Paul's Thorn in the Flesh

121 Boasting is necessary , though it is not profitable ; but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord . 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago -whether in the body I do not know , or out of the body I do not know , God knows -such a man was caught up to the third heaven . 3 And I know how such a man -whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know , God knows - 4 was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words , which a man is not permitted to speak . 5 On behalf of such a man I will boast ; but on my own behalf I will not boast , except in regard to my weaknesses . 6 For if I do wish to boast I will not be foolish , for I will be speaking the truth ; but I refrain from this, so that no one will credit me with more than he sees in me or hears from me. 7 Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations , for this reason , to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh , a messenger of Satan to torment me-to keep me from exalting myself! 8 Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. 9 And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness ." Most gladly , therefore , I will rather boast about my weaknesses , so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses , with insults , with distresses , with persecutions , with difficulties , for Christ's sake ; for when I am weak , then I am strong .

11 I have become foolish ; you yourselves compelled me. Actually I should have been commended by you, for in no respect was I inferior to the most eminent apostles , even though I am a nobody . 12 The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with all perseverance , by signs and wonders and miracles . 13 For in what respect were you treated as inferior to the rest of the churches , except that I myself did not become a burden to you? Forgive me this wrong !

Paul Plans a Third Visit

14 Here for this third time I am ready to come to you, and I will not be a burden to you; for I do not seek what is yours , but you; for children are not responsible to save up for their parents , but parents for their children . 15 I will most gladly spend and be expended for your souls . If I love you more , am I to be loved less ? 16 But be that as it may, I did not burden you myself ; nevertheless , crafty fellow that I am, I took you in by deceit . 17 Certainly I have not taken advantage of you through any of those whom I have sent to you, have I? 18 I urged Titus to go, and I sent the brother with him. Titus did not take any advantage of you, did he? Did we not conduct ourselves in the same spirit and walk in the same steps ? 19 All this time you have been thinking that we are defending ourselves to you. Actually, it is in the sight of God that we have been speaking in Christ ; and all for your upbuilding , beloved . 20 For I am afraid that perhaps when I come I may find you to be not what I wish and may be found by you to be not what you wish ; that perhaps there will be strife , jealousy , angry tempers , disputes , slanders , gossip , arrogance , disturbances ; 21 I am afraid that when I come again my God may humiliate me before you, and I may mourn over many of those who have sinned in the past and not repented of the impurity , immorality and sensuality which they have practiced .