God of All Comfort

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort…” 2 Corinthians 1:3 NASB

As we come now to the book of 2nd Corinthians, Paul addresses some of the things he previously addressed in 1st Corinthians, but also deals with a few new issues as well.

Think of 1st Corinthians as a call for believers to be unified with each other, while the focus of 2nd Corinthians is for the church in Corinth to be unified with Paul and his ministry.

In the same way, we should be unified as a church in ministry for the furtherance of the Gospel.

In 2nd Corinthians we find Paul’s thoughts on the Gospel ministry (Chapters 2-5), encouragements for holy living, (Chapters 6-7), and instructions about giving (Chapters 8-9).

One point Paul makes in our reading for today is that we can find genuine comfort in God as Paul did.

Paul knew a thing or two about suffering for the gospel, something we will cover in more detail next week, but here in 2nd Corinthians, Paul’s opponents are undermining his work in Corinth, claiming that Paul was not an Apostle – why?  Because he suffered too much!

I guess their thought was a real apostle would be spared some of the opposition Paul suffered at the hands of men.

Yet, Paul had learned the great lesson of suffering for the Gospel, his suffering highlights his dependence on Christ, as it points to Christ’s strength and not his own.

We are reminded that God comforts us so that we can comfort others.

I was reading through several passages in Matthew 5 earlier in the week – verses from Jesus’s teaching we call the Sermon on the Mount.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4 ESV

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:10 ESV

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:11-12 ESV

As Christians we share in the sufferings and comfort of others. But, we rely not on ourselves but on Him.

Paul found genuine comfort in God. We will too.

As we go through the difficult times in life, no matter what the storm or challenge we face, we find comfort in the Word of God, comfort in the prayers of those around us, and we find comfort in the examples of the saints that have gone before us.

Our God is a God of mercy and comfort, in Him we can rest.

Until next time… keep reading!

Jim

We Gather to Build Up One Another

“But in giving this instruction, I do not praise you, because you come together not for the better but for the worse.” I Corinthians 11:17 NASB

You may recall in Acts 18, Paul spent 18 months in Corinth and planted the church there. He is writing to the church five years later, wondering how it all went wrong.

As we turn our attention to I Corinthians Chapters 11-14, Paul is admonishing the Corinthian Church for the things that are taking place during worship. What a compelling verse we find in 11:17.

“But in giving this instruction, I do not praise you, because you come together not for the better but for the worse.”

Paul is telling the Corinthians their meetings, or gatherings, are doing more harm than good! Wow!

As a church, our purpose for gathering is to worship the Lord and build each other up – sharing in the sacraments as a body, helping each other draw closer to Jesus and seek ways we can intentionally impact the world for Jesus.

But in Corinth things have gone awry.

One area of particular concern was how they were sharing the common meal and partaking of communion. We see good examples of this in Acts 2, but it is distorted here in 1 Corinthians 11.

The agape feast—which Paul had established as a time when believers would share their meals in common and where they would partake of the Lord’s Supper together—had become nothing more than a drunken party.

The Lord’s Supper should have been the remembrance of a preeminently selfless act -namely Christ’s death on behalf of others.

A rite of unity had turned into disunity.

While one brother went hungry because he lacked the means to eat well, another brother drank to excess.

The rich ate well, eating what they brought, the poor went without.

These things had caused divisions and missed the whole purpose of the gathering – to share things in common, love each other, and partake in communion – the Lord’s Supper, in remembrance of the work on the cross.

When we celebrate and partake of the Lord’s Supper, it is a visible sermon that proclaims “the message of the Cross” – the reality of the Lord’s death, the purpose and grace associated with His atoning work, and the certainty of His return.
The overall message of this passage is that divisions within the body can cause more harm than good.

We are to be mindful of others, selfless in our attitudes toward one another and seek to build each other up.

We are to be ever mindful that our big purpose is to help others draw one step closer to Christ.

Partaking in the Lord’s Supper should never be taken for granted and should serve to remind us of the grander purpose and the good news of the Gospel – Jesus Christ and Him crucified!

Until next time… keep reading!

Jim

Sources used for this blog – The Bible Knowledge Commentary and Courson’s New Testament Application Commentary.