I must go on boasting. Though there is nothing to be gained by it, I will go on to visions and 1revelations of the Lord.
I know a man 2in Christ who fourteen years ago was 3caught up to 4the third heaven--whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, 5God knows.
And I know that this man was caught up into 6paradise--whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, 7God knows--
and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter.
On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, 8except of my weaknesses.
Though if I should wish to boast, 9I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me.
So 10to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations,11a thorn was given me in the flesh, 12a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.
13Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.
But he said to me, 14"My grace is sufficient for you, for 15my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that 16the power of Christ may rest upon me.
17For the sake of Christ, then, 18I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For 19when I am weak, then I am strong.
20I have been a fool! You forced me to it, for I ought to have been commended by you. For I was 21not at all inferior to these super-apostles, 22even though I am nothing.
23The signs of a true apostle were performed among you 24with utmost patience, with signs and wonders and mighty works.
For in what were you less favored than the rest of the churches, except that 25I myself did not burden you? Forgive me this wrong!
Here 26for the third time I am ready to come to you. And I will not be a burden, for 27I seek not what is yours but you. For 28children are not obligated to save up for their parents, but 29parents for their children.
30I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls. If 31I love you more, am I to be loved less?
But granting that 32I myself did not burden you, I was crafty, you say, and got the better of you by deceit.
Did I take advantage of you 33through any of those whom I sent to you?
34I urged Titus to go, and sent 35the brother with him. Did Titus take advantage of you? Did we not act in the same spirit? Did we not take the same steps?
Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? It is 36in the sight of God that we have been speaking in Christ, and 37all for your upbuilding, beloved.
For I fear that perhaps 38when I come I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish--that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder.
I fear that when I come again my God may humble me before you, and I may have to mourn over many of those 39who sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, 40sexual immorality, and sensuality that they have practiced.