2 Corinthians 11-13 Common English Bible (CEB)
Confrontation of the super-apostles
11 I hope that you will put up with me while I act like a fool. Well, in fact, you are putting up with me! 2 I’m deeply concerned about you with the same concern that God has. As your father, I promised you in marriage to one husband. I promised to present you as an innocent virgin to Christ himself. 3 But I’m afraid that your minds might be seduced in the same way as the snake deceived Eve with his devious tricks. You might be unable to focus completely on a genuine and innocent commitment to Christ.
4 If a person comes and preaches some other Jesus than the one we preached, or if you receive a different Spirit than the one you had received, or a different gospel than the one you embraced, you put up with it so easily! 5 I don’t consider myself as second-rate in any way compared to the “super-apostles.” 6 But even if I’m uneducated in public speaking, I’m not uneducated in knowledge. We have shown this to you in every way and in everything we have done. 7 Did I commit a sin by humbling myself to give you an advantage because I preached the gospel of God to you free of charge? 8 I robbed other churches by taking a salary from them in order to serve you! 9 While I was with you, I didn’t burden any of you even though I needed things. The believers who came from Macedonia gave me everything I needed. I kept myself from being a financial drain on you in any way, and I will continue to keep myself from being a burden.
10 Since Christ’s truth is in me, I won’t stop telling the entire area of Greece that I’m proud of what I did. 11 Why? Is it because I don’t love you? God knows that I do! 12 But I’m going to continue to do what I’m doing. I want to contradict the claims of the people who want to be treated like they are the same as us because of what they brag about. 13 Such people are false apostles and dishonest workers who disguise themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 It is no great surprise then that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.
Paul defends himself
16 I repeat, no one should take me for a fool. But if you do, then allow me to be a fool so that I can brag like a fool for a bit. 17 I’m not saying what I’m saying because the Lord tells me to. I’m saying it like I’m a fool. I’m putting my confidence in this business of bragging. 18 Since so many people are bragging based on human standards, that is how I’m going to brag too. 19 Because you, who are so wise, are happy to put up with fools. 20 You put up with it if someone enslaves you, if someone exploits you, if someone takes advantage of you, if someone places themselves over you, or if someone hits you in the face. 21 I’m ashamed to say that we have been weak in comparison! But in whatever they challenge me, I challenge them (I’m speaking foolishly).
22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. 23 Are they ministers of Christ? I’m speaking like a crazy person. What I’ve done goes well beyond what they’ve done. I’ve worked much harder. I’ve been imprisoned much more often. I’ve been beaten more times than I can count. I’ve faced death many times. 24 I received the “forty lashes minus one” from the Jews five times. 25 I was beaten with rods three times. I was stoned once. I was shipwrecked three times. I spent a day and a night on the open sea. 26 I’ve been on many journeys. I faced dangers from rivers, robbers, my people, and Gentiles. I faced dangers in the city, in the desert, on the sea, and from false brothers and sisters. 27 I faced these dangers with hard work and heavy labor, many sleepless nights, hunger and thirst, often without food, and in the cold without enough clothes.
28 Besides all the other things I could mention, there’s my daily stress because I’m concerned about all the churches. 29 Who is weak without me being weak? Who is led astray without me being furious about it? 30 If it’s necessary to brag, I’ll brag about my weaknesses. 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, the one who is blessed forever, knows that I’m not lying. 32 At Damascus the governor under King Aretas was guarding the city of Damascus in order to capture me, 33 but I got away from him by being lowered in a basket through a window in the city wall.
Paul’s visions and revelations from the Lord
12 It is necessary to brag, not that it does any good. I’ll move on to visions and revelations from the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who was caught up into the third heaven fourteen years ago. I don’t know whether it was in the body or out of the body. God knows. 3-4 I know that this man was caught up into paradise and that he heard unspeakable words that were things no one is allowed to repeat. I don’t know whether it was in the body or apart from the body. God knows. 5 I’ll brag about this man, but I won’t brag about myself, except to brag about my weaknesses.
