Introduction to Second Corinthians; God’s Comfort/ Consolation/ Exhortation His Exhortation for Reciprocal Comfort Between Believers:Volume 5, Number 58
Created Date: August 26, 2023
Posted Date: August 26, 2023
The word “faith” occurs 7 times in 2nd Corinthians, just as in 1st Corinthians. The significance of each will be noted as we proceed. First, some background to this epistle. During his second missionary journey, Paul lived, worked and taught for 1 ½ years in Corinth,. He then traveled with Priscilla and Aquila to Ephesus where he left them and went on to Jerusalem, . While gone, a Jew named Apollos, born in Alexandria, Egypt traveled to Ephesus. He was a powerful speaker and taught in the synagogue the things of the Lord, but he only knew what John the Baptist had taught. Aquila and Priscilla encountered him and taught him “the way of God more perfectly” (obviously the Gospel of Grace they had learned from the Apostle Paul), . Apollos then traveled to Corinth where he convinced/proved to Jews there from Old Testament (OT) Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ (promised Messiah). When Paul returned to Ephesus, , he ministered there for more than 2 years, and wrote 1st Corinthians. (Companion Bible notes and Appendices 180 & 192 indicate Paul wrote 1st Corinthians from Ephesus in the Spring of 57 AD and then left, traveling back to Macedonia (northern Greece) from whence he wrote 2nd Corinthians in the Autumn of that same year while enroute to Corinth again. On the other hand, Pastor Kevin Sadler, President of the Berean Bible Society, in his pamphlet “The Timeline of Paul’s Ministry” indicates Paul wrote 1st Corinthians in 54 AD and 2nd Corinthians in 55 AD.) Paul lived with Gaius during his second visit to Corinth at which time he wrote Romans, .
2nd Corinthians opens: “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, Timothy our brother, unto the church of God, which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia: Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.”, which is similar albeit somewhat abbreviated from his opening of 1st Corinthian 1:1 - 3. (In 1st Corinthians Paul writes with Sosthenes.) The emphasis (or theme) in 2nd Corinthians differs from that of 1st Corinthians. First, whereas 1st Corinthians deals with the end of water baptism, 2nd Corinthians doesn’t mention it; 1st Corinthians addresses the sign gifts of tongues and prophesy practiced by the Corinthians while 2nd Corinthians makes no mention of either. After his initial greetings in 1st Corinthians Paul exhorts/desires them to be of one mind, that there be no divisions among them but to be perfectly joined together in the same mind and judgment, because Paul had heard about contentions among them, . And much of 1st Corinthians corrects them from their carnal (fleshly or worldly) propensities.
On the other hand, after his initial greetings in 2nd Corinthians, Paul begins with comforting words: “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”. Going on in 2nd Corinthians we find prominently the words comfort, comforteth, consolation, exhort, etc., translated from the noun and verb forms of a Greek word. The individual Words in The Word of God are highly important and therefore worth study and understanding. The English Church Bishop Lancelot Andrewes (approx. 1555 to 1626) was prominent in translating the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. He reportedly could speak 15 languages of his time as well as 6 ancient languages. At times, he would preach for an hour about one word in the Bible. Speaking of words, the KJV has 10 English words translated “comfort, comforteth, comforted and consolation” in , all translated from 2 Greek words. These 4 verses appear to set the tone for the rest of 2nd Corinthians as these words are prominent throughout the rest of this epistle. The 2 Greek words in question are:
• The Greek “paraklesis” (G3874), which occurs 29 times in the New Testament (NT) where it is translated “consolation” 14 times; “exhortation” 8 times; “comfort” 6 times and “entreaty” once. It is found by far most frequently in 2 Corinthians at 11 times where it is translated “consolation” in 1:5, 6, 6, 7 & 7:7; “exhortation” in 8:17; “comfort” in 1:3, 4 & 7:4, 13 and “entreaty” in 8:4. “Paraklesis” is a noun defined as “a calling near, a summons to one’s side; hence, an admonitory (expressing admonition: warning), encouraging and consolatory exhortation, invitation or entreaty.” It is found only once in 1st Corinthians where it is translated “exhortation,”.
• The Greek “parakale’o” (G3870) occurs 108 times in the NT, most frequently in Acts at 21 but second most frequently in 2 Corinthians at 18 where it is translated comfort 1:4, 4, 4, 6; 2:7; 7:6, 6, 7, 13; beseech 2:8; 5:20; 6:1; 10:1; 12:8; exhort 9:5; desire 8:6; 12:18; be of good comfort 13:11. It is a verb, defined as “to call to one, call near, to call for, every kind of speaking to, which is meant to produce a particular effect, e.g., exhortation, encouragement, comfort, etc.” “Parakale’o” occurs only 6 times in 1 Corinthians.
Anyone who has lived very long has seen the meaning of various English words take on new meanings; think of what comes to mind when you hear or see certain words. For instance, “bad” used to conjure the thought of failing to meet certain standards, being poor, or failure to meet a standard, etc., however, now some say “the baddest songwriters” are the greatest songwriters. “Cool” is defined as moderately cold or lacking in warmth or lacking friendliness but it can mean to some freedom from tensions or violence, as “I’m cool now;” or as being very good, or excellent or alright, as in “it was a very cool movie.”
I submit that the meaning of our English words “comfort” and “consolation” usually bring to mind different thoughts/ideas than do “exhort” or “exhortation and yet the KJV translates them from the same Greek words. The English dictionary defines the verb “comfort” as “to give strength and hope: to cheer; to ease the grief or trouble; console.” It defines the noun “comfort” as “strengthening aid; assistance, support; consolation in time of trouble or worry; solace; a feeling of relief or encouragement; contented well-being; one that gives or brings comfort.” On the other hand, the English dictionary defines the verb “exhort” as “to incite by argument or advice; urge strongly; to give warnings or advice; make urgent appeals;” and of course the noun “exhorter” is one who carries out the incitement, argument, warning, advise, urgent appeal. Thus, we need to keep the meanings of the original Greek words in mind, when encountered.
An example of the change in tone or emphasis between 1st Corinthians and 2nd is obvious in the case where Paul told them to exclude from their fellowship the man involved in an incestuous relationship,. They obviously had done as Paul asked and the man apparently learned his lesson and stopped that relationship as in 2nd Corinthians Paul writes: “So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort (the Greek verb parakale’o) him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. Wherefore I beseech (the Greek verb parakale’o) you that ye would confirm your love toward him.” .
Consider the subject of reconciliation in: “(verse 18) And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; (verse 19) To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. (Verse 20) Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech (Greek verb parakale’o) you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. (Verse 21) For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” The role of reconciliation and ambassadorship in the believer’s life is unique to 2nd Corinthians and will be explored when we get to this passage.
Continued in the next study.