The Sufferings of Paul


The Sufferings of Paul

By Donnie​​ S.​​ Barnes, Ph. D.


(This article is from

Barnes expressed there that the article can be used for anyone

to publish, for the cause of the Gospel.

It​​ is​​ very interesting, since it deals with Paul, our Apostle!

I apologize for the unwanted​​ ‘line-stretching’​​ in it, due to converting

the​​ fonts from their website into Times Roman types!​​ 

Jan Lilleby, Editor.


(The article is no. 15 in a series on Paul)


A.​​ This Time Paul was imprisoned as an “Evil-Doer.”.

1. 2 Timothy 3:12 – “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will
suffer persecution.”

2. 1 Peter 4:16 – “Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be
ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.”

B.​​ Before Becoming a Christian, Paul had Caused Others to Suffer

1. The first mention of Saul in the Bible is the role of a persecutor.​​ Acts
​​ – “Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and

58 and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses
laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.”

2.​​ Acts 8:1-4​​ – “Now Saul was consenting to his death. At that time a great
persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they

were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the


2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great

3 As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and
dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.

4 Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the

Acts 9:1-2​​ – “Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the
of the Lord, went to the high priest

2 and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if
he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring
thembound ​​ toJerusalem.”

4.​​ Acts 26:9-11​​ – “Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to

10 This I also did in Jerusalem, and many of the saints I shut up in
prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they
were put to death, I cast my vote against them.

11 And I punished them often in every synagogue and compelled them
to blaspheme; and being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted

5.​​ Galatians 1:13​​ – “For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism,
how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy


Galatians 1:23​​ – “But they were hearing only, "He who formerly
persecuted us now preaches the faith w
hich he once tried to destroy."

7.​​ Philippians 3:6​​ – “Concerning zeal, persecuting the church . .​​ . “

8.​​ 1 Timothy 1:13​​ – “. . . I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an

C.​​ Suffering would be a Part of Paul’s Christian Life.

1. The Lord spoke to Ananias concerning Paul’s suffering
Acts 9:15-16​​ – “But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is a chosen vessel of
Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.

16 For I will show him how many things he mu
st suffer for My name's

2. The Lord’s word to Ananias certainly came true.

D.​​ Was Paul Persecuted? Did He Indeed Suffer as a Christian?

1.​​ 2 Corinthians 4:8-12​​ – “ . . . We are​​ perplexed, but not in despair;

9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed --

10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that
the life of Jesus also​​ may be manifested in our body.

11 For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus' sake, that
the life of Jesus also may be​​ manifested in our mortal flesh.

12 So then death is working in us, but life in you.”

2.​​ Galatians 5:11​​ – “And I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why do I still
suffer persecution? Then the of
fense of the cross has ceased.”

3. 2 Timothy 3:10-11​​ – “But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner
of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love,​​ 

11 persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at
Iconium, at Lystra -- what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the

4.​​ 1 Corinthians 15:30-32​​ – “And why do we stand in jeopardy every hour?

31 I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord,

32 If, in the manner of men, I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what
advantage is it to me? If the dead do not rise, "Let us eat and drink, for

5.2​​ Corinthians​​ 4:7-18-​​ “But we have this treasure​​ in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.

8 We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;

9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed –

10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that​​ the life of Jesusalsomaybemanifestedinourbody.

11 For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus' sake, that
the life of Jesus also may be​​ manifested in our mortal flesh.

12 So then death is​​ working in us, but life in you.

13 And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is
written, ‘I believed and therefore I spoke,’ we also believe and therefore

14 knowing that He who rose​​ up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up
with Jesus, and will present us with you.

15 For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through
the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.

16 Seeing the Invisible Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our
outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.

17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a
far more exceeding and eternal​​ weight of glory,

18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things
which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the
thingswhich ​​ arenotseenareeternal.

6.​​ 2 Corinthians 6:3-10​​ – “We give no offense in anything, that our ministry

4 But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much
patience,intribulations,inneeds,  indistresses,

5 in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in
6 by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy

7 by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of
righteousness on the right hand and on the left,
8 by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers,

9 as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as

10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as
havingnothing, and yet possessing all things.”

7.​​ 2 Corinthians 12:5-10​​ – “Of such a one I will boast; yet of myself I will not

6 For though I might desire to boast, I will not be a fool; for I will speak
the truth. But I refrain, lest anyone should think of me above what he​​ sees
me to be or hears from me.

7 And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the
revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to
buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.

8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might
depart ​​ fromme.

9 And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is
made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my
infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in
persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I

11 Signs of an Apostle I have become a fool in boasting; you have
compelled me. For I ought to have been commended by you; for in nothing
was I behind the most eminent apostles, though I am nothing.
12 Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all
perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds.”

