2 Corinthians 11:28


Friday, 18 December 2015

…besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.
2 Corinthians 11:28

Paul has listed many things which have come against him during his evangelistic efforts. He has noted trials, punishments, and perils. In concluding this list, he says, “…besides the other things.” The word used here is only found in the NT and only three times. Therefore, its meaning is debated. It can mean “trials which come to me externally,” or it can mean “other things which I haven’t mentioned.” The latter is probably correct.

He has given a long list of trials and yet it is not a full and complete list. He has simply highlighted some of the events which he has faced. Along with those many external trials, he also faced, as he says, “…what comes upon me daily.” The phrase here has a much stronger force in the Greek. The word indicates “that which rushes upon me.” It is like an overwhelming tide. Specifically, he says it is “my deep concern for all the churches.”

Paul carried with him the constant concern for those he had led to Christ. He wrote them letters, prayed for them, and carried the burden of their staying close to Christ or departing onto a wayward path. The mental pressures he faced were probably even more debilitating than the physical trials. These mental pressures rushed upon him as if an unstoppable tide at times as he struggled in his heart for his beloved children in the faith.

The Bible scholar Farrar remarks on verses 23-28 saying that it is “the most marvelous record ever written of any biography; a fragment beside which the most imperiled lives of the most suffering saints shrink into insignificance, and which shows us how fractional at the best is our knowledge of the details of St. Paul’s life.”

Life application: Do you carry the burden in your heart for those who have come to Christ in your life, but have then fallen away? Do you have a desire to see the immature in the faith grow into maturity? Such things should be at the forefront of our hearts and prayers as we bring these burdens to God. Remember those around you as you speak to Him, lifting them up along with all of the other physical needs of others that are so commonly prayed for.

Lord God, let us carry in our hearts the burden of seeing those around us come to a saving knowledge of Christ. Help us to not be cold concerning the plight of the unsaved. And also of importance are those who are weak or misdirected in their faith. Grant us the desire to lift them up in prayer, remembering their need for growth and proper doctrine. Each of us is on a different level, and so help us to consider those who need such strengthening. To Your glory, Amen.



2 Corinthians 11:27


Thursday, 17 December 2015

…in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness— 2 Corinthians 11:27

Paul provides several more specifics concerning the difficulties he had faced for the sake of sharing the gospel message. This list begins with “…in weariness and toil.” He gives this same general sentiment, using the same two Greek words, when writing to those in Thessalonica –

nor did we eat anyone’s bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you.” 2 Thessalonians 3:8

These words probably refer to his personal skill as a tent maker. In working with his own hands, he labored long hours in order to provide the gospel free to those he preached to.

The “sleeplessness often” was probably as much for fear of being attacked as for anything else. He was constantly under threat by those around him and he probably slept with one eye open in order to make sure he wasn’t pounced upon by one of them.

“In hunger and thirst” certainly came as he traveled around searching for the next person to speak to about Christ. He was less worried about finding a tavern to eat in and more worried about finding a soul to feed the gospel to.

“In fastings often” describes his self-denial in order to come nearer to God in prayer. Fasting is mentioned in Acts 13:2, 3 and is something that he would be used to as a Pharisee. Jesus noted the fastings of the Pharisees on several occasions.

“In cold and nakedness” describes a state which he probably faced almost continuously during the winter months. He would have slept outside often as he traveled, and he may have not had a fire to keep himself warm as he did. His clothes were probably not sufficient to keep him warm. Instead, he would have been more concerned about them being light rather than bulky in order to make traveling easier.

