What does 2 Corinthians 11:33 mean?
ESV: but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall and escaped his hands.
NIV: But I was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall and slipped through his hands.
NASB: and I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and so escaped his hands.
CSB: So I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall and escaped from his hands.
NLT: I had to be lowered in a basket through a window in the city wall to escape from him.
KJV: And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands.
NKJV: but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and escaped from his hands.
Verse Commentary:
This completes a story Paul began in the previous verse. He is giving another example of his own weakness. The point of these stories is to prove that Paul's success is based in God's power, not his own. This incident with Damascus' King Aretas (2 Corinthians 11:32) is from immediately after Paul had been converted to faith and sent out by Christ to preach. It set the tone for his entire ministry (Acts 9:1–25).

After being confronted by Christ, Paul's mission changed instantly. He had come to Damascus to hunt down and jail Christians. Soon after becoming a Christian, though, he preached in the Damascus synagogue that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God. The Jewish religious leaders couldn't believe what they were hearing and wanted Paul dead. King Aretas agreed with them and posted guards to catch Paul leaving down and kill him.

Paul, then called Saul, learned of the plot, and some of the disciples of Jesus he had been staying with lowered him in a basket through a window to allow him to escape the city at night.

Paul's point is that a person with worldly wealth, prestige, and power would not have needed to sneak away from Damascus to save his life. Paul was powerful only to the extent that Christ was powerful in him. While false teachers bragged about their own skills (2 Corinthians 11:12), Paul was content to point only to Christ as his strength.
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.
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