2 Corinthians 1:4
Who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted of God.
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(4) Who comforteth us.—For the writer, the name “God of all comfort” was the outcome of a living personal experience. He had felt that ever-continuing comfort flowing into his soul, and he knew that it had not been given to him for his own profit only, but that it might flow forth to others. Heathen poets had asserted one side of the truth. Sophocles had said—

“They comfort others who themselves have mourned;”


and Virgil—

“Not ignorant of ill, I, too, have learnt

To succour those that suffer.”—Æn. i. 630.

There was a yet deeper truth in the thought that the power to comfort varies with the measure in which we have been comforted ourselves. Sorrow alone may lead to sympathy, but it falls short of that power to speak a word in season to them that are weary (Isaiah 1:4), which is of the very essence of the work of comforting. The words imply that he had passed through a time of tribulation himself. They imply also that he knew of their troubles. (Comp. 2Corinthians 7:7-11.)

1:1-11 We are encouraged to come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. The Lord is able to give peace to the troubled conscience, and to calm the raging passions of the soul. These blessings are given by him, as the Father of his redeemed family. It is our Saviour who says, Let not your heart be troubled. All comforts come from God, and our sweetest comforts are in him. He speaks peace to souls by granting the free remission of sins; and he comforts them by the enlivening influences of the Holy Spirit, and by the rich mercies of his grace. He is able to bind up the broken-hearted, to heal the most painful wounds, and also to give hope and joy under the heaviest sorrows. The favours God bestows on us, are not only to make us cheerful, but also that we may be useful to others. He sends comforts enough to support such as simply trust in and serve him. If we should be brought so low as to despair even of life, yet we may then trust God, who can bring back even from death. Their hope and trust were not in vain; nor shall any be ashamed who trust in the Lord. Past experiences encourage faith and hope, and lay us under obligation to trust in God for time to come. And it is our duty, not only to help one another with prayer, but in praise and thanksgiving, and thereby to make suitable returns for benefits received. Thus both trials and mercies will end in good to ourselves and others.Who comforteth us - Paul here doubtless refers primarily to himself and his fellow apostles as having been filled with comfort in their trials; to the support which the promises of God gave; to the influences of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter; and to the hopes of eternal life through the gospel of the Redeemer.

That we may be able to comfort ... - Paul does not say that this was the only design which God had in comforting them that they might be able to impart comfort to others; but he does say that this is an important and main purpose. It is an object which he seeks, that his people in their afflictions should be supported and comforted; and for this purpose he fills the hearts of his ministers with consolation; gives them personal experience of the sustaining power of graco in their trials; and enables them to speak of what they have felt in regard to the consolations of the gospel of the Lord Jesus.

By the comfort ... - By the same topics of consolation; by the same sources of joy which have sustained us. They would have experience; and by that experience they would be able to minister consolation to those who were in any manner afflicted. It is only by personal experience that we are able to impart consolation to others. Paul refers here undoubtedly to the consolations which are produced by the evidence of the pardon of sin, and of acceptance with God, and the hope of eternal life. These consolations abounded in him and his fellow apostles richly; and sustained by them he was able also to impart like consolation to others who were in similar circumstances of trial.

4. us—idiomatic for me (1Th 2:18).

that we may … comfort them which are in any trouble—Translate, as the Greek is the same as before, "tribulation." The apostle lived, not to himself, but to the Church; so, whatever graces God conferred on him, he considered granted not for himself alone, but that he might have the greater ability to help others [Calvin]. So participation in all the afflictions of man peculiarly qualified Jesus to be man's comforter in all his various afflictions (Isa 50:4-6; Heb 4:15).

Who comforteth us in all our tribulation; us, who are the ministers of the gospel, (as it may appear by what followeth), for the apostle saith, that God doth it, that ministers might, from the comforts wherewith God had comforted them, be able to comfort his people when they are under any trouble, either of body or mind, by the same methods and arguments which the Holy Spirit had used and brought to their minds under trouble to relieve any of them. Two things are observable from this verse:

1. That the apostle attributeth all the support, relief, and comfort, which he had under any tribulation, to God, as the Fountain and Author of all mercy; for though possibly our comforts may be caused from the application of some promises in holy writ, either called to our minds by the act of our own minds, or brought to our remembrance by some others; yet it is God who must make those plasters to stick, and to become healing and sanative to our souls: so that he is the principal efficient cause, though the Scriptures, or men, may be instrumental causes.

2. That the gifts, graces, and mercies that God bestowed upon his ministers, are bestowed upon them, not merely for their own use, but for the use and good of others; to enable them to be serviceable in doing good to others’ souls. Who comforteth us in all our tribulation,.... The apostle in this verse gives a reason of the former thanksgiving, and at the same time confirms the above character of God, as "the God of all comfort", by his own experience, and that of his fellow ministers; who, though they had been in great tribulation and affliction for the sake of Christ, and his Gospel, yet were not left destitute of divine help and support under their trials; but had much consolation and sweet refreshment administered to them by the presence of God with them, the application of his promises to them, the shedding abroad of his love in them, and the fellowship and communion they enjoyed with Father, Son, and Spirit. The end of this, or why God was pleased to comfort them in such a manner, was not so much on their own account; though it showed that they were loved, and not hated and rejected of God, but for the good of others:

that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God; many are the troubles and afflictions of the saints in this life, but it is the will of God that they should be comforted: and the persons he employs and makes use of in this way are his ministering servants, whose principal work and business it is to speak comfortably to the people of God; see Isaiah 40:1, and that they may be able to do so, that they may be fitted and furnished for so good a work, they are blessed with a rich experience of divine consolation in themselves, under the various troubles and exercises they are attended with in the course of their ministry; and such persons are, of all others, the fittest, and indeed the only proper persons to speak a word in season to weary souls.

Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, {3} that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

(3) The Lord comforts us to this end and purpose, that we may so much the more surely comfort others.

2 Corinthians 1:4. Ἡμᾶς] Where Paul in this Epistle does not mean himself exclusively, but wishes to include Timothy also (or others, according to the context), although often only as quite subordinate, he speaks in the plural. He does not express himself communicativè, but in the singular, where he gives utterance to his own personal conviction or, in general, to anything concerning himself individually (2 Corinthians 1:13; 2 Corinthians 1:15; 2 Corinthians 1:17; 2 Corinthians 1:23; 2 Corinthians 2:1-10; 2 Corinthians 2:12-13; 2 Corinthians 7:4; 2 Corinthians 7:7 ff., al.). Hence the frequent interchange between the singular and plural forms of expression.[122]

Chrysostom already gives the force of the present παρακαλῶν correctly: ὍΤΙ ΟὐΧ ἍΠΑΞ, ΟὐΔῈ ΔῚς, ἈΛΛᾺ ΔΙΗΝΕΚῶς ΤΟῦΤΟ ΠΟΙΕῖΔΙῸ ΕἾΠΕΝ Ὁ ΠΑΡΑΚΑΛῶΝ, ΟὐΧ Ὁ ΠΑΡΑΚΑΛΈΣΑς.

] concerning all our affliction. The collective sufferings are regarded as one whole. Afterwards, on the other hand, ἐν πάσῃ θλ.: in every affliction. ἐπί marks the ethical foundation, i.e. here the cause, on account of which. See Matthiae, p. 1373. Comp. 2Ma 7:5 f.; Deuteronomy 32:36. According to Rück., παρακαλ. denotes the delivering, and hence he takes ἐπί of the circumstances: in. See Matthiae, p. 1370. But throughout the passage παρακ. means to comfort; and it is quite an open question, how the comforting takes place, whether by calming or by delivering. God did both in the apostle’s cas.

εἰς τὸ δύνασθαι κ.τ.λ.] in order that we may be able, etc. For he, who for himself received comfort from God, is by his experience placed in the position of being able to comfort others. And how important was this teleological view of his own sorrows for the apostolic calling! “Omnia sua P. ad utilitatem ecclesiae refert,” Grotiu.

τοὺς ἐν πάσῃ θλίψει] is erroneously and arbitrarily taken as equivalent to ΠΆΝΤΑς ΤΟῪς ἘΝ ΘΛΊΨΕΙ (see Emmerling, Flatt, Rückert). It means: those to be found in every trouble, the all-distressed; not: those to be found in whatever sort of trouble (Hofmann), but ἐν παντὶ θλιβόμενοι, 2 Corinthians 4:8, 2 Corinthians 7:5.

] i.e. through communication of our own comfort, which we experience from God. This more precise determination of the sense is demanded both by the preceding mention of the purpose εἰς τὸ δύνασθαι κ.τ.λ., and by the ΑὐΤΟΊ. Olshausen, it is true, holds that Paul conceives the comfort to be a real power of the Spirit, which may again be conveyed to others by the recei2Colossians 1 :But there is no analogy in the whole N. T. for this conception; for Matthew 10:13 is merely a concrete illustration of the efficacy or non-efficacy of the ΕἸΡΉΝΗ ὙΜῖΝ.

] Attracted, as in Ephesians 1:6; Ephesians 4:1, because one can say ΠΑΡΆΚΛΗΣΙΝ ΠΑΡΑΚΑΛΕῖΝ. See Gieseler in Rosenmüller, Repert. II. p. 124; Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 247 [E. T. 287]. The attracted genitive instead of the dative in other cases is very rare. See Kühner, ad Xen. Mem. ii. 2. 5.

αὐτοί] ipsi, for our own selves, in contrast to the others to be comforted.

