Tuesday in the Thirtieth Week of Ordinary Time

2 Corinthians 11:16-33

Paul’s Sufferings

We are reaching yet another climax in Paul’s letters to the Corinthians and this time it has to do with the defense of his apostleship.  We have wondered who his opponents might be and in this passage it appears that at least some of them were Judaizers as Paul compares himself to them: “Are they Hebrews? Are they Israelites? Are they offspring of Abraham?”  But let us hasten to say that Paul in no way enjoys this; it was his policy not to compare himself with others (10:12; 1 Corinthians 4:1-5), but he has been driven to such “foolishness” by the Corinthians themselves who boast in matter of the flesh, that is, matters concerning ethnicity and human attainment.  Paul is concerned with heavenly matters—God’s work in the lives of people as he goes about fulfilling his calling as an apostle by preaching the gospel.

And I suppose we should be grateful that the Corinthians drove Paul to such lengths, for if they hadn’t, we would not have the biographical information Paul gives us here about his sufferings as an apostle: imprisonments, countless beatings, often near death, five times forty lashes less one by the Jews, three times beaten with rods by the Gentiles, once stoned and left for dead (Acts 14:19-20), three times shipwrecked, dangers while traveling from literally everyone, enduring hunger, thirst, cold, exposure, and most of all his anxiety for the churches he was nursing to health in the midst of a perverse, pagan, and hostile world.  And though such suffering is foreign to American experience, it is all too normal for Christians suffering in Muslim countries (Nigeria, Iraq, and Iran, among others) and Communist nations (North Korea, China, Cuba), and even in much of Western Europe where education is solely a state-run and dominated enterprise, thus indoctrinating every child into a secular and humanist education devoid of Christian values.  And America has been moving increasingly in this direction since the 1960s and has only accelerated since 2008.

But how does Paul end this passage after “engaging in a little foolishness”: “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.”  And why would Paul boast in such things?  Because as he will tell us later: God’s power is made perfect in our weakness (12:9).  In the midst of strife, in the midst of uncertainty, in the midst suffering, God calls us to find our strength in Him and Him alone.  Living in America, we’ve never had to do this before, but those days may soon be upon us.  May we learn to trust Him in times of weakness since we have often forsaken Him in times of strength.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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