2 Corinthians 12

God has shown Paul special things in heaven

1 I must say more things about myself, even if I am a fool to say them. But I will tell you about some of the special, secret things that the Lord has shown to me. 2 I know a man who is united with Christ. Fourteen (14) years ago, God took this man up to the highest heaven. I do not know whether this man was still in his body. I do not know whether he was out of his body. Only God knows. 3-4 I know that God took this man up to heaven. I do not know whether this man was still in his body or not. Only God knows. And when this man was in heaven, he heard special, secret things. He heard things that no words could ever describe. God will not let any human person speak about those things.

12:3-4Paul is speaking about himself in these verses.

5 I will say good things about a man like that. But I will not say good things about myself. I will speak only about the things that show my own weakness. 6 If I did want to say good things about myself, I would not be a fool. No, because I would be saying true things. But I will not say good things about myself, because I want everyone to think properly about me. I do not want anyone to think better things about me than what they themselves see or hear.

God himself makes us strong when we are weak

7 God showed me so many things that were very great and special. But he did not want me to start thinking, as a result, that I myself was too great or special. So, he let me have something sharp and painful in my body, to stop me from thinking like that. This painful thing is an angel from Satan, that he sent to hurt me. 8 I asked the Lord three times to take this painful thing away from me. 9 But he said to me: ‘I myself will help you and I will make you strong. I am everything that you need. When you are weak, then I will be powerful in you. Then I will show more completely how powerful I myself am.’

So, I am very happy to speak about how weak I am. When I am weak, then Christ's power stays over me. 10 That is why I am very happy to be weak. I am happy when people say bad things about me. Sometimes I do not have things that I need. But I am happy then too. I am happy when people cause trouble and pain for me. I am happy when I am in difficulties. I am happy about these things because of Christ. Because when I am weak, then I am strong.

Paul is afraid about what the believers at Corinth might do

11 I am speaking like a fool but you have made me do it. You yourselves ought to be saying good things about me. You enjoy listening to those other special teachers. But even if I am nothing, I am quite as good as those teachers. 12 When I was there with you, I was very patient. I did many things to show certainly that God had sent me to be a special worker and teacher. I did powerful things that surprised you. You knew that only God could make me do things like that. 13 You were never less important to me than all the other groups of believers. I myself never asked you to give anything to me. That was because I did not want to be any trouble to you. But you should not feel less important because of that. You should not think that I did something wrong to you!

14 This is the third time now that I am ready to visit you. I will not ask you to give anything to me. I do not want the things that are yours. Instead, I want you yourselves. Children should not have to supply what their parents need. No, but instead, parents should supply what their children need. 15 I will be very happy to give everything that I have to you. I will be happy to give myself also, because I want so very much to help you. Perhaps I love you much more than I should love you. But I hope that you will not love me less because of that.

16 You must agree that I did not ask you for anything. But some of you say that I was not honest with you. I was clever and, like fools, you believed me. That is what some of you say. 17 I sent people to you. But I did not use any of them to get anything from you for myself. 18 I asked Titus to visit you, because I wanted him very much to do that. And I sent another friend, who is also a believer, with him. But certainly, you could not say that Titus used you to get anything for himself. And I had the same good purpose as Titus. We both wanted the same good things for you. The same Spirit led both of us.

19 Perhaps you think like this about us. All the time, we have been trying to show you how right we ourselves are. Perhaps this is what you think. But we are not doing that. We have been speaking as people who are united with Christ. And we know that God sees us always. Our friends that we love, we want only to help you. Everything that we do is to help you. That is so that you become stronger. 20 I am hoping to see good things when I come there to visit you. I know what kind of people I want you to be. But I am afraid that you might be different from that. You might not be as I wanted you to be. Also, I might be different from what you wanted me to be.

I am afraid that you might be quarrelling. Some of you might not be happy about what other people have got. You might be angry with each other. Some of you might be enemies because you want to be better than each other. You might be saying bad things about each other. Some of you might be thinking that you are more important than other people. You might not be agreeing, nor doing things properly. I am afraid that I might discover all these things about you.

21 I am afraid about something else also. The next time that I come to visit you, perhaps my God will cause me to feel ashamed about you. And so I will be sad and I will weep. Many people among you did wrong things before. But still those people are not sorry about those wrong things. So, I will be sad because of those people. Many people among you have done bad, dirty things with their bodies. They have had sex with people who were not their own wife or husband. They have wanted very much to do wrong things like that. But they have not turned away from those things.