1 Now I appeal to you in person, by the gentleness and fairness of Christ, I, Paul, who am so "condescending when face to face with you, but so courageous toward you when far away!" 2 I beg you not to make me too courageous in that confidence in which I think to take a daring stand against some people who try to think that I am acting from the lowest human motives. 3 For though I do still live the life of a physical human creature, I am not waging this war in accordance with physical human standards, 4 for the weapons used in my warfare are not mere human ones, but through my God are mighty for demolishing fortresses. 5 For I am demolishing arguments and every barrier that is raised against the genuine knowledge of God, taking captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ, 6 and am prepared to punish any disobedience, when your obedience is made complete.
7 You look at me and measure me by outward appearances. If anyone is confident in himself that he belongs to Christ, let him have another thought about himself, that just as he belongs to Christ, so do I. 8 For if I do boast a little too much about my authority, which the Lord gave me for building you up and not for tearing you down, I shall never have to blush for doing so. 9 I do not want to seem to be frightening you with my letters. 10 For they say, "His letters are impressive and forceful, but his physical personality is unimpressive, and his delivery is perfectly contemptible." 11 Such people should consider this: When I arrive for action I shall do exactly what I said I would in my letters when far away.
12 Indeed, I do not dare to count or compare myself with certain men who are always recommending themselves. But they do not show good sense, because they do continue measuring themselves with one another and comparing themselves with one another. 13 But I shall never go too far in my boasting; no, I shall stay within the limits of the sphere which God apportioned me, so as to reach even you. 14 For I am not overstepping my authority as though I should not reach you, for I was the very first to reach as far as you with the good news of Christ. 15 I am not going too far in my boasting, and actually boasting of other men's labors, but I am cherishing the hope that your faith may so continue to grow that through you my work within my sphere may be so enlarged as to run over, 16 so that I can preach the good news in the regions beyond you, without boasting in another man's sphere of work already done by him. 17 "But the man who boasts must boast in the Lord. 18 For it is not the man who keeps on recommending himself who is really approved, but it is the man whom the Lord recommends.