Notes from my recent brief exegetical summary of 2 Corinthians 1:1-11. May it be of some encouragement for you today:
Not all affliction is of God, but God, in His freedom, through His love, works His salvation out through all affliction; in such a way as to remind us that we are to rely on Him.
By affliction what is meant is, burden, trouble, pressure, oppression. Also connected here is the word suffering; pathayma. Pathayma [i] means feeling, inward torment, or to be affected, or vexed. In verse 10, Paul infers pathayma to mean ‘deadly peril’, ‘ utterly burdened beyond Timothy and his own strength’, ‘despairing of life itself, feeling that he was faced with a death sentence’ (vv. 8 & 9).
In this affliction God brought paraklesis: comfort; consolation, solace, nearness, stirring motivation, encouragement, (loosely: teaching, to urge on). My favourites from this list are nearness and consolation. God ‘draws near to the broken-hearted and saves the crushed in spirit’ (Psalm 34:18).
How does He does this? In Jesus Christ, through paraklesis.
The Greek word paraklesis is also linked with the Holy Spirit [paraklete] . What we can then say is that God brings Himself into the trouble, oppression and works His salvation out through it. Comfort does not translate to mean a life of wealth, ease and prosperity. It means that ‘God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.’ (Psalm, 46:1, ESV)
God ‘rules the raging of the sea; when it’s waves rise, He stills them. He crushed Egypt (Rahab) like a carcass; scattered His enemies with His mighty arm.’ (Psalm 89:9-10, ESV)
According to Romans 8:26-28 ‘the Spirit helps us in our weakness.The Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called [those in Christ Jesus] according to His purpose.’
Likewise, in 2 Corinthians 1:1-11, the most unlikely of all Apostles, Paul, once again testifies to the decisive willingness, presence and power of God:
‘He delivered us…from deadly peril; He will deliver us…; He will deliver us again…(v.10) ‘On Him we have set our hope!’. On Who is it that we set our hope? On Who is it that we rely upon? ‘On God who raises the dead (v.9); is ‘the Father of mercies’; ‘Father of Jesus Christ’; and ‘God of all comfort/consolation’ (v.3)
In his devotional Faith’s Checkbook for December 6th, Charles Spurgeon writes:
‘we must go through the waters and feel the rush of the rivers. The presence of God in the flood is better than a ferryboat. Tried we must be, but triumphant we shall be; for Jehovah Himself, who is mightier than many waters, shall be with us. Whenever else He may be away from His people, the Lord will surely be with them in difficulties and dangers. The sorrows of life may rise to an extraordinary height, but the Lord is equal to every occasion.
The enemies of God can put in our way dangers of their own making, namely, persecutions and cruel mockings, which are like a burning, fiery furnace. What then? We shall walk through the fires. God being with us, we shall not be burned; nay, not even the smell of fire shall remain upon us.’
In other words, not all suffering and affliction is from God, but we can be sure that God works through all suffering and affliction.
‘Tried we must be, but triumphant we shall be!’
Jesus is Victor!
[i] Goodrick. E.W & Kohlenberger III, J.R 1990 NIV Strongs’s Exhaustive Concordance Zondervan Publishers
Artwork by John Martin, 1840. ‘The Destruction of Tyre‘, which is said to have been destroyed by Alexander the Great and be part of biblical prophecy.