I hope you will be patient with me as I keep on talking like a fool. Please bear with me.
I am jealous for you with the jealousy of God himself. For I promised you as a pure bride a to one husband, Christ.
But I fear that somehow you will be led away from your pure and simple devotion to Christ, just as Eve was deceived by the serpent.
You seem to believe whatever anyone tells you, even if they preach about a different Jesus than the one we preach, or a different Spirit than the one you received, or a different kind of gospel than the one you believed.
But I don't think I am inferior to these "super apostles."
I may not be a trained speaker, but I know what I am talking about. I think you realize this by now, for we have proved it again and again.
Did I do wrong when I humbled myself and honored you by preaching God's Good News to you without expecting anything in return?
I "robbed" other churches by accepting their contributions so I could serve you at no cost.
And when I was with you and didn't have enough to live on, I did not ask you to help me. For the brothers who came from Macedonia brought me another gift. I have never yet asked you for any support, and I never will.
As surely as the truth of Christ is in me, I will never stop boasting about this all over Greece. b11
Why? Because I don't love you? God knows I do.
But I will continue doing this to cut the ground out from under the feet of those who boast that their work is just like ours.
These people are false apostles. They have fooled you by disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.
But I am not surprised! Even Satan can disguise himself as an angel of light.
So it is no wonder his servants can also do it by pretending to be godly ministers. In the end they will get every bit of punishment their wicked deeds deserve.
Once again, don't think that I have lost my wits to talk like this. But even if you do, listen to me, as you would to a foolish person, while I also boast a little.
Such bragging is not something the Lord wants, but I am acting like a fool.
And since others boast about their human achievements, I will, too.
After all, you, who think you are so wise, enjoy listening to fools!
You put up with it when they make you their slaves, take everything you have, take advantage of you, put on airs, and slap you in the face.
I'm ashamed to say that we were not strong enough to do that!But whatever they dare to boast about -- I'm talking like a fool again -- I can boast about it, too.
They say they are Hebrews, do they? So am I. And they say they are Israelites? So am I. And they are descendants of Abraham? So am I.
They say they serve Christ? I know I sound like a madman, but I have served him far more! I have worked harder, been put in jail more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again.
Five different times the Jews gave me thirty-nine lashes.
Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea.
I have traveled many weary miles. I have faced danger from flooded rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the stormy seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be Christians but are not. c27
I have lived with weariness and pain and sleepless nights. Often I have been hungry and thirsty and have gone without food. Often I have shivered with cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm.
Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of how the churches are getting along.
Who is weak without my feeling that weakness? Who is led astray, and I do not burn with anger?
If I must boast, I would rather boast about the things that show how weak I am.
God, the Father of our Lord Jesus, who is to be praised forever, knows I tell the truth.
When I was in Damascus, the governor under King Aretas kept guards at the city gates to catch me.
But I was lowered in a basket through a window in the city wall, and that's how I got away!
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)