Paul is regarded as one of the most outstanding men of faith. If there is a disciple whose life exemplifies perseverance of faith it was Paul. Paul persevered in the face of extreme adversity. His life experiences and writings testify to this. Paul was imprisoned, beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, hungry, cold, and destitute (2 Cor.11:23-28). Despite all these, he persevered in suffering, finished the race, and kept the faith (2 Tim.4:7). Perhaps, what made Paul a unique disciple was his attitude to suffering. He bore the indignity of suffering and shame with patience and joy, without complaining. Not even when God declined to grant his request to remove the thorn in his flesh did he complain. His attitude to suffering is summarized in this statement:
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18).
Paul suffered for the sake of the gospel. In 2nd Corinthians 11:25-29, he outlines what has been called “The Perils of Paul. “Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness— besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation?”
In 2 Corinthians 4 we read about his perseverance in ministry despite discouragements, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. So then death is working in us, but life in you” (2Cor.4.7- 12 NKJV).
Paul saw his sufferings as momentary which would produce eternal benefits for his good and that of the brethren, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor.4.16-18 NKJV).
In Philippians 1:12-14, he narrates that his sufferings helped to further the gospel, and emboldened other disciples to equally preach the gospel. Then, in Philippians 1:20-21, he intensely hoped and trusted that, despite the severe trials he was undergoing, he would persevere with boldness—even to death—to the glory of God. Paul is in every sense of the word, an example of perseverance in faith.