2 Corinthians 11Living Bible (TLB)
11 I hope you will be patient with me as I keep on talking like a fool. Do bear with me and let me say what is on my heart. 2 I am anxious for you with the deep concern of God himself—anxious that your love should be for Christ alone, just as a pure maiden saves her love for one man only, for the one who will be her husband. 3 But I am frightened, fearing that in some way you will be led away from your pure and simple devotion to our Lord, just as Eve was deceived by Satan in the Garden of Eden. 4 You seem so gullible: you believe whatever anyone tells you even if he is preaching about another Jesus than the one we preach, or a different spirit than the Holy Spirit you received, or shows you a different way to be saved. You swallow it all.
5 Yet I don’t feel that these marvelous “messengers from God,” as they call themselves, are any better than I am. 6 If I am a poor speaker, at least I know what I am talking about, as I think you realize by now, for we have proved it again and again.
7 Did I do wrong and cheapen myself and make you look down on me because I preached God’s Good News to you without charging you anything? 8-9 Instead I “robbed” other churches by taking what they sent me and using it up while I was with you so that I could serve you without cost. And when that was gone[a] and I was getting hungry, I still didn’t ask you for anything, for the Christians from Macedonia brought me another gift. I have never yet asked you for one cent, and I never will. 10 I promise this with every ounce of truth I possess—that I will tell everyone in Greece about it! 11 Why? Because I don’t love you? God knows I do. 12 But I will do it to cut out the ground from under the feet of those who boast that they are doing God’s work in just the same way we are.
13 God never sent those men at all; they are “phonies” who have fooled you into thinking they are Christ’s apostles. 14 Yet I am not surprised! Satan can change himself into an angel of light, 15 so it is no wonder his servants can do it too, and seem like godly ministers. In the end they will get every bit of punishment their wicked deeds deserve.
16 Again I plead, don’t think that I have lost my wits to talk like this; but even if you do, listen to me anyway—a witless man, a fool—while I also boast a little as they do. 17 Such bragging isn’t something the Lord commanded me to do, for I am acting like a brainless fool. 18 Yet those other men keep telling you how wonderful they are, so here I go: 19-20 (You think you are so wise—yet you listen gladly to those fools; you don’t mind at all when they make you their slaves and take everything you have, and take advantage of you, and put on airs, and slap you in the face. 21 I’m ashamed to say that I’m not strong and daring like that!
But whatever they can boast about—I’m talking like a fool again—I can boast about it, too.)
22 They brag that they are Hebrews, do they? Well, so am I. And they say that they are Israelites, God’s chosen people? So am I. And they are descendants of Abraham? Well, I am too.
23 They say they serve Christ? But I have served him far more! (Have I gone mad to boast like this?) I have worked harder, been put in jail more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again and again. 24 Five different times the Jews gave me their terrible thirty-nine lashes. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I was in the open sea all night and the whole next day. 26 I have traveled many weary miles and have been often in great danger from flooded rivers and from robbers and from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the hands of the Gentiles. I have faced grave dangers from mobs in the cities and from death in the deserts and in the stormy seas and from men who claim to be brothers in Christ but are not. 27 I have lived with weariness and pain and sleepless nights. Often I have been hungry and thirsty and have gone without food; often I have shivered with cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm.
28 Then, besides all this, I have the constant worry of how the churches are getting along: 29 Who makes a mistake and I do not feel his sadness? Who falls without my longing to help him? Who is spiritually hurt without my fury rising against the one who hurt him?
30 But if I must brag, I would rather brag about the things that show how weak I am. 31 God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is to be praised forever and ever, knows I tell the truth. 32 For instance, in Damascus the governor under King Aretas kept guards at the city gates to catch me; 33 but I was let down by rope and basket from a hole in the city wall, and so I got away! What popularity![b]