I wish you could have borne with a little foolish boasting on my part. Nay, do bear with me.
I am jealous over you with God's own jealousy. For I have betrothed you to Christ to present you to Him like a faithful bride to her one husband.
But I am afraid that, as the serpent in his craftiness deceived Eve, so your minds may be led astray from their single-heartedness and their fidelity to Christ.
If indeed some visitor is proclaiming among you another Jesus whom we did not proclaim, or if you are receiving a Spirit different from the One you have already received or a Good News different from that which you have already welcomed, your toleration is admirable!
Why, I reckon myself in no respect inferior to those superlatively great Apostles.
And if in the matter of speech I am no orator, yet in knowledge I am not deficient. Nay, we have in every way made that fully evident to you.
Is it a sin that I abased myself in order for you to be exalted, in that I proclaimed God's Good News to you without fee or reward?
Other Churches I robbed, receiving pay from them in order to do you service.
And when I was with you and my resources failed, there was no one to whom I became a burden--for the brethren when they came from Macedonia fully supplied my wants--and I kept myself from being in the least a burden to you, and will do so still.
Christ knows that it is true when I say that I will not be stopped from boasting of this anywhere in Greece.
And why? Because I do not love you? God knows that I do.
But I will persist in the same line of conduct in order to cut the ground from under the feet of those who desire an opportunity of getting themselves recognized as being on a level with us in the matters about which they boast.
For men of this stamp are sham apostles, dishonest workmen, assuming the garb of Apostles of Christ.
And no wonder. Satan, their master, can disguise himself as an angel of light.
It is therefore no great thing for his servants also to disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will be in accordance with their actions.
To return to what I was saying. Let no one suppose that I am foolish. Or if you must, at any rate make allowance for me as being foolish, in order that I, as well as they, may boast a little.
What I am now saying, I do not say by the Lord's command, but as a fool in his folly might, in this reckless boasting.
Since many boast for merely human reasons, I too will boast.
Wise as you yourselves are, you find pleasure in tolerating fools.
For you tolerate it, if any one enslaves you, lives at your expense, makes off with your property, gives himself airs, or strikes you on the face.
I use the language of self-disparagement, as though I were admitting our own feebleness. Yet for whatever reason any one is 'courageous' --I speak in mere folly--I also am courageous.
Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I.
Are they servants of Christ? (I speak as if I were out of my mind.) Much more am I His servant; serving Him more thoroughly than they by my labours, and more thoroughly also by my imprisonments, by excessively cruel floggings, and with risk of life many a time.
From the Jews I five times have received forty lashes all but one.
Three times I have been beaten with Roman rods, once I have been stoned, three times I have been shipwrecked, once for full four and twenty hours I was floating on the open sea.
I have served Him by frequent travelling, amid dangers in crossing rivers, dangers from robbers; dangers from my own countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles; dangers in the city, dangers in the Desert, dangers by sea, dangers from spies in our midst;
with labour and toil, with many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, in frequent fastings, in cold, and with insufficient clothing.
And besides other things, which I pass over, there is that which presses on me daily--my anxiety for all the Churches.
Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is led astray into sin, and I am not aflame with indignation?
If boast I must, it shall be of things which display my weakness.
The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ--He who is blessed throughout the Ages--knows that I am speaking the truth.
In Damascus the governor under King Aretas kept guards at the gates of the city in order to apprehend me,
but through an opening in the wall I was let down in a basket, and so escaped his hands.