Paul and the False Apostles
1I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me! 2For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. 3But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. 5Indeed, I consider that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles. 6Even if I am unskilled in speaking, I am not so in knowledge; indeed, in every way we have made this plain to you in all things.
7Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached God's gospel to you free of charge? 8I robbed other churches by accepting support from them in order to serve you. 9And when I was with you and was in need, I did not burden anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied my need. So I refrained and will refrain from burdening you in any way. 10As the truth of Christ is in me, this boasting of mine will not be silenced in the regions of Achaia. 11And why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do!
12And what I am doing I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. 13For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.
Paul's Sufferings as an Apostle
16I repeat, let no one think me foolish. But even if you do, accept me as a fool, so that I too may boast a little. 17What I am saying with this boastful confidence, I say not as the Lord would1 but as a fool. 18Since many boast according to the flesh, I too will boast. 19For you gladly bear with fools, being wise yourselves! 20For you bear it if someone makes slaves of you, or devours you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or strikes you in the face. 21To my shame, I must say, we were too weak for that!
But whatever anyone else dares to boast of—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast of that. 22Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they offspring of Abraham? So am I. 23Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. 24Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food,2 in cold and exposure. 28And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. 29Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?
30If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 31The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, he who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. 32At Damascus, the governor under King Aretas was guarding the city of Damascus in order to seize me, 33but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall and escaped his hands.
Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Text provided by the Crossway Bibles Web Service.