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A Special Blessing in Paul’s Life

12 I must continue to brag. It will do no good, but I will talk now about visions and revelations[a] from the Lord. I know a man in Christ who was taken up to the third heaven. This happened 14 years ago. I do not know whether 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.[b] I don’t know if he was in his body or away from his body. But he heard things he is not able to explain. He heard things that no man is allowed to tell. I will brag about a man like that. But I will not brag about myself, except about my weaknesses. But if I wanted to brag about myself, I would not be a fool. I would not be a fool, because I would be telling the truth. But I will not brag about myself. I do not want people to think more of me than what they see me do or hear me say.

But I must not become too proud of the wonderful things that were shown to me. So a painful problem[c] was given to me. This problem is a messenger from Satan. It is sent to beat me and keep me from being too proud. I begged the Lord three times to take this problem away from me. But the Lord said to me, “My grace is enough for you. When you are weak, then my power is made perfect in you.” So I am very happy to brag about my weaknesses. Then Christ’s power can live in me. 10 So I am happy when I have weaknesses, insults, hard times, sufferings, and all kinds of troubles. All these things are for Christ. And I am happy, because when I am weak, then I am truly strong.

Paul’s Love for the Christians

11 I have been talking like a fool. But you made me do it. You are the ones who should say good things about me. I am worth nothing, but those “great apostles” are not worth any more than I am! 12 When I was with you, I did what proves that I am an apostle—signs, wonders, and miracles. And I did these things with much patience. 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 the third time. And I will not be a burden to you. I want nothing from you, I only want you. Children should not have to save up 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? No, you know I did not. 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 Titus and I did the same thing and with the same spirit.

19 Do you think that we have been defending ourselves to you all this time? We have been speaking in Christ and before God. You are our dear friends. And everything that 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 among you there may be arguing, jealousy, anger, selfish fighting, evil talk, gossip, pride, and confusion. 21 I am afraid that when I come to you again, my God will make me ashamed before you. I may be saddened by many of those who have sinned. I may be saddened because they have not changed their hearts and have not turned away from their impurity and their sexual immorality.

Footnotes

  1. 12:1 revelations Revelation is making known a truth that was hidden.
  2. 12:3-4 paradise A place where good people go when they die.
  3. 12:7 painful problem Literally, “thorn in the flesh.”

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