You will also share in our comfort – 2nd Corinthians 1:1-7 – 03/24/2016
2nd Corinthians 1:1 (ESV) Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God that is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in the whole of Achaia: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. 7 Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.
Thank you for clicking on our page for the Pauline epistle which is called 2nd Corinthians, the letter is authored by the apostle Paul to the church in Corinth. This is a great letter of exhortation and gives many doctrines that we still use in both church structure today. For other bible studies in 2nd Corinthians please click here and for other epistles please see our main epistle page.
When I set this blog up my intention was to explore the epistles and do the occasional bible study based on what I had studied and learned, what you are reading below is notes I have made. I have to confess that this bible study is basic in its content and is not prepared by a pastor and I have to admit I have no theological training; my hope in prayer is that someone will be blessed by the notes below.
Let’s start in verse one of the first chapter of Second Corinthians.
V1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God that is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in the whole of Achaia: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul starts with the fairly standard Pauline greeting introducing himself as an “apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God” and for me there are a few points that are worth going more in depth…
- Paul – The name needs no introduction, the man who was introduced to us as Rabbi Saul of Tarsus who was famous throughout the Romans Empire for his desire to quash this new religion of people of “The Way”. Who had a life changing experience on the road to Damascus and was now the “apostle to the nations/Gentiles”
- An apostle – From the Greek word “apostolos” which meant messenger as well as apostle, being an apostle in those days was dangerous work and many died for their faith. It was not so much a title as a calling because often times it was a one way ticket to becoming posthumous.
- Of Christ Jesus – Paul is clear to tell the church in Corinth that the message that he has is the same message that Jesus preached and his words are words of correction from God. Paul is keen to advise that he is doing the will of Jesus Christ.
- By the will of God – And by doing the will of Christ he is also doing the will of God that sent Christ to be the sacrifice for our sins. Paul is writing in the will of God also because Paul was not an apostle by man’s direction or will but Gods. It was not as if Paul chose this life of sacrifice and service. There is a good lesson in there for us that even the ones who are not held in high regard in our churches may still be used mightily by God.
Historically we learn that Paul was not revered in Corinth the way that we do today. However in heaven he was highly regarded as a man who was willing to sacrifice for the sake of furthering the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul also states that he is with Timothy, who he later writes two epistles to and Paul addresses the letter not just to the church at Corinth but the “saints who are in the whole of Achaia”
The word “saint” has gathered some controversy over the years because certain denominations like to canonize dead believers of great worth and call them “saints”, but this is not to what Paul was referring to here, he simply means those who have been set apart in a relationship with Jesus Christ. Paul meant this letter to be widely read for doctrine and reproof.
Paul uses the words “grace” and “peace” and you have to wonder how they went over if he was not seen favorably in the area. For me that showed Paul never held grudges or was unfavorable to those who did not greet him well, he served them all in the love of Christ and he genuinely wished the grace of God and peace in their fellowship. Do we do likewise? How about your relationship with other fellowships in your city? Do you have warmth towards them despite minor theological differences?
The grace and peace did not just come from the pen of Paul but it came from “God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” and that reminds us that in the church we are a family of families in unified fellowship to praise God and to be followers of Jesus Christ, we are all at that same starting point. A question for you readers would be do we treat our extended church family in the same favor as we do our actual blood family? Are our feelings ones of “grace” and “peace”?
V3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
And now we have done with the niceties of the greeting we get to the meat and bones of why was caused to write in the first place. From the first word “blessed” we see that Paul had the right attitude towards God. God is described as a father and it is important to recognize that God is a loving father. One that desires communion with his kids! Yes, he is holy but he is also loving above all else and Paul goes on to call him the father of all mercies and God of all comfort and I have to ask you as a reader how often do you think of God in these terms?
Paul uses the Greek word paraklesis which is more of a soothing sympathy, a comfort that is not just providing comfort but of sustaining, strengthening of a comfort that is designed to strengthen and help you into restoration. What a benevolent God we serve! When was the last time you allowed yourself to be comforted by God?