8.​​ Galatians 4:13, 15​​ – “You know that because of physical infirmity I
preached t
he gospel to you at the first.”

15 What then was the blessing you enjoyed? For I bear you witness
that, if possible, you would have plucked out your own eyes and given them

9.​​ Galatians 5:1​​ – “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has
made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.”

10.​​ Galatians 6:7​​ – “From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body
marks ​​ oftheLordJesus.”

11.​​ Romans 9:1-2​​ – “I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience
also bearing
​​ me witness in the Holy Spirit,

2 that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart.”

E.​​ Paul’s list of sufferings in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28

1.​​ 2 Corinthians 11:23-28​​ – “. . . in labors more abundant, in stripes above
measure, in prisons mo
re frequently, in deaths often.

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;

27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in
fasting​​ often,​​ incoldandnakedness.

28 besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep


2. Perhaps we have come to believe that this is a list of ALL the sufferings
Paul endured in his ministry. Not so! Consider the following:

a. 2 Corinthians is the fourth book Paul wrote. It was written from
Macedonia in the autumn of 57 A.D. during his third missionary journey.

b. It is believed that Paul’s conversion occurred in 36 A.D. and his death in
Rome in 68 A.D. That would indicate a ministry of some 32 years.
Since 2 Corinthians was written in 57 A.D. and recorded sufferings Paul
had endured up to the time of the writing, the list would encompass
the first 21 years of Paul’s 32-year ministry, but would not include
the last 11 years of his life and work. Thus, the list would not include:

1. The 4th and final year of the 3rd missionary journey.
2.Paul’s arrest and treatment in Jerusalem.
3.Paul’s two-year imprisonment in Jerusalem.
4.Paul’s perilous journey from Caesarea to Rome that included:
5.Paul’s first Roman imprisonment in Caesarea.
6.Paul’s “house arrest” imprisonment in Rome.
7. The three-to-four year period between the first and second Roman

7. Paul’s second Roman imprisonment which resulted in his execution.

c. Therefore, the list of sufferings in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28 would
include Paul’s sufferings during the first two-thirds of his 32-year
ministry, but not include the final one-third.

3. A closer examination of Paul’s 2 Corinthians sufferings,


a.​​ “In labors more abundant.”​​  ​​ ​​​​ 2Corinthians11:23

1. The sufferings of Paul in laboring for the advancement of the cause of
Christ were unparalleled and alone when compared to others.

2. Some did not labor. Nonetheless, they claimed the fruits of Paul’s
2​​ Corinthians10:15-16.

b.​​ “In ​​ stripes​​ above ​​ measure.”​​ 2Corinthians11:23

1. This particular suffering probably refers to scourgings inflicted by the
heathen. Their scourgings would not be limited to forty stripes, save
one,which  ​​​​ theJewsrestricted.

2.​​  Scourgings from the Jews will be mentioned later.


c.​​ “In ​​ prisonsmorefrequently.”​​ 2Corinthians11:23

1. Up to this point in Paul’s life (A.D. 57), Luke has recorded only one
imprisonment of Paul, and that at Philippi.​​ 
Acts 16:23-29

2. It should be observed that Luke does not give a complete accounts of
Paul’s life and work in his writing of Acts. Many details are omitted.

Therefore, much that was said and done is simply not recorded in
Acts nor referred to in any of Paul’s writing.


d. “In deaths often.”​​ 2 Corinthians 11:23

1. Paul was frequently confronted with situations that could have

2.​​ 2 Corinthians 4:11​​ – “For we who live are always delivered to death
for Jesus' sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our


e.​​ “From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one.”
2​​ Corinthians11:24.

1. Some simple calculations would indicate that Paul was assigned a
total of 200 stripes with 195 actually being inflicted.

2. None of these occasions is mentioned in Acts. However, it is
possible that he had been whipped at Damascus after his conversion.
Perhaps he was also beaten in Jerusalem and Antioch in Pisidia.

3. The chiefs of the synagogues had the power to inflict stripes on their
people. No doubt, they would delight in inflicting such on Paul as he
would frequently preach in their synagogues that which they thought

4.​​ Deuteronomy 25:2-3​​ – “Then it shall be, if the wicked man deserves
to be beaten, that the judge will cause him to lie down and be beaten

in his presence, according to his guilt, with a certain number of blows.

