Wednesday

07 January 2015

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation.” (v. 3)

Psalm: Psalm 149 


Background

The opening thanksgiving of 2 Corinthians (verses 3-7) presents Paul's wonderful celebration of the comfort - or "consolation" - that comes from God to those who follow Jesus and who share in the Spirit. Paul's expectation throughout his letters is that following Jesus will involve suffering, and here he points to one way in which God works through trials. When we experience God's comfort in times of difficulty, then we find that we can comfort others going through similar experiences.

In the second part of the passage (verses 8-12), Paul explains to the Corinthians readers that he and his colleagues had experienced such affliction themselves. His teaching, then, is not simply theoretical but practical and experiential. For Paul, the experience of a severe trial that almost killed him led him and his colleagues to rely on God rather than themselves. Scholars dispute what exactly Paul was referring to during his time in Asia (a province within Asia Minor), with some suggesting that he was imprisoned. Whatever happened, Paul stresses that it was certainly a 'deadly peril' (v. 10).

Paul ends with emphasising that he had behaved with "frankness and godly sincerity" (v.12) to those he has taught. Paul had not tried to massage the truth into a form that would conceal its potential offence. He has not tried to change the message of the cross into a message about something else. Rather, Paul speaks openly about the grace of God. That, after all, is what he was called to do.


To Ponder

  • In what ways have you experienced the Spirit's comfort during times of suffering?
  • How have your experiences in life helped you to encourage others?
  • In what ways can we speak with "frankness and godly sincerity" today? 


Bible notes author: Ed Mackenzie

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