"Brethren, you gladly suffer the foolish: whereas yourselves are wise. For you suffer if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take from you, if a man be lifted up, if a man strike you on the face. I speak according to dishonor, as if we had been weak in this part. Wherein if any man dare (I speak foolishly), I dare also. They are Hebrews, so am I. They are Israelites, so am I. They are the seed of Abraham, so am I. They are the ministers of Christ (I speak as one less wise), I am more: in many more labors, in prisons more frequently, in stripes above measure, in deaths often.
Of the Jews five times did
I receive forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once I
was stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I was in the
depth of the sea: in journeying often, in perils of waters, in perils
of robbers, in perils from my own nation, in perils from the Gentiles,
in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the
sea, in perils from false brethren: in labor and painfulness, in much
watching, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and
nakedness; besides those things which are without, my daily instance,
the solicitude for all the Churches.
Who is weak, and I am not
weak? Who is scandalized, and I am not on fire? If I must needs glory, I
will glory of the things that concern my infirmity. The God and Father
of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is blessed for ever, knoweth that I lie
not. At Damascus the governor of the nation under Aretas the king,
guarded the city of the Damascenes, to apprehend me: and through a
window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and so escaped his hands.
If I must glory (it is not expedient indeed) but I will come to visions
and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ above fourteen
years ago, whether in the body I know not, or out of the body, I know
not, God knoweth, such a one caught up to the third heaven. And I know
such a man, whether in the body or out of the body, I know not, God
knoweth: that he was caught up unto paradise, and heard secret words
which it is not granted to man to utter.
For such a one I will
glory: but for myself I will glory nothing but in my infirmities. For,
though I should have a mind to glory, I shall not be foolish: for I will
say the truth: but I forbear, lest any man should think of me above
that which he seeth in me, or anything he heareth from me. And lest the
greatness of the revelations should exalt me, there was given me a sting
of my flesh, an angel of Satan, to buffet me. For which thing, thrice I
besought the Lord that it might depart from me. And He said to me: My
grace is sufficient for thee: for power is made perfect in infirmity.
Gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of
Christ may dwell in me."
-Epistle for Sexagesima Sunday