Week 44 – F260 Reading Plan

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I wish you would put up with a little foolishness from me. Yes, do put up with me![a] For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy, because I have promised you in marriage to one husband—to present a pure virgin to Christ. But I fear that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your minds may be seduced from a sincere and pure[b] devotion to Christ. For if a person comes and preaches another Jesus, whom we did not preach, or you receive a different spirit, which you had not received, or a different gospel, which you had not accepted, you put up with it splendidly!

Now I consider myself in no way inferior to those “super-apostles.” Even if I am untrained in public speaking, I am certainly not untrained in knowledge. Indeed, we have in every way made that clear to you in everything. Or did I commit a sin by humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached the gospel of God to you free of charge? I robbed other churches by taking pay from them to minister to you. When I was present with you and in need, I did not burden anyone, since the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied my needs. I have kept myself, and will keep myself, from burdening you in any way. 10 As the truth of Christ is in me, this boasting of mine will not be stopped[c] in the regions of Achaia. 11 Why? Because I don’t love you? God knows I do!

12 But I will continue to do what I am doing, in order to deny[d] an opportunity to those who want to be regarded as our equals in what they boast about. 13 For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! For Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no great surprise if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will be according to their works.

Paul’s Sufferings for Christ

16 I repeat: Let no one consider me a fool. But if you do, at least accept me as a fool so that I can also boast a little. 17 What I am saying in this matter[e] of boasting, I don’t speak as the Lord would, but as it were, foolishly. 18 Since many boast according to the flesh, I will also boast. 19 For you, being so wise, gladly put up with fools! 20 In fact, you put up with it if someone enslaves you, if someone exploits you, if someone takes advantage of you, if someone is arrogant toward you, if someone slaps you in the face. 21 I say this to our shame: We have been too weak for that!

But in whatever anyone dares to boast—I am talking foolishly—I also dare: 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the descendants of Abraham? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? I’m talking like a madman—I’m a better one: with far more labors, many more imprisonments, far worse beatings, many times near death.

24 Five times I received the forty lashes minus one from the Jews. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I received a stoning. Three times I was shipwrecked. I have spent a night and a day in the open sea. 26 On frequent journeys, I faced dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my own people, dangers from Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers at sea, and dangers among false brothers; 27 toil and hardship, many sleepless nights, hunger and thirst, often without food, cold, and without clothing. 28 Not to mention[f] other things, there is the daily pressure on me: my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation?

30 If boasting is necessary, I will boast about my weaknesses. 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is blessed forever, knows I am not lying. 32 In Damascus, a ruler[g] under King Aretas guarded the city of Damascus in order to arrest me. 33 So I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall and escaped from his hands.

Sufficient Grace

12 

Boasting is necessary. It is not profitable, but I will move on to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ who was caught up to the third heaven fourteen years ago. Whether he was in the body or out of the body, I don’t know; God knows. I know that this man—whether in the body or out of the body I don’t know; God knows— was caught up into paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a human being is not allowed to speak. I will boast about this person, but not about myself, except of my weaknesses.

For if I want to boast, I wouldn’t be a fool, because I would be telling the truth. But I will spare you, so that no one can credit me with something beyond what he sees in me or hears from me, especially because of the extraordinary revelations. Therefore, so that I would not exalt myself, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to torment me so that I would not exalt myself. Concerning this, I pleaded with the Lord three times that it would leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.”

Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. 10 So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and in difficulties, for the sake of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Signs of an Apostle

11 I have been a fool; you forced it on me. You ought to have commended me, since I am not in any way inferior to those “super-apostles,” even though I am nothing. 12 The signs of an apostle were performed with unfailing endurance among you, including signs and wonders and miracles. 13 So in what way are you worse off than the other churches, except that I personally did not burden you? Forgive me for this wrong!

Paul’s Concern for the Corinthians

14 Look, I am ready to come to you this third time. I will not burden you, since I am not seeking what is yours, but you. For children ought not save up for their parents, but parents for their children. 15 I will most gladly spend and be spent for you.[h] If I love you more, am I to be loved less? 16 Now granted, I did not burden you; yet sly as I am, I took you in by deceit! 17 Did I take advantage of you by any of those I sent you? 18 I urged Titus to go, and I sent the brother with him. Titus didn’t take advantage of you, did he? Didn’t we walk in the same spirit and in the same footsteps?

19 Have you been thinking all along that we were defending ourselves to you? No, in the sight of God we are speaking in Christ, and everything, dear friends, is for building you up. 20 For I fear that perhaps when I come I will not find you to be what I want, and you may not find me to be what you want. Perhaps there will be quarreling, jealousy, angry outbursts, selfish ambitions, slander, gossip, arrogance, and disorder. 21 I fear that when I come my God will again[i] humiliate me in your presence, and I will grieve for many who sinned before and have not repented of the moral impurity, sexual immorality, and sensuality they practiced.

Final Warnings and Exhortations

13 

This is the third time I am coming to you. Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.[j] I gave a warning when I was present the second time, and now I give a warning while I am absent to those who sinned before and to all the rest: If I come again, I will not be lenient, since you seek proof of Christ speaking in me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but powerful among you. For he was crucified in weakness, but he lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but in dealing with you we will live with him by God’s power.

Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith. Examine yourselves. Or do you yourselves not recognize that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless you fail the test.[k] And I hope you will recognize that we ourselves do not fail the test. But we pray to God that you do nothing wrong—not that we may appear to pass the test, but that you may do what is right, even though we may appear to fail. For we can’t do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. We rejoice when we are weak and you are strong. We also pray that you become fully mature.[l] 10 This is why I am writing these things while absent, so that when I am there I may not have to deal harshly with you, in keeping with the authority the Lord gave me for building up and not for tearing down.

11 Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice.[m] Become mature, be encouraged,[n] be of the same mind, be at peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you. 12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints send you greetings.

13 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.[o]