1. People should think of us as Christ's servants, stewards entrusted with the mysteries of God.
2. In such a matter, what is expected of stewards is that each one should be found trustworthy.
3. It is of no importance to me how you or any other human court may judge me: I will not even be the judge of my own self.
4. It is true that my conscience does not reproach me, but that is not enough to justify me: it is the Lord who is my judge.
5. For that reason, do not judge anything before the due time, until the Lord comes; he will bring to light everything that is hidden in darkness and reveal the designs of all hearts. Then everyone will receive from God the appropriate commendation.
6. I have applied all this to myself and Apollos for your sakes, so that you can learn how the saying, 'Nothing beyond what is written' is true of us: no individual among you must become filled with his own importance and make comparisons, to another's detriment.
7. Who made you so important? What have you got that was not given to you? And if it was given to you, why are you boasting as though it were your own?
8. You already have everything -- you are rich already -- you have come into your kingdom, without any help from us! Well, I wish you were kings and we could be kings with you!
9. For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on show right at the end, like men condemned to death: we have been exhibited as a spectacle to the whole universe, both angelic and human.
10. Here we are, fools for Christ's sake, while you are the clever ones in Christ; we are weak, while you are strong; you are honoured, while we are disgraced.
11. To this day, we go short of food and drink and clothes, we are beaten up and we have no homes;
12. we earn our living by labouring with our own hands; when we are cursed, we answer with a blessing; when we are hounded, we endure it passively;
13. when we are insulted, we give a courteous answer. We are treated even now as the dregs of the world, the very lowest scum.
14. I am writing all this not to make you ashamed but simply to remind you, as my dear children;
15. for even though you might have ten thousand slaves to look after you in Christ, you still have no more than one father, and it was I who fathered you in Christ Jesus, by the gospel.
16. That is why I urge you to take me as your pattern
17. and why I have sent you Timothy, a dear and faithful son to me in the Lord, who will remind you of my principles of conduct in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church.
18. On the assumption that I was not coming to you, some of you have become filled with your own self-importance;
19. but I shall be coming to you soon, the Lord willing, and then I shall find out not what these self-important people say, but what power they have.
20. For the kingdom of God consists not in spoken words but in power.
21. What do you want then? Am I to come to you with a stick in my hand or in love, and with a spirit of gentleness?