1It is necessary to boast, though nothing is gained by it; but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2I know a #Paul had this experience prior to beginning his missionary journeys.man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, [only] God knows—such a man was caught up to the #The dwelling place of God, called Paradise by Jesus and also by Paul (v 4).third heaven. 3And I know that such a man—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, [only] God knows— 4was caught up into #Paul apparently uses “Paradise” as an equivalent of the third heaven, the dwelling place of God (cf Luke 23:43).Paradise and heard inexpressible words which man is not permitted to speak [words too sacred to tell]. 5On behalf of such a man [and his experiences] I will boast; but in my own behalf I will not boast, except in regard to my weaknesses. 6If I wish to boast, I will not be foolish, because I will be speaking the truth. But I abstain [from it], so that no one will credit me with more than [is justified by what] he sees in me or hears from me.
A Thorn in the Flesh
7Because of the surpassing greatness and extraordinary nature of the revelations [which I received from God], for this reason, to keep me from thinking of myself as important, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan, to torment and harass me—to keep me from exalting myself! 8Concerning this I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might leave me; 9but He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you [My lovingkindness and My mercy are more than enough—always available—regardless of the situation]; for [My] power is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your] weakness.” Therefore, I will all the more gladly boast in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ [may completely enfold me and] may dwell in me. 10So I am well pleased with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, and with difficulties, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak [in human strength], then I am strong [truly able, truly powerful, truly drawing from God’s strength].
11Now I have become foolish; you have forced me [by questioning my apostleship]. Actually I should have been commended by you [instead of being treated disdainfully], for I was not inferior to those #See note 11:5. If the false teachers were degrading Paul’s apostleship, they may have wrongly ascribed a “super-apostleship” to the Twelve, especially James, Cephas (Peter), and John. See Gal 2:9.super-apostles, even if I am nobody. 12The signs that indicate a genuine apostle were performed among you fully and most patiently—signs and wonders and miracles. 13For in what respect were you treated as inferior to the rest of the churches, except [for the fact] that I did not burden you [with my financial support]? Forgive me [for doing you] this injustice!
14Now for the third time I am ready to visit you. I will not burden you [financially], because I do not want what is yours [not your money or your possessions], but you. For children are not responsible to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. 15But I will very gladly spend [my own resources] and be utterly spent for your souls. If I love you greatly, am I to be loved less [by you]? 16But be that as it may, I did not burden you [with my support]. But [some say that] I was sly and took you by trickery. 17Did I take advantage of you or make any money off you through any of the messengers I sent you? [Certainly not!] 18I urged Titus to go, and I sent the brother with him. Titus did not take advantage of you, did he? [No!] Did we not conduct ourselves in the same spirit and walk in the same steps? [Of course!]
19All this time you have been thinking that we are [merely] defending ourselves to you. It is in the sight of God that we have been speaking [as one] in Christ; and everything, dearly beloved, is to strengthen you [spiritually]. 20For I am afraid that perhaps when I come I may find you not to be as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish—that perhaps there may be strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder; 21I am afraid that when I come again my God may humiliate me before you, and I may mourn over many of those who have sinned in the past and not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality and decadence which they formerly practiced.