For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life:
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Paul wanted the Corinthians to know what evils he was enduring for the sake of their salvation. That way, they would not take it too badly if their own errors were admonished by people who were enduring such harsh treatment for their sake. Commentary on Paul’s Epistles.
Which came to us in Asia. From the tumult raised by Demetrius, recorded in Acts 19:29. So S. Thomas understands this passage, as do all other interpreters except Cajetan, who thinks that there is a reference here to some persecution not mentioned in Scripture.
We were pressed out of measure, above strength. Above the strength of nature, not of grace—more than the body could bear, not the mind; for by the help of grace Paul bore this tribulation undauntedly and overcame it. "God is faithful," he says, in 1 Corinthians 10:13, "who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able" to bear by the help of grace. Moreover, he does not say that he was tempted, but pressed or afflicted above his strength, inasmuch as the body is a heavy burden, though the soul preserve her fortitude, and fortitude overcome temptation.
Insomuch that we despaired even of life. Nature would have preferred death to suffering such afflictions. But there was no despair when the charity and grace of God we...
That we were weary even of life. The Greek seems to imply the condition of one, who knows not what way to turn himself, seeing no prospect to avoid the dangers. (Witham)
The sufferings which we underwent in Asia were so great, that we despaired of escaping even with our life. We were in daily expectation of death; like the criminal, who has been condemned to death, we had no hopes of escaping, but we trusted in God, who has delivered us from all danger, by your intercession, ver. 11. He alludes to the tumult raised at Ephesus, and other afflictions which befell him on that account, which, though not mentioned in the Acts, (Acts xix. 24) were of such a nature as to make him weary of life. (St. Chrysostom)
It was very comforting to know what others were doing and what was happening to them. If the news was bad, people would be encouraged to be energetic and thus would be less likely to fall. If the news was good, they could all rejoice together. Here, as we can see, things had been very bad indeed.
These things we speak, says he, that you may not be ignorant of what befell us; for we wish, yea have earnestly endeavored, that you should know our affairs: which is a very high proof of love. Of this even in the former Epistle he had before given notice, where he said, For a great door and effectual is opened to me at Ephesus, and there are many adversaries. 1 Corinthians 16:8-9 Putting them then in mind of this, and recounting how much he suffered, he says, I would not have you ignorant of our affliction which befell us in Asia. And in his Epistle to the Ephesians too he said the same. For having sent Tychicus to them, he gives this as the reason of his journey: whence he says, But that you also may know my affairs, and how I do, Tychicus, the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things; whom I have sent unto you for this very purpose, that you may know our state, and that he may comfort your hearts. Ephesians 6:21-22 And in other Epistles a...