Chapter 01 – THE GOD OF ALL COMFORT
Premise: Between the timeline of 1st and 2nd Corinthians, a group of prestigious, eloquent, and impressive speakers ruled over the Corinthian church. They are known as the “Super-Apostles.” Because of their presence, many Corinthians started to despise their founder, Paul. As opposed to the Super-Apostles, Paul is not an impressive speaker. He is also poor and suffering. This became the major issue that Paul had to address in his “painful visit” to the Corinthians (2 Cor. 2:1-3). After this visit, many Corinthians have come to realize their mistake and reconciled with Paul. To let them know that he forgives them, Paul wrote 2nd Corinthians.
This is the reason why Paul is talking about sufferings, hardships, and reconciliations in the beginning sections of this letter (ch.1-7). Aside from forgiving them, he wants them to learn the significance of sufferings and hardships in the Christian life, particularly of their leaders. And for starters, Paul starts with God as the “God of all comfort.”
I.) THE GOD OF ALL COMFORT (v3-7)
Paul starts by exalting God as the “God of All Comfort.” According to Paul, God is “the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction,” (v3-4). Notice the use of the word, “all.” Aside from being the God of all comfort, He also comforts us in all of our afflictions. This means comprehensiveness. God is not a partial God of comfort nor does He comforts us only in select areas of our lives. His comfort is inclusive of all kinds of afflictions. Whether that be physical, emotional, financial, social, or spiritual suffering, God is always there to comfort us.
This also teaches that God is not a God of sufferings. Even though He allows sufferings in our lives (just like with Job), it is never intended out of malice. As we will learn later in this letter, the sufferings that God allows us to experience are all intended for our greater good. It is either meant to discipline us (Heb. 12:3-12), to test us, or aid us to maturity (just like Job).
“…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 . . . 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.”
In the next verses, Paul applied the concept of God being the God of all comfort to his sufferings and its implications to the church. According to Paul, God’s comfort is so strong that it can, and it will, overflow to others. In other words, GOD’S COMFORT IS SOMETHING WE MUST SHARE WITH OTHERS. Notice that in the next verse, Paul said that both his affliction and God’s comfort will all result in their comfort. This is the heart of a Christian leader. Paul is reflecting the heart of Christ in this behavior. Remember, Christ endured sufferings in order to bring comfort and salvation to us. This is why Paul is teaching them to not look down on their leaders who suffer for their sufferings are for their comfort and good.
II.) HARDSHIPS BEYOND OUR LIMITATIONS (v8-11)
In verses 8 to 11, Paul elaborated more about his sufferings. In these verses, he revealed that the sufferings he experienced were beyond what he can endure.
“We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die.”
– (v8b-9a) NLT
This is proof that when it comes to trials and hardships, God is ready to give us more than what we can endure.
Didn’t we just learn that He is a God of all comfort?! why then would He give us sufferings beyond our limitations?!! This is a truly surprising revelation from Paul. Thankfully, Paul immediately explained why. According to him:
“BUT AS A RESULT, WE STOPPED RELYING ON OURSELVES AND LEARNED TO RELY ONLY ON GOD, WHO RAISES THE DEAD.” (v9) NLT
There, that is the reason. As said earlier, the hardships that God allows us to suffer are always meant for our greater good. In this case, God intended it so that we will learn to totally depend on Him. Even in allowing sufferings, God is still truly good. PRAISE GOD!!
III.) RUN TO JESUS!! + The Will of God Over Our Plans (v12-24)
In this section, Paul clarified a previous misunderstanding about his change of plans. First, Paul is defending his truthfulness to them. In the NLT version, Paul’s explanation can be understood clearly:
“You may be asking why I changed my plan. Do you think I make my plans carelessly? Do you think I am like people of the world who say “Yes” when they really mean “No”? As surely as God is faithful, our word to you does not waver between “Yes” and “No.” For Jesus Christ, the Son of God, does not waver between “Yes” and “No.” – (v17-19a)
In this passage, Paul is equating his truthfulness to Christ’s faithfulness. As Paul continues:
“Now I call upon God as my witness that I am telling the truth. The reason I didn’t return to Corinth was to spare you from a severe rebuke. But that does not mean we want to dominate you by telling you how to put your faith into practice. We want to work together with you so you will be full of joy, for it is by your own faith that you stand firm.” – (v23-24) NLT
Overall, Paul wants the Corinthians to believe his sincerity for his truthfulness is as reliable as Christ’s faithfulness, a trait that all Christians should possess. But in this passage, Paul’s statement in v20 is very noteworthy. According to him:
“FOR ALL THE PROMISES OF GOD FIND THEIR YES IN HIM [CHRIST].” – (v20a)
This is a very powerful and beautiful statement. Paul is revealing here that God the Father is always in favor of the Son, Jesus Christ. He always says “yes” to Him. This revelation should excite all believers for the Bible also revealed that Christ is on our side. He is interceding for us (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25), praying for us (John 17), and advocating for us (1 John 2:1). Therefore, this section is teaching us that in times of suffering, we should run to Jesus and fully rely on Him for salvation. If God the Father always says yes to Him (who intercedes for us), then we truly have something to celebrate for even in the face of the most difficult sufferings of our lives.
PRAISE BE TO OUR LORD AND SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST!! 🙂
God Bless!! 🙂