God’s Saving Word: Spiritual Renewal
2 Corinthians 11:16-33: The apostle Paul describes in detail the various punishments and hardships he has endured. He claims that, if he must boast, it will be about things that show how weak he is. He concludes by telling how he escaped when he was in Damascus (see Acts 9:23-25).
Paul’s Sufferings as an Apostle
16 I repeat: no one should think that I am a fool. But if you do, at least accept me as a fool, just so I will have a little to boast of. 17 Of course what I am saying now is not what the Lord would have me say; in this matter of boasting I am really talking like a fool. 18 But since there are so many who boast for merely human reasons, I will do the same. 19 You yourselves are so wise, and so you gladly tolerate fools! 20 You tolerate anyone who orders you around or takes advantage of you or traps you or looks down on you or slaps you in the face. 21 I am ashamed to admit that we were too timid to do those things!
But if anyone dares to boast about something—I am talking like a fool—I will be just as daring. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I. 23 Are they Christ’s servants? I sound like a madman—but I am a better servant than they are! I have worked much harder, I have been in prison more times, I have been whipped much more, and I have been near death more often. 24 Five times I was given the thirty-nine lashes by the Jews; 25 three times I was whipped by the Romans; and once I was stoned. I have been in three shipwrecks, and once I spent twenty-four hours in the water. 26 In my many travels I have been in danger from floods and from robbers, in danger from my own people and from Gentiles; there have been dangers in the cities, dangers in the wilds, dangers on the high seas, and dangers from false friends. 27 There has been work and toil; often I have gone without sleep; I have been hungry and thirsty; I have often been without enough food, shelter, or clothing. 28 And not to mention other things, every day I am under the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29 When someone is weak, then I feel weak too; when someone is led into sin, I am filled with distress.
30 If I must boast, I will boast about things that show how weak I am. 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus—blessed be his name forever!—knows that I am not lying. 32 When I was in Damascus, the governor under King Aretas placed guards at the city gates to arrest me. 33 But I was let down in a basket through an opening in the wall and escaped from him.
Today’s Key Verse: 2 Corinthians 11:30
[Paul writes:] If I must boast, I will boast about things that show how weak I am.
Reread verses 23-28. In what ways has Paul suffered for the sake of the gospel? (You may wish to compare these verses with the reading from June 13: 2 Corinthians 6:4-10.) Paul mentions that, on five occasions, he “was given the thirty-nine lashes by the Jews” (verse 24). According to the Law of Moses, the maximum number of lashes a person could receive was forty (Deuteronomy 25:3). What are your thoughts about the hardships Paul has endured? What is your understanding of Paul’s words in verse 30?
Gracious and loving God, look with mercy and compassion on all who are suffering this day, especially those suffering persecution for their faith. Surround them with your peace and grant them release from pain and suffering. In the holy and precious name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.
2 Corinthians 12:1-10: The apostle Paul describes his vision from the Lord.