1 I have to boast. There is nothing to be gained by it, but I will go on to visions and revelations given me by the Lord. 2 I know of a man fourteen years ago??hether in the body or out of it, I do not know, God knows??eing actually caught up to the third heaven. 3 And I know that this man?? do not know whether it was in the body or out of it, God knows??4 was caught up into Paradise, and heard things that must not be told, which no human being can repeat. 5 On this man's account I am ready to boast, but about myself I will boast only of my weaknesses. 6 Though if I do choose to boast, I will not be such a fool, for I will only be telling the truth. But I will refrain from it, for I do not want anyone to be influenced by the wonderful character of these revelations to think more of me than is justified by my words or conduct. 7 So to keep me from being too much elated a bitter physical affliction was sent to me, a very messenger of Satan, to harass me, to keep me from being too much elated. 8 Three times I have prayed to the Lord about this, begging that it might leave me, 9 and he said to me, "My favor is enough for you, for only where there is weakness is perfect strength developed." So I am perfectly willing to boast of all my weakness, so that the strength of Christ may shelter me. 10 That is why I am pleased with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties, when they are endured for Christ's sake, for it is when I am weak that I am strong.
11 I have been making a fool of myself, but you forced me to do it, when you ought to have been expressing your approval of me. For I am not a bit inferior to your superfine apostles, even if I am nobody! 12 The signs that mark a true apostle were most patiently shown when I was among you, in signs, wonders, and marvels. 13 For what is there in which the other churches had the better of you, except in the fact that I would not permit myself to be a burden to you? You must forgive me that wrong!
14 Here it is the third time that I have been ready to come to see you, and I do not intend to be a burden to you now; for it is not your money but yourselves that I want; for children are not expected to lay up money for their parents, but parents for their children. 15 And I will be glad to spend all I have and all I am for your sake. Are you going to love me the less for loving you so intensely? 16 But granting that I did not burden you myself, I was clever about it, you say, and took you in by a trick. 17 Yet did I make anything out of you by anybody that I sent to you? 18 I asked Titus to go and I sent his brother with him. Did Titus make anything out of you? Did not he and I act in the same spirit, and take the very same steps?
19 Have you been supposing all along that it is before you I have been defending myself? It is in the sight of God and as a follower of Christ that I have been speaking. But it is all to do you good, dear friends, 20 for I am afraid that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I want to find you, and that you may find me not as you want to find me. I am afraid that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, bad feeling, rivalry, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder, 21 and that when I come back my God may humiliate me before you, and I may have to mourn over many who have kept on in their old sins and have never repented of the impurity, immorality, and sensuality in which they have indulged.