2 Cor.1:8-10 – For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us,
Paul is teaching something here that is unfamiliar territory for our ‘me first’ culture. He is teaching about the very strength of the early church, resurrection power revealed in us in times of persecution and death. Paul not only died as a martyr, He lived as a martyr. He preached that it was the death experiences that he went through that released the resurrection power of Jesus through his ministry. One example was in the city of Phillippi. He was beaten, put in stocks and bonds, and thrown in jail. It was at that moment the power of God was poured out and Phillippi began to turn to the Lord. Here is how Adam Clarke describes this passage.
“This is an exceedingly beautiful and important sentiment. It teaches that, in the time to which Paul refers, he was in so great danger, and had so certain a prospect of death, that he could put no reliance on himself, he felt that he must die; and that human aid was vain….The effect, therefore, of the near prospect of death, was to lead him to put increased confidence in God. He felt that God only could save him; or that God only could sustain him if he should die…He was near to death; he had no hope of rescue; and the manner of the death which was threatened was peculiarly frightful. Paul regarded rescue from such a death as a kind of resurrection; and felt that he owed his life to God as if he had raised him from the dead.”
Paul’s rescue from death was considered a kind of resurrection. Paul learned to cling closer to the Lord, the power of signs and wonders brought awakening to a city. None of us like going through death experiences, I know I don’t. Its on the other side of those seasons that the Lord does beyond what we can imagine.