Wednesday 08 January 2020

Bible Book:
2 Corinthians

If we are being afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation; if we are being consoled, it is for your consolation, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we are also suffering. (v. 6)

2 Corinthians 1:3-12 Wednesday 8 January 2020

Psalm: Psalm 149:1-5


At first reading these verses from Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians seems very straightforward. Using his own experience of suffering, Paul is pointing out to his readers that such suffering is provided to enable the person concerned to offer consolation or care to others in the similar situation. However, we need to remember that in the tradition from which the readers came, the understanding was that if someone suffered in this life their consolation would not arrive in their earthly existence but was for the future and it is to this situation that Paul is addressing the first part of this letter.

To quote A E Harvey in his commentary, “According to Jewish religion, God was certainly a God of consolation. But this consolation took certain precise forms, the prophets, the Messiah and the ultimate destiny of Israel, and it was them which gave grounds for hope, in the tribulations of the present time.” However, throughout this second letter, Paul is stating that the substance of God’s consolation is not about something that will happen in the future but is for the here and now; it is not just something to hope for but is available as a present experience.

In the verses we are looking at today, it would seem that Paul is using his own experience of suffering, which might have been life-threatening whilst he was in Asia, to engender some sympathy from the people of the church to which he is writing. Later in the letter we can read that in some way the relationship he had previously had with that church had broken down to some extent, and it seems that he is writing to try to rebuild the confidence he had with the people there before. By reminding the people of the way in which Christ suffered, he conveys to his readers the notion that there is hope and comfort even in the midst of affliction, and it seems to attempting to reinforce his previous influence with them to enable them to work together for good in the face of any danger and suffering which might come about for them.


To Ponder:

  • Does it seem that Paul is somehow using his experience of suffering to gain sympathy from the Corinthian Church in order to re-build a somewhat broken relationship?
  • What is the message from this passage for us when relations within the church can seem to be divided rather than united in following Christ?
  • What consolation can the Church offer to the suffering today?
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