1 As workers together with God we urge you also, who have received God's unearned favor, do not allow it to be for nothing, 2 for God said [Isa. 49:8], "I listened to you at the right time [i.e., when you needed my favor], and I helped you on the day of your salvation." Look, now is the right time [to accept God's favor]; now is the day of salvation.
3 [We try] not to place an obstacle in anyone's way [i.e., to keep them from accepting the Gospel message], so that our ministry would not be blamed. 4 But, as ministers of God, we [try to] commend ourselves [to others] in every way. [We do this] by [our] great steadfastness in troubles, hardships and difficulties. 5 [We have been] beaten, jailed, and mobbed. [We have] worked hard, missed sleep and gone without food. 6 [We have ministered] with purity, knowledge, patience and kindness. [We have done this] by [the power of] the Holy Spirit; out of genuine love; 7 by preaching the truth; through the power of God [i.e., possibly including miracles]; and by [using] weapons of righteousness in [our] right and left hands. [Note: This could allude to offensive and defensive weapons and means that Paul was fully equipped to do whatever was right]. 8 [We have experienced] honor and dishonor; a bad reputation and a good one. [We have been viewed] as deceivers and yet are genuine; 9 as [both] unknown [to people] and yet well-known; [we have almost] died, and yet as you see, we are still alive; [we have been] punished and yet not killed; 10 sad and yet always joyous; poor and yet making many people [spiritually] rich; destitute and yet possessing everything.
11 We have spoken freely to you, O Corinthians, and our hearts have been wide open to you. 12 We are not holding back [our affections] from you, but you are holding back your affections [from us]. 13 I am speaking to you as my [spiritual] children; open up [your hearts] to me in return.
14 Do not team up with unbelievers [i.e., in close relationships, such as marriage, etc.]. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or, what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 And what harmony can Christ have with Belial? [Note: "Belial" means "worthlessness" and was used for referring to the devil]. Or, what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement is there between a temple of God and idols? For we are a temple of the living God, just as God said [Lev. 26:12], "I will live in them and walk among them [i.e., among His people]; and I will be their God and they will be my people." 17 Therefore, the Lord says [Isa. 52:11], "You people should leave their company [i.e., unbelievers, verse 14] and separate yourselves from them, and do not touch anything unclean [i.e., their evil practices], and I will welcome you." 18 The Lord Almighty [also] said [Hos. 1:10], "I will be a Father to you, and you will be sons and daughters to me."