1 I wish that you could put up with a little "foolishness" from me, but you really are doing that already. 2 For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy, because I promised you in marriage to one husband, that I might present you to Christ as a pure virgin. 3 But I am afraid that somehow, just as the snake tricked Eve by his cunning, your minds might [also] be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4 For if someone comes [to you] proclaiming another "Jesus," whom we [apostles] had not preached, or if you people receive a different "spirit" from the one you have [already] received, or a different "gospel" from the one you have [already] accepted, you put up with him quite well.
5 For I consider myself not to be one bit inferior to those "super apostles." [Note: Paul is referring to his opponents there in Corinth who claimed apostolic authority]. 6 But even though I am an unpolished speaker, I am not lacking in knowledge. We have made this clear to you in every way. 7 Or, did I sin by putting myself down in order to build you people up, because I preached the Gospel of God to you without taking [financial] support? 8 I [virtually] robbed other churches by accepting [financial] support from them in order to serve you. 9 And when I was there with you and in need, I was not a [financial] burden to anyone, for when the brothers came from Macedonia they provided me with what I lacked, so I kept myself from being a burden to you in every way and will continue to do so. 10 As sure as the truth of Christ is in my heart, no one will stop me from boasting about this [arrangement] throughout the regions of Achaia. [Note: This was the province where Corinth was located]. 11 Why [am I doing this]? Is it because I do not love you? God knows [I do].
12 But what I am doing, I will continue to do, so that I can cut off the opportunity from those who want an occasion [to receive financial support for themselves because of my example of receiving it]. They want to boast [that they are preaching] on the same terms as I do. [Note: Paul's argument seems to be that one reason for his foregoing financial support was so those "super apostles" in Corinth (see verse 5) would not be able to use his example to wrongfully exact financial support from the church]. 13 For such men are false apostles; they are deceitful workers, who disguise themselves as [true] apostles of Christ. 14 And it is no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light [i.e., someone pure and righteous]. 15 Therefore, it should not be surprising for Satan's ministers to disguise themselves as ministers of righteousness. Their [final] end will be what they deserve for such actions.
16 Again I say, no one should think I am foolish, but if you do, [then] accept me that way, so that I too can boast a little bit. 17 What I am saying in this boastful [show of] confidence is not what the Lord would [say], but is [just plain] "foolishness." 18 Since many [other] people boast about worldly matters, I will boast about such things also. 19 For, since you people are so smart, you gladly put up with fools. 20 For you put up with someone, [even] if he enslaves you [i.e., exercises control over your life]; [even] if he takes [unfair] advantage of you; [even] if he acts superior toward you; and [even] if he slaps you in the face. 21 I am ashamed to say that we were [too] weak to do such things. [Note: Paul is probably saying, sarcastically, "We are too 'weak' to take financial advantage of people and mistreat them the way those 'super apostles' there in Corinth were doing"]. Yet, in whatever [matters] anyone [there] dares to boast about, (now I am really speaking foolishly), I will dare to boast also.
22 Are they [i.e., Paul's opponents there in Corinth] Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? (I am really talking like a crazy person now). I am more [of a servant, than they are]. I have worked much harder. I have been in prison more often. I have been flogged more severely. I have been in danger of death more frequently. 24 I received thirty-nine lashes from the Jews five times. 25 I was beaten with rods three times. I was stoned once. I suffered shipwreck three times and spent a night and a day in the open water. 26 I have been on frequent journeys; in danger from rivers; in danger from thieves; in danger from my own people; in danger from the Gentiles; in danger in the city; in danger in the desert; in danger in the ocean; in danger among false brothers. 27 I have worked and suffered. I have often gone without sleep, been hungry and thirsty, often gone without food [i.e., for spiritual reasons], been cold and had inadequate clothing.
28 Besides these [kinds of] things [or, "besides these outward things"], there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I do not feel their weakness? Who is led astray [from God], and I do not burn [i.e., with righteous anger over the one who caused it]? 30 If I must boast, I will boast about the things that show my weakness. 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who should be praised forever, knows that I am not lying. 32 [When I was] in Damascus [Note: Paul here refers to his conversion. See Acts 9:1ff], the governor [who served] under King Aretas, was guarding the city of the Damascenes in order to capture me, 33 but I escaped from his hands by being lowered in a basket through a window in the [city] wall.