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Thursday, January 17, 2019

2019.01.08 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Corinthians 1:1-7

Questions for Littles: Whose apostle was Paul (v1)? By whose will was Paul an apostle? Who else wrote this letter with him? To whose church did he write it? Where was this church? To which other people in Achaia was it written? How many of them? What two things does the apostle pronounce upon them (v2)? From what two persons? Whom does the apostle bless in prayer in v3? What three things does he call God? What does God do for us (v4a)? In how much of our troubles does God bless us? What does v4 give as one reason for which God comforts us? In what troubles will we be able to comfort others? With what comfort will we be able to comfort them? By whom will we and they have been comforted? What abounds in us, according to v5a? So also what of ours abounds (v5b)? Through whom? For why/whom were Paul and Timothy afflicted (v6)? What was steadfast (v7)? What did they know?
In this week’s Epistle reading, the passage is full of the sovereignty of God, in places and ways that we might find surprising.

First, there is God’s sovereignty in ministry. It is by God’s will that Paul was an apostle of Jesus.

Then, there is God’s sovereignty in the lives of all the saints.  Grace can only be grace if it is sovereign. Anything other way, and grace would be more like rewarding or coaching. And true peace can come from God only if He is able to give us every kind of peace. An incomplete peace is, by definition, not peaceful! But grace and peace both come from God and from Christ. Jesus, of course, is Himself the sovereign God. There is no one else from whom grace and peace can come.

Then, there is God’s sovereignty in comfort. He is the God of all comfort. There is no comfort that He cannot give. He comforts us in all tribulation. There is no trouble in which we does not comfort us. His can help others in any trouble. There is no trouble that our friend may be in, in which this comfort cannot console them.

Finally, there is God’s sovereignty in suffering. Yes, He is able to comfort us once we are in the suffering, but He also sovereignly rules over our coming into that suffering. Verse 5 says very specifically that  it was the sufferings of Christ that abounded in Paul and Timothy. And there is no greater example of God’s sovereignty in suffering than the suffering of Christ (cf. Luke 22:22; Acts 2:23, 3:18, 4:28).

It is no wonder, then, that the apostle concludes that the results of the suffering were planned all along. “If we are afflicted, it is for your consolation…” One thing that can be a most difficult part of suffering is when it seems to have no purpose. But Paul knows the purpose of his own suffering (to be able to console others), and theirs (in order to partake of the consolation).

This is one of the sweetest of God’s purposes for our suffering. Yes, we suffer in order to glorify Him. Yes, we suffer in order to serve others. But we also suffer in order that we might be consoled. God loves to console His people, and to make that consolation abound through Christ!
When have you suffered the most? How has Christ been your consolation? Whom else have you had an opportunity to comfort? How do you prioritize being a comfort to others?
Suggested songs: ARP197 “Christian Unity” or TPH409 “Blest Be the Tie That Binds”

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