6 If I did want to brag, I wouldn’t make a fool of myself because I’d tell the truth. I’m holding back from bragging so that no one will give me any more credit than what anyone sees or hears about me. 7 I was given a thorn in my body because of the outstanding revelations I’ve received so that I wouldn’t be conceited. It’s a messenger from Satan sent to torment me so that I wouldn’t be conceited.
8 I pleaded with the Lord three times for it to leave me alone. 9 He said to me, “My grace is enough for you, because power is made perfect in weakness.” So I’ll gladly spend my time bragging about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power can rest on me. 10 Therefore, I’m all right with weaknesses, insults, disasters, harassments, and stressful situations for the sake of Christ, because when I’m weak, then I’m strong.
11 I’ve become a fool! You made me do it. Actually, I should have been commended by you. I’m not inferior to the super-apostles in any way, even though I’m a nonentity. 12 The signs of an apostle were performed among you with continuous endurance through signs, wonders, and miracles. 13 How were you treated worse than the other churches, except that I myself wasn’t a financial burden on you? Forgive me for this wrong!
Paul’s plans to visit and a warning
14 Look, I’m ready to visit you a third time, and I won’t be a burden on you. I don’t want your things; I want you. It isn’t the children’s responsibility to save up for their parents but parents for children. 15 I will very gladly spend and be spent for your sake. If I love you more, will you love me less?
16 We all know that I didn’t place a burden on you, but in spite of that you think I’m a con artist who fooled you with a trick. 17 I haven’t taken advantage of you through any of the people I sent to you, have I? 18 I strongly encouraged Titus to go to you and sent the brother with him. Titus didn’t take advantage of you, did he? Didn’t we live by the same Spirit? Didn’t we walk in the same footsteps?
19 Have you been thinking up to now that we are defending ourselves to you? Actually, we are speaking in the sight of God and in Christ. Dear friends, everything is meant to build you up. 20 I’m afraid that maybe when I come you will be different from the way I want you to be, and that I’ll be different from the way you want me to be. I’m afraid that there might be fighting, obsession, losing your temper, competitive opposition, backstabbing, gossip, conceit, and disorderly conduct. 21 I’m afraid that when I come again, my God may embarrass me in front of you. I might have to go into mourning over all the people who have sinned before and haven’t changed their hearts and lives from what they used to practice: moral corruption, sexual immorality, and doing whatever feels good.
13 This is the third time that I’m coming to visit you. Every matter is settled on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 2 When I was with you on my second visit, I already warned those who continued to sin. Now I’m repeating that warning to all the rest of you while I’m at a safe distance: if I come again, I won’t spare anyone. 3 Since you are demanding proof that Christ speaks through me, Christ isn’t weak in dealing with you but shows his power among you. 4 Certainly he was crucified because of weakness, but he lives by the power of God. Certainly we also are weak in him, but we will live together with him, because of God’s power that is directed toward you.
5 Examine yourselves to see if you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Don’t you understand that Jesus Christ is in you? Unless, of course, you fail the test. 6 But I hope that you will realize that we don’t fail the test. 7 We pray to God that you don’t do anything wrong, not because we want to appear to pass the test but so that you might do the right thing, even if we appear to fail.
8 We can’t do anything against the truth but only to help the truth. 9 We are happy when we are weak but you are strong. We pray for this: that you will be made complete. 10 This is why I’m writing these things while I’m away. I’m writing so that I won’t need to act harshly when I’m with you by using the authority that the Lord gave me. He gave it to me so that I could build you up, not tear you down.
11 Finally, brothers and sisters, good-bye. Put things in order, respond to my encouragement, be in harmony with each other, and live in peace—and the God of love and peace will be with you.
12 Say hello to each other with a holy kiss.[a] All of God’s people say hello to you.
13 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.