1 I am forced to boast, though it is unprofitable, but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. ;18 I urged Titus to go, and with him I sent our brother. Did Titus make gain of you? And did I not walk in the same spirit as he did? Did I not take the very same steps?
2 I know a Christian man who, fourteen years ago (whether in the body I know not, or out of the body, I know not. God knows), was caught up- -this man of whom I speak - even into the third heaven.
3 And I know such a man (whether in the body or apart from the body I know not, God knows),
4 who was caught up into Paradise, and heard unutterable words which no human being is permitted to utter.
5 Of such a one I will boast; but on my own behalf I will not boast except in my weaknesses.
6 If I should choose to continue boasting I should not be foolish, for I should be speaking the truth. But I refrain, lest by the stupendous grandeur of the revelation any one should estimate me beyond what he sees in me, or hears from me.
7 It was for this reason, lest I should be over-elated, that there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to buffet me, lest I should be over-elated.
8 Concerning this, three times over I supplicated the Lord that it might leave me;
9 but he has answered me. "My grace is sufficient for you; it is in weakness that my power is perfected."
10 Most gladly therefore will I boast rather of my weakness, that over me like a tent may be pitched the power of Christ. That is why I rejoice in weakness, in ill-treatment, in troubles, in persecutions and calamities for Christs sake. For when I am weak, then am I strong.
11 I am become a fool - you have forced me to; for you yourselves ought to have been my vindicators. In no respect am I inferior to these superapostolic apostles, even though I am nothing.
12 In truth the signs of the true apostle were wrought among you in all patience by signs and marvels and powers.
13 In what respect, then, were you inferior to the other churches, except that I myself was not a burden to you? Forgive me this wrong!
14 And now for the third time I am preparing to visit you. I will not be a burden to you, for I am not seeking yours, but you. For the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.
15 For my part, I will most gladly spend, yea, and will myself be spent, for your souls. If I love you more abundantly, am I to be loved the less?
16 But though it be granted that I was not a burden to you, yet, you say, this was my cunning with which I caught you by a trick.
17 Did I make gain of you through any of those whom I sent to you?
19 Do you think that all this time I am defending myself to you? It is before the presence of God that I am speaking in Christ; and all, beloved, for your upbuilding.
20 For I dread that perhaps, when I come, I may not find you to be such as I wish, and that I may be found by you such as you do not wish; I dread lest there should be quarrels, jealousy, tempers, party spirit, slandering, gossip, arrogance, tumults;
21 and lest when I come again my God may humble me before you, and lest I shall mourn for many those who have sinned before, and have not repented of the impurity and immorality and wantonness which they have practised.