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AM Bible Study Archives
"Passing on the Comfort"
2 Corinthians 1:3-7
Wednesday AM Bible Study
May 7, 2008
Ordinarily, after an introduction in Paul's letter, he launches off into an expression of thanks to God for his readers. But 2 Corinthians is different. He expresses a deep and passionate love for the Corinthians throughout this letter; but he begins in a very personal way by expressing his thanks to God for the comfort he received from Him—and that he then passes on to his readers.
Comfort is a great theme of this opening section of the letter. The words "comfort" and "consolation" are both translations of the same word (the noun form paraklâsis and the verb form paraaleô); and they occur ten times in these five verses. 2 Corinthians begins (1:3) and ends (13:11) with the theme of "comfort". And the surprising thing that we find from this opening expression of Paul's experience is that the comfort we receive from God the Father in our times of trial is not just for ourselves. It is meant to be passed on to others.
Note how, in these opening words, Paul affirms that . . .
I. GOD IS THE PROVIDER OF ALL COMFORT (vv. 3-4a).
A. Paul begins by "blessing" or "thanking" God. He calls God "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ"; which identifies not only God the Father, but also Christ Himself. The God who comforted our Savior in His deepest times of trial is also the very same heavenly Father that comforts us. If we would know the extent of comfort in trials that is available to us, we have only to look to Jesus Christ and see how sufficient the Father was in comforting Him—and we can be greatly encouraged that the same "God and Father" comforts us.
B. God the Father is here called "the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort". All members of the trinity give comfort: the Father (Isa. 40:1; 49:13), the Son (Isaiah 61:1-2 with Luke 4:17-21; John 14:1; 2 Thess. 2:16; 1 John 2:1), and the Holy Spirit (John 14:16; 15:26; 16:7). But here, the Father is specifically identified to us as the source of all mercy and comfort. If we need money, we go to the bank. If we need gas for our car, we go to the gas station. And if we need mercy and comfort for all situations in life, we must go to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the originator of it, and the continual source of it. Note that He comforts us in "all" our tribulations. All comfort that is to be had, in any time of need, is available to us any time we need it through Him from who His the source of all mercy and comfort.
II. GOD PROVIDES COMFORT TO US FOR A PURPOSE BEYOND JUST OURSELVES (vv. 4b-5).
A. Paul affirms that God comforts us for a purpose; "that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God" (v. 4b). The "we" in this verse is a reference to Paul and his co-workers in the gospel. They themselves suffered greatly in their ministry; and none more so than Paul (2 Corinthians 11:23-29). But here, he reveals that the comfort he received was not for himself alone. It was given to him for the purpose of sharing the comfort with those to whom he ministered.
B. As Paul so faithfully does elsewhere in his letters, he here points to Jesus Christ. Just as the sufferings of Christ abound in us (Paul is realistic about the cost of following Jesus), so does the comfort or "consolation" also abound through Christ. To the degree we are united to Christ and in fellowship with Him, to that degree we share not only in His suffering, but also in His comfort (see John 16:33; Romans 8:17).
III. THIS MEANS THAT OUR TRIALS—AND THE COMFORT WE RECEIVE IN THEM—ARE VERY PURPOSESFUL (vv. 6-7).
A. Paul goes so far as to say that if he and his co-workers suffer trials, and receive the comfort from God in those trials, it is not for them alone but also for those to whom Paul and his co-workers served (v. 6; see also 2 Corinthians 4:7-15). It results not only in their comfort but also in their "salvation" (either in the sense of salvation from sin, or deliverance from the present circumstances, or even the advancement of their future glory). We're experiencing something of the "passing-on" of Paul's comfort, with a view to our comfort and salvation, right now as we study this letter together!
B. And Paul was confident that God would continue this good work in those to whom he wrote. His hope was "steadfast" (that is, firm and unshakable), that as they were partakers of the sufferings with Paul and his co-laborers, the Corinthians would also be partakers of the consolation. If we would have the consolation that comes from Christ, though, we have to be willing to share with Him in the suffering by being identified with Him. But it's well worth it; because there's no comfort like the comfort we share together in Him! (See Hebrews 2:14-18 and 4:14-16).
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Question: How might God be calling you to pass the comfort He has given you on to someone else today?
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