1We can't gain anything by bragging. But I have to do it anyway. I am going to tell you what I've seen. I want to talk about what the Lord has shown me.2I know a believer in Christ who was taken up to the third heaven 14 years ago. I don't know if his body was taken up or not. Only God knows.3I don't know if that man was in his body or out of it. Only God knows. But I do know that4he was taken up to paradise. He heard things that couldn't be put into words. They were things that people aren't allowed to talk about.5I will brag about a man like that. But I won't brag about myself. I will brag only about how weak I am.6Suppose I decide to brag. That would not make me a fool, because I would be telling the truth. But I don't do it. Then no one will think more of me than he should because of what I do or say.7I could have become proud of myself because of the amazing and wonderful things God has shown me. So I was given a problem that caused pain in my body. It is a messenger from Satan to make me suffer.8Three times I begged the Lord to take it away from me.9But he said to me, “My grace is all you need. My power is strongest when you are weak.” So I am very happy to brag about how weak I am. Then Christ's power can rest on me.10Because of how I suffered for Christ, I'm glad that I am weak. I am glad in hard times. I am glad when people say mean things about me. I am glad when things are difficult. And I am glad when people make me suffer. When I am weak, I am strong.
Paul's Concern for the People of Corinth
11I have made a fool of myself. But you made me do it. You should have praised me. Even though I am nothing, I am in no way less important than the “super‑apostles.”12You can recognize apostles by the signs, wonders and miracles they do. Those things were faithfully done among you no matter what happened.13How were you less important than the other churches? The only difference was that I didn't cause you any expense. Forgive me for that wrong!14Now I am ready to visit you for the third time. I won't cause you any expense. I don't want what you have. What I really want is you. After all, children shouldn't have to save up for their parents. Parents should save up for their children.15So I will be very happy to spend everything I have for you. I will even spend myself. If I love you more, will you love me less?16In any case, I haven't caused you any expense. But I'm such a tricky fellow! I have caught you by tricking you!17Did I take advantage of you through any of the men I sent to you?18I asked Titus to go to you. And I sent our brother with him. Titus didn't take advantage of you, did he? Didn't I act in the same spirit? Didn't I follow the same path?19All this time, have you been thinking that I've been speaking up for myself? No, I've been speaking with God as my witness. I've been speaking like a believer in Christ. Dear friends, everything I do is to help you become stronger.20I'm afraid that when I come I won't find you as I want you to be. I'm afraid that you won't find me as you want me to be. I'm afraid there will be arguing, jealousy and fits of anger. I'm afraid you will separate into your own little groups. Then you will tell lies about each other. You will talk about each other. I'm afraid you will be proud and cause trouble.21I'm afraid that when I come again my God will put me to shame in front of you. Then I will be sad about many who sinned earlier and have not turned away from it. They have not turned away from uncleanness, sexual sins and wild living. They have done all those things.
2 Corinthians 12
English Standard Version
Paul’s Visions and His Thorn
1I must go on boasting. Though there is nothing to be gained by it, I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. (Ga 1:12; Ga 2:2; Eph 3:3)2I know a man 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. (Ps 148:4; Eze 8:3; Ac 8:39; 2Co 5:17; 2Co 11:11; 2Co 12:3; 1Th 4:17; Re 12:5)3And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— (Ge 2:8; Lu 23:43; 2Co 12:2; Re 2:7)4and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter.5On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses— (1Co 2:3)6though if I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth; but I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me. (2Co 5:13; 2Co 11:16; 2Co 12:11)7So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. (Nu 33:55; Eze 28:24; Lu 13:16; 1Co 5:5; 2Co 10:10)8Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. (Mt 26:44)9But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (Isa 40:29; Isa 43:2; 1Co 2:5; Php 4:13)10For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (Mt 5:11; Ro 5:3; 2Co 5:15; 2Co 13:4)
Concern for the Corinthian Church
11I have been a fool! You forced me to it, for I ought to have been commended by you. For I was not at all inferior to these super-apostles, even though I am nothing. (1Co 3:7; 1Co 15:9; 1Co 15:10; 2Co 11:5; 2Co 12:6)12The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with utmost patience, with signs and wonders and mighty works. (Ro 15:19; 1Co 9:1; 2Co 6:4)13For in what were you less favored than the rest of the churches, except that I myself did not burden you? Forgive me this wrong! (Ac 20:33; 1Co 9:12)14Here for the third time I am ready to come to you. And I will not be a burden, for I seek not what is yours but you. For children are not obligated to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. (Pr 19:14; Eze 34:2; 1Co 4:14; 1Co 10:24; 1Co 10:33; 2Co 1:15; 2Co 13:1; 2Co 13:2)15I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls. If I love you more, am I to be loved less? (2Co 1:6; 2Co 6:11; Php 2:17; Col 1:24; 1Th 2:8; 2Ti 2:10)16But granting that I myself did not burden you, I was crafty, you say, and got the better of you by deceit. (2Co 11:9)17Did I take advantage of you through any of those whom I sent to you? (2Co 9:5)18I urged Titus to go, and sent the brother with him. Did Titus take advantage of you? Did we not act in the same spirit? Did we not take the same steps? (2Co 8:6; 2Co 8:18)19Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? It is in the sight of God that we have been speaking in Christ, and all for your upbuilding, beloved. (Ro 1:9; Ro 9:1; 1Co 14:26)20For I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish—that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder. (1Co 4:21; 2Co 2:1)21I fear that when I come again my God may humble me before you, and I may have to mourn over many of those who sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and sensuality that they have practiced. (1Co 5:1; 1Co 6:18; 2Co 13:2; Re 2:21)