II Corinthians 1:4-11

Sunday, October 6th, 2013

Text: II Corinthians 1:4-11

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.

We have already studied -

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.

We have already noted that -

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.

We have seen that -

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

We have also seen that -

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

In addition we have seen that -

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

II Corinthians 1:4 4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation. . . .

Just as God has a ministry of comfort -

II. WE ALSO HAVE A MINISTRY OF COMFORT - 1:4-11

We see that in our ministry of comfort -

1. God comforts us in order that we might comfort others - 1:4-7

II Corinthians 1:4-7 - 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. 5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. 6 And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation 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.

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.

The reason God comforts us in all our tribulation is that (in order that or for the purpose that) we may be able to comfort (we can comfort, console, or encourage; or we may be capable of comforting, consoling, or encouraging) them which are in any trouble (i.e. the ones who are in each (or every) trouble (i.e. tribulation or affliction).

Although believers know and understand the truth of Romans 8:28 , . . . That all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose, they do not always understand the specifics of why God brings various things into their lives. They may never know; but sometimes years later, they find that they are able to comfort, console, or encourage other believers who are experiencing similar, if not identical, things in their lives.

Whereas God is the Direct Agent Who does this, the means by which God accomplishes this in believers' lives is by (i.e. through or via) the comfort (i.e. the consolation or the encouragement) wherewith (i.e. with which) we ourselves are comforted of (i.e. are being consoled by or are being encouraged by) God (the Father). God comforts or encourages believers in their trials in order that they may be able to comfort or encourage others who experience similar trials. It is an ongoing matter and standard operating procedure for believers.

II Corinthians 1:5 5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.

Paul indicates in verse 5 that as he suffers in Christ, Christ's encouragement abounds in him.

For is the word ordinarily translated because and should be understood in this sense here as well.

As is just as and is to be connected with so, which follows.

The sufferings of Christ refers not to the sufferings Christ experienced on the cross but to the sufferings believers experience on behalf of Christ. Every time a believer suffers for Christ, Christ suffers with him.

When Paul, as Saul of Tarsus, was persecuting believers, Jesus said to him in Acts 9:4 , Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?

Abound is are present in abundance.

In us, which refers to Paul, suggests toward us or unto us.

So is connected with as and introduces a comparison of Paul's consolation abounding by Christ with the sufferings of Christ abounding.

Our consolation is our comfort or our encouragement and suggests the consolation, comfort, or encouragement which we (a reference to Paul) receive from Christ.

Also suggests in addition to the sufferings of Christ abounding in us. Just as Christ's sufferings are present in abundance in Paul, likewise Christ's encouragement or comfort is present in Paul.

Aboundeth by Christ is is present in abundance through Christ. Believers realize that what Paul experienced may also be experienced by them. God the Father is the One Who causes Paul's consolation (i.e. comfort or encouragement) to abound, and He does it through Christ.

II Corinthians 1:6 6 And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.

In verse 6, Paul indicates that whether he is afflicted or comforted, it is for the consolation (or encouragement) and salvation of the Corinthian believers.

And whether introduces conditional statement, and is understood in the sense of and if. Its structure indicates that, for sake of discussion, it is assumed to be true. In view of the fact that the condition is true, whether may be understood in the sense of since, inasmuch as, or because.

The first condition is whether we be afflicted, and its conclusion is it is for your consolation and salvation.

We be afflicted is we are afflicted or we are distressed. It the verb form of the noun used twice in verse 4 where it is translated tribulation and then trouble. It is also translated trouble in verse 8.

It is for your consolation and salvation is it is on behalf of (or for the sake of) your consolation (i.e. encouragement) and salvation.

Consolation is the same word translated comfort in verse 3 and consolation in verse 5.

Salvation refers to deliverance from their difficulties or persecutions rather than to their eternal deliverance from sin and its consequences. Paul had endured all kinds of difficulties in order to proclaim the gospel message in Corinth; and once some of the Corinthians were saved, he continued to endure many things for the comfort, consolation, or encouragement of the Corinthian believers.

Which is effectual is the one which works, the one which is at work, the one which is effective, or the one which functions.

Which is singular in the Greek text but refers to both consolation and salvation, suggesting that consolation and salvation refer to the same thing.

