1 It is necessary to boast. Although there is nothing to be gained by it, nevertheless I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. 2 I know a person in Christ, fourteen years ago—whether in the body or out of the body, I do not know, God knows—who was taken up to the third heaven. 3 And I know this person—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body, I do not know, God knows— 4 that he was taken up into paradise, and he heard inexpressible words that are not proper for a person to speak. 5 I will boast about this person, but about myself I will not boast except in my weaknesses. 6 For even if I wanted to boast, I will not be a fool, for I will speak the truth. But I will refrain from boasting so that no one will consider me more than what he sees me to be or hears from me 7 because of the extraordinary nature of the revelations. Therefore, so that I would not become overly proud, I was given a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me so that I would not become overly proud. 8 Concerning this, I pleaded with the Lord three times that it would leave me. 9 And he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is brought to perfection in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast in my weaknesses so that the power of Christ may dwell within me. 10 Therefore, I delight in weaknesses, in mistreatments, in calamities, in persecutions and troubles for Christ’s sake. For whenever I am weak, then I am strong.
11 I have become foolish. You yourselves forced me to do it for I ought to have been commended by you; for I am in no way inferior to the super-apostles even though I am nothing. 12 Indeed, the signs of an apostle were performed among you in all patience with signs and wonders and deeds of power. 13 In what respect, then, were you made to feel less important than the other churches except that I myself was not a burden to you? Forgive me for this injustice!
14 Look, for the third time I am ready to come to you, and I will not be a burden to you for I do not want your possessions but you yourselves. Children should not save up for their parents but parents for their children. 15 And I will be most happy to spend and be spent for your souls. If I love you so very much more, should I be loved even less? 16 But be that as it may, I have not been a burden to you; however, being the crafty fellow that I am, I caught you by deceit. 17 Have I taken advantage of you by any of those whom I sent to you? 18 I urged Titus to go to you and sent the brother with him. Did Titus take advantage of you? Didn’t we conduct ourselves with the same spirit? Did we not walk in the same footsteps?
19 Have you been thinking all this time that we have been defending ourselves to you? We speak before God in Christ, and everything, dear brothers and sisters, is for your edification. 20 For I am afraid that perhaps when I come, I may not find you to be the kind of people I want you to be, and I may not be found by you to be the kind of person you want me to be. I also fear that perhaps there will be contention, jealousy, anger, selfishness, speaking ill of each other, gossiping, pride, disorder. 21 So that when I come again, God may humble me before you, and that I shall grieve over many of those who have sinned previously and have not repented of the impurity and sexual immorality and licentiousness that they have indulged in.