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2 Corinthians 12 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Paul’s Visions and Revelations

12 It is necessary to boast; nothing is to be gained by it, but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a person in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows. And I know that such a person—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows— was caught up into Paradise and heard things that are not to be told, that no mortal is permitted to repeat. On behalf of such a one I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses. But if I wish to boast, I will not be a fool, for I will be speaking the truth. But I refrain from it, so that no one may think better of me than what is seen in me or heard from me, even considering the exceptional character of the revelations. Therefore, to keep[a] me from being too elated, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated.[b] Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power[c] is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.

Paul’s Concern for the Corinthian Church

11 I have been a fool! You forced me to it. Indeed you should have been the ones commending me, for I am not at all inferior to these super-apostles, even though I am nothing. 12 The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with utmost patience, signs and wonders and mighty works. 13 How have you been worse off than the other churches, except that I myself did not burden you? Forgive me this wrong!

14 Here I am, ready to come to you this third time. And I will not be a burden, because I do not want what is yours but you; for children ought not to lay up for their parents, but parents for their children. 15 I will most gladly spend and be spent for you. If I love you more, am I to be loved less? 16 Let it be assumed that I did not burden you. Nevertheless (you say) since I was crafty, I took you in by deceit. 17 Did I take advantage of you through any of those whom I sent to you? 18 I urged Titus to go, and sent the brother with him. Titus did not take advantage of you, did he? Did we not conduct ourselves with the same spirit? Did we not take the same steps?

19 Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves before you? We are speaking in Christ before God. Everything we do, beloved, is for the sake of building you up. 20 For I fear that when I come, I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish; I fear that there may perhaps be quarreling, jealousy, anger, selfishness, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder. 21 I fear that when I come again, my God may humble me before you, and that I may have to mourn over many who previously sinned and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and licentiousness that they have practiced.

Footnotes:

  1. 2 Corinthians 12:7 Other ancient authorities read To keep
  2. 2 Corinthians 12:7 Other ancient authorities lack to keep me from being too elated
  3. 2 Corinthians 12:9 Other ancient authorities read my power
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

2 Corinthians 12 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

12 I have to boast. There is nothing to be gained by it, but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in union with the Messiah who fourteen years ago was snatched up to the third heaven; whether he was in the body or outside the body I don’t know, God knows. And I know that such a man — whether in the body or apart from the body I don’t know, God knows — was snatched into Gan-‘Eden and heard things that cannot be put into words, things unlawful for a human being to utter. About such a man I will boast; but about myself I will not boast, except in regard to my weaknesses. If I did want to boast, I would not be foolish; because I would be speaking the truth. But, because of the extraordinary greatness of the revelations, I refrain, so that no one will think more of me than what my words or deeds may warrant. Therefore, to keep me from becoming overly proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from the Adversary to pound away at me, so that I wouldn’t grow conceited. Three times I begged the Lord to take this thing away from me; but he told me, “My grace is enough for you, for my power is brought to perfection in weakness.” Therefore, I am very happy to boast about my weaknesses, in order that the Messiah’s power will rest upon me. 10 Yes, I am well pleased with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and difficulties endured on behalf of the Messiah; for it is when I am weak that I am strong.

11 I have behaved like a fool, but you forced me to do it — you who should have been commending me. For I am in no way inferior to the “super-emissaries,” even if I am nothing. 12 The things that prove I am an emissary — signs, wonders and miracles — were done in your presence, despite what I had to endure. 13 Is there any way in which you have been behind any of the other congregations, other than in my not having been a burden to you? For this unfairness, please forgive me!

14 Look, I am ready this third time to come and visit you; and I will not be a burden to you; for it is not what you own that I want, but you! Children are not supposed to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. 15 And as for me, I will most gladly spend everything I have and be spent myself too for your sakes. If I love you more, am I to be loved less?

16 Let it be granted, then, that I was not a burden to you; but, crafty fellow that I am, I took you with trickery! 17 Was it perhaps through someone I sent you 18 that I took advantage of you? I urged Titus to go and sent the brother with him; Titus didn’t take advantage of you, did he? Didn’t we live by the same Spirit and show you the same path?

19 Perhaps you think that all this time we have been defending ourselves before you. No, we have been speaking in the sight of God, as those united with the Messiah should; and, my dear friends, it is all for your upbuilding. 20 For I am afraid of coming and finding you not the way I want you to be, and also of not being found the way you want me to be. I am afraid of finding quarreling and jealousy, anger and rivalry, slander and gossip, arrogance and disorder. 21 I am afraid that when I come again, my God may humiliate me in your presence, and that I will be grieved over many of those who sinned in the past and have not repented of the impurity, fornication and debauchery that they have engaged in.

Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

Copyright © 1998 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved.

2 Corinthians 12 The Message (MSG)

Strength from Weakness

12 1-5 You’ve forced me to talk this way, and I do it against my better judgment. But now that we’re at it, I may as well bring up the matter of visions and revelations that God gave me. For instance, I know a man who, fourteen years ago, was seized by Christ and swept in ecstasy to the heights of heaven. I really don’t know if this took place in the body or out of it; only God knows. I also know that this man was hijacked into paradise—again, whether in or out of the body, I don’t know; God knows. There he heard the unspeakable spoken, but was forbidden to tell what he heard. This is the man I want to talk about. But about myself, I’m not saying another word apart from the humiliations.

If I had a mind to brag a little, I could probably do it without looking ridiculous, and I’d still be speaking plain truth all the way. But I’ll spare you. I don’t want anyone imagining me as anything other than the fool you’d encounter if you saw me on the street or heard me talk.

7-10 Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,

My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.

Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.

11-13 Well, now I’ve done it! I’ve made a complete fool of myself by going on like this. But it’s not all my fault; you put me up to it. You should have been doing this for me, sticking up for me and commending me instead of making me do it for myself. You know from personal experience that even if I’m a nobody, a nothing, I wasn’t second-rate compared to those big-shot apostles you’re so taken with. All the signs that mark a true apostle were in evidence while I was with you through both good times and bad: signs of portent, signs of wonder, signs of power. Did you get less of me or of God than any of the other churches? The only thing you got less of was less responsibility for my upkeep. Well, I’m sorry. Forgive me for depriving you.

14-15 Everything is in readiness now for this, my third visit to you. But don’t worry about it; you won’t have to put yourselves out. I’ll be no more of a bother to you this time than on the other visits. I have no interest in what you have—only in you. Children shouldn’t have to look out for their parents; parents look out for the children. I’d be most happy to empty my pockets, even mortgage my life, for your good. So how does it happen that the more I love you, the less I’m loved?

16-18 And why is it that I keep coming across these whiffs of gossip about how my self-support was a front behind which I worked an elaborate scam? Where’s the evidence? Did I cheat or trick you through anyone I sent? I asked Titus to visit, and sent some brothers along. Did they swindle you out of anything? And haven’t we always been just as aboveboard, just as honest?

19 I hope you don’t think that all along we’ve been making our defense before you, the jury. You’re not the jury; God is the jury—God revealed in Christ—and we make our case before him. And we’ve gone to all the trouble of supporting ourselves so that we won’t be in the way or get in the way of your growing up.

20-21 I do admit that I have fears that when I come you’ll disappoint me and I’ll disappoint you, and in frustration with each other everything will fall to pieces—quarrels, jealousy, flaring tempers, taking sides, angry words, vicious rumors, swelled heads, and general bedlam. I don’t look forward to a second humiliation by God among you, compounded by hot tears over that crowd that keeps sinning over and over in the same old ways, who refuse to turn away from the pigsty of evil, sexual disorder, and indecency in which they wallow.

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson

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