1 I wish you would now listen to a little folly of mine. Please do listen to me! 2 For I feel a divine jealousy for you, as I betrothed you to Christ, to present you as a pure bride to her one husband. 3 But I am apprehensive that, somehow or other, as the serpent by his cunning deceived Eve, your thoughts may be turned aside from single-hearted devotion to Christ. 4 For if anybody comes along and preaches another Jesus than the one I preached, or you receive another spirit different from the one you did receive or a glad message different from the one you did accept, you listen to it all right!
5 For I consider myself not a single bit inferior to those surpassingly superior apostles of yours! 6 Although I am untrained as an orator, yet I am not so in the field of knowledge. Surely, I have always made that perfectly clear to you. 7 Did I do wrong in taking a lowly place to let you have an exalted one, in that I preached the good news about God to you without accepting any pay? 8 I sponged on other churches by taking pay from them to render service to you, 9 and when I was with you and needed money, I never burdened a single one of you for a cent, for the brothers came from Macedonia and supplied what I needed. And so I kept myself, as I shall always do, from being a burden to you in any way. 10 But the truth of Christ in me, this boasting of mine shall never be stopped in the boundaries of Greece. 11 Why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do.
12 And I shall keep on doing as I am, in order to cut the ground from under the feet of those who want an opportunity to show themselves on a level with me in the matters of which they boast. 13 For such men are sham apostles, dishonest workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for even Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 So it is no surprise if his servants also masquerade as ministers for doing right, whose doom shall be in accordance with what they do.
16 Let me say again that no one must think that I am a fool, but if you do, please treat me like a fool and let me do a little boasting too, as other fools do. 17 But when I talk in this boastful confidence, I am not talking in accordance with the way the Lord talked, but just as a fool talks. 18 Since many boast in accordance with their human nature, I will do it too. 19 For you who are so wise yourselves are glad to listen to fools! 20 For you listen to a man, if he makes you his slave, or spends your money for his living, or cheats you, or puts on airs, or slaps you in the face. 21 I am ashamed to say that I was, as it were, so weak in the matter. And yet in whatever respect anyone else is daring to boast -- I am talking like a fool -- I too will dare to boast.
22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. 23 Are they ministers of Christ? So am I. I am talking like a man that has gone crazy -- as such I am superior! -- serving Him with labors greater by far, with far more imprisonments, with floggings vastly worse, and often at the point of death. 24 Five times I have taken thirty-nine lashes from the Jews, 25 three times I have been beaten by the Romans, once I was pelted with stones; three times I have been shipwrecked, and once I have spent a day and a night adrift at sea. 26 I have served Him on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my own people, dangers from the heathen, dangers in the city, dangers in the desert, dangers at sea, dangers from false brothers, 27 through toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, through hunger and thirst, through many a fasting season, poorly clad and exposed to cold.
28 Besides all other things, there is my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak without my being weak too? Who is caused to fall without my being fired with indignation? 30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness! 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is blessed forever, knows that I am telling the truth. 32 At Damascus the governor under King Aretas kept guards watching the city gates to capture me, 33 but through a hole in the wall I was lowered in a basket, and so escaped from his clutches.