"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 will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
Consider. God is the source, the originator of all true comfort. God comforts us, his people, in our affliction. God expects us, his people, to comfort others in their affliction.
God is the Source of All True Comfort
The Apostle Paul joyfully begins the main body of this letter with, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort" (2 Corinthians 1:3). Let's discuss this opening verse in three parts.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul begins with the language of a heart which is full of joy and that bursts forth with gratitude (Ref. 1). Paul has a comfort which he recognizes comes from God (Ref. 2). Paul shows us that it is possible and proper to bless God (praise God - Ref. 3) when we, God's people, are experiencing affliction. Paul uses the same opening phrase in Ephesians 1:3.
The Father of mercies. Our heavenly Father is the originator, the begetter, the source of mercy and compassion (Ref. 4). As our heavenly Father, it is God's nature to impart mercy and compassion to his children. The Greek word for mercies in 2 Corinthians 1:3 is oiktirmos (oyk-tir-mos'). The short definition is pity, compassion, favor, grace, and mercy (Ref. 5). The long definition is "visceral compassions -- the deep feelings God has for all of us, and powerfully shows and shares in those following Him" (Ref. 5).
And the God of all comfort. God is the source of all true consolation and comfort. In the same way that God is the Father of mercies, God is the God of all comfort because it comes from him. There is no other real source of comfort but God; and "he is able abundantly and willingly to impart consolation to his people" (Ref.1). The Greek word for comfort in 2 Corinthians 1:3 is paraklésis (par-ak'-lay-sis), which means coming along side, encouragement, consolation, and comfort (Ref. 6).
"Comfort" is a great theme of 2 Corinthians. In the New American Standard Bible, the English words "comfort," "comforts," and "comforted" occur 10 times in 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 alone.
God Comforts Us in our Affliction that We May Be Able to Comfort Others
Now, let's discuss the next verse, 2 Corinthians 1:4, in three parts.
Who comforts us in all our affliction. As the God of all comfort, God comes along side and encourages us -- all believers in Christ -- in our affliction (2 Corinthians 1:4, John 14:16-17). The Greek word for affliction is thlipsis (thlip'-sis), which means tribulation, especially internal pressure that causes someone to feel confined (restricted, "without options") (Ref. 7). Paul and his co-writer, Timothy (2 Corinthians 1:1), openly tell us from their personal life experience that they had felt an ever-continuing comfort flowing from God.
So that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction. Paul and Timothy knew that God comforted them not just for their own benefit, but that God's comfort might flow forth to others through them (Ref. 2). In the same way, Paul teaches us in 2 Corinthians 1:4 that as disciples and followers of Jesus, the affliction we experience is part of our "schooling" and training to sympathize with and comfort others (Ref. 8). Our life's experience with affliction coupled with God's power flowing through us helps us not only to sympathize with others but also to speak a word in season to those who are weary (Isaiah 50:4). This is the very essence of the work of comforting (Ref. 2).
With the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. The best comfort that we as Christian believers can provide to others comes from God, not from the world. As believers in Jesus Christ, we can communicate uniquely to others the forgiveness, the acceptance, and the hope for eternal life that comes only through faith in Christ (Ref. 1, Ephesians 2:8-9). Let us remember Jesus' final words of encouragement to his disciples. "These things I have spoken to you so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).
Apply. Pray, and thank God that he is the source of all true comfort. Thank God for how he has comforted (come along side, encouraged) you in the afflictions you have experienced. Ask God to bring to your mind someone you can comfort (come along side, encourage) in their affliction. Think specifically how you can best comfort them, for example, listening to them, offering to pray for or with them, and sharing a verse of scripture that has been meaningful to you in your times of affliction. Follow through on God's leading.
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