Daily Devotions

Many stripes and prisons and deaths, for Christ’s sake!

Second Corinthians 11:23

‘(Paul says:) “I am…abundant in stripes above measure; in prisons…; in deaths often…. From the Jews, five times I received 39 stripes. Thrice I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; thrice I suffered shipwreck…. In perils from robbers; in perils from my own countrymen; in perils from heathen…; in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness…; in cold and nakedness!”‘ Second Corinthians 11:23-27.

Calvin comments: “To be a servant of Christ, is a far greater honour and dignity than to be (even) the firstborn of all the firstborn of the house of Abraham…. He (Paul) is a more outstanding servant of Christ than they (the Jews)…. It is as if he had said: ‘I have proved myself in “deaths often” and in “labours” even more often’!…

“The Law of God was that those who did not serve capital punishment should be beaten in the presence of the judge, but that not more than 40 strokes should be inflicted…. It is probable that in the process of time, the custom grew up of stopping at the 39th lash — in case, in the heat of the moment, they should exceed the number laid down by God. Many such precautions of rabbinic
origin are found among the Jews….

“As time passed and things degenerated, they came to think that all criminals should receive that number of strokes — although what the Lord laid down, was not how far severity was to go but at what point it was to stop…. They exercised greater cruelty upon Paul than upon others…. His mentioning of the number (of strokes he got), implies the extreme severity of the floggings he

“‘Thrice I was a beaten with rods.’ This makes it clear that the Apostle suffered many things…. Luke recounts only one stoning and one shipwreck…. Luke…does not mention everything that happened, but only outstanding events.

“By ‘perils from my countrymen,’ he means the things that befell him at the hands of his own people as a result of hatred for him felt from all Jews. He also had the ‘Gentiles’ as his enemies; and from a third direction, snares set by ‘false brethren’ threatened him…. For the name of Christ, he was hated by all!…

“It may be asked whether anyone can be Christ’s servant, without undergoing so many…dangers and vexations? My answer is that all these things are not necessarily required from everyone. But, where they are seen, a greater and more illustrious testimony is given….. Whenever the need arises, he will be able — following Paul’s example — to exalt over false pretenders and men
of no worth, with a holy triumph. Provided he does it for Christ’s sake, and not his own!…

“Nothing but pride or selfishness could corrupt or deform all these excellencies!… Yet, when all is said and done, the chief thing is that we should serve Christ with a pure conscience!”

Do you? For Paul suffered many stripes and prisons and deaths — for Christ’s sake!