Paul also wished to make that comfort known so that the believers could begin to share the blessings and comfort others too. Imagine a church that was like a hospital? That the ones who were wounded by the world could be comforted by the living God and be served by those who wished to serve him, a place where love radiated throughout the building, a place where you could come as you were and not be judged, but loved and helped. That’s the type of church that Paul wanted and that is the type of church I would love to be involved in, one that comforts one another, sustains one another, builds up one another and mentors one another where the victory of the downtrodden is everyone’s victory and where a victory for another church in the city is a victory for the body of Christ (that’s a sore one huh?)
V5 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.
And that is why we are talking in such terms, take it from a guy who was familiar with suffering (Paul not me) Let’s have a look at some of the ways he suffered for Christ…
2nd Corinthians 11:23 (ESV) Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. 24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant? 30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, he who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. 32 At Damascus, the governor under King Aretas was guarding the city of Damascus in order to seize me, 33 but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall and escaped his hands.
So do you think this guy knows what it means to suffer for the faith? But yet Paul does not call anything he has endured “his sufferings” he calls it “Christ’s sufferings” because he saw himself subject to whatever punishment he was to face as a part of his faith. Would we have as many dynamic Christians today if we were being persecuted for our faith? I certainly believe that we would find out who the real ones were.
But in the sufferings of Christ that Paul was going through, JESUS WAS THERE! This is a constant message of Jesus ministry, let us look at two accounts from the Gospels where Jesus had compassion on those whom society had forgotten or cast aside…
- The woman at the well – John 4:1 (ESV) Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John 2 (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), 3 he left Judea and departed again for Galilee. 4 And he had to pass through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour. 7 A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8 (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.” 27 Just then his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you seek?” or, “Why are you talking with her?” 28 So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” 30 They went out of the town and were coming to him. 31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” 33 So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. 35 Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. 36 Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37 For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.” 39 Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his word. 42 They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”
- The woman with the issue of blood – Mark 5:24 (ESV) And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. 25 And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, 26 and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. 27 She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. 28 For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” 29 And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30 And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” 31 And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” 32 And he looked around to see who had done it. 33 But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. 34 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
What I love about the ministry of Jesus and also what Paul is telling us is that Jesus see’s your afflictions, he sees the downtrodden, he sees the poor in spirit, there is no-one who was too gross to be helped and delivered from their sins, there was no-one who had sunk too far, the woman who had had five husbands was a social pariah but Jesus desired to help her despite cultural limitations. Likewise the woman with the issue of blood was also a social outcast for twelve years and had such faith that if she could just touch the hem of his garment she knew that she could be healed. But after she was healed she realized there was no way to explain it after Jesus asked “who touched me” and she rightly fell at Jesus feet and Jesus treated her with compassion and comfort. (See a pattern yet?)
V6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer.
Paul goes on to say that the afflictions endured would be for your comfort and salvation. Paul was all about getting people saved into a relationship with their messiah. We are looking at two people who suffered more than we will ever suffer (Jesus and Paul) and I find it mind blowing that Paul, with a death sentence hanging over him every single day would spend his time telling people about Jesus and comforting those who had a dim view of him.
One of the things I know about suffering is that it helps me to rely on God more, my darkest times I can now use as fuel to help others and Paul did likewise. Paul also advised that this is a double edged sword that if he suffers then it will happen also that they will suffer and that they should patiently endure and comfort one another as he was them.
V7 Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.
And Paul sums it up by stating that their hope for them was unshaken, that even although suffering was going to happen that they would also have the same comfort that Paul had in Christ and also the same closeness to God that Paul had in his trials and sufferings. I will close with this text in James.
James 1:2 (ESV) Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
And that is the truth! Trials produce what is underneath the surface and exposes the true person. Questions to ask from this lesson would be
In trials do we cling to God or rely on ourselves?
Do our trials produce patience?
Where is the comfort of God in our lives?
Lord willing, in our next article in Second Corinthians we will look at verses eight through eleven where Paul explains the peril that he was under and describes the desperate trouble he was in for the faith. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.
God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.