I wish you would be patient with me even when I am a little foolish, but you are already doing that.
I am jealous over you with a jealousy that comes from God. I promised to give you to Christ, as your only husband. I want to give you as his pure bride.
But I am afraid that your minds will be led away from your true and pure following of Christ just as Eve was tricked by the snake with his evil ways.
You are very patient with anyone who comes to you and preaches a different Jesus from the one we preached. You are very willing to accept a spirit or gospel that is different from the Spirit and Good News you received from us.
I do not think that those "great apostles" are any better than I am.
I may not be a trained speaker, but I do have knowledge. We have shown this to you clearly in every way.
I preached God's Good News to you without pay. I made myself unimportant to make you important. Do you think that was wrong?
I accepted pay from other churches, taking their money so I could serve you.
If I needed something when I was with you, I did not trouble any of you. The brothers who came from Macedonia gave me all that I needed. I did not allow myself to depend on you in any way, and I will never depend on you.
No one in Southern Greece will stop me from bragging about that. I say this with the truth of Christ in me.
And why do I not depend on you? Do you think it is because I do not love you? God knows that I love you.
And I will continue doing what I am doing now, because I want to stop those people from having a reason to brag. They would like to say that the work they brag about is the same as ours.
Such men are not true apostles but are workers who lie. They change themselves to look like apostles of Christ.
This does not surprise us. Even Satan changes himself to look like an angel of light.
So it does not surprise us if Satan's servants also make themselves look like servants who work for what is right. But in the end they will be punished for what they do.
I tell you again: No one should think I am a fool. But if you think so, accept me as you would accept a fool. Then I can brag a little, too.
When I brag because I feel sure of myself, I am not talking as the Lord would talk but as a fool.
Many people are bragging about their lives in the world. So I will brag too.
You are wise, so you will gladly be patient with fools!
You are even patient with those who order you around, or use you, or trick you, or think they are better than you, or hit you in the face.
It is shameful to me to say this, but we were too "weak" to do those things to you! But if anyone else is brave enough to brag, then I also will be brave and brag. (I am talking as a fool.)
Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they from Abraham's family? So am I.
Are they serving Christ? I am serving him more. (I am crazy to talk like this.) I have worked much harder than they. I have been in prison more often. I have been hurt more in beatings. I have been near death many times.
Five times the Jews have given me their punishment of thirty-nine lashes with a whip.
Three different times I was beaten with rods. One time I was almost stoned to death. Three times I was in ships that wrecked, and one of those times I spent a night and a day in the sea.
I have gone on many travels and have been in danger from rivers, thieves, my own people, the Jews, and those who are not Jews. I have been in danger in cities, in places where no one lives, and on the sea. And I have been in danger with false Christians.
I have done hard and tiring work, and many times I did not sleep. I have been hungry and thirsty, and many times I have been without food. I have been cold and without clothes.
Besides all this, there is on me every day the load of my concern for all the churches.
I feel weak every time someone is weak, and I feel upset every time someone is led into sin.
If I must brag, I will brag about the things that show I am weak.
God knows I am not lying. He is the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, and he is to be praised forever.
When I was in Damascus, the governor under King Aretas wanted to arrest me, so he put guards around the city.
But my friends lowered me in a basket through a hole in the city wall. So I escaped from the governor.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version. Copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.