Tuesday, 22 December 2015
In Damascus the governor, under Aretas the king, was guarding the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desiring to arrest me; 2 Corinthians 11:32
Paul just said in verse 30 that “I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity.” After that, he gave a solemn testimony that his words were true. Now suddenly, he introduces this statement as his first evidence of his “infirmity.” To set up what he considered this infirmity to be, he opens with this verse concerning his time in Damascus. It is referred to in Acts 9:23-25, but with different detail given here.
He first notes, “…the governor, under Aretas the king.” The term for “governor” is used only here in the New Testament. It is ethnarches. It is a word consisting of two separate words: ethnos which means “a race” or “a people group,” and archo which means “rule” or “reign.” Thus he was the leader of the people of Damascus. Aretas, or Hareth, was the father-in-law of Herod Antipas whose capital was the city cleft out of rock at Petra. Historians suppose that Caligula placed Damascus under Aretas as a gift to him.
This unnamed governor under Aretas had “the city of the Damascenes” guarded with a garrison. This was done so that if Paul was located he was to be arrested. In addition to this guard, Acts 9 shows that Paul had other foes waiting for him as well –
“Now after many days were past, the Jews plotted to kill him. 24 But their plot became known to Saul. And they watched the gates day and night, to kill him.” Acts 9:23, 24
Paul was hemmed in and any chance of getting out of the city in a normal way was considered impossible. Therefore other means had to be employed to get him out. This is detailed in the next verse and shows why he chose to name this under his list of infirmities.
Life application: If you are hemmed in from all sides, and if the Lord still has purposes for you in this life, He will get you out of the situation. Never fear that He has every circumstance in our lives completely within His capable hands.
Lord God, at times we feel hemmed in from every side and it seems that there is no avenue of escape from our troubles. At times like these, why would we consider turning anywhere but to You? You have the span of our lives safely in Your capable hands and there is no trial or hardship that we face which is unknown to You. Help us to trust this and to remember that there is nothing that we are facing which is not also without Your attentive eye upon it. Thank You for this wonderful reassurance. Amen.