A Special Blessing in Paul’s Life
1 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. 2 I know a man* a man In 12:2-5 Paul is probably talking about himself. 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. 5 I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself. I will boast only about my weaknesses.
6 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.
7 But I must not be too proud of the wonderful things that were shown to me. So a painful problem† painful problem Literally, “thorn in the flesh.” 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. 8 I begged the Lord three times to take this problem away from me. 9 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.
*12:2 a man In 12:2-5 Paul is probably talking about himself.
†12:7 painful problem Literally, “thorn in the flesh.”