3 Forty blows he may give him and no more, lest he should
exceed this and beat him with many blows above these, and your

a. Josephus, in Antiquity IV, noted that the Jews were careful not to

c. Should forty stripes be exceeded, the executioner could be subject

5. For this type of punishment, the victim was stripped to the waist and
tied in a bent position to a low pillar, and the stripes with a whip of
three thongs were inflicted on the back between the shoulders.

f.​​ “Three times I was beaten with rods.”​​ 2 Corinthians 11:25

1. This was a Roman method of scourging. It sometimes resulted in

2. Only one of these three occasions is recorded in Acts, and that in

a. On this recorded occasion in Philippi it was an illegal act in Paul’s

b. With backs bleeding and sore, Paul and Silas were cast into the
dark dungeon and their feet were made secure in the stocks in the
innerprison ​​ (maximumsecurity).

g.​​ “Once​​ Iwasstoned.”2​​ Corinthians11:25

1. Stoning was the usual Jewish mode of punishing blasphemy.

2. This occasion is recorded in Acts 14:19 and occurred at Lystra

3. Paul, then known as Saul, is first mentioned in the Bible is Acts 7:58
on the occasion of Stephen’s being stoned to death. One cannot
help but wonder​​ if perhaps Paul thought of Stephen as he himself was

h.​​ “Three times I was shipwrecked.”​​ 2 Corinthians 11:25

1. None of these instances are recorded in Acts. However, Paul

2. Defective navigation, unskilled shipbuilding, and want of the mariner’s

3. However, Paul would suffer at least one more shipwreck, and that on
his way from Caesarea to Rome.​​ 
Acts 27:14-44

i.​​ “A night and a day I have been in the deep.”​​ 2 Corinthians 11:25

1. Perhaps Paul was able to support himself on some floating piece of
debris from the ship until he was rescued.

2. It is not hard to imagine that Paul would spend this time in closeness
to God much as he and Silas had done when cast into the inner
prison (maximum security) in Philippi in Acts 16.

J​​ “Injourneysoften.”2​​ Corinthians11:26

1. Traveling in the days of Paul was both difficult and dangerous.

2. Paul’s ministry brought him into contact with the Jews, Gentiles,


3.His travels brought him into a variety of perils.


k.​​ “Inperilsofwaters.”​​ ​​ 2​​ Corinthians11:26

1. Perhaps this would involve rivers and streams. Many of the countries
Paul traveled in abounded in un-bridged streams, rivers, and

2.​​ There was a constant danger of death from drowning or being swept
away by the sudden rush of swollen streams.

l.​​ “In perils of robbers.” ​​​​ 2 Corinthians 11:26



2. It is very likely that with so much traveling, Paul was often attacked

m.​​ “In perils of my own countrymen.”​​ 2 Corinthians 11:26

1. This would be the Jews. In most cases the Jews were the first to stir
up opposition to Paul. This was done at:


3. The Jews had deep enmity against Paul as a follower of Christ and
as an apostle. He was in constant danger of being put to death by


n.​​ “In perils of the​​ Gentiles.”​​ ​​ 2 Corinthians 11:26


1. This would refer to non-Jews—the Gentiles. The Gentiles were
generally stirred up against Paul by the Jews.


2. At various times the gentiles were stirred up against Paul because of
their idolatry and superstitions. This was done at:


o.​​ “In perils in​​ the city.”​​ ​​ 2 Corinthians 11:26



p.​​ “In perils in the wilderness.”​​ ​​ 2 Corinthians 11:26


1. In traveling through the wild waste tracts of land between Pergamum,
Antioch in Pisidia, or thence to Lystra and Derbe, or crossing the
mountain of Taurus into the cities of Galatia, etc., there would be

c.Hunger​​ andwant

2. Whether​​ in the busy cities of men or the​​ solitude and loneliness
of the desert, Paul met with constant danger.

q.​​ “In perils in the sea.” ​​​​ 2 Corinthians 11:26​​ 


1. Perils in the sea could come in many forms. Among them would be:
c. Ships being at the mercy of the sea and weather.

2. Since Paul frequently traveled by sea in the course of his journeys,
the risk of these type of perils was greatly increased.

r.​​ “In perils among false brethren.”​​ ​​ 2 Corinthians 11:26


1. Paul saw the treachery of those who professed to be his brothers in
Christ, and yet endeavored to deliver him unto the power of his

2. Betrayal hurts! It hurts worse when the betrayer is a friend. Judas


s.In​​ weariness​​ and toil.”​​ ​​ 2 Corinthians 11:27


1. Wearisome toil and consequent exhaustion from his labors were


t.“Insleeplessness​​ often.” ​​​​ 2 Corinthians 11:27


1. Paul experienced many sleepless periods in his Christian walk.

2. He pursued his work by night as well as by day.

3. On some occasions he sacrificed sleep for teaching and preaching.

4. On some occasions he sacrificed sleep for prayer and meditation.

u.​​ “In hunger and thirst.”​​ 2 Corinthians 11:27


1. Through the lack of necessary food, Paul experienced hunger and
thirst on a number of occasions. This may have been brought on by:

b. Not being around where food could be purchased.
c. Lack of money at times to buy the necessary food.
2. No doubt there were many times when Paul was well nourished

v.​​ “In fastings often.”​​ 2 Corinthians 11:27


1. Fasting (the abstinence from food) was practiced by Paul when he
preferred the service of Christ and labor for the salvation of men to
the satisfaction of physical want. 2 Corinthians 6:5


2. Although Paul would choose to abstain from food on various
occasions, he always welcomed the opportunity to feed on God’s

w.​​ “In cold and​​ nakedness.”​​ 2 Corinthians 11:27


1. In traveling to and through many half-civilized countries, Paul was
often insufficiently clad. In his labors and travels his clothing became

2.Many times there were no friends to replace them.

