24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;
In verses 24-27, Paul lists four kinds of suffering in twelve different events. These are followed by fourteen descriptions of more general suffering he endured.
From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one.
Paul received 39 lashes from the Jews in synagogues. Thirty-nine was the maximum a person could endure without causing death in the Old Testament (Deut 25:1-3). Thus, five times he received 39 lashes.
Three times I was beaten with rods;
The book of Acts mentions only one beating in Philippi, after writing 2 Corinthians (Ac 16:22,23). This beating with rods may be the event of Acts 16:22. Beating a Roman citizen was illegal (Ac 16:37; 22:25-29).
once I was stoned;
Paul was stoned in Lystra, where he was left for dead (Ac 14:19). It was an action of a mob.
three times I was shipwrecked;
We know of Paul’s shipwreck in Acts 27:27-44, but that shipwreck was still a future experience of the apostle. Acts records nine shipwrecks before the writing of 2 Corinthians: 9:30; 11:25–26; 13:4, 13; 14:25–26; 16:11; 17:14–15; 18:18, 21–22).
a night and a day I have been in the deep;
Paul spent 24 hours drifting in the sea.
in journeys often,
Paul constantly traveled throughout the Roman Empire, which exposed him to many dangers.
in perils of waters [rivers],
River crossings without bridges were a significant peril in the first century, especially fording them during flooding.
in perils of robbers,
Traveling in the Roman Empire exposed Paul to attempts at robbery.
in perils of my own countrymen,
Jews attacked the apostle because of his ministry (Ac 9:23, 29; 13:45; 14:2, 19; 15:26; 17:5f; 18:1, 12).
in perils of the Gentiles,
Gentiles also put the apostle in at risk (Ac 14:19-20; 16:16-40; 19:23-41).
in perils in the city,
This phrase begins the presentation of perils in geography. First, Paul faced dangers in cities.
in perils in the wilderness,
Robbers and wild animals were dangerous while Paul traveled through the “wilderness.”
in perils in the sea,
Paul often traveled in dangerous waters at sea.
in perils among false brethren;
Phony Christians put the apostle in danger (Ga 2:4). These people posed as genuine believers (Ac 20:30), but they presented a different gospel.
Suffering makes for a great minister.
Some people suffer greatly for Christ. They also make wonderful servants of God. They can identify better with others who suffer than those who don’t.