2 Corinthians 12
How God has helped Paul
1 I must continue to praise myself. It will not really help you, but I will tell you anyway. The Lord has shown me special things, like in a dream. 2 I know a certain man who belongs to Christ. 14 years ago, God quickly took this man up to the third heaven. Perhaps this man was still in his body. Perhaps he had gone away from his body. I do not know. Only God knows. 3-4 I know that God took this man up to paradise. I do not know whether this man was still in his body or not. Only God knows. When this man was in heaven, he heard about secret things. Those are things that no words can describe. God will not let any person speak about those things. They are too special.
12:3-4Paul is probably speaking about himself in these verses, but he speaks as if it is someone else. The third heaven (or highest heaven) is the place where God himself lives.
5 I will say proud things about a man like that. But I will not be proud of anything good about myself. I will only be proud of things that show my weakness. 6 If I did want to praise myself, that would not make me a fool. No, because I would be saying true things. But I will not say good things about myself. I want everyone to think properly about me. People should look at how I live. They should think about what I say. That is enough for them to decide about me.
7 Yes, God did show me many things that were very special. But he did not want me to be proud because of that. So, he gave me a pain in my body, like a sharp thorn. Satan uses that pain to give me much trouble. It is like Satan's angel that he sends to hurt me. That certainly stops me from being proud of myself! 8 I asked the Lord three times to take this pain away from me. 9 But he said to me, ‘I will be kind to you and I will help you. That will be enough for you. When you are weak, I will show that I am completely powerful to help you.’
So, I am happy to be proud about my weakness. Then I know that Christ's power will be with me. 10 That is why I am happy even when I am weak. People may insult me. They may bring me trouble. They may want to hurt me. I may have many kinds of trouble. But I am still happy because I am serving Christ. Yes, whenever I am weak, then I am strong.
Paul is a true apostle
11 I am speaking like a proud fool, but you have made me do it. You yourselves should be saying good things about me. I may not be important. But I am as good as those very special apostles. 12 When I was there with you, I showed that I was a true apostle. I worked patiently among you. I did many miracles and great things that showed God's power. 13 I worked among you in the same way as I did with the other churches. You were never less important to me than they are. The only difference is that I did not ask you to help me with money. So perhaps I should ask you to forgive me for that!
14 Listen to me! This is the third time that I am ready to visit you. I will not ask you to give anything to me. I do not want any of your things. Instead, I want you yourselves. You are like my children. Children should not have to supply what their parents need. It is parents who should supply what their children need. 15 So, I will be happy to give everything that I have to you. I will be happy to give myself too, because I want to help you. Perhaps I love you too much! But that should not mean that you will love me less than you should.
16 I did not give you trouble. You surely know that. But some of you say that I deceived you. You think that I was clever and I got money from you. 17 That is not true! When I sent people to you, they never cheated you on my behalf. 18 I asked Titus to come and visit you, and I sent another Christian friend with him. But Titus certainly did not deceive you to get anything from you. Both he and I have always been completely honest with you. We both think in the same way.
19 What are you thinking when you read all this? Do you think that we want to show you how good we are? No, we are speaking as people who belong to Christ. God knows us. Everything that we do is to help you. We love you and we want to make you stronger as believers.
20 When I come there to visit you, I hope you will be living in a good way. But I am afraid that I will not see what I want to see. Then you will see that I am different from what you want me to be! I am afraid that you may be quarrelling. You may be jealous of each other. You may be very angry with each other. Some of you may just want to please yourselves. You may be insulting one another, or telling lies about one another. You may be proud of how good you are. You may be causing trouble for one another. Yes, I am afraid that all those things may be happening among you.
21 I am afraid that I may be very sad when I come back to you. My God may cause me to feel ashamed about you. Some of you may still be doing bad and dirty things. You may be having sex with people that you are not married to, or in other wrong ways. Those are the bad things that many of you did at one time. If you have not turned away from those bad things, that will make me weep.