22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I. 23 Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. 24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 in journeys often, inperils of waters, in perils of robbers, inperils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, inperils among false brethren; 27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness— 28 besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation?
30 If I must boast, I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity. 31 The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. 32 In Damascus the governor, under Aretas the king, was guarding the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desiring to arrest me; 33 but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and escaped from his hands.
12:1 It is probably not profitable for me to boast.
It is hard to determine if Paul is being sarcastic or got suckered into an argument he knows he shouldn't be in. Either way he was careful to point that this section was not inspired by the Lord. I really appreciate that about Paul. It's not the only letter where he prefaces what he is about to say with "this is me speaking, not a message from the Lord". It demonstrates not only humility but a high regard for the counsel of God, never wanting to mix his opinion into it.
It's quite obvious what Paul is doing. Men have come to Corinth or have arisen within the church trying to take over and head in a new direction. A direction where Jesus is less than everything. Paul is trying to alert them and prevent them from making this mistake. One of the ways these guys are gaining a foothold is by boasting of their credentials. Since they are using 'credentials' Paul is asking "Have you looked at my credentials lately?" Then when he is all done he says "It probably isn't profitable for me to boast."
Again tough to say if he is being sarcastic or has let his emotions carry him into a discussion he probably shouldn't be in. I lean to the sarcastic part. Paul is an intelligent man. He knows that it isn't so much the boasting of these false teachers that is drawing people in. Truthfully it is that the false teachers are telling them what they want to hear. Deception must find a responsive chord to be effective. If I get suckered it's because I had that desire in me before the trickster ever showed up. Paul seems to be exposing the folly of following boasters to uncover the reality that there is a deeper issue at play. Why isn't Jesus enough? Why are they looking for a shiny new toy? Why do they want new teachers saying new things?