8 For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life 9 Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead,
Verses 8-11 describe Paul’s trials in Asia (eastern Turkey). In this section, Paul invited the Corinthians to pray for him while he was under severe duress.
The word “for” connects verse 8 to the previous section. Paul now explained his real-life affliction.
we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren,
The apostle clearly wanted the Corinthians to understand what he went through to deliver the gospel.
of our trouble which came to us in Asia:
“Asia” here is probably the province of Asia located in Turkey today, maybe in the Lycus Valley (2 Co 11:24). Ephesus was its capital city. Paul and his companions faced trouble there (Ac 19:23-41; 1 Co 15:31-32).
that we were burdened beyond measure,
During his time in Asia, Paul suffered dangerous persecution, among other challenges.
The trials of the team were beyond the natural power to endure.
so that we despaired even of life.
Paul did not gloss over the severity of the persecutions he endured. He despaired that he would receive any help to save his team. He was in a very difficult situation.
Yes, we had the sentence [verdict] of death in [upon] ourselves,
Paul spoke here in present time. He and his team continually had a verdict of death on them. The Greek term for “sentence” carries the idea of a formal judicial judgment; it has the idea of a verdict. The Roman authorities made a legal sentence on Paul’s team.
that we [emphatic] should not trust in ourselves
God has a divine design behind suffering. Part of that design is that we would trust God rather than ourselves during times of difficulty. The team came to understand what God was doing with them—the Lord wanted their trust. He did not want them to trust their capacities.
The Greek tense for “trust” means to have trusted in the past with the results continuing to the present. Paul and his team indefinitely trusted God to deliver them.
The radical circumstances that came upon the team cast them upon God entirely. They unreservedly trusted God in their situation. In no way did they trust themselves.
but in [upon] God who raises the dead,
The team gave up hope at one point that they were going to survive physically. At that point, they turned their thoughts to the resurrection. They did not trust just any god, but the God who has resurrection power.
Faith can be born from affliction.
One of God’s purposes for our trials is that we will learn not to trust ourselves. The most important thing about our affliction is not what it is but what it produces. Paul developed a stronger faith in God because he saw how God worked in his afflictions (Ps 118:8-9). He acquired stronger confidence in what God could do. God was not distant to him in these trials.
It is essential to acknowledge our inefficiencies (2 Co 3:5) and that our sufficiency comes from God (2 Co 4:7). When our situation is at its worse, that is when we trust God even more (2 Co 12:9).