Words of Faith 12-20-17
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2017
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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2 Corinthians 11
What anyone else dares to boast about--I am speaking as a fool--I also dare to boast about.  Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham's descendants? So am I.  Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again.  Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.  Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea,  I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers.  I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.  Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.  Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?
Paul hated to boast, but he finally did. It was awkward. It was something he hated. Yet it was something necessary for this situation.
Paul had not wanted to compare the external qualifications of apostleship but this was apparently the basis on which the false apostles had criticized him. He would enter into the "foolishness" of boasting in order to lead up to the point that the power of God is made perfect in weakness.
The comparisons that Paul made here may have been in reference to the boasts of the false apostles or comparisons they had made of Paul to the twelve "super-Apostles" based in Jerusalem. As embarrassing as it was, would set the record straight and in doing so gave us a powerful recount of his ministry.
The passage is relentless in its intensity and actually reveals a great deal about the missionary exploits of Paul that we do not get from the book of Acts. It reads like an episode of "Indiana Jones" in some regards. Paul was extremely reluctant to "toot his own horn" about these things but we are blessed to get an understanding of what those first missionary journeys were really like and see the hardships that Paul and the others endured.
Most revealing may be the reference Paul made to the daily pressure of concern for all the churches. It is not likely that Paul was a worrier. He was not concerned about the "success" of the many churches he planted. He was concerned about the spiritual health of the people he had grown to love deeply in all these regions.
It is also revealing to hear Paul confess the reality of dealing with temptation while traveling in pagan cultures, "Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?" There is no indication that Paul ever betrayed his commitment to offer his body as a living sacrifice to God, but he was a man and felt the temptations that men feel.
We are left with a much more intense and human picture of the Apostle because of this moment of self-revelation. Even though Paul felt this boasting was an exercise unbecoming of a walk with Christ, he pursued it at the leading of the Spirit offered it in humility. His purpose was not to build himself up but to dissuade the Corinthians believers from abandoning the Gospel he had preached to them.
For us, as modern followers of Christ, this passage is a stark reminder of the price paid by many, the Apostle and many others, so that we can open a nicely bound Bible and hear the Gospel. Jesus paid the price for our salvation, and the followers of Jesus paid a great price to bring us that Good News.
Whenever things get a little difficult or tough, I sometimes remind myself of this passage. Realizing that I have never been flogged, beaten with rods, stoned, shipwrecked, flooded by river, or without food and shelter leaves me humbled and grateful.
To hear the humanness of Paul is encouraging too. To know that his journey was very difficult and he felt the weakness that we feel many times and yet the Lord was with him and got him through these hard and difficult times is a powerful thing.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the boasting of Paul, my brother in Christ. I give thanks for his testimony even though he felt awkward in presenting it in such a fashion. Help me to walk with greater strength because of knowing Paul's weakness and facing my own. In Jesus' Name.