The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), December 1
Paul’s encounter with the resurrected Christ has changed him forever. The former self-righteous and religious Jew has become a passionate servant of Jesus Christ. No distance is too far to travel or cost too great to pay to take the good news of Jesus Christ to those who have never heard.
In 2 Corinthians 11:23-27, Paul describes his depth of service to Christ, “I have:”
- Worked much harder
- Been in prison more frequently
- Been flogged more severely
- Been exposed to death again and again
- Received from the Jews forty lashes minus one (five times)
- Been beaten with rods (three times)
- Been stoned
- Been shipwrecked (three times)
- Spent a night and a day in the open sea
- Been constantly on the move
- Been in danger from rivers, in danger of bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from the Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the countryside, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers
- Labored and toiled and often have gone without sleep
- Known hunger and thirst and often have gone without food
- Been cold and naked
Finally, Paul expresses the emotional strain he feels over the churches he has started: “Besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches” (11:28).
It isn’t that Paul is a masochist, reveling in pain and suffering, but that he delights in the gospel—“Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake” (12:10).
Later, Paul informs the Roman believers that it is because of the resurrected Christ and for His name’s sake that He goes to such great lengths to take the gospel to those who have never heard: “Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name” (Rom. 1:5). Paul is firmly convinced that the gospel “is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith’” (1:16-17).
Imagine the selfishness of a person who has been healed of cancer keeping the cure from others dying of cancer! Sin is greater than cancer—infecting every heart and condemning every man to death. Only the gospel of Jesus Christ offers forgiveness of sin.
Paul never recovered from experiencing the forgiveness offered by the Gospel.
Questions from today’s chronological Bible reading (2 Cor. 11:1-13:14; Acts 20:7-12):
Review Proverbs 23:7. How does “corruption” of the mind affect both seekers and believers? What example does Paul use? How does that corruption manifest itself today?
How does Paul view his “thorn in the flesh”? What does this reveal about pride in the heart and boasting?