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A Special Blessing in Paul's Life

12 1I must continue to boast. It won't help, but I will talk now about visions* and revelations* from the Lord. 2I know a man* in Christ who was taken up to the third heaven. This happened 14 years ago. I don't know if the man was in his body or out of his body. But God knows. 3-4And I know that this man was taken up to paradise.* I don't know if he was in his body or away from his body. But he heard things which he is not able to explain. He heard things that no man is allowed to tell. 5I will boast about a man like that. But I will not boast about myself. I will boast only about my weaknesses. 6But if I wanted to boast about myself, I would not be a fool. I would not be a fool, because I would be telling the truth. But I won't boast about myself. Why? Because I don't want people to think more of me than what they see me do or hear me say. 7But I must not become too proud of the wonderful things that were shown to me. So a painful problem* was given to me. That problem is an angel from Satan (the devil). It is sent to beat me and keep me from being too proud. 8I begged the Lord three times to take this problem away from me. 9But the Lord said to me, "My grace (kindness) is enough for you. When you are weak, then my power is made perfect in you." So I am very happy to boast about my weaknesses. Then Christ's power can live in me. 10So I am happy when I have weaknesses. I am happy when people say bad things to me. I am happy when I have hard times. I am happy when people treat me badly. And I am happy when I have problems. All these things are for Christ. And I am happy with these things, because when I am weak, then I am truly strong.

Paul's Love for the Christians in Corinth

11I have been [talking like] a fool. But you made me do it. You people are the ones who should say good things about me. I am worth nothing, but those "great apostles" are not worth any more than I am! 12When I was with you, I did the things that prove that I am an apostle* --I did signs, wonders, and miracles.* I did these things with much patience. 13So you received everything that the other churches have received. Only one thing was different: I was not a burden to you. Forgive me for this! 14I am now ready to visit you the third time. And I will not be a burden to you. I don't want any of the things you own. I only want you. Children should not have to save things to give to their parents. Parents should save to give to their children. 15So I am happy to give everything I have for you. I will even give myself for you. If I love you more, will you love me less? 16It is clear that I was not a burden to you. But [you think that] I was tricky and used lies to catch you. 17Did I cheat you by using any of the men I sent to you? No! You know I didn't. 18I asked Titus to go to you. And I sent our brother with him. Titus did not cheat you, did he? No! You know that Titus and I did the same things and with the same spirit. 19Do you think that we have been defending ourselves to you all this time? No. We say these things in Christ. And we say these things before God. You are our dear friends. And everything that we do is to make you stronger. 20I do this because I am afraid that when I come you will not be what I want you to be. And I am afraid that I will not be what you want me to be. I am afraid that [in your group] there may be arguing, jealousy, anger, selfish fighting, evil talk, gossip, pride, and confusion. 21I am afraid that when I come to you again, my God will make me humble before you. I may be saddened by many of you who have sinned. I may be saddened because those people have not changed their hearts to be sorry for their evil lives, for their sexual sins, and for the shameful things they have done.

vision(s) A vision is something like a dream that God used to speak to people. revelation(s) A revelation is an opening up (making known) of truth that was hidden. a man In 12:2-5 Paul is probably talking about himself in the third person. paradise A place where good people go when they die. painful problem Literally, "thorn in the flesh." apostle A person Jesus chose to represent him in a special way. signs, wonders, miracles Powerful works from God that people cannot do without God's help.

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