Day Three Hundred Thirty-Nine, II Corinthians 10-13, Acts 20
In today's reading, Paul goes on in his letter to the Corinthians, defending his apostleship. He tells the people that he writes the way he does out of love for them. He reminds them that he has seen revelations and has been able to perform miracles which confirm his apostleship. Also, he again reminds them that he had no ulterior motive for preaching to them--he did not try to take advantage of them in any way, but worked for himself while he was among them. He seems to be saying all of these things of himself, as opposed to some others who are teaching the Corinthians, as he says, "I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about."
Finally, Paul boasts about himself and what he has been through, in order to point out that the boatsing really doesn't matter. All of his strength is from Christ, not from himself. "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? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness...to keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weakness, in insults,in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."