And now, to further that work, we entreat you not to offer God's grace an ineffectual welcome. (I have answered your prayer, he says, in a time of pardon, I have brought you help in a day of salvation. And here is the time of pardon; the day of salvation has come already.) We are careful not to give offence to anybody, lest we should bring discredit on our ministry; as God's ministers, we must do everything to make ourselves acceptable. We have to show great patience, in times of affliction, of need, of difficulty; under the lash, in prison, in the midst of tumult; when we are tired out, sleepless, and fasting. We have to be pure-minded, enlightened, forgiving and gracious to others; we have to rely on the Holy Spirit, on unaffected love, on the truth of our message, on the power of God. To right and to left we must be armed with innocence; now honoured, now slighted, now traduced, now flattered. They call us deceivers, and we tell the truth; unknown, and we are fully acknowledged; dying men, and see, we live; punished, yes, but not doomed to die; sad men, that rejoice continually; beggars, that bring riches to many; disinherited, and the world is ours.
We are speaking freely to you, Corinthians; we throw our hearts wide open to you. It is not our fault, it is the fault of your own affections, that you feel constraint with us. Pay us back in the same coin (I am speaking to you as to my children); open your hearts wide too. You must not consent to be yokefellows with unbelievers. What has innocence to do with lawlessness? What is there in common between light and darkness? What harmony between Christ and Belial? How can a believer throw in his lot with an infidel? How can the temple of God have any commerce with idols? And you are the temple of the living God; God has told us so; I will live and move among them, and be their God, and they shall be my people. Come out, then, from among them, the Lord says to us, separate yourselves from them, and do not even touch what is unclean; then I will make you welcome. I will be your Father, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord, the Almighty.