3. Many times there was no money with which to buy new clothes.

4. From his prison cell in Roman, Paul penned these words to Timothy”
“Bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas when you come -- and

the books, especially the parchments
.​​ . .Do your utmost to come
before w
inter . . .”​​ 2 Timothy 4:13, 21


x. “Besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep
concern for all the churches.” 2 Corinthians 11:28
1. In addition to all of these many bodily afflictions, Paul felt the care of
all the churches resting upon him.

2. Paul’s writings indicate his constant concern and prayer for those to
whom he was writing.


3. The anxiety which Paul had for the churches was more real and
intense than that which many ordinary people have for food and

4. The number of sufferings listed in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28 by category is
twenty-four (24). One third of that number (8) are “perils.” So many, so
varied, and so terrible, and yet in the Lord’s service he had come safely
through them all.


a.​​ 2 Corinthians 6:9​​ – “ . . . As dying, and behold we live; as​​ chastened,
and yet not killed.”


b. Paul was truly owned by Christ. He literally bore in his body the marks
of his devotion and faithfulness. Through his sufferings he continued to
serve when it would have been much easier to turn back.

F.​​ Paul’s Sufferings as Recorded in the Book of Acts


1. His life was threatened in Damascus.​​ Acts 9:23


2. His life was threatened again in Jerusalem.​​ Acts 9:29


3. Persecuted and run out of​​ Antioch in Pisidia.​​ Acts 13:50


4. Faced possible stoning at Iconium.​​ Acts 14:5


5. Stoned and left​​ for dead in Lystra.​​ Acts 14:19


6. Opposed and made the center of controversy.​​ Acts 15:11


7. Experienced the loss of his close friend and co-worker, Barnabas.​​ Acts

8. Beaten with rods and imprisoned at Philippi.​​ Acts 16:23


9. Cast out of Philippi.​​ Acts 16:39


10. His life was threatened in Thessalonica.​​ Acts​​ 17:5-7, 10

11. Forced out of Berea.​​ Acts 17:23-14


12. Mocked in Athens.​​ Acts 17:18


13. Taken before the judgment seat in Corinth.​​ Acts 18:12


14. Opposed by the silversmiths in Ephesus.​​ Acts 19:23-41


15. Plotted against by​​ the Jews in Greece.​​ Acts 20:3


16. Apprehended by the​​ mob in Jerusalem.​​ Acts 21:27-30


17. Arrested and detained by the Romans.​​ Acts 22:24


18. Barely escaped being scourged.​​ Acts 22:24-29


19. Rescued from the Sanhedrin mod action. Acts 23:1-8


20. Assassination​​ plot against him.​​ Acts 23:12-22


21. Two-year imprisonment in Caesarea.​​ Acts 23:33-27:2


22. Shipwreck on the island of​​ Melita (Malta).​​ Acts 27:41-28:1


23. Suffered a snakebite.​​ Acts 28:3-5


24. First Roman imprisonment.​​ Acts 28:13-15


G.​​ Yes, Paul did Suffer.


  • Through it all, Paul’s faith continued to excel.​​ 

​​ 2 Corinthians 12:10​​ – “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in
reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in dis
tresses, for Christ's sake. Forwhen I am weak, then I am strong.


  • 2. 2 Corinthians 6:3-20​​ – “We give no offense​​ in anything, that our ministrymaynotbeblamed.

  • 4 But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in muchpatience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses,

  • 5 in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in

  • 6 by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy

  • 7 by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of
    righteousness on the right hand and on the left,

  • 8 by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers,

  • 9 as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as
    chastened, and yet not killed;


  • 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as​​ poor, yet making many rich; ashaving nothing, and yet possessing all things.”

3. just as the Lord had delivered Paul through all of his sufferings, he
delivered him home where he could be free​​ from all those things which hadbefallen him for the cause of Christ.


2 Timothy 4:6-8​​ – “For I am already being poured out as a drink
offering, and the t
ime of my departure is at hand.


7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept
the ​​ faith.

8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which
the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me
only but also to all​​ who have loved His appearing.”


b.Restwellbrother​​ Paulrestwell.​​ 


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