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2Corinthians  ◦   Chapter 11

1If what I say next seems absurd, please appreciate my heart's motive in saying it,2because I am watching out for you with a godly watchfulness: I determined to present you to Christ–with hearts and minds cleansed–as a pure woman to her husband.3But I am concerned that just as Eve was deceived by the lies of Satan, so your minds may be tricked into turning away from the pure love and devotion to Christ.4For when a great speaker comes and thrills you with moving sermons but distorts Jesus' character–suggesting his spirit is something other than love, or his Remedy is something different than what you have already partaken of–you embrace it eagerly.5But don't think I am somehow less qualified than these so-called "experts."6I may not be a professional speaker, but I know what your actual diagnosis is, and I have God's Remedy for it. We have made this explicitly clear to you in every way possible.

7Was it a mistake for me to bring you the Remedy for free, or would you have valued it more had I charged you for it?8The cost of bringing you the Remedy was paid by the other churches.9Even when I was with you, I didn't present my expenses to you for reimbursement, but I had my needs supplied by members of Christ's health-care team from Macedonia. I made sure not to place any obstacles that would interfere with your healing, and I will continue to do so. 10As surely as I brought you the Remedy Christ achieved, I will not be quiet about this point.11Why? Not because I don't love you, but–as God well knows–I do love you and I want you to know it!12And I will keep making this point in order to expose the difference between those who claim to be like us in promoting Christ but are actually promoting themselves.

13These people are conmen, charlatans, peddling a false remedy, pretending to be ambassadors of Christ.14This shouldn't surprise anyone, for Satan himself claims to be interested in the betterment of humanity, masquerading as an angel of light and truth; 15so it is no shock to realize that Satan's agents also masquerade as members of God's spiritual health-care team. But their end will be what comes to all who take a false remedy for their terminal condition.

16Don't think I am just playing around or being silly, but if it does sound ridiculous, then hear it like it was coming from someone who is willing to go to extremes–even boasting–to protect you.17In this example, I am not presenting things as the Lord does, but as a child does.18Because many who have come to you spend their time touting their accomplishments and boasting about their credentials, I will too.19It seems that you think it wise to listen to such childlike talk.20In fact, you even enjoy childlike behavior and put up with those who manipulate you, exploit you, take advantage of you, push their ideas onto you, and even slap you.21If that is what you needed, then I regret that we just couldn't stomach acting that way with you. So — speaking like a child–whatever qualifications others brag about, I can brag about even more.

22Are they Hebrews, genetic descendants of Israel and Abraham? Well, so what? I am also.23Are they ambassadors of Christ? This is so immature to say, but I am a better ambassador for Christ! I've done more, worked harder, been imprisoned more often, been beaten more frequently and more severely, received many more death threats, and experienced more life-threatening encounters.24The Jews beat me with thirty-nine lashes on five different occasions.25I was beaten on three different occasions with rods, stoned once, shipwrecked three times, and spent thirty-six hours stranded in the open sea.26I have to move constantly. My life has been in danger on rivers, in danger from pirates, from my own countrymen, and from Gentiles. My life has been threatened in cities, in the country, at sea, and by those pretending to be on Christ's team.27I have worked long hours and often gone without sleep. I know real hunger and thirst, and I have gone without food more than once. I have even been with nothing, out in the cold, and naked.28On top of all this, I am constantly pressured because of my desire to help the churches.29When someone feels too weak to go on–I've been there; I feel their pain. When someone is overcome with fear and selfishness, my heart burns with desire to help.

30If, like a child, I must focus on myself, I will focus on how deficient–in and of myself–I am.31God — the Father of our Lord Jesus — who is forever to be praised, knows that I am not lying.32The governor under King Aretas in Damascus had the city locked down and ordered the guards to arrest me,33but I was lowered in a basket from one of the windows in the city wall and got away.