I utterly disagree with any idea that the Corinthian letters in the scriptures are a patchwork quilt of several letters stitched together by later scribes and writers. What absolute tosh! That suggestion is another of the imaginative machinations of the higher critics that I contemn utterly. There is not as much as a hint of disunity in any of the ancient Greek manuscripts. Check that out with all the academics. There are no variations of the literary units. In all the many manuscripts there is none that does not contain all thirteen chapters of 2 Corinthians (Although chapter 13 “seems” to have been unknown to Clement of Rome in 96 AD, it is clearly quoted by Polycarp in 105 AD). The Corinthian letters in scripture are both understandable as fully self-contained and self-explained units. There also seem to be certain themes which show its unity, i.e. suffering. The internal evidence is, as always with the modernists, utterly too invented and undecipherable to the vast majority of readers, and clearly subjectively made by the imaginative meanderings of the minds of some so called scholars attempting to shock their professors into giving them their Phd’s.
There is, of course, the encounter with the seven sons of Sceva, who tried to imitate Paul’s ministry of deliverance (Acts 19:13 on), but this cannot be what Paul refers to in his speech to the elders at Miletus (20:19), namely, “trials which befell me by the plots of the Jews.” Nor can the uproar caused by Demetrius the silversmith be thought of as the cause of “many tears”; for Acts 19:30 leads one to believe that Paul was not in the midst of that disturbance at all. On the supposition that it was necessary for Paul to use discretion in referring to his imprisonment at Ephesus, may it not be that there is a veiled reference to it in the remark to the Ephesian elders, as he leaves them at Miletus, “Now I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem”? That is a weak remark, but possibly cryptically made, if everybody present knew what he was referring to.
The reference in Philippians 1:13 to the “Praetorium” has been supposed to point conclusively to Rome. But the word is constantly used to designate royal residences. See that it is so in Matt. 27:27; John 18:28, 33; 19:9; Acts 23:35. These Pretoria are palaces of Roman governors around the empire. The Praetorium of Phil 1:13 may easily have been at Ephesus. Ephesus was, after all, the capital city of a Roman province.
The expression “those of Caesar’s household” also offers a slight objection to the Ephesian imprisonment idea. But it is possible that the term includes slaves and freedmen of the royal family who lived elsewhere than at Rome. Very likely such persons formed special groups in the Christian communitys at large centres of Roman authority.
Sorting out the complete chronology of Paul’s life is one of the most difficult problems of all New Testament study. Results attained or stated, including my own, stand constantly in need of revision. In this essay only two of Paul’s letters have been considered; but if the above argument be sustained by further investigation, it is likely that the accepted dates of some other Epistles may be revised also. If the above attempt at explanation does not convince, it at least offers something to tax the brain and meditations of my readers. The supposition of an imprisonment suffered by Paul at Ephesus has when cross referenced with his remarks in 2 Corinthians a solid basis that allows me to say that Paul, I believe, suffered greatly whilst in Ephesus, was imprisoned, and suffered greatly to the point of death (2 Corinthians 1)
If we are seeking God to flow in the miraculous, the serendipity of Persecution must be included in the package of what we receive from God. Suffering and persecution, blood, torture, pain and near death experiences was the normal “office routine” for the apostle we are considering.