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Paul’s tone changes. Some believe chapters 10–13 may be from his second letter “covered with tears” (2:4). His rebuke and strong warning are meant to lead the Corinthians lovingly to repentance.

11 Please endure a little foolishness on my part; you have come so far with me already. To be completely honest, I am extremely jealous for you; but it’s the same kind of jealousy God has for you. You see, like an attentive father, I have pledged your hand in marriage and promised to present you as a pure virgin to the One who would be your husband, the Anointed One. But now I’m afraid that as that serpent tricked Eve with his wiles, so your hearts and minds will be tricked and you will stray from the single-minded love and pure devotion to Him. So then, if someone comes along and presents you with a Jesus different from the one we told you about, or if you receive a spirit different from the one gifted through our Lord Jesus, or even if you hear a gospel different from the one you heard through us; then you’re ready to go with it.

I consider myself in league with the so-called great emissaries; I lack nothing. Even if I’m not the greatest speaker, I make up for it by what I know of God and have proved it time and again to you. Was it a sin to humble myself and serve you so that you might be lifted up? Did I wrong you somehow by instructing you in the good news of God without charge? In a sense, I robbed other churches by accepting their support just so I could serve you. If any need arose while I was with you, I didn’t trouble anyone. When the brothers and sisters arrived from Macedonia, they covered all my needs so that I didn’t become a burden to any of you; and I plan on keeping it that way. 10 For I tell you, as the truth of the Anointed One lives in me, I will continue to boast about this all throughout Achaia. 11 Why am I doing this? It’s not because I don’t love you—God knows I do— 12-13 but I will continue doing what I am doing to cut off any opportunity—clearly some are looking for one—for these false emissaries, these low-down, untrustworthy preachers, these posers who act as emissaries of the Anointed, to claim that they work under the same terms that we do. 14 No wonder they are so good at it. Satan himself poses as a messenger of heavenly light, 15 so why should we expect less from his servants—plodding over the earth, pretending to be ministers of righteousness—but in the end, they’ll get what’s coming to them.

16 So as I said before, please don’t mark me a fool; but if you must, then please accept me even as that and give me a little more room to boast. 17 What I am saying now is not in character with our Lord but is the bragging of a self-assured fool. 18 Just as other fools brag according to their worldly accomplishments, so I, too, will have to boast; 19 meanwhile, you—so wise, so tolerant—gladly bear this kind of foolishness. 20 How easily you tolerate becoming another’s slave, having them consume you, letting them rob you blind, or allowing them to edge their way past you or slap you in the face. 21 Embarrassingly I admit that next to them we must look very weak!

But in whatever way they dare to boast—remember, I’m speaking in character as a fool—I dare to boast even more! 22 Are they Hebrews, God’s chosen? So am I. Are they true Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. 23 Are they servants to the Anointed One, the Liberating King? I am even more so! (I can’t believe how foolish I sound.) I have worked harder for God’s kingdom, taken more beatings, been dragged in and out of prisons, and have been eye-to-eye with death. 24 Five times I have withstood thirty-nine lashes from Jewish authorities, 25 three times I was battered with rods, once I was almost stoned to death, three times I was shipwrecked, and I spent one day and night adrift on the sea. 26 I have been on many journeys and faced the most extreme circumstances: perilous rivers, violent thieves, and threats by my own people and by the Gentile outsiders alike. I have faced dangers in the city, in the wilderness, and at sea; and danger from spies among our brothers and sisters. 27 I have survived toil and hardships, sleepless nights, hunger and thirst without a crumb in sight, bare to the cold. 28 As if these external trials weren’t enough, there is the daily stress I feel and anxiety I carry for all the churches under my care. 29 Who is weak without this arousing my empathy? Who gets hurt and offended without this inciting my burning anger?

30 So as you can see, if I have to boast, I will, but only in my own weaknesses. 31 The God and Father of our Lord Jesus, He who is worthy of eternal blessing, can confirm that I am telling you the truth. 32 Once, in Damascus, the governor under King Aretas had his people in the city looking for me in order to arrest me. 33 But I crouched in a basket and was lowered out of a window in the city wall, and I narrowly escaped his tight grip.

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