Paul’s Visions and Revelations from the Lord
1 I must brag, although it doesn’t do any good. I’ll go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. 2 I know a follower of Christ who was snatched away to the third heaven fourteen years ago. I don’t know whether this happened to him physically or spiritually. Only God knows. 3 I know that this person 4 was snatched away to paradise where he heard things that can’t be expressed in words, things that humans cannot put into words. I don’t know whether this happened to him physically or spiritually. Only God knows.#The last two sentences of verse 3 (in Greek) have been moved to verse 4 to express the complex Greek sentence structure more clearly in English.5 I’ll brag about this person, but I won’t brag about myself unless it’s about my weaknesses.
6 If I ever wanted to brag, I wouldn’t be a fool. Instead, I would be telling the truth. But I’m going to spare you so that no one may think more of me than what he sees or hears about me, 7 especially because of the excessive number of revelations that I’ve had.
Therefore, to keep me from becoming conceited, I am forced to deal with a recurring problem. That problem, Satan’s messenger, torments me to keep me from being conceited. 8 I begged the Lord three times to take it away from me. 9 But he told me: “My kindness #Or “grace.” is all you need. My power is strongest when you are weak.” So I will brag even more about my weaknesses in order that Christ’s power will live in me. 10 Therefore, I accept weakness, mistreatment, hardship, persecution, and difficulties suffered for Christ. It’s clear that when I’m weak, I’m strong.
Paul Was Not a Burden to the Corinthians
11 I have become a fool. You forced me to be one. You should have recommended me to others. Even if I’m nothing, I wasn’t inferior in any way to your super-apostles. 12 While I was among you I patiently did the signs, wonders, and miracles which prove that I’m an apostle. 13 How were you treated worse than the other churches, except that I didn’t bother you for help? Forgive me for this wrong!
14 I’m ready to visit you for a third time, and I won’t bother you for help. I don’t want your possessions. Instead, I want you. Children shouldn’t have to provide for their parents, but parents should provide for their children. 15 I will be very glad to spend whatever I have. I’ll even give myself for you. Do you love me less because I love you so much?
16 You agree, then, that I haven’t been a burden to you. Was I a clever person who trapped you by some trick? 17 Did I take advantage of you through any of the men I sent you? 18 I encouraged Titus to visit you, and I sent my friend with him. Did Titus take advantage of you? Didn’t we have the same motives and do things the same way?
19 Have you been thinking all along that we’re trying to defend ourselves to you? We speak as Christ’s people in God’s sight. Everything we do, dear friends, is for your benefit.
Paul’s Concern about the Corinthians’ Way of Life
20 I’m afraid that I may come and find you different from what I want you to be, and that you may find me different from what you want me to be. I’m afraid that there may be rivalry, jealousy, hot tempers, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance, and disorderly conduct. 21 I’m afraid that when I come to you again, my God may humble me. I may have to grieve over many who formerly led sinful lives and have not changed the way they think and act about the perversion, sexual sins, and promiscuity in which they have been involved.