The God of All Comfort 2 Corinthians 1:3-11

The Church in Corinth was established around 51 AD through the preaching of the apostle Paul. We read in Acts 18 how Paul stayed with Aquila and Priscilla and worked with them in their tent- making business. Every week for 18 months Paul preached in the synagogue that Jesus was the Messiah. Crispus the leader of the synagogue and his entire household became Christians and many others were also baptised and the church in Corinth was born.
Some years later Paul received a letter from Corinth telling of all kinds of problems in the church there with the church dividing into factions. We don’t have that letter, but we do have Paul’s reply and we know that as his first letter to the Corinthians. To try to put things right Paul then visited Corinth, but that visit did not go well. He was fiercely opposed by somebody in the Corinthian church and the congregation failed to support Paul so he made his way on to Ephesus. There he wrote a “severe” letter to the Corinthians, which again we do not have a copy of. Titus brought news of how the Corinthians had responded to that “severe” letter and so Paul wrote again and that letter we do have as 2 Corinthians.
The first nine chapters are very positive and encouraging, dealing with the individual who had opposed Paul. But then it seems more bad news had arrived from Corinth and chapters 10 to 13 pick up those issues. The new problem was that some of the Corinthians were challenging Paul’s authority to teach them. Since he had moved on from Corinth, other men had come along claiming to be apostles bringing false teaching leading which was leading the church astray. Paul was being attacked by this group within the church. They accused him of impure motives and preaching for money. They called him weak, ugly and a poor speaker. They claimed special revelations and said that Paul was not a true apostle.
So 2 Corinthians was written about six to eighteen months after I Corinthians. 2 Corinthians is first and foremost Paul’s defence of his own ministry against the claims of the false apostles. It is a very personal, and at times emotional letter. And what Paul has to say addresses vitally important questions. How do we distinguish a true apostle from a false apostle? How do we know which preachers to trust and which to reject? How does a church choose its minister and how does a denomination know who should be accredited as a minister and who should not be?
But the letter begins with a wonderful testimony of how God had helped Paul in his times of need.
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles,
Paul really needed comforting!!!
8 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death.
Later in 2 Corinthians Paul speaks in a number of places about the desperate situations he had faced.
2 Corinthians 6 3 We put no stumbling-block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. 4 Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; 5 in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; 6 in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; 7 in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; 8 through glory and dishonour, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; 9 known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
Paul went through a lot! Even through all these Paul can give this testimony,
2 Cor 1 10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us,
God rescued Paul and comforted him in all his sufferings.
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles,
WONDERFUL WORD comfort, encouragement, consolation, even exhortation, paraklesis.
But HOW did God comfort Paul? In what forms did God’s comfort come to Paul.

Sometimes comfort and encouragement comes through what other people do.
Paul was encouraged and comforted by some unspecified act of Philemon
Philem 7 Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.
Good news from Timothy I Thess 3 6 But Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith and love. He has told us that you always have pleasant memories of us and that you long to see us, just as we also long to see you. 7 Therefore, brothers and sisters, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith.
Titus brought good news 2 Cor 7 6 But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, 7 and not only by his coming but also by the comfort you had given him. He told us about your longing for me, your deep sorrow, your ardent concern for me, so that my joy was greater than ever.
2 Cor 7 13 By all this we are encouraged. In addition to our own encouragement, we were especially delighted to see how happy Titus was, because his spirit has been refreshed by all of you.
Comfort against affliction sometimes comes in words but consoling can come by events as well as words e.g. raising of Eutychus (Acts 20:12)
Acts 20:12 10 Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms round him. ‘Don’t be alarmed,’ he said. ‘He’s alive!’ 11 Then he went upstairs again and broke bread and ate. After talking until daylight, he left. 12 The people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted.

The Scriptures can bring us encouragement.
So Rom 15 4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.

Comfort can also come directly from God
Acts 9:31 31 Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.
2 Thess 2: 16 May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, 17 encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

Paul writes to the Romans as if encouraging was a spiritual gift like preaching or teaching, a charismatic gift of pastoral encouragement.
Rom 12:8 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

Indeed there is perhaps a link between encouragement and gifts of prophecy.
ACTS 15 30 So the men were sent off and went down to Antioch, where they gathered the church together and delivered the letter. 31 The people read it and were glad for its encouraging message. 32 Judas and Silas, who themselves were prophets, said much to encourage and strengthen the believers
ACTS 11 22 News of this reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. 24 He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.

Because God had comforted Paul, he could give comfort to others.
the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.
“Blessed to be a blessing” – yes and no. God comforts us because he wants us to be comforted, not just so that we can comfort others. But after he has comforted us, we are then able to share that comfort with other people going through the same kinds of problems.
6 If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7 And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

We should comfort each other
Hebrews 313 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today’, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.
Hebrews 10 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

In many situation our comfort and consolation comes from the hope which the gospel gives us.
1 Thess 4 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord for ever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

The most important comfort is through praying for people. Prayer should never be our last resort. Prayer should be our FIRST RESORT!
On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11 as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favour granted us in answer to the prayers of many.

Comfort, encouragement, consolation

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.

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