Saturday, 23 May 2015
For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. 2 Corinthians 1:8
Paul has been writing in general terms and speech during his introductory comments. He now initiates a more specific line of thought beginning with “For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren.” This same terminology is used by him at least four other times in his letters. For example, in 1 Thessalonians 4:13 he says –
“But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.”
Continuing on, he will now give specific details of the sufferings that he referenced in verses 3 through 7. They came about in Asia, meaning the part of Asia Minor in which Ephesus is the capital. This trouble may be referred to in one or more of the incidents recorded in Acts, but which cannot be definitively identified.
It may also be, as some suppose, an internal stress that he felt. If so, it could be the troubles which are identified in his first letter to the Corinthians, his concern over them, and the conflict he felt concerning what type of reception his words would bring. If this is so, he stressed over the matter in the greatest way. However, later verses seem to negate this possibility.
Whatever the burden, internal or external, it was felt by those who were with him. As he notes, “…we were burdened beyond measure, above strength.” The term “beyond measure” comes from the Greek word huperbolé, which means properly “a throwing beyond.” It then indicates excess. The burden he felt was in such a category, even “above strength.”
The words are given as a superlative way of showing the nature of the situation. So bad it was “that we despaired even of life.” His choice of wording translated as “despaired” is the word exaporeó. It is used only twice in the New Testament and both are in this epistle. It comes from ex – out, and aporeo which is to be without a way of escape. Again, the use of his words is intended to let the Corinthians know the absolutely serious nature of the situation he and his companions faced.
Life application: Paul has taken the time to expand on his previous thoughts to show the superlative nature of his sufferings. Despite them, as seen in the previous verses, he was comforted. He then noted that the same comfort was a means of edifying and comforting his audience. If we can learn to use real life examples of our troubles and trials, we can then turn and show empathy for others who are living through their own trials. Reading our Bible daily is a good way of learning how to do exactly this. Don’t let your Bible get dusty! Read it and think on it daily.
Lord, the Bible won’t do me a bit of good as long as it sits on the shelf. The amount of dust it has accumulated is really an indictment on how I perceive this precious gift from You. Grant me the desire, the time, and the ability to pick it p, read it, and learn it each day and even throughout each day. I would pray that there would be far less dust on the Bible than on the TV remote! Grant me wisdom in this most important matter. Amen.