1 It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. (See Rom. 2:17)
But I will come unto visions (see Act 26:19) and revelations of the Lord.
2 I knew a man in Christ above (before) fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I know not; or whether without the body, I know not: God knows;) such an one caught away as far as the third heaven. (See John 10:12.)
3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I know not: God knows;)
4 How that he was caught up into paradise (see Ecc. 2:5), and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. (Paul was alive, and whether he was carried away bodily, as Phillip was [Acts 8:39], or not, nor can we, only God knows. He may have been as Ezekiel was [Ezek. 8:3], or John [Rev. 1:10.])
5 On behalf of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, except in my weakness.
6 For if I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool (see Luke 11:40); for I will say the truth: but now I spare, lest any one should reckon with reference to me above that which he sees me to be, or that he hears of me.
7 And in order that I should not be over-exalted above by the excellence of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan in order that he should buffet me (see 1 Cor. 4:11), lest I should be exalted above measure.
8 In behalf of this thing I besought the Lord thrice, in order that it might depart from me.
9 And he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (I.e. as a tent is spread over one)
10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in insults (see Acts 27:10), in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
11 I am become a fool in glorying; you have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended by you: for in nothing am I behind (see Rom. 3:23, and cp. 11:5 and 1 Cor. 1:7) the very chiefest apostles, even if I be nothing.
12 Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and powers.
13 For what is it wherein you were inferior beyond the rest of churches,
except it be that I myself was not burdensome to you? forgive me this wrong.
14 Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not yours but you: for the children ought not to treasure up for the parents, but the parents for the children.
15 And I will very gladly spend and be spent (spent out, exhausted) for your souls; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.
16 But be it so, I did not burden you: nevertheless, being crafty (it means being essentially from the beginning. Cp. Luke 20:23. These words are spoken ironically, quoting what his opponents alleged), I caught you with guile.
17 Did I make a gain of you by any of them whom I sent to you? (This question is asked expecting a negative answer.)
18 I besought Titus, and with him I sent the brother. Did Titus make a gain of you? walked we not in the same spirit? walked we not in the same steps? (The internal purpose, in contrast with the external walk.)
19 Again, think you that we making an apology to you? we speak before God in Christ: but we do all things, dearly beloved, for your edifying.
20 For I fear, lest in any way, when I come, I shall not find you such as I wish, and that I shall be found unto you such as you would not: lest there be strife (see Rom. 1:29), jealousies (see Acts 5:17), wraths, strifes (contention), backbitings (speaking against. See 1 Pet. 2:1), whisperings (enchantments, i.e, the muttering of a charmer. See Ecc. 10:11. Rom. 1:29. 2 Sam. 12:19. Ps. 41:7), swellings (1 Cor. 4:6), tumults (see Luke 21:9):
21 And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me before you, and that I shall mourn for many of those who have sinned before, and repented over the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed.