Comfort — 2 Corinthians 1:3-7

The prayers of Paul

This is a series on the prayers of St Paul found in the letters attributed to him in the order he is believed to have written them. Letters to the same place or person will be treated together with the first letter to that destination.

2 Corinthians is not a continuation of 1 Corinthians. 1 Corinthians has only opening and closing prayers and is written only for a young church. By the time Paul got to write 2 Corinthians the Gospel message had spread from Corinth to other towns in Southern Greece, the letter is for them all. The way Paul prays through the letter is different too. 2 Corinthians has prayers throughout as well as at the beginning and end.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.

2 Corinthians 1:3-7 ESVUK

This is the second prayer in 2 Corinthians. The first, in verse 2, is a simple prayer for grace and peace. I posted about grace when I wrote about Galatians‘ prayers and about peace in 1 Thessalonians.

Seven times the words comfort, comforting etc are used by Paul in these five verses. There must be something important about comfort for Paul to mention it so many times in his prayer.

My meditation on the prayer, the bit I do before looking at commentaries when preparing, and Comforter is a name of the Holy Spirit came into my mind, so I checked the Greek and the word used by Jesus (paraklētos) for the Holy Spirit and that used by Paul (paraklēsis) are very similar. That does not mean they have the same meaning, but it’s a start. So I looked up the definitions of these words in a concordance:

The only difference I could find is that paraklētos is someone who is sent from you to help others and paraklēsis is someone who is summoned to help you. Both are about people being aided in difficulties the difference is perspective. From the Rabbinic perspective the Messiah is the one who comes to help.

At this time I looked at commentaries. Tom Wright is the expert on the writings of Paul, and he says, “‘Comfort. It can mean ‘to call someone to come near’, ‘to make a strong appeal or exhortation’, or ‘to treat in an inviting or friendly way’.[1]” At least that shows I chose the same concordance that he uses.

So the prayer is for something more than what we think of when we say comfort, it also covers help and consolation. But there are two more points in this short prayer, the source of our comfort, help and consolation is Christ is the first point. When we suffer for being Christians—note this is not the same as suffering for being a jerk—then we get comfort from Christ because we are sharing in his suffering.

The second point is “pass it on.” Paul has been suffering and has received comfort from Christ, as well as telling the Christians in and around Corinth that there is comfort in Christ he also comforts them himself. Paul passes comfort on and tells his readers to pass it on as well. Imagine what Social media could be like if the Christians on there did not join in the dogpiling and spread comforts to those abused online.

Facebook has groups which self-help and Twitter has self-help through hashtags, I find #AskingAutistics very useful. Amongst the abuse that is well-published by the media, there is a lot of good happening on social media. I don’t have time to engage on more than one platform, but I imagine the mix is also the same on the other ones.

Get out there, in the virtual and none virtual worlds. Start sharing the comfort you have received with others.

[1] Wright, Tom. Paul for Everyone: 2 Corinthians (New Testament for Everyone) . SPCK. Kindle Edition.

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