10. Preface: keep in mind this was done as a lesson. They boast of how great and special they are. Paul boasts of his weakness and servitude. They boast of their eloquence and “looking the part”. Paul boasts of his scars and hardships.
11. 5×39 lashes (Deut 25:3): 3x beaten with rods Acts 16:22: Stoned Acts 14:19
b. 3xShipwrecked and spent day and night in open sea. In danger from bandits, the number of lashings and beatings
12. a. weakness provides strength – our goal is to lift people up by getting under them, not pulling them up from “above”
b. A thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, torment –
c. My weaknesses and imperfections are not because I am lacking or doing wrong, but because God’s grace is sufficient: power is made perfect in weakness. All for Christ’s sake
I spent some time researching the 40-1 lashes. What an odd number I thought until I learned about Deut 25:3. See law said you were forbidden to lash someone more than 40 times. If you hit someone 41 times, it came back looking bad on you. Now, a prudent person would not want to risk that. Better to be one under than one over, just in case of a miscount. So began the tradition of 39 lashes. 13 on the left front, 13 on the left back and 13 on the right back.
But, let’s put this in perspective. This meant that on 5 seperate occassions Paul had been beaten with a whip, which would mean being chained. These were done by people who would violently rejecting both God’s message and His messenger. They were unabashedly rejecting Jesus, the son of God. But, they didn’t want to risk going over 40 lashes, because, you know, that might really make God mad.
This is not some angry crowd or individual with too much testosterone. These were planned, executed beating by a group of people who adored the law. Unfortunately they adored the law more than the God who gave it to them.
Finally: pay close attention to the visual image of 12a. If we are lifting people up, we are getting underneath them and having them climb up on our backs and shoulders. Not that we are reaching down from some high and mighty place to give them a hand up. Think about how that would change the face of local missions.