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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

THE GOD OF ALL COMFORT

2 Corinthians 1:3-7 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings, which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope of you is steadfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.

The first letter to the church at Corinth was written while Paul was laboring with the church at Ephesus. This, his second letter to the church of God, which is at Corinth, was probably written only a short time after writing the first, and, also, was probably written as Paul was continuing his missionary journey visiting other churches in Macedonia. In the second letter, Paul continues to address problems and questions similar to those that brought about the first letter.

As we read these letters today, we can be thankful for the preservation of the inspired instructions given to the body of Christ at Corinth, because of their universal application to similar conditions that exist in the church of Christ today. Surrounded by immorality, the church at Corinth had to overcome many worldly obstacles, as well as numerous false teachers, in order to practice, and maintain, the Christian doctrine God expects in His church. How true this is today, and how appropriated Paul's teaching is now, and for all future generations.

The lesson text was written, by Paul, in the form of a prayer of gratitude and thanksgiving to God, and begins with this phrase: Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. How grateful Paul was for the divine intervention in his life, that the Lord Jesus Christ, Himself, appeared to him on the road toward Damascus, converting him, directing him to be baptized into Christ's body. And, afterwards, He appointed Paul to be His apostle, to spread the gospel of Christ throughout the known world, especially to Gentile nations. Paul also refers to the almighty God as the Father of mercies. Mercy originated with God and, as our Heavenly Father, serves as a spiritual example to all of His children. To all sinners that repent, turn away from sinful ways, and seek His forgiveness, God is faithful to pardon all iniquity. ...He retaineth not His anger forever, because He delighteth in mercy (Mic. 7:18).

With further emphasis and explanation, Paul says that the Father of us all is the God of all comfort. Comfort is assistance and encouragement; it is relief from distress, pain, and suffering; it is the quiet enjoyment that is free from disappointment, worry, and despondency; it is consolation in times of sorrow and grief; it is the solace that makes loneliness bearable. Comfort from God comes when He grants us the encouragement and strength to overcome all obstacles of life. Joy and happiness fills our lives when we share this godly comfort with others in their times of need. This fact Paul elaborates on, in the following verses of the lesson text.

Just as Paul, and his fellow workers for the cause of Christ, were comforted in their trials and tribulations; just as all Christians receive this same comfort from God, we are encouraged to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. Once experiencing the comfort of our Heavenly Father in overcoming life's misfortunes, our knowledge is increased, and our faith is strengthened in God. This enables us to comfort others as we have been comforted, by bringing God into their lives, and explaining the gospel message of Jesus Christ to all that have open hearts, and desire to obtain eternal life in heaven. Verse five assures us that becoming, remaining, and growing as a Christian, we will suffer persecutions from the world around us. However, in so doing, we will find, and even abound in, God's consolation available for us. Jesus gave His life to bring the hope of salvation into the world. First century apostles, preachers, and teachers suffered extreme persecution in order to deliver the gospel of Christ to all sinners that they might enjoy that hope of salvation, which is God's comfort to His children. Paul assures us that, as Christians, we, too, are partakers of those sufferings, but to our benefit, we also receive the comfort and consolation of our Heavenly Father, the God of all comfort.