1. It is useless to boast; but if I have to, I will go on to some visions and revelations of the Lord.
2. I know a certain Christian: fourteen years ago he was taken up to the third heaven.
3. Whether in the body or out of the body, I do not know, God knows. But I know that this man, whether in the body or out of the body - I do not know, God knows -
4. was taken up to Paradise where he heard words that cannot be told: things which humans cannot express.
5. Of that man I can indeed boast, but of myself I will not boast except of my weaknesses.
6. If I wanted to boast, it would not be foolish of me, for I would speak the truth.
7. However, I better give up lest somebody think more of me than what is seen in me or heard from me. Lest I become proud after so many and extraordinary revelations, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a true messenger of Satan, to slap me in the face.
8. Three times I prayed to the Lord that it leave me,
9. but he answered, "My grace is enough for you; my great strength is revealed in weakness." Gladly, then, will I boast of my weakness that the strength of Christ may be mine.
10. So I rejoice when I suffer infirmities, humiliations, want, persecutions: all for Christ! For when I am weak, then I am strong.
11. I have acted as a fool but you forced me. You should have been the ones commending me. Yet I do not feel outdone by those super-apostles,
12. even though I am nothing. All the signs of a true apostle are found in me: patience in all trials, signs, miracles and wonders.
13. Now, in what way were you not treated like the rest of the churches? Only in this: I was not a burden to you - forgive me for this offense!
14. For the third time I plan to visit you, and I will not be a burden to you, for I am not interested in what you have but only in you. Children should not have to collect money for their parents, but the parents for their children.
15. As for me, I am ready to spend whatever I have and even my whole self for all of you. If I love you so much, am I to be loved less?
16. Well, I was not a burden to you, but was it not a trick to deceive you? Tell me:
17. Did I take money from you through any of my messengers?
18. I asked Titus to go to you and I sent another brother with him. But did Titus take money from you? Have we not both acted in the same spirit?
19. Perhaps you think that we are again apologizing; but no: we speak in Christ and before God, and I do this for you, dear friends, to build you up.
20. I fear that if I go and see you, I might not find you as I would wish, and you in turn, might not find me to your liking. I might see rivalries, envy, grudges, disputes, slanders, gossip, conceit, disorder.
21. Let it not be that in coming again to you, God humble me because of you and I have to grieve over so many of you who live in sin, on seeing that they have not yet given up an impure way of living, their wicked conduct and the vices they formerly practiced.