My dissertation explores Paul’s theology of suffering. Part of my thesis involves demonstrating that Paul’s view of suffering was radically different from that of the ancient philosophers. The view of the ancient philosophers, especially the Stoics, whose philosophy had become the standard worldview in by Paul’s day, is that suffering is to be avoided and that one’s desire should be to eliminate the emotional distress (λύπη) caused by suffering.
Paul’s prescriptions for dealing with λύπη make clear that Paul’s view is polar opposite from the philosophers (and perhaps I’ll explain that in another post). Here in Romans 5, Paul’s use of καυχάομαι coupled with κατεργάζομαι also demonstrates his departure from the prevailing view of viewing sufferings.
I note that Paul here does not use λύπη because he is not talking here about the emotional effects of the suffering so much as he is talking about the sufferings themselves. Paul uses a generic, catch-all, word for “sufferings,” θλῖψις, but his claim that believers “boast” in or “glory” in (καυχάομαι) is the most striking feature of this sentence.
There are a few places in the philosophers suffering is seen as a neutral, something that one could allow to triumph over a person or that the wise person could turn around and use for his or her advantage, but nowhere will one find the advice to “glory” in or “boast” in sufferings.
Paul’s use of κατεργάζομαι to describe the result of suffering and tribulation supports this view. If Paul only intended to say that suffering can be used to bring about growth, then we might reasonably expect to see simply ἐργάζομαι. Instead, Paul uses a verb that also focuses on result. As Moo points out, κατεργάζεται “sometimes stresses the end result (“produce”) more than ἐργάζομαι.” Consequently, many translations use “produce” to translate κατεργάζεται, a translation that itself focuses on result.
So Paul is not simply saying that one can turn one’s sufferings around so that they bring about produce growth, Paul is saying that suffering is essential to growth as a Christian. Since suffering is so essential to growth as a Christian, when one endures sufferings, one may “boast” in those sufferings (rather than in oneself), because these are the very things that will produce the necessary and desired growth in the Christian life.
 Cranfield (ICC 149) notes that “θλῖψις can denote tribulations of various kinds” which is consistent with the broad use of θλῖψις both in and out of Scripture. Paul may have chosen this word because he anticipates his letters being read by a wide range of people.
 Moo, (NICNT 116, n. 128)
 NLT has “develop,” which, while within the semantic domain in κατεργάζεται falls short of how this word is usually employed.