I 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.
I'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.
Since so many people are bragging based on human standards, that is how I'm going to brag too.
Because you, who are so wise, are happy to put up with fools.
You 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.
I'm ashamed to say that we have been weak in comparison! But in whatever they challenge me, I challenge them (I'm speaking foolishly).
Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I.
Are 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.
I received the "forty lashes minus one" from the Jews five times.
I 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.
I'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.
I 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.
Besides all the other things I could mention, there's my daily stress because I'm concerned about all the churches.
Who is weak without me being weak? Who is led astray without me being furious about it?
If it's necessary to brag, I'll brag about my weaknesses.
The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, the one who is blessed forever, knows that I'm not lying.
At Damascus the governor under King Aretas was guarding the city of Damascus in order to capture me,
but I got away from him by being lowered in a basket through a window in the city wall.