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A Special Blessing in Paul’s Life

12 There is more that I have to say about myself. It won’t help, but I will talk now about visions and revelations from the Lord. I know a man[a] in Christ who was taken up to the third heaven. This happened 14 years ago. I don’t know if the man was in his body or out of his body, but God knows. 3-4 And I know that this man was taken up to paradise. I don’t know if he was in his body or away from his body, but he heard things that he is not able to explain. He heard things that no one is allowed to tell. I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself. I will boast only about my weaknesses.

But if I wanted to say more about myself, I would not be a fool, because I would be telling the truth. But I won’t say any more, because I don’t want people to think more of me than what they see me do or hear me say.

But I must not be too proud of the wonderful things that were shown to me. So a painful problem[b] was given to me—an angel from Satan, sent to make me suffer, so that I would not think that I am better than anyone else. I begged the Lord three times to take this problem away from me. But the Lord said, “My grace is all you need. Only when you are weak can everything be done completely by my power.” So I will gladly boast about my weaknesses. Then Christ’s power can stay in me. 10 Yes, I am glad to have weaknesses if they are for Christ. I am glad to be insulted and have hard times. I am glad when I am persecuted and have problems, because it is when I am weak that I am really strong.

Paul’s Love for the Believers in Corinth

11 I have been talking like a fool, but you made me do it. You people are the ones who should say good things about me. I am worth nothing, but those “super apostles” are not worth any more than I am! 12 When I was with you, I patiently did the things that prove I am an apostle—signs, wonders, and miracles. 13 So you received everything that the other churches have received. Only one thing was different: I was not a burden to you. Forgive me for this!

14 I am now ready to visit you for the third time, and I will not be a burden to you. I don’t want any of the things you own. I only want you. Children should not have to save things to give to their parents. Parents should save to give to their children. 15 So I am happy to give everything I have for you. I will even give myself for you. If I love you more, will you love me less?

16 It is clear that I was not a burden to you, but you think that I was tricky and used lies to catch you. 17 Did I cheat you by using any of the men I sent to you? You know I didn’t. 18 I asked Titus to go to you, and I sent our brother with him. Titus did not cheat you, did he? No, you know that his actions and his attitude were the same as ours.

19 Do you think that we have been defending ourselves to you all this time? No, we say these things in Christ and before God. You are our dear friends, and everything we do is to make you stronger. 20 I do this because I am afraid that when I come, you will not be what I want you to be. And I am afraid that I will not be what you want me to be. I am afraid that I will find arguing, jealousy, anger, selfish fighting, evil talk, gossip, pride, and confusion there. 21 I am afraid that when I come to you again, my God will make me humble before you. I may have to cry over the loss of some who sinned before. Many of them have still not changed their hearts to be sorry for their evil lives, their sexual sins, and the shameful things they have done.

Footnotes

  1. 2 Corinthians 12:2 a man In 12:2-5 Paul is probably talking about himself.
  2. 2 Corinthians 12:7 painful problem Literally, “thorn in the flesh.”

Paul’s Vision and His Thorn

12 I must go on boasting.(A) Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations(B) from the Lord. I know a man in Christ(C) who fourteen years ago was caught up(D) to the third heaven.(E) Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows.(F) And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— was caught up(G) to paradise(H) and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell. I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses.(I) Even if I should choose to boast,(J) I would not be a fool,(K) because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, or because of these surpassingly great revelations.(L) Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh,(M) a messenger of Satan,(N) to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.(O) But he said to me, “My grace(P) is sufficient for you, for my power(Q) is made perfect in weakness.(R)(S) Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight(T) in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships,(U) in persecutions,(V) in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.(W)

Paul’s Concern for the Corinthians

11 I have made a fool of myself,(X) but you drove me to it. I ought to have been commended by you, for I am not in the least inferior to the “super-apostles,”[a](Y) even though I am nothing.(Z) 12 I persevered in demonstrating among you the marks of a true apostle, including signs, wonders and miracles.(AA) 13 How were you inferior to the other churches, except that I was never a burden to you?(AB) Forgive me this wrong!(AC)

14 Now I am ready to visit you for the third time,(AD) and I will not be a burden to you, because what I want is not your possessions but you. After all, children should not have to save up for their parents,(AE) but parents for their children.(AF) 15 So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well.(AG) If I love you more,(AH) will you love me less? 16 Be that as it may, I have not been a burden to you.(AI) Yet, crafty fellow that I am, I caught you by trickery! 17 Did I exploit you through any of the men I sent to you? 18 I urged(AJ) Titus(AK) to go to you and I sent our brother(AL) with him. Titus did not exploit you, did he? Did we not walk in the same footsteps by the same Spirit?

19 Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? We have been speaking in the sight of God(AM) as those in Christ; and everything we do, dear friends,(AN) is for your strengthening.(AO) 20 For I am afraid that when I come(AP) I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be.(AQ) I fear that there may be discord,(AR) jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition,(AS) slander,(AT) gossip,(AU) arrogance(AV) and disorder.(AW) 21 I am afraid that when I come again my God will humble me before you, and I will be grieved(AX) over many who have sinned earlier(AY) and have not repented of the impurity, sexual sin and debauchery(AZ) in which they have indulged.

Footnotes

  1. 2 Corinthians 12:11 Or the most eminent apostles

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