The words Paul uses to describe himself here very closely match the sufferings of his father of the past, Jacob. When Jacob lived in Padan Aram, he tended to his uncle’s flocks. During that time, he suffered just as his descendant Paul would suffer for a different type of Gentile flock. That is recorded in Genesis 31 –

“Then Jacob was angry and rebuked Laban, and Jacob answered and said to Laban: “What is my trespass? What is my sin, that you have so hotly pursued me? 37 Although you have searched all my things, what part of your household things have you found? Set it here before my brethren and your brethren, that they may judge between us both! 38 These twenty years I have been with you; your ewes and your female goats have not miscarried their young, and I have not eaten the rams of your flock. 39 That which was torn by beasts I did not bring to you; I bore the loss of it. You required it from my hand, whether stolen by day or stolen by night. 40 There I was! In the day the drought consumed me, and the frost by night, and my sleep departed from my eyes. 41 Thus I have been in your house twenty years; I served you fourteen years for your two daughters, and six years for your flock, and you have changed my wages ten times.” Genesis 31:36-41

Life application: Inconvenience such as Paul faced is something many of us have never known. However, there are missionaries around the world who have given up on a life of ease in order to share the message of Christ in places where any and all of the hardships that Paul describes are not uncommon. Take time to today to lift those weary souls up in prayer. And be willing to honor them through letters, gifts, and support if at all possible.

Lord God, we know there are missionaries spread out around the world, telling others the saving message of Your gospel. Some of them are in difficult places which are hostile to Christianity. Some of them face deprivation, hardship, and toil. Today, we lift them up to Your throne of grace, asking that You shower them with every heavenly blessing for comfort and for encouragement. Reward them according to Your wisdom and touch them with Your calming hand as they continue to press on, sharing this message of hope and love. Amen.



2 Corinthians 11:26


Wednesday, 16 December 2015

in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 2 Corinthians 11:26

Paul’s list of his many trials for the sake of the gospel continues to grow in this verse. He says, “…in journeys often.” This would be the trials of his many journeys, particularly the chance of getting waylaid on the trip, such as happened to the man in the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37. It would also have included the other many hardships associated with traveling by foot or on an animal.

Continuing on, he says, “…in perils of waters.” The word for “waters” is potamos. It means specifically “rivers.” Thus, it carries the idea of a current, brook, or stream (as drinkable). You can get a hint of our modern word “potable” from this then. These inland rivers and streams needed to be forded in one way or another if no bridge was available. It was at times hazardous, but Paul continued on, passing over them for the sake of Christ.

His next words, “…in perils of my own countrymen,” literally permeate the book of Acts. Everywhere Paul went, he faced threats of death from them, he faced their anger, and he faced their accusations. They had a deep-seated enmity towards him because of his teachings on Christ and because of his doing so to the Gentiles, both of which they rejected as ungodly. But this hatred wasn’t just confined to his Jewish brothers. Instead, he was also “in perils of the Gentiles.”

As it has been throughout Christian history, many Gentiles have rejected the message of Christ and thus they reject the messengers of Christ. The book of Acts, again, is replete with the perils that Paul faced among the Gentiles. And these many perils were not just isolated to one particular place. He next notes that he faced “perils in the city.”

The residents of cities had animosities towards Paul and his message, just as they do today. City folk lack the intimacy with nature that those outside the city feel. Thus they cut themselves off, in part, from God’s general revelation of Himself through the beauty which surrounds us in nature. They often become apathetic to the things of God and even hostile to them. This has remained true throughout the ages. Paul faced such apathy and was in peril because of it.

But he also faced “perils in the wilderness.” In the wilderness were more than just wild animals and harsh living. In the wilderness is often lawlessness, like the Old West in the US where people lived by their own code of morality and judgment. For Paul to present the gospel there would mean many perils, from man and from beast. And yet he was willing to go even into the remote places to share this wonderful message.

But there was more. He also states that he faced “perils in the sea.” Some of these have already been noted by him in the preceding verse. But he may be referring to other perils of the sea. Simply witnessing to sailors might bring him into trouble. Sailors often follow their own gods which they believe will protect them from other gods who intend to do them harm. To tell sailors that what they have always believed is false would be a good way of getting tossed into the deep or being used as fish bait. Whatever Paul is referring to, he was willing to face it for the exalted name of Jesus.

