Paul defends himself against criticism

2 Cor. 10:1-17 Paul defends his ministry as an apostle and implores the believers to take notice of his words. “Some people say that I am easy on you when I am with you and bold when I am away… I beg you that when I come I will not need to use that same boldness with you” (2 Corinthians 10:1-2).

2 Cor. 11:1-15 Paul criticises the ‘false apostles’ who have deceived the believers at Corinth.

2 Cor. 11:16-33 He reminds the Corinthian believers of his previous sufferings as an apostle of Christ.


Paul’s sufferings

Paul suffered greatly by carrying the Good News of Jesus Christ to both the Jews and the Gentiles. To the Jews, his message that Jesus was God’s ‘anointed one’ was often regarded as blasphemy, while to the Greeks, the idea of a crucified God in human form was quite unthinkable. While some of Paul’s imprisonments and beatings are described in Luke’s account of the Acts of the Apostles, there are clearly other painful incidents that are not recorded there. Some of these are spoken of in Paul’s letters.

In 2 Corinthians 11:24-33, we’re told that Paul was given the thirty-nine lashes five times by the Jews (see Deuteronomy 25:3). Three times he was beaten with rods by the Romans – although he was a Roman citizen who should not have been beaten without a fair trial (see Acts 16:22-23). He was shipwrecked three times and had been stoned and left for dead (see Acts 14:19). Paul reminds the believers in Corinth how he had to flee for his life from Damascus (see Acts 9:23-25 and Map 22).


St Paul's Bay, Malta

Paul was shipwrecked on the coast of Malta (see Acts 27:13-44)


As Paul wrote this letter in Philippi in 56AD during his third missionary journey, it is interesting to speculate where Paul was shipwrecked three times before his shipwreck off Malta while on his way to Rome in 59AD (see Map 26). Perhaps his survival in three previous shipwrecks helps to explain Paul’s confidence that God would rescue all 276 passengers from the shipwreck off Malta (see Acts 27:33-37).

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