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- 2 CORINTHIANS 1 – COMMENTARY
v.3 “For us, the word ‘comfort’ may connote emotional relief and a sense of well-being, physical ease, satisfaction, and freedom from pain and anxiety. Many in our culture worship at the cult of comfort in a self-centered search for ease, but it lasts for only a moment and never fully satisfies. Watson comments that the word ‘comfort’ ‘has gone soft’ in modern English. In the time of Wycliffe the word was ‘closely connected with its root, the Latin fortis, which means brave, strong, courageous.’ The comfort that Paul has in mind has nothing to do with a languorous feeling of contentment. It is not some tranquilizing dose of grace that only dulls pains but a stiffening agent that fortifies one in heart, mind, and soul. Comfort relates to encouragement, help, exhortation. God’s comfort strengthens weak knees and sustains sagging spirits so that one faces the troubles of life with unbending resolve and unending assurance.” 
vv.9-10 “Paul saw that the terrifying experience he had gone through had had one tremendous use—it had driven him back to God and demonstrated to him his utter dependence on him. […] The danger of prosperity is that it encourages a false independence; it makes us think that we are well able to handle life alone. For every one prayer that rises to God in days of prosperity, ten thousand rise in days of adversity. […] It is often in misfortune that a man finds out who are his true friends, and it often needs some time of adversity to show us how much we need God.
The outcome was that Paul had an unshakable confidence in God. He knew now beyond all argument what he could do for him. If God could bring him through that, he could bring him through anything. […]The confidence of the Christian in God is not a thing of theory and speculation; it is a thing of fact and experience. He knows what God has done for him and therefore he is not afraid.” 
v.15 “The major theme within 2 Cor is Paul’s defense of his ministry under the new covenant. Paul’s relationship with the Corinthians was now quite strained for three reasons. First, Paul didn’t return as promised. Instead, he sent a severe letter (1:15–2:4; 10:10; 12:13–15). Second, a face-to-face visit only deepened the conflict between Paul and the Corinthians (10:1–10; 13:3–4). Third, Paul refused to accept payment for ministry (11:8–9), and some Corinthians believed that Paul had been duplicitous in this matter. He made much of declining payment, but (his detractors said) his co-workers received money for him anyway (12:16–18).” 
vv.15-22 “At first sight this is a difficult passage. Behind it lies another accusation and slander against Paul. Paul had said that he would visit the Corinthians, but the situation had become so bitter that he postponed his visit so as not to give them pain (verse 23). His enemies had promptly accused him of being the kind of man who made frivolous promises with a fickle intention and could not be pinned down to a definite yes or no. That was bad enough, but they went on to argue, ‘If we cannot trust Paul’s everyday promises, how can we trust the things he told us about God?’ Paul’s answer is that we can rely on God and that there is no vacillation in Jesus between yes and no. Then he puts the matter in a vivid phrase—’Jesus is the yes to every promise of God.’ He means this—had Jesus never come we might have doubted the tremendous promises of God, might have argued that they were too good to be true. But a God who loves us so much that he gave us his Son is quite certain to fulfill every promise that he ever made. He is the personal guarantee of God that the greatest and the least of his promises are all true.” 
v.22 “The sealing metaphor draws on ancient custom in Paul’s everyday world and could have a variety of meanings. Something was sealed or stamped to indicate ownership. […] The meaning of sealing in this text is controlled by the idea of marking ownership. They belong to God as God’s possession. Thus ‘sealing’ marks the beginning of God’s work in believers.
“We can also see theological significance of this metaphor beyond Paul’s use of it in the context to defend his integrity. God gives the Spirit as a first installment to those who believe in and serve him.
“1. It guarantees that our relationship with God is not something ephemeral but permanent and will continue beyond our death. The believers’ future destiny is assured in Christ. Having the deposit of the Spirit insures that we belong to the age to come. It provides surety that God will fulfill his promises and that believers in Christ will pass through the judgment unscathed.
“2. What is given is part of the whole. […] Believers therefore receive the Spirit at the time of their conversion (Gal 3:2–3). It brings what Christ has accomplished for them on the cross to fruition in believers’ lives and conveys into their lives God’s power that raised Christ from the dead.
“3. Believers do not receive a portion of the Spirit, but the Spirit is the installment that gives a foretaste and assures the glory that is to come. The Spirit makes present God’s future blessing. It helps believers to evaluate the present suffering in light of the glorious future (see Rom 8:9–27).
“4. The final inheritance the Spirit guarantees is yet to be realized. Believers have not yet arrived at the heavenly goal.
“5. The deposit of the Spirit does not come without any strings attached. The metaphor of a deposit implies that those who receive the first installment obligate themselves to fulfill their part of the contract. Believers should understand that God gives the Spirit to empower them for service.” 
Garland, D. E. (2001, c1999). Vol. 29: 2 Corinthians (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (60). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
The letters to the Corinthians. 2000, c1975 (W. Barclay, lecturer in the University of Glasgow, Ed.). The Daily study Bible series, Rev. ed. (2 Co 1:12). Philadelphia: The Westminster Press.
 Apologetics Study Bible. 2007. Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers. Note on 2 Cor. 1:15
The letters to the Corinthians. 2000, c1975 (W. Barclay, lecturer in the University of Glasgow, Ed.). The Daily study Bible series, Rev. ed. (2 Co 1:23). Philadelphia: The Westminster Press.
Garland, D. E. (2001, c1999). Vol. 29: 2 Corinthians (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (108). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
BIBLE TEXT: 2 Corinthians 1:1-4 (ESV)
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
To the church of God that is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in the whole of Achaia:
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 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.
Reflection & Application
2 Corinthians 1:1-4
- Reflect on the fact that God is described as the “Father of mercies” and “God of all comfort.”
• What mission does v. 4 give to every Christian?