Tuesday, 15 December 2015
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; 2 Corinthians 11:25
Paul continues with his list of the sufferings he faced for the sake of the gospel. He begins with, “Three times I was beaten with rods.” Only one such beating is noted in Acts which is when he was in Philippi in Acts 16. The other two beatings are not recorded. They may have occurred at any time after his conversion. This type of beating was especially painful and the account in Acts 16 shows that he needed to have his wounds tended to because of the damage that was inflicted on him.
He next notes that he was stoned once. This is recorded as occurring in Lystra in Acts 14. It was the common form of execution among the Jews for blasphemy. In Paul’s case, they left him for dead, but he was hardier than they realized. It says that, “…he rose up and went into the city.” The fact that this claim matches that of the account in Acts in turn lends credibility to all of his claims, whether they are recorded or not.
Following this, he lists the suffering of having been shipwrecked three times. Acts only records one shipwreck that he was in, and it comes after the writing of this letter. The three he is referring to here are otherwise unknown, but it does show how dangerous it was to travel by ship during this period of history.
Finally in this verse, he says that “a night and a day I have been in the deep.” This is generally considered as the result of one of his shipwrecks. The ship was far enough from land that he spent this time either swimming or holding onto a part of the ship until he was either rescued, or until he reached land. The waters around him would then be considered “the deep.” However, there is another interesting possibility to what he is referring to.
One Greek writer notes that the words en Butho or “in Bythos,” was a place near Lystra where criminals were thrown. The word Bythos means “the bottom” or “the deep.” If this is so, then it could be a term used for a pit, like the dungeon that Jeremiah was thrown into (see Jeremiah 38:6). The word itself isn’t used anywhere else in the New Testament, and Acts doesn’t refer to this account, so either way it is only speculation as to what “the deep” really means.
Life application: Paul continues to show the lengths he was willing to go through for the sake of the gospel. How many of us are too tired to get up for church on Sunday or too busy to attend a Bible study or two during the week? How much time do we spend reading the Bible each day? This book came to us through much suffering and at great risk to those who penned it under the inspiration of the Spirit. Are we so overwhelmed with minutiae that we can’t devote a portion of our time to studying it?
Heavenly Father, when I read the accounts of the many authors of Scripture, I see the great sufferings and trials they went through in order to bring us this precious word. Despite being influenced by the Spirit, they truly went through a lot of grief individually. Am I willing to “suffer” through a Sunday morning sermon? Am I willing to “endure” Bible study to learn Your word? Have I got the stamina to pick up the Bible each day and read it? Was all that suffering these men went through to simply be wasted in me? May it not be so! Help me to pay heed to what so many others lived and died to bring to me. Amen.