2 Corinthians 11:30-33

30 If I must boast, I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity.

31 The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying.

32 In Damascus the governor, under Aretas the king, was guarding the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desiring to arrest me;

33 but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and escaped from his hands.

I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity (v.30) — see also 2 Corinthians 12:5-10.

In Damascus (v.32) — Acts 9:19-25

Why did Paul choose this particular incident? We aren’t told, but it’s possible that he chose it because it was the first time he suffered persecution because of Christ. It’s also possible that he chose it because it was particularly humbling (see Williams’ take on this, below), and/or because in some way it had to do specifically with his infirmity.

Men boast of their strength but he boasted of his weakness; and appealed to God as to the truthfulness of the statement. Compelled by fidelity to the gospel, and by affection for the Corinthians, to establish his apostolic superiority to his opponents who had introduced themselves into the church at Corinth, he contrasts his being let down in a basket and his being lifted up in a vision (2 Corinthians 12:2). The one happened to a man in the flesh; the other to “a man in Christ.” — Williams, page 907.


Note the words “must needs” in verse 30. They surely indicate that the apostle did not even wish to glory in his sufferings but was forced to do so in defense of his apostleship. His detractors could not begin to match the list Paul presents. They had asked much, and given little. But if it was necessary for him to glory, he would rather glory in his sufferings than in his accomplishments. — Stam, page 217-218.

At the time of the incident, Damascus was ruled by a governor (ethnarch—a common title for subordinate provincial governors) appointed by Aretas, the king of the Nabathaean Arabs whose capital was at Petra. Aretas was the father of the first wife of Herod Antipas. It’s possible that the governor was a Jew, or at least someone with whom the Jews had influence. It was the Jews who plotted to kill Paul and who watched the gates of Damascus “day and night, to kill him” (Acts 9:23-24).

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