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From 2 Corinthians 11:

25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep (KJV)

Paul's shipwreck en route to Rome is recorded in Acts 27, but this epistle to the Corinthians was written before that time. 2 Corinthians was composed on Paul's third missionary journey before he arrived in Corinth (e.g. see 2 Corinthians 1:23 & Acts 20:2).

When did these shipwrecks occur?

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  • We are not told so we do not know.
    – Dottard
    Jan 23 at 22:08

2 Answers 2

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The three shipwrecks in 2 Cor. 11:25 were actually before the shipwreck in Act 27, and we know nothing about these three shipwrecks. We know in a severe storm they would throw the cargo into the sea to lighten it load (Jonah 1:5, Acts 27:18-19). This reduced the risk of the ship tearing apart. With heavy clouds and rain in a storm, one couldn't see the positions of the stars and sun; so it would be difficult to navigate. Then, they would lower the sails and drift (Acts 27:17,20). In Acts 27 they were adrift for 14 days (27:27,33).

Commentaries

Thrice I suffered shipwreck (τρις ἐναυαγησα [tris enauagēsa]). First aorist active of ναυαγεω [nauageō], from ναυαγος [nauagos], shipwrecked (ναυς [naus], ship, ἀγνυμι [agnumi], to break). Old and common verb, in N. T. only here and 1 Tim. 1:19. We know nothing of these. The one told in Acts 27 was much later. What a pity that we have no data for all these varied experiences of Paul. -- Robertson, A. T. (1933). Word Pictures in the New Testament (2 Cor. 11:25). Broadman Press.

With respect to the three shipwrecks nothing is said in the Acts (that mentioned in Acts 27. was at a later period).—The νυχθήμερον (24 hours) ἐν τῷ βυθῷ πεποίηκα must have been the consequence of some shipwreck. Not that he had been preserved that length of time in some wonderful manner under the water, but that he had been driven about upon some board or piece of timber or wreck in the midst of the sea, and probably been overwhelmed by the waves. -- Lange, J. P., Schaff, P., Kling, C. F., & Wing, C. P. (2008). A commentary on the Holy Scriptures: 2 Corinthians (p. 187). Logos Bible Software.

Three times I was shipwrecked. Not all Paul’s trials were directly from the hands of men. At times he was tossed about by the convulsions of nature. None of the shipwrecks mentioned here is recorded for us. (The shipwreck in Acts 27 on the way to Rome occurred later in Paul’s history.) A night and a day I have been in the deep. Again, no experience recorded in Acts seems to answer to this. There is a question whether the deep here refers to a dungeon, or the sea. If it means the sea, was Paul on a raft or in an open boat? If not, he could only have survived such an experience in the water by direct, miraculous intervention by the Lord. -- MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments (A. Farstad, Ed.; p. 1863). Thomas Nelson.

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Only one of Paul’s shipwrecks is reported in the book of Acts (Acts 27:14-44). Just as with all the other persecutions Paul mentioned in this chapter, he endured much more than the Acts account records.

This sounds like Paul was describing sometime when he was adrift in the ocean for a night and a day. The shipwreck recorded in Acts 27 is the closest account we have to something like this, yet it doesn’t seem to fit what Paul was describing here. We have to conclude that much of what Paul endured is not recorded in the book of Acts. We see a similar scenario earlier in this chapter (v23) when Paul talks about his ‘beatings’ - he clearly speaks about more than is recorded in the book of Acts.

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