we have gone hungry, thirsty, poorly clad; we have been roughly knocked around; we have had no home. 12 We have worked hard with our own hands for a living. When abused by people, we bless them. When persecuted, we patiently bear it. 13 When we are slandered by them, we try to conciliate them. To this very hour we have been made the filth of the world, the scum of the universe!
14 I do not write this to make you blush with shame but to give you counsel as my dear children. 15 For though you have ten thousand teachers in the Christian life, you certainly could not have many fathers. For it was I myself who became your father through your union with Christ Jesus, which resulted from my telling you the good news. 16 So I beg you, make it your habit to follow my example, 17 This is why I have sent Timothy to you. He is a dear child of mine and trustworthy in the Lord's work; he will call to your minds my methods in the work of Christ Jesus, just as I teach them everywhere in every church. 18 But some of you have become conceited over the thought that I am not coming to see you. 19 But I am coming, and coming soon, if the Lord is willing, and then I will find out, not only what those conceited fellows say but what they can do, 20 for the kingdom of God does not consist in talking but in doing. 21 Which do you prefer? My coming to you with a club, or in a gentle, loving spirit?