1 Now I Paul, who am humble [when speaking] face to face with you, but bold when I am away from you, urge you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ [Note: This means either Paul was imitating Christ's behavior or that the Corinthians were to do so]: 2 I make this request so that I do not have to be bold when I am present [with you], and feel compelled to speak in an authoritative tone to some people [there] who think we are living by worldly standards. 3 For although we live in the world [i.e., in a human body], we do not wage war [i.e., for God and against evil] on a worldly level [i.e., by using the tactics of unsaved people]. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not like the world's [i.e., which rely on human ingenuity and unspiritual principles], but they are empowered by God to overthrow [Satanic] fortifications. 5 We overthrow [vain] reasonings and every lofty idea raised against the knowledge of God [i.e., as revealed through the Gospel], and take captive [our] every thought to [make it] obey Christ. 6 [And we are] prepared to punish all disobedience when your obedience is complete. [Note: This probably refers to the Corinthian church dealing with its unrepentant member. See I Cor. 5:3-5].
7 You people are looking [merely] at the appearance of things [or, "You should look at what is obvious!" In either case, it suggests they were misjudging Paul's ministry]. If any person is confident within himself that he belongs to Christ, he should reflect on this again: We are just as much Christ's [servants] as he is. 8 For even if I should boast too much about the authority the Lord gave us for building you people up [spiritually], and not tearing you down, I will not be ashamed of it. 9 [Now] I do not want to appear to be trying to scare you by my letters. 10 For some people are saying, "Paul's letters are heavy and severe, but in person he is [physically?] weak and his speaking ability is unimpressive." 11 Such people should consider this: What we say in our letters when we are away is what we will do when we are there.
12 For we do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with certain people who commend themselves. People who measure their [spiritual] stature by what [they think] they are, and compare their [spiritual] status with their own set of standards, are foolish. 13 But we will not boast beyond our proper boundaries [Note: This may mean that Paul was not attempting to exercise apostolic authority outside the parameters assigned to him by God], but will restrict our boasting to the area assigned to us by God as a field of service, which includes you people [there in Corinth]. 14 Now we are not going too far in claiming you as part of our outreach, since we were the first ones to come to you with the Gospel of Christ. 15 So, we will not go beyond our proper limits by boasting of work [already] done by others, but we hope that, as your faith increases, our field of service among you will [also] greatly expand. 16 [This is] so we can proclaim the good news [about Christ] even to areas beyond you [Note: Perhaps Paul here alludes to such places as Italy and Spain], and [thereby] not boast over what has [already] been done in someone else's field of service. 17 [Jer. 9:24 says], "But the person who boasts should boast about the Lord." 18 For it is not the person who commends himself that is approved [by God], but the one whom the Lord commends.