Paul's Sufferings

Paul describes the many things he suffered during his ministry. The numbers point at the classic book about suffering.

2 Corinthians 11:21-33

21I speak this as a disgrace, as though we were weak. I speak foolishly, that in whatever other men dare, I also dare. 1|33 22If they are Hebrews, so am I. 2|33 If they are Israelites, so am I. 3|33 If they are children of Abraham, so am I. 4|33 23If they are ministers of the anointed, I speak as a fool, I am more than they, 5|33 in toilings more than they, 6|33 in wounds more than they, 7|33 in bonds more than they, 8|33 and in danger of death many times. 9|33 24By the Jews I was scourged 5 times 40, each time 40 stripes less 1. 10|33 253 times I was beaten with rods. 11|33 1 time I was stoned. 12|33 3 times I was in a shipwreck. 14|33 A day and a night I was in the sea without a ship. 26On many journeys, I have been 15|33 in perils of rivers, 16|33 in perils of bandits, 17|33 in perils from my own kinsmen, 18|33 in perils from the peoples, 19|33 in perils in the city, 20|33 in perils in the wilderness, 21|33 in perils in the sea, 22|33 in perils from false brothers, 23|33 27in toil and in weariness, 24|33 in many vigils, 25|33 in hunger and in thirst, 26|33 in many fasts, 27|33 in cold and in nakedness. 28|33 28Besides other things, 29|33 and the many calling on me everyday, 30|33 I also have the care of all the assemblies. 31|33 29Who is sick, that I do not feel the pain? 32|33 Who stumbles, that does not have my heartfelt sympathy? 2 Corinthians 11:21-29FA 30If I must needs boast, I will boast of my sufferings. 31The god and father of our master Joshua, the anointed, who is blessed forever and ever, knows that I do not lie. 33|33 32At Damascus, the general of the army of King Aretas, placed the city of the Damascenes under guard in order to seize me, 33and I was lowered in a basket from a window over the city wall, and thus I escaped from his hands. H Acts 9:23-25 2 Corinthians 11:30-33 (2 Corinthians 11:21-33 BRB)


5+40+40+1+3+1+3 = 93 = Job


Job's story is the archetype Bible story on the subject of suffering. Long story short, through Job's suffering he gained authority to intercede in ways he could not before. He was able to pray for his three friends and spare them from the suffering they deserved (Job 42:7-9).

Something similar was happening in Paul's ministry. Through his suffering he was gaining spiritual authority related to those he was reaching. Likely the scope and intensity of the suffering reveals some sense of the potential impact of his ministry call.

Of particular interest is the one-up-manship in this passage. Paul is saying he is as great or greater than others in his ministry call. He then has to say he's not exaggerating in relaying the extremity of his suffering. In Job there's a similar competition as the friends each take a shot at Job in an attempt to explain his extreme situation and as Job has to patiently defend himself from each blow (Job 32:1). The friends essentially cannot believe that Job is actually righteous. They assume he's suffering for some wrong on his part. It would be easy to think the same thing if one was watching Paul go through the many troubles he describes in this passage.