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Why do you so readily accept the false and reject the true?

11 1-6 I wish you could put up with a little of my foolishness—please try! My jealousy over you is the right sort of jealousy, for in my eyes you are like a fresh unspoiled girl who I am presenting as fianc?e to your true husband, Christ himself. I am afraid that your minds may be seduced from a single-hearted devotion to him by the same subtle means that the serpent used towards Eve. For apparently you cheerfully accept a man who comes to you preaching a different Jesus from the one we told you about, and you readily receive a spirit and a Gospel quite different from the ones you originally accepted. Yet I cannot believe I am in the least inferior to these extra-special messengers of yours. Perhaps I am not a polished speaker, but I do know what I am talking about, and both what I am and what I say is pretty familiar to you.

7-10 Perhaps I made a mistake in cheapening myself (though I did it to help you) by preaching the Gospel without a fee? As a matter of fact I was only able to do this by “robbing” other churches, for it was what they paid me that made it possible to minister to you free of charge. Even when I was with you and very hard up, I did not bother any of you. It was the brothers who came from Macedonia who brought me all that I needed. Yes, I kept myself from being a burden to you then, and so I intend to do in the future. By the truth of Christ within me, no one shall stop my being proud of this independence through all Achaia!

11-15 Does this mean that I do not love you? God knows it doesn’t, but I am determined to maintain this boast, so as to cut the ground from under the feet of those who profess to be God’s messengers on the same terms as I am. God’s messengers? They are counterfeits of the real thing, dishonest practitioners, “God’s messengers” only by their own appointment. Nor do their tactics surprise me when I consider how Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is only to be expected that his agents shall have the appearance of ministers of righteousness—but they will get their deserts one day.

If you like self-commendation, listen to mine!

16 Once more, let me advise you not to look upon me as a fool. Yet if you do, then listen to what this “fool” has to boast about.

17-21 I am not now speaking as the Lord commands me but as a fool who must be “in on” this business of boasting. Since all the others are so proud of themselves, let me do a little boasting as well. From your heights of superior wisdom I am sure you can smile tolerantly on a fool. Oh, you’re tolerant all right! You don’t mind, do you, if a man takes away your liberty, spends your money, makes a fool of you or even smacks your face? I am almost ashamed to say that I never did brave strong things like that to you. Yet in whatever particular they enjoy such confidence I (speaking as a fool, remember) have just as much confidence.

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? I have more claim to this title than they. This is a silly game but look at this list: I have worked harder than any of them. I have served more prison sentences! I have been beaten times without number. I have faced death again and again.

24 I have been beaten the regulation thirty-nine stripes by the Jews five times.

25 I have been beaten with rods three times. I have been stoned once. I have been shipwrecked three times. I have been twenty-four hours in the open sea.

26-27 In my travels I have been in constant danger from rivers and floods, from bandits, from my own countrymen, and from pagans. I have faced danger in city streets, danger in the desert, danger on the high seas, danger among false Christians. I have known exhaustion, pain, long vigils, hunger and thirst, going without meals, cold and lack of clothing.

28-29 Apart from all external trials I have the daily burden of responsibility for all the churches. Do you think anyone is weak without my feeling his weakness? Does anyone have his faith upset without my longing to restore him?

30-31 Oh, if I am going to boast, let me boast of the things which have shown up my weakness! The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, he who is blessed for ever, knows that I speak the simple truth.

32-33 In Damascus, the town governor, acting by King Aretas’ order had men out to arrest me. I escaped by climbing through a window and being let down the wall in a basket. That’s the sort of dignified exit I can boast about.