While living and traveling in the Mediterranean region, Paul corresponded several times with the Christian community in
Paul and the Corinthians knew each other well. Paul had lived, preached, and taught in
Though Paul will soon address several problems in
What can we take from this passage? First, we learn that, this side of the grave, God’s salvation in Jesus does not exempt us from trouble and death. The world apart from Jesus continues to fester with evil and suffering, and we live in this world. Those who are alienated from God still resist, ridicule, and attack God’s purposes and people as they did Jesus himself. And, most lamentably, we who embrace Jesus fail to live fully into the new life God seeks to work in and through us. From our failure comes further wrong and woe.
Second – yet this is the primary application we gather from today’s passage! – we learn that we can and should participate in God’s saving work through suffering love. Jesus suffered for us, and in that we experience God’s compassion and comfort. As we then follow Jesus faithfully, we also embody God’s love for the world, thus sharing in Jesus’ sufferings. Thereby we extend God’s compassion and comfort to others in their troubles, bringing them the good news – the salve – of new life, hope, and purpose in Jesus. So we, with Paul, may exclaim, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort…!”