1 True, there is nothing to be gained by it, but [as I am obliged] to boast, I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago -- "whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows -- "was caught up to the third heaven. 3 And I know that this man -- "whether in the body or away from the body I do not know, God knows -- " 4 Was caught up into paradise, and he heard utterances beyond the power of man to put into words, which man is not permitted to utter. 5 Of this same [man's experiences] I will boast, but of myself (personally) I will not boast, except as regards my infirmities (my weaknesses). 6 Should I desire to boast, I shall not be a witless braggart, for I shall be speaking the truth. But I abstain [from it] so that no one may form a higher estimate of me than [is justified by] what he sees in me or hears from me.
A Thorn in the Flesh
7 And to keep me from being puffed up and too much elated by the exceeding greatness (preeminence) of these revelations, there was given me a thorn ( a splinter) in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to rack and buffet and harass me, to keep me from being excessively exalted. 8 Three times I called upon the Lord and besought [Him] about this and begged that it might depart from me; 9 But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me! 10 So for the sake of Christ, I am well pleased and take pleasure in infirmities, insults, hardships, persecutions, perplexities and distresses; for when I am weak [ in human strength], then am I [truly] strong (able, powerful in divine strength).
11 Now I have been [speaking like] a fool! But you forced me to it, for I ought to have been [ saved the necessity and] commended by you. For I have not fallen short one bit or proved myself at all inferior to those superlative [false] apostles [of yours], even if I am nothing (a nobody). 12 Indeed, the signs that indicate a [genuine] apostle were performed among you fully and most patiently in miracles and wonders and mighty works. 13 For in what respect were you put to a disadvantage in comparison with the rest of the churches, unless [it was for the fact] that I myself did not burden you [with my financial support]? Pardon me [for doing you] this injustice!
14 Now for the third time I am ready to come to [visit] you. And I will not burden you [financially], for it is not your [money] that I want but you; for children are not duty bound to lay up store for their parents, but parents for their children. 15 But I will most gladly spend [myself] and be utterly spent for your souls. If I love you exceedingly, am I to be loved [by you] the less? 16 But though granting that I did not burden you [with my support, some say that] I was crafty [and that] I cheated and got the better of you with my trickery. 17 Did I [then] take advantage of you or make any money out of you through any of those [messengers] whom I sent to you? 18 [Actually] I urged Titus [to go], and I sent the brother with [him]. Did Titus overreach or take advantage of you [in anything]? Did he and I not act in the same spirit? Did we not [take the] same steps?
19 Have you been supposing [all this time] that we have been defending ourselves and apologizing to you? [It is] in the sight and the [very] presence of God [and as one] in Christ (the Messiah) that we have been speaking, dearly beloved, and all in order to build you up [spiritually]. 20 For I am fearful that somehow or other I may come and find you not as I desire to find you, and that you may find me too not as you want to find me -- "that perhaps there may be factions (quarreling), jealousy, temper (wrath, intrigues, rivalry, divided loyalties), selfishness, whispering, gossip, arrogance (self-assertion), and disorder among you. 21 [I am fearful] that when I come again, my God may humiliate and humble me in your regard, and that I may have to sorrow over many of those who sinned before and have not repented of the impurity, sexual vice, and sensuality which they formerly practiced.