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Paul, A Changed Man

July 16, 2010

I suspect you’re thinking that I’m thinking of writing something on Acts 9 wherein Paul’s conversion to Christ is given by Dr. Luke.  Maybe another time.  This time I call your attention to 2 Corinthians 1:8-11:

“We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.”

Dr. Paul Barnett gives us insight here when he writes:

. . . the intensity of [Paul’s] suffering had been for a divine purpose, stated negatively [“that we might not rely on ourselves”], then positively [“but that we might rely on God who raises the dead”].

The verb tenses are important. The permanent sense of being under a death sentence (as reflected by the perfect tense “received”) is now matched by Paul’s continuing confidence (as reflected by the periphrastic perfect)–“that [he] might . . . rely” not on himself but on God.  Henceforth his will be an instinctive and implicit trust in God.  Paul was a changed man as a consequence of this experience (emphasis mine).

Change usually comes through struggle and/or suffering for all God’s children, apostles and all.

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