Confrontation of the super-apostles
1I hope that you will put up with me while I act like a fool. Well, in fact, you are putting up with me! 2I’m deeply concerned about you with the same concern that God has. As your father, I promised you in marriage to one husband. I promised to present you as an innocent virgin to Christ himself. 3But I’m afraid that your minds might be seduced in the same way as the snake deceived Eve with his devious tricks. You might be unable to focus completely on a genuine and innocent commitment to Christ.
4If a person comes and preaches some other Jesus than the one we preached, or if you receive a different Spirit than the one you had received, or a different gospel than the one you embraced, you put up with it so easily! 5I don’t consider myself as second-rate in any way compared to the "super-apostles." 6But even if I’m uneducated in public speaking, I’m not uneducated in knowledge. We have shown this to you in every way and in everything we have done. 7Did I commit a sin by humbling myself to give you an advantage because I preached the gospel of God to you free of charge? 8I robbed other churches by taking a salary from them in order to serve you! 9While I was with you, I didn’t burden any of you even though I needed things. The believers who came from Macedonia gave me everything I needed. I kept myself from being a financial drain on you in any way, and I will continue to keep myself from being a burden.
10Since Christ’s truth is in me, I won’t stop telling the entire area of Greece that I’m proud of what I did. 11Why? Is it because I don’t love you? God knows that I do! 12But I’m going to continue to do what I’m doing. I want to contradict the claims of the people who want to be treated like they are the same as us because of what they brag about. 13Such people are false apostles and dishonest workers who disguise themselves as apostles of Christ. 14And no wonder! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15It is no great surprise then that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.
Paul defends himself
16I repeat, no one should take me for a fool. But if you do, then allow me to be a fool so that I can brag like a fool for a bit. 17I’m not saying what I’m saying because the Lord tells me to. I’m saying it like I’m a fool. I’m putting my confidence in this business of bragging. 18Since so many people are bragging based on human standards, that is how I’m going to brag too. 19Because you, who are so wise, are happy to put up with fools. 20You put up with it if someone enslaves you, if someone exploits you, if someone takes advantage of you, if someone places themselves over you, or if someone hits you in the face. 21I’m ashamed to say that we have been weak in comparison! But in whatever they challenge me, I challenge them (I’m speaking foolishly).
22Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. 23Are they ministers of Christ? I’m speaking like a crazy person. What I’ve done goes well beyond what they’ve done. I’ve worked much harder. I’ve been imprisoned much more often. I’ve been beaten more times than I can count. I’ve faced death many times. 24I received the "forty lashes minus one" from the Jews five times. 25I was beaten with rods three times. I was stoned once. I was shipwrecked three times. I spent a day and a night on the open sea. 26I’ve been on many journeys. I faced dangers from rivers, robbers, my people, and Gentiles. I faced dangers in the city, in the desert, on the sea, and from false brothers and sisters. 27I faced these dangers with hard work and heavy labor, many sleepless nights, hunger and thirst, often without food, and in the cold without enough clothes.
28Besides all the other things I could mention, there’s my daily stress because I’m concerned about all the churches. 29Who is weak without me being weak? Who is led astray without me being furious about it? 30If it’s necessary to brag, I’ll brag about my weaknesses. 31The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, the one who is blessed forever, knows that I’m not lying. 32At Damascus the governor under King Aretas was guarding the city of Damascus in order to capture me, 33but I got away from him by being lowered in a basket through a window in the city wall.