Boasting in Visions and Weakness
1 I must go on boasting—though it does no good, I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I know a man in Messiah (whether in the body I don’t know, or whether out of the body I don’t know—God knows)—fourteen years ago, he was caught up to the third heaven.#12:2. cf. Ezek. 8:3. 3 I know such a man (whether in the body or outside of the body I don’t know—God knows)— 4 he was caught up into Paradise and heard words too sacred to tell, which a human is not permitted to utter. 5 On behalf of such a man I will boast—but about myself I will not boast, except in regard to my weaknesses. 6 For if I should want to boast, I would not be foolish—for I will speak the truth. But I refrain, so that no one may think more of me than what he sees in me or hears from me— 7 even in the extraordinary quality of the revelations. So that I would not exalt myself, a thorn in the flesh was given to me—a a messenger of satan to torment me,#12:7. Cf. Num. 33:55; Job 2:6. so I would not exalt myself. 8 I pleaded with the Lord three times about this, that it might leave me. 9 But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Messiah may dwell in me. 10 For Messiah’s sake, then, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in distresses, in persecutions, in calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
11 I have become a fool—you drove me to it, for I ought to have been commended by you. For I am in no way inferior to the super-special shlichim—though I am nothing. 12 Truly the signs of a shaliach were worked out among you, with patient endurance, by signs and wonders and mighty miracles. 13 For in what respect were you treated worse than the rest of Messiah’s communities—except that I myself did not burden you? Pardon me this injustice!
14 Look, I am ready to come to you this third time, and I will not burden you—for I seek not your possessions, but you! For the children are not obliged to save up for the parents, but the parents for the children. 15 I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls. If I love you more, am I to be loved less? 16 But be that as it may, I did not burden you myself. Nevertheless, crafty fellow that I am, I caught you with trickery! 17 I haven’t taken advantage of you through any of those I sent to you, have I? 18 I did urge Titus to visit you, and I sent the brother with him. Titus didn’t take any advantage of you, did he? Didn’t we walk in the same spirit, in the same footsteps?
19 All along you’ve been thinking that we are defending ourselves to you.#12:19. Some mss. say Do you think all along that we are defending ourselves to you? It is before God that we’ve been speaking in Messiah—and all for building you up, loved ones. 20 For I am afraid that perhaps when I come, I may find you not as I wish, or I may be found by you not as you wish—that there may be strife, envy, outbursts of anger, self-seeking disputes, lashon ha-ra, gossip, arrogance, unruly commotions. 21 I am afraid that when I come again my God may humiliate me before you, and I will mourn for many of those who have sinned before and not repented of the impurity and sexual immorality and indecency which they committed.
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