Paul and Those Who Pretend to Be Apostles
1I hope you will put up with me in a little foolish bragging. Yes, please put up with me! 2 My jealousy for you comes from God himself. I promised to give you to only one husband. That husband is Christ. I wanted to be able to give you to him as if you were a pure virgin. 3 But Eve’s mind was tricked by the snake’s clever lies. And here’s what I’m afraid of. Your minds will also somehow be led astray. They will be led away from your true and pure love for Christ. 4 Suppose someone comes to you and preaches about a Jesus different from the Jesus we preached about. Or suppose you receive a spirit different from the Spirit you received before. Or suppose you receive a different message of good news. Suppose it was different from the one you accepted earlier. You put up with those kinds of things easily enough.
5 I don’t think I’m in any way less important than those “super-apostles.” 6 It’s true that I haven’t been trained as a speaker. But I do have knowledge. I’ve made that very clear to you in every way. 7 I preached God’s good news to you free of charge. When I did that, I was putting myself down in order to lift you up. Was this a sin? 8 I received help from other churches so I could serve you. This was almost like robbing them. 9 When I was with you and needed something, I didn’t cause you any expense. The believers who came from Macedonia gave me what I needed. I haven’t caused you any expense at all. And I won’t ever do it. 10 I’m sure that the truth of Christ is in me. And I’m just as sure that nobody in Achaia will keep me from bragging. 11 Why? Because I don’t love you? No! God knows I do!
12 And I will keep on doing what I’m doing. That will stop those who claim they have things to brag about. They think they have a chance to be considered equal with us. 13 People like that are false apostles. They are workers who tell lies. They only pretend to be apostles of Christ. 14 That comes as no surprise. Even Satan himself pretends to be an angel of light. 15 So it doesn’t surprise us that Satan’s servants also pretend to be serving God. They will finally get exactly what they deserve.
Paul Brags About His Sufferings
16 I will say it again. Don’t let anyone think I’m a fool. But if you do, put up with me just as you would put up with a fool. Then I can do a little bragging. 17 When I brag about myself like this, I’m not talking the way the Lord would. I’m talking like a fool. 18 Many are bragging the way the people of the world do. So I will brag like that too. 19 You are so wise! You gladly put up with fools! 20 In fact, you even put up with anyone who makes you a slave or uses you. You put up with those who take advantage of you. You put up with those who claim to be better than you. You put up with those who slap you in the face. 21 I’m ashamed to have to say that I was too weak for that!
Whatever anyone else dares to brag about, I also dare to brag about. I’m speaking like a fool! 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Do they belong to the people of Israel? So do I. Are they Abraham’s children? So am I. 23 Are they serving Christ? I am serving him even more. I’m out of my mind to talk like this! I have worked much harder. I have been in prison more often. I have suffered terrible beatings. Again and again I almost died. 24 Five times the Jews gave me 39 strokes with a whip. 25 Three times I was beaten with sticks. Once they tried to kill me by throwing stones at me. Three times I was shipwrecked. I spent a night and a day in the open sea. 26 I have had to keep on the move. I have been in danger from rivers. I have been in danger from robbers. I have been in danger from my fellow Jews and in danger from Gentiles. I have been in danger in the city, in the country, and at sea. I have been in danger from people who pretended they were believers. 27 I have worked very hard. Often I have gone without sleep. I have been hungry and thirsty. Often I have gone without food. I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, every day I am concerned about all the churches. It is a very heavy load. 29 If anyone is weak, I feel weak. If anyone is led into sin, I burn on the inside.
30 If I have to brag, I will brag about the things that show how weak I am. 31 I am not lying. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus knows this. May God be praised forever. 32 In Damascus the governor who served under King Aretas had their city guarded. He wanted to arrest me. 33 But I was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall. So I escaped from the governor.