Bible: 2 Corinthians 11:1-12:21
Paul and His Opponents
11:1 I wish that you would be patient with me in a little foolishness, but indeed you are being patient with me! 11:2 For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy, because I promised you in marriage to one husband, 1 to present you as a pure 2 virgin to Christ. 11:3 But I am afraid that 3 just as the serpent 4 deceived Eve by his treachery, 5 your minds may be led astray 6 from a sincere and pure 7 devotion to Christ. 11:4 For if someone comes and proclaims 8 another Jesus different from the one we proclaimed, 9 or if you receive a different spirit than the one you received, 10 or a different gospel than the one you accepted, 11 you put up with it well enough! 12 11:5 For I consider myself not at all inferior to those “super-apostles.” 13 11:6 And even if I am unskilled 14 in speaking, yet I am certainly not so in knowledge. Indeed, we have made this plain to you in everything in every way. 11:7 Or did I commit a sin by humbling myself 15 so that you could be exalted, because I proclaimed 16 the gospel of God to you free of charge? 11:8 I robbed other churches by receiving support from them so that I could serve you! 17 11:9 When 18 I was with you and was in need, I was not a burden to anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia fully supplied my needs. 19 I 20 kept myself from being a burden to you in any way, and will continue to do so. 11:10 As the truth of Christ is in me, this boasting of mine 21 will not be stopped 22 in the regions of Achaia. 11:11 Why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do! 23 11:12 And what I am doing I will continue to do, so that I may eliminate any opportunity for those who want a chance to be regarded as our equals 24 in the things they boast about. 11:13 For such people are false apostles, deceitful 25 workers, disguising themselves 26 as apostles of Christ. 11:14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself 27 as an angel of light. 11:15 Therefore it is not surprising his servants also disguise themselves 28 as servants of righteousness, whose end will correspond to their actions. 29
Paul’s Sufferings for Christ
11:16 I say again, let no one think that I am a fool. 30 But if you do, then at least accept me as a fool, so that I too may boast a little. 11:17 What I am saying with this boastful confidence 31 I do not say the way the Lord would. 32 Instead it is, as it were, foolishness. 11:18 Since many 33 are boasting according to human standards, 34 I too will boast. 11:19 For since you are so wise, you put up with 35 fools gladly. 11:20 For you put up with 36 it if someone makes slaves of you, if someone exploits you, if someone takes advantage of you, if someone behaves arrogantly 37 toward you, if someone strikes you in the face. 11:21 (To my disgrace 38 I must say that we were too weak for that!) 39 But whatever anyone else dares to boast about 40 (I am speaking foolishly), I also dare to boast about the same thing. 41 11:22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. 11:23 Are they servants of Christ? (I am talking like I am out of my mind!) I am even more so: with much greater labors, with far more imprisonments, with more severe beatings, facing death many times. 11:24 Five times I received from the Jews forty lashes less one. 42 11:25 Three times I was beaten with a rod. 43 Once I received a stoning. 44 Three times I suffered shipwreck. A night and a day I spent adrift in the open sea. 11:26 I have been on journeys many times, in dangers from rivers, in dangers from robbers, 45 in dangers from my own countrymen, in dangers from Gentiles, in dangers in the city, in dangers in the wilderness, 46 in dangers at sea, in dangers from false brothers, 11:27 in hard work and toil, 47 through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, many times without food, in cold and without enough clothing. 48 11:28 Apart from other things, 49 there is the daily pressure on me of my anxious concern 50 for all the churches. 11:29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is led into sin, 51 and I do not burn with indignation? 11:30 If I must boast, 52 I will boast about the things that show my weakness. 53 11:31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is blessed forever, knows I am not lying. 11:32 In Damascus, the governor 54 under King Aretas was guarding the city of Damascus 55 in order to arrest 56 me, 11:33 but I was let down in a rope-basket 57 through a window in the city wall, and escaped his hands.
Paul’s Thorn in the Flesh
12:1 It is necessary to go on boasting. 58 Though it is not profitable, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. 12:2 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. 12:3 And I know that this man (whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows) 12:4 was caught up into paradise 59 and heard things too sacred to be put into words, 60 things that a person 61 is not permitted to speak. 12:5 On behalf of such an individual I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except about my weaknesses. 12:6 For even if I wish to boast, I will not be a fool, for I would be telling 62 the truth, but I refrain from this so that no one may regard 63 me beyond what he sees in me or what he hears from me, 12:7 even because of the extraordinary character of the revelations. Therefore, 64 so that I would not become arrogant, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to trouble 65 me – so that I would not become arrogant. 66 12:8 I asked the Lord three times about this, that it would depart from me. 12:9 But 67 he said to me, “My grace is enough 68 for you, for my 69 power is made perfect 70 in weakness.” So then, I will boast most gladly 71 about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reside in 72 me. 12:10 Therefore I am content with 73 weaknesses, with insults, with troubles, with persecutions and difficulties 74 for the sake of Christ, for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.
The Signs of an Apostle
12:11 I have become a fool. You yourselves forced me to do it, for I should have been commended by you. For I lack nothing in comparison 75 to those “super-apostles,” even though I am nothing. 12:12 Indeed, the signs of an apostle were performed among you with great perseverance 76 by signs and wonders and powerful deeds. 77 12:13 For how 78 were you treated worse than the other churches, except that I myself was not a burden to you? Forgive me this injustice! 12:14 Look, for the third time I am ready to come to you, and I will not be a burden to you, because I do not want your possessions, but you. For children should not have 79 to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. 12:15 Now I will most gladly spend and be spent for your lives! 80 If I love you more, am I to be loved less? 12:16 But be that as it may, I have not burdened you. Yet because I was a crafty person, I took you in by deceit! 12:17 I have not taken advantage of you through anyone I have sent to you, have I? 81 12:18 I urged Titus to visit you 82 and I sent our 83 brother along with him. Titus did not take advantage of you, did he? 84 Did we not conduct ourselves in the same spirit? Did we not behave in the same way? 85 12:19 Have you been thinking all this time 86 that we have been defending ourselves to you? We are speaking in Christ before God, and everything we do, dear friends, is to build you up. 87 12:20 For I am afraid that somehow when I come I will not find you what I wish, and you will find me 88 not what you wish. I am afraid that 89 somehow there may be quarreling, jealousy, intense anger, selfish ambition, 90 slander, gossip, arrogance, and disorder. 12:21 I am afraid that 91 when I come again, my God may humiliate me before you, and I will grieve for 92 many of those who previously sinned and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and licentiousness that they have practiced.