aBoasting is necessary, though it is not profitable; but I will go on to visions and brevelations of the Lord.
I know a man ain Christ who fourteen years ago--whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, bGod knows--such a man was ccaught up to the dthird heaven.
And I know how such a man--whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, aGod knows--
was acaught up into bParadise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak.
aOn behalf of such a man I will boast; but on my own behalf I will not boast, except in regard to my bweaknesses.
For if I do wish to boast I will not be afoolish, bfor I will be speaking the truth; but I refrain from this, so that no one will credit me with more than he sees in me or hears from me.
Because of the surpassing greatness of the arevelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a bthorn in the flesh, a cmessenger of Satan to torment me--to keep me from exalting myself!
Concerning this I implored the Lord athree times that it might leave me.
And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for apower is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather bboast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
Therefore aI am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with bdistresses, with cpersecutions, with bdifficulties, dfor Christ's sake; for ewhen I am weak, then I am strong.
I have become afoolish; you yourselves compelled me. Actually I should have been commended by you, for bin no respect was I inferior to the most eminent apostles, even though cI am a nobody.
The asigns of a true apostle were performed among you with all perseverance, by signs and wonders and miracles.
For in what respect were you treated as inferior to the rest of the churches, except that aI myself did not become a burden to you? Forgive me bthis wrong!
Here afor this third time I am ready to come to you, and I bwill not be a burden to you; for I cdo not seek what is yours, but dyou; for echildren are not responsible to save up for their parents, but fparents for their children.
I will amost gladly spend and be expended for your souls. If bI love you more, am I to be loved less?
But be that as it may, I adid not burden you myself; nevertheless, crafty fellow that I am, I btook you in by deceit.
aCertainly I have not taken advantage of you through any of those whom I have sent to you, have I?
I aurged bTitus to go, and I sent cthe brother with him. Titus did not take any advantage of you, did he? Did we not conduct ourselves in the same dspirit and walk ein the same steps?
All this time you have been thinking that we are defending ourselves to you. Actually, ait is in the sight of God that we have been speaking in Christ; and ball for your upbuilding, cbeloved.
For I am afraid that perhaps awhen I come I may find you to be not what I wish and may be found by you to be not what you wish; that perhaps there will be bstrife, jealousy, cangry tempers, ddisputes, eslanders, fgossip,