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. Chapter 12.

Visions and Revelations

1 I AM OBLIGED TO BOAST. It does no good; but I shall go on to tell of visions and revelations granted by the Lord. 2 I know a Christian man who fourteen years ago (whether in the body or out of it, I do not know- God knows) was caught up as far as the third heaven. 3 And I know that this same man (whether in the body or out of it, I do not know—God knows) 4 was caught up into paradise, and heard words so secret that human lips may not repeat them. 5 About such a man as that I am ready to boast; but I will not boast on my own account, except of my weaknesses. 6 If I should choose to boast, it would not be the boast of a fool, for I should be speaking the truth. But I refrain, because I should not like anyone to form an estimate of me which goes beyond the evidence of his own eyes and ears. 7 And so, to keep me from being unduly elated by the magnificence of such revelations, I was given [Some witnesses read: ... ears, and because of the magnificence of the revelations themselves. Therefore to keep you from being unduly elated I was given ...] a sharp physical pain [Or: a painful wound to my pride (literally: a stake; Or: thorn, for the flesh).] which came as Satan's messenger to bruise me; this was to save me from being unduly elated. 8 Three times I begged the Lord to rid me of it, 9 but his answer was: 'My grace is all you need; power comes to its full strength in weakness.' I shall therefore prefer to find my joy and pride in the very things that are my weakness; and then the power of Christ will come and rest upon me. 10 Hence I am well content, for Christ's sake, with weakness, contempt, persecution, hardship, and frustration; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

Paul's Concern for the Corinthian Church

11 I AM BEING VERY FOOLISH, but it was you who drove me to it; my credentials should have come from you. In no respect did I fall short of these superlative apostles, even if I am a nobody. 12 The marks of a true apostle were there, in the work I did among you, which called for such constant fortitude, and was attended by signs, marvels, and miracles. 13 Is there anything in which you were treated worse than the other congregations-except this, that I never sponged upon you? How unfair of me! I crave forgiveness.

14 Here am I preparing to pay you a third visit; and I am not going to sponge upon you. It is you I want, not your money; parents should make provision for their children, not children for their parents. 15 As for me, I will gladly spend what I have for you—yes, and spend myself to the limit. If I love you overmuch, am I to be loved the less? 16 But, granted that I did not prove a burden to you, still I was unscrupulous enough, you say, to use a trick to catch you. 17 Who, of the men I have sent to you, was used by me to defraud you? 18 I begged Titus to visit you, and I sent our friend is with him. Did Titus defraud you? Have we not both been guided by the same Spirit, and followed the same course?

19 Perhaps you think that all this time we have been addressing our defence to you. No; we are speaking in God's sight, and as Christian men. Our whole aim, my own dear people, is to build you up. 20 I fear that when I come I may perhaps find you different from what I wish you to be, and that you may find me also different from what you wish. I fear I may find quarrelling and jealousy, angry tempers and personal rivalries, backbiting and gossip, arrogance and general disorder. 21 I am afraid that, when I come again, my God may humiliate me in your presence, that I may have tears to shed over many of those who have sinned in the past and have not repented of their unclean lives, their fornication and sensuality.

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