I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me!
For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since 1I betrothed you to one husband, 2to present you 3as a pure virgin to Christ.
But I am afraid that 4as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts 5will be led astray from a 6sincere and 7pure devotion to Christ.
For if someone comes and 8proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept 9a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.
Indeed, I consider that 10I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles.
11Even if I am unskilled in speaking, 12I am not so in knowledge; indeed, in every way 13we have made this plain to you in all things.
Or 14did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because 15I preached God's gospel to you free of charge?
I robbed other churches by accepting support from them in order to serve you.
And when I was with you and was 16in need, 17I did not burden anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia 18supplied my need. So I refrained and will refrain 19from burdening you in any way.
20As the truth of Christ is in me, this boasting of mine 21will not be silenced in the regions of Achaia.
And why? 22Because I do not love you? 23God knows I do!
And what I do I will continue to do, 24in 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 25false apostles, 26deceitful workmen, 27disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.
And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as 28an angel of light.
So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as 29servants of righteousness. 30Their end will correspond to their deeds.
I repeat, 31let 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 32with this boastful confidence, 33I say not with the Lord's authority but as a fool.
Since 34many boast according to the flesh, I too will boast.
For you gladly bear with fools, 35being wise yourselves!
For you bear it if someone 36makes slaves of you, or 37devours you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or 38strikes you in the face.
To my shame, I must say, 39we were too weak for that! But whatever anyone else dares to boast of--I am speaking as a fool--I also dare to boast of that.
Are they Hebrews? 40So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they offspring of Abraham? So am I.
Are they 41servants of Christ? 42I am a better one--I am talking like a madman--with far greater labors, 43far more imprisonments, 44with countless beatings, and 45often near death.
Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the 46forty lashes less one.
Three times I was 47beaten with rods. 48Once I was stoned. Three times I 49was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea;
on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, 50danger from my own people, 51danger from Gentiles, 52danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers;
53in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, 54in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.
And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for 55all the churches.
56Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?
57If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.
58The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, 59he who is blessed forever, 60knows that I am not lying.
At Damascus, the governor under King Aretas 61was guarding the city of Damascus in order to seize me,
62but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall and escaped his hands.