Paul and the False Apostles
1 Please put up with a little of my foolishness. 2 I am as concerned about you as God is. You were like a virgin bride I had chosen only for Christ. 3 But now I fear that you will be tricked, just as Eve was tricked by that lying snake. I am afraid that you might stop thinking about Christ in an honest and sincere way. 4 We told you about Jesus, and you received the Holy Spirit and accepted our message. But you let some people tell you about another Jesus. Now you are ready to receive another spirit and accept a different message. 5 I think I am as good as any of those super apostles. 6 I may not speak as well as they do, but I know as much. And this has already been made perfectly clear to you.
7 Was it wrong for me to lower myself and honor you by preaching God's message free of charge? 8 I robbed other churches by taking money from them to serve you. 9 Even when I was in need, I still didn't bother you. In fact, some of the Lord's followers from Macedonia brought me what I needed. I have not been a burden to you in the past, and I will never be a burden. 10 As surely as I speak the truth about Christ, no one in Achaia can stop me from bragging about this. 11 And it isn't because I don't love you. God himself knows how much I do love you.
12 I plan to go on doing just what I have always done. Then those people won't be able to brag about doing the same things we are doing. 13 Anyway, they are no more than false apostles and dishonest workers. They only pretend to be apostles of Christ. 14 And it is no wonder. Even Satan tries to make himself look like an angel of light. 15 So why does it seem strange for Satan's servants to pretend to do what is right? Someday they will get exactly what they deserve.
Paul's Sufferings for Christ
16 I don't want any of you to think I am a fool. But if you do, then let me be a fool and brag a little. 17 When I do all this bragging, I do it as a fool and not for the Lord. 18 Yet if others want to brag about what they have done, so will I. 19 And since you are so smart, you will gladly put up with a fool. 20 In fact, you let people make slaves of you and cheat you and steal from you. Why, you even let them strut around and slap you in the face. 21 I am ashamed to say we are too weak to behave in such a way.
If they can brag, so can I, but it is a foolish thing to do. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Jews? So am I. Are they from the family of Abraham? Well, so am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? I am a fool to talk this way, but I serve him better than they do. I have worked harder and have been put in jail more times. I have been beaten with whips more and have been in danger of death more often.
24 Five times my own people gave me 39 lashes with a whip. 25 Three times the Romans beat me with a big stick, and once my enemies stoned me. I have been shipwrecked three times, and I even had to spend a night and a day in the sea. 26 During my many travels, I have been in danger from rivers, robbers, my own people, and foreigners. My life has been in danger in cities, in deserts, at sea, and with people who only pretended to be the Lord's followers.
27 I have worked and struggled and spent many sleepless nights. I have gone hungry and thirsty and often had nothing to eat. I have been cold from not having enough clothes to keep me warm. 28 Besides everything else, each day I am burdened down, worrying about all the churches. 29 When others are weak, I am weak too. When others are tricked into sin, I get angry.
30 If I have to brag, I will brag about how weak I am. 31 God, the Father of our Lord Jesus, knows I am not lying. And God is to be praised forever! 32 The governor of Damascus at the time of King Aretas had the city gates guarded, so he could capture me. 33 But I escaped by being let down in a basket through a window in the city wall.