A Vision of Paradise
1 It is necessary to boast; it is not profitable, but I will proceed to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2I know a man in Christ fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or outside the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven, 3and I know this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows—4that he was caught up to paradise and heard words not to be spoken, which it is not permitted for a person to speak. 5On behalf of such a person I will boast, but on behalf of myself I will not boast, except in my weaknesses. 6For if I want to boast, I will not be foolish, because I will be telling the truth, but I am refraining, so that no one can credit to me more than what he sees in me or hears anything from me, 7even because of the extraordinary degree of the revelations. Therefore, so that I would not exalt myself, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan, in order that it would torment me so that I would not exalt myself. 8Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would depart from me. 9And he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, because the#A majority of later manuscripts read “my” power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore rather I will boast most gladly in my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may reside in me. 10Therefore I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in calamities, in persecutions and difficulties for the sake of Christ, for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.
Paul’s Concern for the Christians at Corinth
11I have become a fool! You compelled me, for I ought to have been commended by you, for I am in no way inferior to the preeminent apostles,#Some interpreters take this to refer to the original apostles in Jerusalem; others take Paul to be referring sarcastically to his opponents in Corinth. even if I am nothing. 12Indeed, the signs of an apostle have been done among you with all patient endurance, both signs and wonders and deeds of power. 13For in what respect are you made worse off#Literally “for what is it with respect to which you are made worse off” more than the rest of the churches, except that I myself was not a burden to you? Forgive me this wrong! 14Behold, this third time I am ready to come to you, and I will not be a burden to you. For I am not seeking your possessions, but you. For children are not obligated to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. 15But I will spend and be expended most gladly for your lives. If I love you much more, am I to be loved less? 16But let it be. I have not been a burden to you, but because I#*Here “because” is supplied as a component of the participle (“was”) which is understood as causal was crafty, I took you by cunning. 17I have not taken advantage of you through anyone whom I sent to you#Literally “anyone whom I sent to you, through him”, have I?#*The negative construction in Greek anticipates a negative answer here 18I urged Titus to go, and I sent the brother with him. Titus did not take advantage of you, did he?#*The negative construction in Greek anticipates a negative answer here Did we not conduct ourselves in the same spirit?#*The negative construction in Greek anticipates a positive answer here Did we not walk in the same footsteps?#*The negative construction in Greek anticipates a positive answer here 19Have you been thinking all this time that we are defending ourselves to you? We are speaking in Christ before God, and all these things, dear friends, are for your edification. 20For I am afraid lest somehow when I#*Here “when” is supplied as a component of the participle (“arrive”) which is understood as temporal arrive, I will not find you as I want, and I may be found by you as you do not want. I am afraid#*The words “I am afraid” are not in the Greek text, but are an understood repetition from the previous clause lest somehow there will be strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, pride, disorder. 21I am afraid lest when I#*Here “when” is supplied as a component of the participle (“come”) which is understood as temporal come again my God will humiliate me in your presence#Literally “with you”, and I will grieve over many of those who sinned previously and have not repented because of their impurity and sexual immorality and licentiousness that they have practiced.