I hope you will put up with a little of my foolishness; but you are already doing that.
I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him.
But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.
But I do not think I am in the least inferior to those "super-apostles."
I may not be a trained speaker, but I do have knowledge. We have made this perfectly clear to you in every way.
Was it a sin for me to lower myself in order to elevate you by preaching the gospel of God to you free of charge?
I robbed other churches by receiving support from them so as to serve you.
And when I was with you and needed something, I was not a burden to anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied what I needed. I have kept myself from being a burden to you in any way, and will continue to do so.
As surely as the truth of Christ is in me, nobody in the regions of Achaia will stop this boasting of mine.
Why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do!
And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about.
For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ.
And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.
It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.
I repeat: Let no one take me for a fool. But if you do, then receive me just as you would a fool, so that I may do a little boasting.
In this self-confident boasting I am not talking as the Lord would, but as a fool.
Since many are boasting in the way the world does, I too will boast.
You gladly put up with fools since you are so wise!
In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or pushes himself forward or slaps you in the face.
To my shame I admit that we were too weak for that! What anyone else dares to boast about--I am speaking as a fool--I also dare to boast about.
Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham's descendants? So am I.
Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again.
Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.
Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea,
I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers.
I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.
Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.
Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?
If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.
The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be praised forever, knows that I am not lying.
In Damascus the governor under King Aretas had the city of the Damascenes guarded in order to arrest me.
But I was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall and slipped through his hands.
So in the ninth year of Zedekiah's reign, on the tenth day of the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon marched against Jerusalem with his whole army. He encamped outside the city and built siege works all around it.
The city was kept under siege until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah.
By the ninth day of the [fourth] month the famine in the city had become so severe that there was no food for the people to eat.
Then the city wall was broken through, and the whole army fled at night through the gate between the two walls near the king's garden, though the Babylonians were surrounding the city. They fled toward the Arabah,
but the Babylonian army pursued the king and overtook him in the plains of Jericho. All his soldiers were separated from him and scattered,
and he was captured. He was taken to the king of Babylon at Riblah, where sentence was pronounced on him.
They killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes. Then they put out his eyes, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon.
On the seventh day of the fifth month, in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard, an official of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem.
He set fire to the temple of the LORD, the royal palace and all the houses of Jerusalem. Every important building he burned down.
The whole Babylonian army, under the commander of the imperial guard, broke down the walls around Jerusalem.
Nebuzaradan the commander of the guard carried into exile the people who remained in the city, along with the rest of the populace and those who had gone over to the king of Babylon.
But the commander left behind some of the poorest people of the land to work the vineyards and fields.
The Babylonians broke up the bronze pillars, the movable stands and the bronze Sea that were at the temple of the LORD and they carried the bronze to Babylon.
They also took away the pots, shovels, wick trimmers, dishes and all the bronze articles used in the temple service.
The commander of the imperial guard took away the censers and sprinkling bowls--all that were made of pure gold or silver.
The bronze from the two pillars, the Sea and the movable stands, which Solomon had made for the temple of the LORD, was more than could be weighed.
Each pillar was twenty-seven feet high. The bronze capital on top of one pillar was four and a half feet high and was decorated with a network and pomegranates of bronze all around. The other pillar, with its network, was similar.
The commander of the guard took as prisoners Seraiah the chief priest, Zephaniah the priest next in rank and the three doorkeepers.
Of those still in the city, he took the officer in charge of the fighting men and five royal advisers. He also took the secretary who was chief officer in charge of conscripting the people of the land and sixty of his men who were found in the city.
Nebuzaradan the commander took them all and brought them to the king of Babylon at Riblah.
There at Riblah, in the land of Hamath, the king had them executed. So Judah went into captivity, away from her land.
Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon appointed Gedaliah son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, to be over the people he had left behind in Judah.
When all the army officers and their men heard that the king of Babylon had appointed Gedaliah as governor, they came to Gedaliah at Mizpah--Ishmael son of Nethaniah, Johanan son of Kareah, Seraiah son of Tanhumeth the Netophathite, Jaazaniah the son of the Maacathite, and their men.
Gedaliah took an oath to reassure them and their men. "Do not be afraid of the Babylonian officials," he said. "Settle down in the land and serve the king of Babylon, and it will go well with you."
In the seventh month, however, Ishmael son of Nethaniah, the son of Elishama, who was of royal blood, came with ten men and assassinated Gedaliah and also the men of Judah and the Babylonians who were with him at Mizpah.
At this, all the people from the least to the greatest, together with the army officers, fled to Egypt for fear of the Babylonians.
In the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the year Evil-Merodach became king of Babylon, he released Jehoiachin from prison on the twenty-seventh day of the twelfth month.
He spoke kindly to him and gave him a seat of honor higher than those of the other kings who were with him in Babylon.
So Jehoiachin put aside his prison clothes and for the rest of his life ate regularly at the king's table.
Day by day the king gave Jehoiachin a regular allowance as long as he lived.
Then the LORD replied: "Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.
For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.
"See, he is puffed up; his desires are not upright-- but the righteous will live by his faith--
indeed, wine betrays him; he is arrogant and never at rest. Because he is as greedy as the grave and like death is never satisfied, he gathers to himself all the nations and takes captive all the peoples.
"Will not all of them taunt him with ridicule and scorn, saying, " 'Woe to him who piles up stolen goods and makes himself wealthy by extortion! How long must this go on?'
Will not your debtors suddenly arise? Will they not wake up and make you tremble? Then you will become their victim.
Because you have plundered many nations, the peoples who are left will plunder you. For you have shed man's blood; you have destroyed lands and cities and everyone in them.
"Woe to him who builds his realm by unjust gain to set his nest on high, to escape the clutches of ruin!
You have plotted the ruin of many peoples, shaming your own house and forfeiting your life.
The stones of the wall will cry out, and the beams of the woodwork will echo it.
"Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed and establishes a town by crime!
Has not the LORD Almighty determined that the people's labor is only fuel for the fire, that the nations exhaust themselves for nothing?
For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
"Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbors, pouring it from the wineskin till they are drunk, so that he can gaze on their naked bodies.
You will be filled with shame instead of glory. Now it is your turn! Drink and be exposed ! The cup from the LORD's right hand is coming around to you, and disgrace will cover your glory.
The violence you have done to Lebanon will overwhelm you, and your destruction of animals will terrify you. For you have shed man's blood; you have destroyed lands and cities and everyone in them.
"Of what value is an idol, since a man has carved it? Or an image that teaches lies? For he who makes it trusts in his own creation; he makes idols that cannot speak.
Woe to him who says to wood, 'Come to life!' Or to lifeless stone, 'Wake up!' Can it give guidance? It is covered with gold and silver; there is no breath in it.
But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him."