2 Corinthians 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God . . . To the church of God in Corinth.
Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth was probably written in AD 55, just several months after his first letter. In addition to what we know as First and Second Corinthians, there was other correspondence, and possibly a visit. False teachers had challenged Paul’s apostleship and were hurting the church. An important purpose of this letter was to refute their claims.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
Paul suffered throughout his ministry, and some of it was due to the church in Corinth. Paul loved them dearly, but they often went astray, and even questioned his authority. The relational strain caused pain on both sides, but allowed them to experience the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles.
This idea can also be found in the Old Testament. May your unfailing love be my comfort (Psalm 119:76), wrote the Psalmist. I, even I, am he who comforts you (Isaiah 51:12), said God. And, As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you (Isaiah 66:13), said God again.
The comfort God provides is difficult to describe, but is often expressed when Christians say, I don’t know how people get through this without the Lord. Whenever we are distressed, we can go to our heavenly Father, and receive the comfort that we need.
2 Corinthians 1:11 . . . you help us by your prayers.
Some of the Christians in Corinth opposed the Apostle Paul, but others were loyal to him, and prayed for him. Their prayers did not produce miraculous results, but they did provide a measure of help. This should encourage us to pray as well.
Since most of our prayers are not answered dramatically, we might wonder if prayer is a waste of time. But if we could see the collective force of our prayers, especially when joined to the prayers of others, it would be clear that prayer is the greatest power on earth. God can use a single prayer to cast a mountain into the sea (Matthew 21:21), but he often uses the prayers of many to move things in the right direction.
A good example is found in the way that Jesus taught us to pray: your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10). This has been prayed by billions of people, over thousands of years, but has not been fully answered. Nevertheless, God is using this prayer to advance his kingdom one day at a time. Prayer is not always answered promptly and completely, but faithful prayer moves things in the right direction.
2 Corinthians 1:20 For no matter how many promises God has made, they are Yes in Christ.
Jesus Christ is the present and future fulfillment of everything God has promised. He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32), wrote Paul.
You may die of sickness, but you’ll wake up to health. You may die of poverty, but you’ll wake up to wealth. You may die of sorrow, but you’ll wake up to joy. You may die of conflict, but you’ll wake up to peace. You may die alone, but you’ll wake up to family. You may die in weakness, but you’ll wake up to strength. You may die in disgrace, but you’ll wake up to honor. You may die in pain, but you’ll wake up to pleasure. For no matter how many promises God has made, they are Yes in Christ.
2 Corinthians 1:21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ.
The idea of standing firm is so important that it’s found throughout the Bible, along with threats and promises. [S]tand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you (2 Chronicles 20:17). If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all (Isaiah 7:9). [T]he one who stands firm to the end will be saved (Matthew 10:22). Stand firm, and you will win life (Luke 21:19).
Sumo wrestling is a contact sport in which the main goal is to knock one’s opponent outside a ring that is less than fifteen feet in diameter. The opponent has the same goal, and the contest can be fierce. Winning and losing depend on the wrestler’s ability to stand firm against his opponent. When the world, the flesh and the devil conspire to knock you out of the ring, Stand firm, and you will win life.
2 Corinthians 2:14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession.
Victorious generals were often given parades to celebrate their victories. Multitudes lined the streets and cheered as the general led the parade in his chariot, with his troops marching behind. At the end of the parade were captives who had now become slaves.
Paul viewed himself as a captive of Christ, but instead of despairing, he delighted in his new king, and his new country. He had served an evil king, but was captured by a heavenly king. And this heavenly king shares the blessings of victory with all his captives. Paul was not being led to a place of sorrow, but to a better place than he ever imagined.
That is what it is like for many who come to Jesus Christ. At first they oppose him, and do not want to serve him. But after being captured they are joyful, and want to serve him forever. The greatest possible victory is to be captured by Jesus Christ.
Reflection and Review
Have you ever felt comforted by God?
Why is it important to stand firm in Christ?
Were you opposed to Christ before you were captured?