Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; who comforts us in all our affliction, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, through the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Paul is writing to the Corinthian believers in a measure of sympathetic unity. He and Timothy were suffering tribulation, and likewise the assembly was also suffering persecution. Paul writes that the tribulation he and Timothy were undergoing was strengthening their own faith, and he is wanting to encourage and strengthen the rest of the believers with the comfort they were receiving from God the Father.
Paul first honors God with the title of “Father of mercies” (or compassions). It could also be rendered “compassionate Father” or “merciful Father.” That compassion and mercy are inherent in the nature of God is evident from the very first time God proclaimed his character to Moses at Sinai.
Yahweh descended in the cloud, and stood with him [Moses] there, and proclaimed the name of Yahweh. Yahweh passed by before him, and proclaimed, “Yahweh! Yahweh, a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger, and abundant in loving kindness and truth, keeping loving kindness for thousands, forgiving iniquity and disobedience and sin…Exodus 34:5-7
Paul is conveying to the believers that the mercy and compassion he and Timothy were receiving in their time of tribulation was benefitting them so that they wanted to share that benefit with the believers who were likewise suffering.
Paul also describes God as “the God of all comfort.” The Greek word translated as comfort conveys exhortation and encouragement. In its literal sense, it means to come alongside and to speak to, or on behalf of, someone. It is the role of a counselor or advocate. Paul is relating that God’s Spirit is present in their trials and encouraging and defending them that they may continue to work successfully for the kingdom. And just as God has come alongside himself and Timothy, God is willing and able to come alongside the believers.
Yeshua foretold this very aspect of God’s resource of strengthening and encouragement that would be available for believers through the trials they would encounter. He is quoted as using the same Greek word of exhortation and comfort that Paul was to use later on in his letter to his Corinthian audience.
John 14:25-26 I have said these things to you, while still living with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and will remind you of all that I said to you.
John 15:26-27 “When the Counselor has come, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will testify about me. You will also testify, because you have been with me from the beginning.
Yeshua knew that the disciples would need this resource of God’s Spirit to accomplish the work that God had in mind for the early believing community, and as they testified about him.
The work goes on to this day, and because it does, that same Resource is available for believers today: the encouragement in tribulation, the Advocate against those opposing us; the One who comes alongside us and is very present in the current situations we experience when we are actively seeking the kingdom. God is, and always has been, present through his Spirit in the lives of believers to strengthen, encourage and defend.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we won’t be afraid, though the earth changes, though the mountains are shaken into the heart of the seas; though its waters roar and are troubled, though the mountains tremble with their swelling. Selah. There is a river, the streams of which make the city of God glad, the holy place of the tents of the Most High. God is in her midst…Psalm 46:1-4
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