II Corinthians 1:1-4

Sunday, September 29th, 2013

Text: II Corinthians 1:1-4 a

THE MINISTRY OF COMFORT

INTRODUCTION:

After Paul sent a harsh or stern letter to the church at Corinth with Titus his messenger, he waited at Ephesus for their reply. Paul was anxious to hear from them, and when they did not respond immediately, he went north to Troas to meet Titus.

However, when Titus did not appear, Paul continued into Macedonia, possibly to Philippi.

When Paul and Titus did meet, Paul wrote that he was comforted by the report of their longing, their mourning, and their zeal for him.

However, the news was not all favorable. A vocal element in the church was campaigning against the authority of the Apostle Paul. Apparently, this was a group of Jewish opponents who discounted the reality of Paul's faith in Christ and the genuineness of his ministry and despised his person. Although there had been repentance on the part of some in the church, the unrepentant group continued to press hard upon Paul. Thus, he reveals his inmost feelings here in a way not seen in any other existing letter which he wrote.

II Corinthians is, therefore, one of the most personal of Paul's letters. It is, for the most part, a defense of Paul's ministry in chapters 1-7 and his apostleship in chapters 10-13.

Chapters 8 and 9 consist of an added plea to fulfill their ministry of giving and a pointed reminder that they have been somewhat negligent in the fulfillment of their stewardship.

As we begin to look at II Corinthians we are reminded that news has just reached Paul from Titus that the stern or harsh letter had received a mixed reception.

Most persons had genuinely repented of their sin and had dealt accordingly with it.

Some, however, challenged Paul's authority, suspected his motives, and questioned the validity of his ministry.

II Corinthians is Paul's answer to these charges.

Now all of this is quite normal. When confronted with their own sin, people either repent, run, or defend themselves; and one of the ways in which they defend themselves is to strike out at someone else.

II Corinthians 1:1-11 forms an introduction to the entire letter and teaches the ministry of comfort.

II Corinthians 1:1-2 - 1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia: 2 Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

In verse 1 Paul identifies himself as the writer of II Corinthians.

He describes himself as an apostle of Jesus Christ, by which he means that Jesus Christ sent him on a mission to proclaim the gospel to the Gentiles.

By the will of God suggests that it was the specific will of God the Father that Paul was sent as an apostle of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles with the message of salvation.

Paul's reason for asserting to people who knew him that he was an apostle of Jesus Christ by God's will was that some in Corinth were seeking to discredit him and his ministry and to set themselves up as apostles; so Paul reminds them of something they already knew.

And Timothy our brother, indicates that Timothy was with Paul at the time Paul wrote this epistle. Timothy, who was a constant traveling companion of Paul, is described as our brother, by which Paul means that he regarded Timothy as a saved man, a fellow believer and fellow member of the family of God, but not as an apostle of Jesus Christ.

Paul identifies the recipients of this epistle as the church of God which is at Corinth. It is God's church at Corinth. Even though Paul established the church in Corinth, it was not his church. It was God's church, God's assembly, or God's congregation. People would do well to remember that no church belongs to its members. Instead, it belongs to God.

With all the saints which are in all Achaia indicates others to whom Paul is addressing this epistle.

Achaia is the southern half of Greece in which the city of Corinth was located. There were many saved people throughout the area known as Achaia in addition to those in the city. Paul is writing this epistle to these believers as well; yet, the specific problems he deals with may not have extended throughout all Achaia.

Saints is sanctified ones, and speaks of those people who have placed their trust in Christ as their Savior and have been set apart for God's use by the Holy Spirit.

II Corinthians 1:2 2 Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Grace is unmerited or undeserved favor. Grace is necessary for salvation, but, for the most part, these people have already been saved; so, the grace Paul is wishing upon them is grace to live the Christian life. It is consistent with James 4:6 , But he giveth more grace. . . .

Peace indicates that Paul is wishing that a second thing be given to the Corinthian believers. Believers are blessed with peace with God at the time of their salvation, but these believers already had peace with God. This peace Paul wishes upon them goes beyond the peace they received at salvation. It may be peace which is part of the fruit of the Spirit, which the Holy Spirit produces in their lives.

Galatians 5:22-23 - (22) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

(23) Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law (emphasis added).

It may instead be the peace of God which passeth all understanding which a believer receives as a result of praying rather than worrying. Some seem to have the attitude, Why pray when you can worry? How much better it would be to have the Biblical attitude, Why worry when you can pray?

Philippians 4:6-7 - (6) Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

(7) And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

The source of both grace and peace is from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Grace and peace are seen to proceed equally from both God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. This indicates that They are equal. Christ is in no way inferior to the Father. Otherwise, the gift would have to come from one Person of the Godhead through the other.

I. GOD HAS A MINISTRY OF COMFORT - 1:3

II Corinthians 1:3 3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort.

Blessed is literally well spoken of and is understood in the sense of praised.

Be has been supplied by the translators and expresses a wish and is understood in the sense of, (May) God (be) blessed or May God be praised.

God is identified as even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is literally the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1. God is the Father of mercies, i.e. the Father of compassions (or of pities)

Psalms 103:13-14 - 13 Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. 14 For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.

Although not translated into English, the appears before mercies in the Greek text in order to indicate that God is the Father of the sum total of all mercies, compassions, or pities that exist.

2. God is the God of all comfort, i.e. the God of all encouragement (or consolation).

In verses 3-7 the same Greek word is used 10 times. Its verb form means to comfort, encourage, or cheer up. Its noun form means comfort, consolation, encouragement.

II Corinthians 1:3-7 - 3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort (i.e. consolation or encouragement). 4 Who comforteth (i.e. consoles or encourages) us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort (i.e. console or encourage) them which are in any trouble, by the comfort (i.e. consolation or encouragement) wherewith we ourselves are comforted (i.e. consoled or encouraged) of God. 5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation (i.e. comfort or encouragement) also aboundeth by Christ. 6 And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation (i.e. comfort or encouragement) and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted (i.e. consoled or encouraged) , it is for your consolation (i.e. comfort or encouragement) and salvation. 7 And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation (i.e. comfort or encouragement).

The word translated comfort is the same word which is brought over into English as Paraclete.

In II Corinthians 1:3 we see God the Father as our Divine Paraclete who comforts, consoles, or encourages us. Paraclete literally means one called alongside to help. All real comfort, encouragement, or consolation comes from God.

In I John 2:1 we see Christ as our Advocate (Paraclete) with the Father.

I John 2:1 - My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

In John 14:16 , 26; in John 15:26 ; and in John 16:7 we see the Holy Spirit as another Comforter (or Paraclete) who will strengthen and guide.

John 14:16 - And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.

John 14:26 - But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

John 15:26 - But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.

John 16:7 - Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.

Thus, we see that all three Persons of the Godhead are referred to as a Divine Paraclete or Comforter.

3. God comforts us in all our tribulation - 1:4

II Corinthians 1:4 4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

Who comforteth us in all our tribulation indicates something God is always doing for believers.

In all our tribulation, where in suggests in the time of, at the time of, or during and where our refers to Paul but applies to all believers, suggests in all our affliction (or trouble).

By using the singular tribulation, Paul individualizes each affliction or trouble. If God comforts (i.e. consoles or encourages) Paul in each (or every) affliction (or trouble) he experiences, then God comforts, consoles, or encourages him in all the afflictions or troubles he experiences. The same word translated tribulation in this verse is translated trouble in the next phrase. It is also translated trouble in verse 8, and its verb form is translated we be afflicted in verse 6.