Today’s autobiographical note from Paul is a little ambiguous. He, in 2nd Corinthians 11:27, tells us that he was “in watchings often.”
The Greek text, “en agrupnia pollakis.”
The noun “agrupnia” is a blended word. The first letter, the “a” (alpha in Greek) reverses the meaning of the rest of the word. It means “not.” The teachers sometimes call this an “alpha privative.”
Then “agrupneo” means “to sleep.”
Now we have to put them together … thus, “not to sleep” or just “sleeplessness.”
Not every night I am sure, Paul possessing the Peace of God like he did. (As in Philippians 4:7 … “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.“)
But some nights, “many” in fact, no sleep!
“in watchings often”
The adverb “often” is “pollakis,” a derivative of “pollus,” indeed meaning “many.”
Now to discuss “agrupnia. Did Paul have insomnia? Was he so hyperactive that sleep eluded him? Did his body require little rest, a hereditary thing?
I think none of the above suggestions hold the answer to Paul’s “watchings.”
He was sleepless because of dangers lurking all around him and his traveling (evangelistic) team.
Based on the context of “peril” after “peril,” what else can be deduced?
Sleepless, taking turns “on guard duty” … because so many enemies meant Paul harm!
Many a death threat against this Giant of God is recorded in the Book of Acts.
And Dr. Luke (the penman of Acts) was not with Paul every mile of every journey. No telling what happened in the “silent” years!
Living under that kind of “pressure,” Paul did for years.
Like the 7 years David fled from Saul!
Or the 40 years Moses was a fugitive in the desert!
Or Jesus’ 3 years of public Ministry, hated by many who wanted the Lord dead!
Paul also suffered.
How did he preach the next day … after a night when sleep was impossible?
Or write the next chapter of Romans?
Or walk the next twenty miles?
“in watchings often”
I admire Paul more and more … as we cover this ” hardship list.”
Yet, as I’ve said a dozen (or more) times now … Paul remained faithful!
He did not quit.
Surely such adversity proves his commitment to Jesus!
Proves that he is a genuine Believer … and Apostle!
And finally … that day when a Roman executioner’s sword chopped Paul’s head from his body … I am sure that man of God reflected … “Thankfully, rest at last!”
Amen to a life well lived.
— Dr. Mike Bagwell