I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me!
I feel a divine jealousy for you, for I betrothed you to Christ to present you as a pure bride to her one husband.
But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
For if some one comes and preaches another Jesus than the one we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you submit to it readily enough.
I think that I am not in the least inferior to these superlative apostles.
Even if I am unskilled in speaking, I am not in knowledge; in every way we have made this plain to you in all things.
Did I commit a sin in abasing myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached God's gospel without cost to you?
I robbed other churches by accepting support from them in order to serve you.
And when I was with you and was in want, I did not burden any one, for my needs were supplied by the brethren who came from Macedo'nia. So I refrained and will refrain from burdening you in any way.
As the truth of Christ is in me, this boast of mine shall not be silenced in the regions of Acha'ia.
And why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do!
And what I do I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do.
For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.
And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.
So it is not strange if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.
I repeat, let no one think me foolish; but even if you do, accept me as a fool, so that I too may boast a little.
(What I am saying I say not with the Lord's authority but as a fool, in this boastful confidence;
since many boast of worldly things, I too will boast.)
For you gladly bear with fools, being wise yourselves!
For you bear it if a man makes slaves of you, or preys upon you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or strikes you in the face.
To my shame, I must say, we were too weak for that! But whatever any one dares to boast of--I am speaking as a fool--I also dare to boast of that.
Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I.
Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one--I am talking like a madman--with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death.
Five times I have received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one.
Three times I have been beaten with rods; once I was stoned. Three times I have been shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been adrift at sea;
on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brethren;
in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.
And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure upon me of my anxiety for all the churches.
Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?
If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.
The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, he who is blessed for ever, knows that I do not lie.
At Damascus, the governor under King Ar'etas guarded the city of Damascus in order to seize me,
but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and escaped his hands.
Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1952 [2nd edition, 1971] by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. (Revised Standard Version - Holy Bible)