In the enduring of is in endurance of or in steadfast endurance of. The word translated enduring suggests the capacity to hold out or bear up in the face of difficulty and is variously translated patience, endurance, fortitude, steadfastness, or perseverance.

What they were enduring was the same sufferings which we also suffer, i.e. the same sufferings which we also are suffering.

Or whether is or if. It introduces a conditional statement, which, for sake of argument, is assumed to be true. The condition is or whether we be comforted, and it is true. Therefore, whether is understood in the sense of since, inasmuch as, or because.

We be comforted is we are comforted (i.e. consoled, cheered up, or encouraged).

It is for your consolation and salvation is the identical phrase used earlier in this verse. It forms the conclusion of the conditional statement whether we be comforted. It means it is on behalf of (or for the sake of) your consolation (i.e. your encouragement) and salvation.

II Corinthians 1:7 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.

According to verse 7, Paul's expectation of the believers in the church at Corinth remains unshaken. He knows that they have suffered persecution for Christ and that, therefore, they will also experience abundant encouragement in Christ.

Our hope of you is our expectation for you.

Is stedfast is (is) reliable, (is) dependable, (is) certain, or (is) unshaken.

Knowing is understood in the sense of because (i.e. since or inasmuch as) we know (i.e. we see, we perceive, or we recognize).

What we know is that as (or that just as) ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation. Just as one thing is true in the present, something else will be true in the future.

The thing that is true in the present is ye are partakers (i.e. companions or sharers) of the sufferings, i.e. of the sufferings of Christ and refers to the persecutions they had been enduring as believers in their participation in Christ's sufferings. When believers suffer for Christ, He suffers with them.

So . . . also introduces the thing which will be true in the future. So is in this manner or thus, and also suggests in addition to being partakers of Christ's sufferings.

Shall ye be partakers is implied by the context.

Of the consolation is of the comfort or of the encouragement and indicates what they will share in the future. This consolation, comfort, or encouragement will abound to them through the Lord Jesus Christ, and their experiences will eventually enable them to be helpful to other believers at some time in the future.

In our ministry of comfort we not only see that God comforts us in order that we might comfort others, but we also see that -

2. The ministry of comfort is costly - 1:8-9a

II Corinthians 1:8-9 a - 8 For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: 9a But we had the sentence of death in ourselves. . . .

In verse 8 Paul mentions trouble he had encountered in Asia Minor, which God allowed him to experience in order to enable him to be able to encourage others who might go through trouble of their own.

We would not is we do not wish (i.e. we do not desire or we do not want).

Paul addresses his readers as brethren (or brothers) and indicates that he regards them as fellow believers and members of the family of God.

Have you ignorant is that you be ignorant, that you not know, or that you be uninformed).

Of our trouble is about (or concerning) our trouble, our oppression, our affliction, or our tribulation). The same word was translated tribulation in verse 4. Its verb form is translated afflicted in verse 6.

Paul describes this trouble by which came to us (or upon us, meaning upon Paul himself) in Asia (i.e. in Asia Minor which was located in present-day Turkey, rather than to countries such as China, India, Japan, or Indonesia). It is not certain which experience Paul has in mind; and inasmuch as he does not specify what happened, one gathers that the Corinthian believers may have known about it. It may refer to the riot he recently experienced in Ephesus detailed in Acts 19:22-20:1 . It may instead have been one of his many experiences of suffering for Christ which he relates in II Corinthians 11:23-26, or it may not be mentioned elsewhere in Scripture.

That we were pressed out of measure, above strength further describes the trouble Paul experienced in Asia.

Were pressed is were weighed down or were burdened. Out of measure is to an extraordinary degree, beyond measure, or utterly.

Above strength is beyond strength and suggests beyond our ability or beyond our capability.

Insomuch that is so that or with the result that.

We despaired, where we is Paul, is we were at a loss, we were in great difficulty, we were in doubt, or we were in despair.

Even of life is even to live (or even to continue living). It suggests that Paul expected that he would not live through it. God has not revealed the nature of this experience of Paul's trouble so that believers may apply it generally to specific situations they experience.

