For I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.
NKJV - 17 From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.
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Paul suffered much for His faith. On his body he carried scars because of his work for the Lord. He endured persecution. He was beaten and shipwrecked, etc. Paul was a slave for Christ after his conversion on the road to Damascus. Look at 2 Corinthians 11:23-26. Paul wore stripes from beatings. He had been imprisoned. He had been beaten with rods. His own countrymen were dangerous to Him. Romans, written by Paul begins in 1:1: "Paul a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the Gospel of God..." Remember Paul was a Roman citizen. Now he had become one of those troublesome "Christians." Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12:7: "And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure." Paul asked for relief from this torment, but God reassured him that "His Grace" would see Him through. He would learn that in weakness, God provides strength. So, Paul decided to take his infirmaties in stride. He knew that God was walking with Him. This was all for the glory of Jesus Christ, the man that Paul had been persecuting people for! He considered his suffering an honor.
In my opinion, in the verse cited in the question, Paul was not referring to the types of miraculous wounds/stigmata claimed to have been imprinted or implanted by God on the hands, feet, and/or sides (resembling those of Christ) of select individuals who were regarded by the early Christian church as "saints", as a testimony of their authority or status. Instead, he was speaking of the actual wounds and scars that he had received (as he summarized in 2 Corinthians 11:23-26) through floggings, beatings, and other similar physical persecution that he endured as a consequence of his missionary work from those who were opposed to Christianity. In that respect, he was "imitating" or emulating the physical abuse that Christ Himself endured during His arrest, trial, and crucifixion.
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