Paul’s role as an apostle
6 Brothers and sisters, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit. I’ve done this so that you can learn what it means not to go beyond what has been written and so none of you will become arrogant by supporting one of us against the other. 7 Who says that you are better than anyone else? What do you have that you didn’t receive? And if you received it, then why are you bragging as if you didn’t receive it? 8 You’ve been filled already! You’ve become rich already! You rule like kings without us! I wish you did rule so that we could be kings with you! 9 I suppose that God has shown that we apostles are at the end of the line. We are like prisoners sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle in the world, both to angels and to humans. 10 We are fools for Christ, but you are wise through Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, but we are dishonored! 11 Up to this very moment we are hungry, thirsty, wearing rags, abused, and homeless. 12 We work hard with our own hands. When we are insulted, we respond with a blessing; when we are harassed, we put up with it; 13 when our reputation is attacked, we are encouraging. We have become the scum of the earth, the waste that runs off everything, up to the present time.
14 I’m not writing these things to make you ashamed but to warn you, since you are my loved children. 15 You may have ten thousand mentors in Christ, but you don’t have many fathers. I gave birth to you in Christ Jesus through the gospel, 16 so I encourage you to follow my example. 17 This is why I’ve sent Timothy to you; he’s my loved and trusted child in the Lord; he’ll remind you about my way of life in Christ Jesus. He’ll teach the same way as I teach everywhere in every church. 18 Some have become arrogant as if I’m not coming to see you. 19 But, if the Lord is willing, I’ll come to you soon. Then I won’t focus on what these arrogant people say, but I’ll find out what power they possess. 20 God’s kingdom isn’t about words but about power. 21 Which do you want? Should I come to you with a big stick to punish you, or with love and a gentle spirit?