Paul and the False Apostles
1 I wish you would bear with me in a little of my folly; please do bear with me. 2 I am jealous for you, with a divine jealousy; for I betrothed you to Christ, thinking to present you as a chaste virgin to her true and only husband. 3 But as the serpent in his cunning seduced Eve, I am afraid that your thoughts may be corrupted and you may lose your single-hearted devotion to Christ. 4 For if someone comes who proclaims another Jesus, not the Jesus whom we proclaimed, or if you then receive a spirit different from the Spirit already given to you, or a gospel different from the gospel you have already accepted, you manage to put up with that well enough. 5 Have I in any way come short of those superlative apostles? I think not. 6 I may be no speaker, but knowledge I have; at all times we have made known to you the full truth.
7 Or was this my offence, that I made no charge for preaching the gospel of God, lowering myself to help in raising you? 8 It is true that I took toll of other congregations, accepting support from them to serve you. 9 Then, while I was with you, if I ran short I sponged on no one; anything I needed was fully met by our friends who came from Macedonia; I made it a rule, as I always shall, never to be a burden to you. 10 As surely as the truth of Christ is in me, I will preserve my pride in this matter throughout Achaia, and nothing shall stop me. 11 Why? Is it that I do not love you? God knows I do.
12 And I shall go on doing as I am doing now, to cut the ground from under those who would seize any chance to put their vaunted apostleship on the same level as ours. 13 Such men are sham-apostles, crooked in all their practices, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 There is nothing surprising about that; Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is therefore a simple thing for his agents to masquerade as agents of good. But they will meet the end their deeds deserve.
Paul's Sufferings as an Apostle
16 I repeat: let no one take me for a fool; but if you must, then give me the privilege of a fool, and let me have my little boast like others. 17 I am not speaking here as a Christian, but like a fool, if it comes to is bragging. 18 So many people brag of their earthly distinctions that I shall do so too. 19 How gladly you bear with fools, being yourselves so wise! 20 If a man tyrannizes over you, exploits you, gets you in his clutches, puts on airs, and hits you in the face, you put up with it. 21 And we, you say, have been weak! I admit the reproach. But if there is to be bravado (and here I speak as a fool), I can indulge in it too.
But if there is to be bravado (and here I speak as a fool), I can indulge in it too.22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Israelites? So am I. Abraham's descendants? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? I am mad to speak like this, but I can outdo them. More overworked than they, scourged more severely, more often imprisoned, many a time face to face with death. 24 Five times the Jews have given me the thirty-nine strokes; 25 three times I have been beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I have been shipwrecked, and for twenty-four hours I was adrift on the open sea. 26 I have been constantly on the road; I have met dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my fellow-countrymen, dangers from foreigners, dangers in towns, dangers in the country, dangers at sea, dangers from false friends. 27 I have toiled and drudged, I have often gone without sleep; hungry and thirsty, I have often gone fasting; and I have suffered from cold and exposure.
28 Apart from these external things, there is the responsibility that weighs on me every day, my anxious concern for all our congregations. 29 If anyone is weak, do I not share his weakness? If anyone is made to stumble, does my heart not blaze with indignation? 30 If boasting there must be, I will boast of the things that show up my weakness. 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus (blessed be his name for ever!) knows that what I say is true. 32 When I was in Damascus, the commissioner of King Aretas kept the city under observation so as to have me arrested; 33 and I was let down in a basket, through a window in the wall, and so escaped his clutches.
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