2 Corinthians 1:1-11 The Christian View Of Suffering

by | Apr 4, 2023 | 2 Corinthians, New Testament

I. History & Greeting

A. Background

1. Paul founded the church in Corinth. He spent 18 months there, was their spiritual father.

2. Over the years, the church struggled in many ways: division & cliques, immorality, etc.

3. Self-appointed apostles followed behind Paul, trying to discredit him and gain followers.

B. Greeting Vs. 1, 2

1. V. 1 Paul identified himself as an apostle chosen by God, and not self-ordained.

a. This was important, for many people in Corinth sought to discredit Paul.

b. If Paul’s enemies could discredit him, the Gospel message would be hindered.

c. Paul had much to tell them, and they needed to remember that Paul’s authority, calling, and sending were from God

2. V. 1 The letter was to be read at Corinth and beyond. It was to be circulated.

3. V. 2 Grace & peace – Paul wished God’s divine favor and spiritual peace upon them.

II. How Should We Respond To Suffering? Vs. 3-11

A. Remember Who God Is V. 3, 4a

1. V. 3a Blessed be – Speak well of God. Eulogētós-From which we get the word eulogy.

2. Why should we speak well of God? Because of Who He is.

a. Father of mercies – compassion, pity

b. God of all comfort – the God that comes near (comfort…to come near)

3. When I am suffering, I need to be sure about who God is.

4. Timothy Keller – “Suffering is unbearable if you aren’t certain that God is for you and with you.”

5. V. 4a Tribulations – literally: pressure

a. In ancient England, criminals were punished by putting heavier and heavier weights upon them until they died.

b. This aptly describes the feelings we have during seasons of suffering. Pressure.

6. NOTE– When and where does God comfort us? IN our trials.

a. We often pray for God to take away painful circumstances. Those circumstances are often the very thing that God will use to make us strong, and purify our faith, and cause us to be a greater blessing in the lives of others. Godly suffering transforms us.

b. If we think that relief cannot come until the trial departs, then we miss out on the relief that could come before the trial departs.

c. We think wrongly if we believe that relief cannot come until the suffering ends.

B. Remember What God Does Vs. 4, 5

1.Paul explains the benefits that the Christian can gain if they respond in faith during suffering. These benefits are not automatically given to those who suffer, but are obtained only by responding in faith.

a. Sadly, some Christians never gain any spiritual blessings in their suffering.

b. We need to remember that great blessings can come if we respond in faith

2. Paul presents these truths almost like an algebra problem, with two corresponding truths straddling an equal sign.

3. V.4b – Paul says that we comfort others with the comfort we have received. Acts 18:9-11

4. Notice the “if-then” aspect of what Paul is saying.

a. With the comfort I have received, I am able to comfort others. I must first receive.

b. If I, by faith, receive comfort from God, then I am better equipped to comfort others.

5. V. 5-To the degree that I receive comfort, I will be able to comfort others.

a. For as – to the degree; according to; in proportion as…

b. The harder the athlete trains, the better his chance for success.

c. The more I walk in faith, the more comfort I receive, the more I can comfort others.

d. It is not suffering that produces holiness, but faith during suffering.

6. Paul’s suffering is listed in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28; 12:7-10

C. Why God Allows Suffering Vs. 6, 7

1. Guzik-God had a larger purpose in Paul’s suffering than just working on Paul himself. God brought comfort to others through Paul’s sufferings.

2. How did God bring consolation & salvation to the Corinthians through Paul’s suffering?

a. As Paul suffered beyond his own strength, he experienced more of God’s strength.

b. Paul had more than just his own strength to offer to others. He had a testimony.

c. V. 6-effective for enduring – energeo-energetically powerful.

3. Paul also became an example and an inspiration to other Christians.

a. Other Christians were able to see the comfort and mercy of God in Paul’s life.

b. They were better able to believe that God could comfort them.

4. V.7 – Paul was able to speak confidently to the Corinthians.

a. Paul was sure that as God had helped him, He would help the Corinthians.

b. The comfort of God had become a great reality to Paul; it wasn’t just theory.

c. With experiential confidence Paul could comfort the Corinthians.

5. Guzik – We see Paul living in the footsteps of Jesus, who was truly an others-centered person. Paul’s life is not focused on himself, but on the Lord and on those whom the Lord has given him to serve. Is Paul suffering? It is so that God can do something good in the Corinthian Christians. Is Paul comforted? It is so that God can bless the Corinthian Christians. It wasn’t all about Paul; it was also about the Corinthians.

D. Paul’s Personal Suffering Vs. 8-11

1. V. 8 – beyond measure – A throwing beyond others; abundance, (far more) exceeding, excellency, more excellent, beyond (out of) measure.

a. Paul’s suffering went far beyond what he or others could have imagined.

2. There are many suggestions about what Paul was referring to.

a. Fighting with “wild beasts” in Ephesus (1 Corinthians 15:32)

b. Suffering 39 stripes after being brought before a Jewish court (2 Corinthians 11:24)

c. The riot at Ephesus (Acts 19:23-41)

d. A particular persecution shortly before Paul left for Troas (Acts 20:19; 1 Cor. 16:9)

e. A recurring physical malady

3. Paul regularly felt like a death sentence was hanging over him. He could die any time.

4. V. 9-Paul’s sufferings made it obvious to Paul that he could only trust in God.

a. The worst thing that could happen to Paul would be death.

b. But Paul was sure that God could raise the dead.

5. V.10 – Notice the chronology of Paul’s faith. Past faith led to more faith.

a. We had faith in sufferings, and God delivered.

b. We have faith now, and God is delivering.

c. We have faith that God will deliver.

6. V.11 – In spite of all the personal faith that was exhibited by Paul, he affirmed that God’s work in him was also the result of people praying for him.

a. The Corinthians were a struggling group of Christians. Many problems among them.

b. Yet…Paul’s faith and their prayers would result in many people thanking God for the mercy and comfort that God sent to Paul.