What does 2 Corinthians 11:24 mean?
ESV: Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one.
NIV: Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.
NASB: Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes.
CSB: Five times I received the forty lashes minus one from the Jews.
NLT: Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes.
KJV: Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.
Verse Commentary:
Paul is describing ways in which he is a "better" servant of Christ than his opponents in Corinth, a group of false apostles. The tone here is that of satire (2 Corinthians 11:21, 23), not a sincere attempt to self-promote. Paul is deliberately mocking the pattern of secular philosophers who would boast about their experiences and knowledge to show superiority to those who challenged them. Paul is twisting the competition around by "boasting" about his own losses and suffering for Christ instead of his victories.

Now he writes that he received the "forty lashes less one" five times from the religious Jews. These 39 lashes would have been administered in the Jewish synagogues as a severe punishment, likely for blasphemy. Jewish religious leaders objected to Paul's gospel: that Christ was the Son of God and that Gentiles could be saved by believing in Him without following the law of Moses. Jesus warned His disciples that they would receive such floggings (Matthew 10:17).

Deuteronomy 25:1–3 stipulated 40 as the maximum number of lashes that could be given. Perhaps Paul himself had lashed Christians in this way while serving as a Pharisee before his conversion. The fact that he continued to preach the gospel to the Jewish people and submit to the lashes in order not to be excluded from the Jewish community shows his commitment to his people (Romans 9:2–4).
Verse Context:
Second Corinthians 11:16–33 includes Paul's long list of ways he has suffered in his service to Christ. He describes this as crazy talk, mocking the arrogant style of the false apostles. In truth, the Corinthians probably would have thought of these as signs of failure, weakness, and loss. Paul is shocked that they are so willing to be mistreated by the false apostles. This abuse was something Paul was ''too weak'' to do in his Christlike service for them. Paul's discussion of his weakness will lead to his conclusion in the following chapter that Christ is strongest in him when he is weak.
Chapter Summary:
Second Corinthians 11 compares the believers in Corinth to a betrothed bride. It also pictures them as Eve facing temptation from the snake in the garden in Genesis 3. Paul's job as their spiritual father is to protect them from the lies of false apostles. These deceivers disguise themselves as servants of righteousness in the same way that Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Paul is shocked the Corinthians put up with such harsh treatment from these men. He sarcastically pretends to brag about himself as the false teachers do about themselves. Instead, he boasts mostly about the ways he has endured suffering in his service to Christ.
Chapter Context:
Chapter 11 follows Paul's warning in the previous chapter. There, he vowed to be as bold as needed when he comes to see them in person. He describes himself as a protective spiritual father trying to save the Corinthians from the deceptions of the false apostles to teach a false gospel about a false Jesus. He is shocked the Corinthians put up with their harsh treatment and says he has decided to foolishly boast in order to compete with the false apostles. His boasting about his service to Christ, though, is mostly a long list of all the ways he has suffered for Christ. That theme continues into chapter 12, where Paul explains just how much his suffering has improved his walk with Christ.
Book Summary:
Second Corinthians returns to similar themes as those Paul mentioned in his first letter to this church. Paul is glad to hear that the church in Corinth has heeded his advice. At the same time, it is necessary for Paul to counter criticisms about his personality and legitimacy. Most of this text involves that subject. The fifth chapter, in contrast, contains comforting words which Christians have quoted often in times of hardship. Paul also details his expectations that the church in Corinth will make good on their promise to contribute to the needs of suffering believers in Jerusalem.
Accessed 4/22/2024 3:50:36 PM
© Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.