Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians — 01 COMFORT IN TIMES OF AFFLICTION

Geoff Hohneck
Paul's Second Letter to the Corinthians
Comfort in times of affliction
2 Corinthians 1:1-11
08 November 2015

As Christians, how are we to respond to those who wrong us? In Second Corinthians, Paul writes to the believers in Corinth who caused him great pain when they ran after false teachers. The church having now repented, Paul writes back, defending his ministry, and explaining the reason God allows Christians to suffer affliction.

Paul had been caused much heartache when false teachers twisted the Gospel he preached to the Corinthian believers. To correct these errors, he penned First Corinthians. Eventually, the church repented, and Paul writes Second Corinthians. He begins with an introduction (v. 1 - 2), reminding the church that he was "an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God" (v. 1); not merely a self-appointed teacher. He also reminds them of the grace and peace that can only come from "God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (v. 2).

So, why did God allow Paul to suffer affliction, and what is the purpose of it for Christians today? The first reason is that it is an opportunity for us to experience the comfort of God (v. 3 - 4a). When we are afflicted, we turn to Him who is "the Father of mercies and God of all comfort" (v. 3).

We are afflicted because it is an opportunity to pass on God's comfort to others (v. 4b - 7). In times of trouble, we must learn to find rest in God. Then, when others are afflicted, we can help comfort them also. For this reason, Paul writes, "if we are comforted, it is for your comfort" (v. 6).

Affliction teaches us to rely on God, and not ourselves (v. 8 - 10). Paul experienced such affliction that he "despaired even of life" (v. 8). Although painful, such experiences teach the Christian "that we should not trust in ourselves" (v. 9), but rather God.

Lastly, affliction is an opportunity to pray for others and give thanks to God (v. 11). It causes us to think of other sufferers, to give thanks for those praying for us, and above all, for Him who is the God of all comfort.