Although the exact nature of Paul's trouble is not known, several things are known:

1) the trouble was so severe that Paul expected he would not live through it;

2) it happened after he wrote I Corinthians since it is not mentioned in I Corinthians;

3) it occurred in Asia;

4) it was one of the sufferings of Christ which abounded in Paul;

5) he survived it in order that he might encourage others.

II Corinthians 1:9 a - 9a But we had the sentence of death in ourselves. . . .

Verse 9 indicates that God used the persecution Paul experienced in Asia to teach him that he should not trust in himself but in God alone, and what Paul had learned may one day likewise be applicable to other believers who experience similar difficulties.

We had, where we is Paul, is intensive and understood in the sense of we ourselves had.

The tense of had indicates that an action was completed in the past whose result continued to the present, i.e. to the time of his writing this epistle. As a result of emphasizing the result of its action, it may be understood in the sense of we have.

The sentence of death is the official report of death or the decision of death.

In ourselves suggests in Paul himself. It means that he was in such danger of dying as a result of proclaiming the gospel that his only hope was in God delivering him. He knew that there was no way he would otherwise have lived through it.

In our ministry of comfort we not only see that God comforts us in order that we might comfort others and that the ministry of comfort is costly, but we also see that -

3. The cost has purpose - 1:9b-11

The first purpose is -

(1) That we learn to trust God rather than self - 1:9b-10

II Corinthians 1:9 b-10 - 9b . . . That we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: 10 Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us.

That (i.e. in order that or for the purpose that) we (i.e. Paul) should not trust in ourselves (i.e. depend on ourselves or have confidence in ourselves).

But introduces a strong contrast with ourselves.

In God which (i.e. upon God the Father Who) raiseth the dead indicates the only One on whom Paul can trust, depend, or rely. Paul knows that this experience was directed or permitted by God for his own spiritual good (Romans 8:28 ) in order that Paul might use it to encourage other believers experiencing similar difficulties.

This principle is true for all believers. No matter what difficulties, trials, or persecutions they endure, they cannot trust in themselves. Only God can deliver them. We all will go through this sort of training where God teaches us not to trust in ourselves but in Him. Maybe you are going through something like this right now.

II Corinthians 1:10 10 Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us.

Who is God the Father.

Delivered us, where us is Paul, is saved us, rescued us, or preserved us.

From so great a death suggests that God kept him from dying.

So great is used in reference to the degree of death and is understood in the sense of so important or so mighty.

And doth deliver is and does deliver or and continues to deliver (i.e. to save, rescue, or preserve). God is keeping Paul alive.

In whom (i.e. God the Father) is upon Whom.

We trust, where we is Paul, is literally, We have hoped and indicates an action which occurred at some time in the past whose result has continued to the time Paul is writing this letter. It has been translated in a way which emphasizes its existing result.

What Paul trusts is that he (i.e. God the Father) will yet deliver us (i.e. save, rescue, or preserve Paul).

Not only do we experience trials that we might to learn to trust God rather than self, the second purpose is -

(2) That others may learn intercessory prayer - 1:11

II Corinthians 1:11 11 Ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf.

Ye . . . helping together means you joining in helping or you cooperating together.

Also by prayer for us (i.e. on behalf of us, meaning Paul). Not only is Paul trusting God for deliverance in the future, but the Corinthian believers are likewise praying for his deliverance.

That . . . thanks may be given by many on our behalf is understood in the sense of in order that (or for the purpose that) appreciation might be expressed to God the Father through many persons for us (i.e. for me - for Paul). It might instead be understood as introducing an intended result and be understood in the sense of so that (or with the result that) appreciation might be expressed to God the Father through many persons on behalf of us (i.e. me - of Paul).

For the gift bestowed upon us in this context is for God's deliverance or rescue of Paul from so great a death in the past, in the present, and in the future, but particularly in the future. Paul's life was in constant danger, and it was only by the grace and gift of God that he was still alive and would continue to live and go on serving the Lord.

By the means of many persons speaks of the personal cause of the thanks being given to God.

The result of many persons praying for Paul's future deliverance from death, and then God delivering him, will result in these people thanking God for His deliverance of Paul.

CONCLUSION:

The ministry of comfort is one in which we can all participate. We need to learn to trust the Lord and to help others trust Him also.