11: I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing. 12: Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds. 13: For what is it wherein ye were inferior to other 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 lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. 15: And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; 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, I caught you with guile. 17: Did I make a gain of you by any of them whom I sent unto you? 18: I desired Titus, and with him I sent a brother. Did Titus make a gain of you? walked we not in the same spirit? walked we not in the same steps? 19: Again, think ye that we excuse ourselves unto you? we speak before God in Christ: but we do all things, dearly beloved, for your edifying. 20: For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults: 21: And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed.
I have embarrassed myself, says Paul. I have become a fool in glorying in my ministry, but you pushed me into it, because I should have had you to recommend me, instead of having to recommend myself and it should be you that realise that I do not come second place to any of the ‘most important apostles’ – although in myself I am nothing. The signs of my apostolic authority were demonstrated among you in all patience, in apostolic signs, wonders and mighty deeds. In what way were you inferior to the other churches, except in this that I took no wages from you for my ministry. I’m sorry if this was an offence to you. And very soon I will be able to come to see you again, says Paul, and I will still not take any money from you, because I do not want your money, I want you. You are my children in the Lord and you know that parents provide for their children not the other way around. And so I will gladly spend myself and be spent out for you because I love you, and even more when you do not love me. Let this always be so. I have not been a burden to you but being clever, I caught you with my craftiness. (Like a crafty fisherman, I caught you without a bait on the hook) I won you for Christ without it costing you a penny. And did I make money through any of those who I sent to you? I asked Titus and another brother to come to you. Did Titus take any money from you? (No of course not) And we lived in exactly the same way. We walked the same path. Do you think that we are making excuses for ourselves? (No we are not) We speak all this before God in Christ. We do everything, my dear loved ones that you will be built up in the faith. I am afraid that when I come I will not find you as I would like to have you and that you will not receive me in a way that I would like. I don’t want there to be debates, envy, anger, wrath, arguments, talking behind people’s backs, whispering, pride, riots. I don’t want God to use me to bring you to order and to humble you before God. (I will if I need to) And I do not want to find that sin has not been dealt with in the church. I don’t want to have to deal with it when I come.