He finishes up this verse with, “in perils among false brethren.” The word here is pseudadelphos. It means a false brother or a “pretend Christian.” It is only used here and in Galatians 2:4. This is certainly a jab at the false apostles that he has been speaking about, but it is also inclusive of anyone who would claim to be a Christian in order to benefit from it, even though they had no true love of Christ. The Judaizers of Galatians wanted to rob people away from the faith. Others could profit monetarily off of Christ. The list could go on and on as to the reason why someone would claim to be a Christian, but who was really a deceiver. Paul faced up to such people and was in peril because of them.

Life application: It should be true that every step we take is one devoted to the message of Christ. If that message is one which upsets the world around us, then we may face perils because of it. Let us search our hearts and determine if we truly are willing to face difficulties for standing on the faith which we have professed.

Lord Jesus, those who truly bear Your name are confident that You are the One and only path to reconciliation with God. We can also be confident that this message is becoming more and more unpopular in the world today. Even our leaders have become openly hostile to this truth. Should we face difficulties or even have our lives threatened because of Your name, give us the strength and the presence of mind to not waffle in our convictions, but to stand firmly on Your exalted name. Let there be no fear in our hearts as we honor You with our lives. Amen.

2 Corinthians 11:25


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.


2 Corinthians 11:24


Monday, 14 December 2015

From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. 2 Corinthians 11:24

There is quite a bit to consider in these few words. First, the word “stripes” is not in the original, but it is given for clarity and its inclusion is correct. The law of punishing a Jew by the Jewish authorities comes from the Law of Moses. In Deuteronomy, this is recorded –

“If there is a dispute between men, and they come to court, that the judges may judge them, and they justify the righteous and condemn the wicked, then it shall be, if the wicked man deserves to be beaten, that the judge will cause him to lie down and be beaten in his presence, according to his guilt, with a certain number of blows. Forty blows he may give him and no more, lest he should exceed this and beat him with many blows above these, and your brother be humiliated in your sight.” Deuteronomy 25:1-3

Forty lashes were the maximum allowed by the law. In order to ensure that this was not violated, thus breaking the command which was given for punishment of another command, one lash was held back. The 40 lashes, minus one, are mentioned in the writings of Flavius Josephus. It is also believed that a scourge of 13 knotted thongs was used and the person was beaten only 3 times, thus equaling 39 lashes.

It should be noted here though that this punishment of 39 lashes cannot be equated to the 39 books of the Old Testament and thus a picture of Jesus’ fulfillment of the law which included his stripes recorded in Isaiah 53:5. This is a commonly taught thing which neither matches the Law of Moses (40 stripes, not 39), nor was this the punishment which Jesus endured during His passion under Pontius Pilate. That was a Roman, not a Jewish, punishment and there were no such limits set by Rome. That is a fanciful, but misplaced, use of this punishment.

Concerning Paul’s receiving this Jewish punishment “five times,” there is no record in the book of Acts that he ever received it. When he was beaten (Acts 16), it was a Roman punishment. It could be that he received these Jewish punishments at the various synagogues that he visited, but there is no record of it. This shows that Paul’s epistles, which very well support the narrative in the book of Acts, were not written based on Acts as some people claim. Rather, they are independent writings which unite at times to confirm the truth of the two accounts. At other times, they independently highlight other things not written in the other account.

Life application: Paul was willing to go to great lengths in order to preach the gospel of Christ to his own Jewish brothers, so much so that he confirms that he was beaten by them on five separate occasions. Are we willing to endure a little bit of pain and rejection by our own people in order to share this same message? Our willingness to suffer for Christ is a sign of our devotion and dedication to Him.

Lord God, Your word is filled with stories of Your faithful prophets and apostles suffering for the sake of speaking out about Your word and the truths it contains. These people are recorded for their faithful witness and testimony, showing that they truly cared about their relationship with You. Help us to have a similar spirit. Help us to be willing to suffer shame, and even more, for Your name and for the sanctity of Your word. Keep us from being weak and ineffective followers of You. Amen.