“The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is praised forever, knows I am not lying. In Damascus, the governor under King Aretas guarded the city of the Damascenes in order to arrest me, so I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall and escaped his hands” (2 Corinthians 11:31-33).
The incident mentioned in the final verses of 2 Corinthians chapter eleven is detailed for us in the New Testament book of Acts (see Acts 9:23-25). One source provides us with some background information regarding this portion of Scripture…
“Aretas IV (9 B.C.–A.D. 40), the father-in-law of Herod Antipas, was king of Nabatea, a kingdom whose capital was Petra. Nabatea included the city of Damascus before the city was incorporated into the Roman province of Syria. Aretas was able to appoint a governor over Damascus because the Emperor Caligula (A.D. 37–41) gave Aretas control over the city.” (1)
When we compare the account of this incident in Acts 9:23-25 with what we read here in 2 Corinthians 11:31-33, we find that Acts emphasizes the actions taken by the religious community while 2 Corinthians focuses upon the role played by the secular authorities. So just as the religious leadership of Jesus’ day secured the support of the Roman government to facilitate His crucifixion, it appears that the secular and religious authorities also cooperated in this attempt to capture Paul the Apostle.
Today, we might compare the indignity of this incident to a person who has been forced to hide in the trunk or boot of an automobile to evade detection. This experience must have been deeply humiliating for Paul; however, the opening verses of chapter twelve may explain why he chose to mention this event to the Corinthian church.
Finally, one commentator alerts us to the historical importance of 2 Corinthians 11:22-28 and reminds us of a few important events it doesn’t cover…
“The biography of the Apostle, as told by Luke, comes greatly short of this marvelous epitome. Of the facts alluded to only two -the stoning and one of the Roman scourgings- are mentioned in the book of the Acts; from which we gather that the book is, after all, but a fragmentary record, and that the splendid deeds of the disciples and apostles of that first age will be known only when the Lamb Himself recites them from His Book.
But even this enumeration omits all that the Apostle suffered after the writing of this Epistle, including, of course, the sufferings between his arrest and his appearance before Nero.” (2)
(1) Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 1510). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.
(2) F. B. Meyer, B.A., Through the Bible Day by Day [2 Corinthians 11:22-33] https://biblehub.com/commentaries/ttb/2_corinthians/11.htm