[122] Even in the plural mode of expression, however, he has always himself and his own relations primarily in view; and, owing to the versatility of his mode of conception, it is often quite a matter of accident whether he expresses himself singulariter or communicative. Hence the interchange of the two modes of expression in one sentence, e.g. 2 Corinthians 11:6 f.2 Corinthians 1:4. ὁ f1παρακαλῶν ἡμᾶς κ.τ.λ.: who comforteth us in all our affliction (the def. art. indicating trials actually existing). The verb παρακαλεῖν has three shades of meaning, (a) to beseech, eighteen times in St. Paul, (b) to exhort, seventeen times, (c) to comfort, thirteen times, of which seven are in this Epistle, where the word occurs altogether seventeen times. Cf. 2 Corinthians 1:6, 2 Corinthians 2:7-8, 2 Corinthians 5:20, 2 Corinthians 6:1, 2 Corinthians 7:6-7; 2 Corinthians 7:13, 2 Corinthians 8:6, 2 Corinthians 9:5, 2 Corinthians 10:1, 2 Corinthians 12:8; 2 Corinthians 12:18, 2 Corinthians 13:11.—εἰς τὸ δύνασθαι κ.τ.λ.: to the end that we may be able to comfort them that are in any affliction (sc., any that may happen to arise). This is the final purpose of God’s gifts of grace, viz., that they may not only be a blessing to the individual, but through him and as reflected from him to his fellows.—ἧς παρακαλούμεθα: through the comfort wherewith we ourselves are being comforted of God. ἧς, for ἥν, has been attracted into the case of παρακλήσεως (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:19, chap. 2 Corinthians 10:13, Ephesians 2:10).4. tribulation] Tribulatio, Vulgate. The word thus translated is rendered trouble in the next clause, and in the Vulgate by pressura, and is derived from a verb signifying to squeeze, press. The English word tribulation is derived from the Latin tribulo, to thresh. See Trench, Study of Words, Lect. 11.

that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble] St Paul represents affliction (1) as a school of sympathy, (2) as a school of comfort (or rather encouragement), 2 Corinthians 1:5, (3) as a school of assurance, 2 Corinthians 1:10.—Robertson.

by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God] We may observe here, as elsewhere in Scripture, that no gift is bestowed upon any one to keep to himself. If St Paul is encouraged by God, it is not only for his own sake, but that he may be able to impart to others the encouragement which he has received. See notes on First Epistle, especially on ch. 1 Corinthians 6:12, 1 Corinthians 8:13, 1 Corinthians 10:23, 1 Corinthians 14:5; 1 Corinthians 14:12. Cf. also John 15:1-17; Romans 14; 1 Corinthians 3:9; 1 Corinthians 4:7; Ephesians 4:16; Colossians 2:19.2 Corinthians 1:4. Πάσῃ· πάσῃ, in all, in all) He who has experienced one kind of affliction is peculiarly qualified to console those in the same circumstances; he who has experienced all is able to console men under all kinds of affliction, Hebrews 4:15.—θλίψει, in tribulation) The antithetic words on the one side are παθήματα, adversities [the sufferings], and θλίψις, distress [straitness] of mind; of which the one is implied in the signification of the other—and on the other side, σωτηρία, salvation; and παράκλησις, consolation; of which the one is in like manner implied in the signification of the other. The frequent occurrence of these words will be greatly relished, but only by the experienced. [How great need is there of experience! how ill-qualified a guide is he, who is without it!—V. g.] Adversity is treated of from 2 Corinthians 1:8; consolation from ch. 2 Corinthians 7:2, etc. Paul speaks generally of comfort at the beginning; he, however, refers especially to that, which he derived from the obedience of the Corinthians.—αὐτοὶ) we ourselves.Verse 4. - Who comforteth us. The "us" implies here, not only St. Paul and Timothy, but also the Corinthians, who are one with them in a bond of Christian unity which was hitherto undreamed of, and was a new phenomenon in the world. St. Paul always uses the first person in passages where he is speaking directly of individual feelings and experiences. In other passages he likes to lose himself, as it were, in the Christian community. The delicate play of emotion is often shown by the rapid interchanges of singular and plural (see vers. 13, 15, 17; 2 Corinthians 2:1, 11, 14, etc.). The present, "comforteth," expresses a continuous experience, with which the Christians of the first age were most happily familiar (John 14:16-18; 2 Thessalonians 2:16, 17). In all our affliction. The collective experience of affliction is sustained by the collective experience of comfort. That we may be able to comfort. Thus St. Paul takes "a teleological view of sorrow." It is partly designed as a school of sympathy. It is a part of the training of an apostle, just as suffering is essential to one who is to be a sympathetic high priest (Hebrews 5:1, 2). In any trouble. The original more forcibly repeats the words, "in all affliction." Wherewith we ourselves are comforted. By means of the comfort which God gives us, we can, by the aid of blessed experience, communicate comfort to others. In all our tribulation - in any trouble (ἐπὶ πάση τῇ θλίψει ἡμῶν - ἐν πάσῃ θλίψει)

Note the nice use of the article: all our tribulation, collectively; any or every trouble, specifically. In is literally upon; the trouble forming the ground of the comfort. So in hope, Romans 4:18; Romans 5:2.

We ourselves are comforted

An illustration of the personal character which pervades this epistle. Paul had been oppressed with anxiety concerning the reception of his first epistle by the Corinthian Church, by the delay of tidings, and by his disappointment in meeting Titus. The tidings, when at last they did arrive, aroused his gratitude for the wholesome effect of his rebuke upon the Church, and his indignation at the aggressions of the Judaizing teachers. With these feelings mingled his anxiety to hasten, in the Corinthian Church, the contribution for the poor saints in Judaea. This second letter therefore bears the marks of the high tension of feeling which finds expression in frequent personal allusions, especially to his afflictions.

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