2 Corinthians 1:5
For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds by Christ.
1. It would be difficult to exaggerate how much suffering, patiently and heroically borne, contributed to the propagation of the Christian religion. All the apostles were martyrs, except St. John, and he was a martyr in will.
2. This Epistle is one which is marked by intense feeling. We see the different emotions of joy and sorrow, thankfulness and indignation, disappointment and confidence, distress and hope, breaking forth every here and there in this Second Letter to the Corinthians. The apostle is speaking in the text of troubles, afflictions, and persecutions which he himself had endured, to which he refers in verse
3. But he does not repine.
I. "THE SUFFERINGS OF CHRIST ABOUND IN US."
1. First, notice what a very different view of suffering we find in the New Testament from that which was taken of old. The Jewish estimate was very narrow. We see from the Gospels that the Jew regarded suffering as retributive, but not as remedial or perfective. There are many reasons for interpreting the purposes of pain and affliction in a wider way. The sufferings of Job, "a perfect and an upright man," and the sufferings of the animal world, might have opened the eyes to the inadequacy of their theory.
2. The apostle says, "The sufferings of Christ abound in us." Is not Christ in glory? How canst. Paul speak still of His sufferings? The words have received three interpretations. One, the sufferings of Christ means our sufferings for Him. Another, by the sufferings of Christ is meant sufferings similar to those which He bore; and so the martyrs might all claim a special likeness to Him in their violent deaths. But the third interpretation seems more to the point. The sufferings of Christ mean His sufferings in us. Christ said, when Saul was persecuting His members, "Why persecutest thou Me?" So close is the union between the Head and the members, that Christ, as an old commentator asserts, was in a manner stoned in Stephen, beheaded in Paul, crucified in Peter, and burnt in St. Lawrence.
II. Now, "OUR CONSOLATION."
1. Our sufferings differ from Christ's, in that we have consolation which is apportioned to our trial. Christ suffered without solace. His Passion was endured amid what spiritual writers describe as "dryness of spirit." This, it need not be said, intensifies affliction (John 12:27; Matthew 27:46).
2. But with the Christian, if the sufferings "abound," the consolation "abounds" also. This accounts in part for the different spirit in which the martyrs faced death from that which the King of Martyrs displayed.
3. Christ purchased the consolation which is bestowed upon His members. The text runs, Our consolation aboundeth by Christ," or, Revised Version, "through (διά) Christ." Through His death and passion, through His all-prevailing intercession, through the gift of the Spirit, and the grace of the sacraments — trial and persecution have been endured even with thankfulness and joy (James 1:2; Philippians 3:10).
1. To take a right view of suffering.
2. To realise the consolation as the gift of Christ, and as measured out in proportion to our day of trial.
3. Especially to seek this "consolation" from the Comforter, God the Holy Ghost — like the Churches of old, who walked "in the comfort of the Holy Ghost" (Acts 9:31).
(Canon Hutchings, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.