1 There is nothing to be gained by this sort of thing, 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 was caught up to the third heaven. In the body or out of the body? That I do not know: God knows. 3 I simply know that in the body or out of the body (God knows which) 4 this man was caught up to paradise and heard sacred secrets which no human lips can repeat. 5 Of an experience like that I am prepared to boast, but not of myself personally ??not except as regards my weaknesses. 6 (If I did care to boast of other things, I would be no 'fool,' for I would have a true tale to tell; however, I abstain from that ??I want no one to take me for more than he can see in me or make out from me.) 7 My wealth of visions might have puffed me up, so I was given a thorn in the flesh, an angel of Satan to rack me and keep me from being puffed up; 8 three times over I prayed the Lord to make it leave me, 9 but he told me, "It is enough for you to have my grace: it is in weakness that [my] power is fully felt." So I am proud to boast of all my weakness, and thus to have the power of Christ resting on my life. 10 It makes me satisfied, for Christ's sake, with weakness, insults, trouble, persecution, and calamity; for I am strong just when I am weak.
11 Now this is playing the fool! But you forced me to it, instead of coming forward yourselves and vouching for me. That was what I deserved; for, 'nobody' as I am, I am not one whit inferior to these precious 'apostles.' 12 You had all the miracles that mark an apostle done for you fully and patiently ??miracles, wonders, and deeds of power. 13 Where were you inferior to the rest of the churches? ??unless in this, that your apostle did not choose to make himself a burden to you. Pray pardon me this terrible wrong!
14 Here am I all ready to pay you my third visit. And I will not be a burden to you; I want yourselves and not your money. Children have not to put money by for their parents; that is what parents do for their children. 15 And for your souls I will gladly spend my all and be spent myself. Am I to be loved the less because I love you more than others? 16 But let that pass, you say; I was not a burden to you, no, but I was clever enough to dupe you with my tricks? Was I? 17 Did I make something out of you by any of my messengers? 18 I asked Titus to go, and with him I sent our brother. Titus did not make anything out of you, did he? And did not I act in the same spirit as he did? Did I not take the very same steps?
19 You think all this time I am defending myself to you? No, I am speaking in Christ before the presence of God, and speaking every word, beloved, in order to build you up. 20 For I am afraid I may perhaps come and find you are not what I could wish, while you may find I am not what you could wish; I am afraid of finding quarrels, jealousy, temper, rivalry, slanders, gossiping, arrogance, and disorder ??21 afraid that when I come back to you, my God may humiliate me before you, and I may have to mourn for many who sinned some time ago and yet have never repented of the impurity, the sexual vice, and the sensuality which they have practised.