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1. God of All Comfort

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia: 2Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. 3Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4Who 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. 5For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. 6And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. 7And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation. 8For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: 9But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: 10Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us; 11Ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf.

12For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward. 13For we write none other things unto you, than what ye read or acknowledge; and I trust ye shall acknowledge even to the end; 14As also ye have acknowledged us in part, that we are your rejoicing, even as ye also are ours in the day of the Lord Jesus.

15And in this confidence I was minded to come unto you before, that ye might have a second benefit; 16And to pass by you into Macedonia, and to come again out of Macedonia unto you, and of you to be brought on my way toward Judaea. 17When I therefore was thus minded, did I use lightness? or the things that I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, that with me there should be yea yea, and nay nay? 18But as God is true, our word toward you was not yea and nay. 19For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, even by me and Silvanus and Timotheus, was not yea and nay, but in him was yea. 20For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us. 21Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; 22Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts. 23Moreover I call God for a record upon my soul, that to spare you I came not as yet unto Corinth. 24Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand.

God, indeed, is always true and steadfast in his promises, and has always his Amen, as often as he speaks. But as for us, such is our vanity, that we do not utter our Amen in return, except when he gives a sure testimony in our hearts by his word. This he does by his Spirit. That is what Paul means here. He had previously taught, that this is a befitting harmony — when, on the one hand, the calling of God is without repentance, (Romans 11:29,) and we, in our turn, with an unwavering faith, accept of the blessing of adoption that is held out to us. That God remains steadfast to his promise is not surprising; but to keep pace with God in the steadfastness of our faith in return — that truly is not in man’s power. 294294     “D’apporter de nostre costé vne correspondance mutuelle à la vocation de Dieu en perseuerant constamment en la foy;” — “To maintain on our part a mutual correspondence to the call of God by persevering steadfastly in the faith.” He teaches us, also, that God cures our weakness or defect, (as they term it,) when, by correcting our belief, he confirms us by his Spirit. Thus it comes, that we glorify him by a firm steadfastness of faith. He associates himself, however, with the Corinthians, expressly for the purpose of conciliating their affections the better, with a view to the cultivation of unity. 295295     “Expressement afin de les gaigner et attirer a vraye vnite;” — “Expressly for the purpose of gaining them over and drawing to a true unity.”

21. Who hath anointed us. He employs different terms to express one and the same thing. For along with confirmation, he employs the terms anointing and sealing, or, by this twofold metaphor, 296296     “Par les deux mots qui sont dits par metaphore et similitude;” — “By these two words which are employed by way of metaphor and similitude.” he explains more distinctly what he had previously stated without a figure. For God, by pouring down upon us the heavenly grace of the Spirit, does, in this manner, seal upon our hearts the certainty of his own word. He then introduces a fourth idea — that the Spirit has been given to us as an earnest — a similitude which he frequently makes use of, and is also exceedingly appropriate. 297297     “Αῤρ᾿αβὡν and the Latin arrhabo are derived from the Hebrew ערבון (gnarabon) — a pledge or earnest; i.e., a part of any price agreed on, and paid down to ratify the engagement; German, Handgift.” — Bloomfield. “The word appears to have passed, probably as a commercial term, out of the Hebrew or Phenician into the western languages.” — Gesenius. — Ed. For as the Spirit, in bearing witness of our adoption, is our security, and, by confirming the faith of the promises, is the seal (σφραγὶς), so it is on good grounds that he is called an earnest, 298298     “If God having once given this earnest, should not also give the rest of the inheritance, he should undergoe the losse of his earnest, as Chrysostome most elegantly and soundly argueth.” — Leigh’s Annotations. — Ed. because it is owing to him, that the covenant of God is ratified on both sides, which would, but for this, have hung in suspense. 299299     “A seal was used for different purposes: to mark a person’s property, to secure his treasures, or to authenticate a deed. In the first sense, the Spirit distinguishes believers as the peculiar people of God; in the second, he guards them as his precious jewels; in the third, he confirms or ratifies their title to salvation. [...] An earnest is a part given as a security for the future possession of the whole. The Holy Ghost is the earnest of the heavenly inheritance, because he begins that holiness in the soul which will be perfected in heaven, and imparts those joys which are foretastes of its blessedness.” — Dick’s Theology, volume 3 — Ed.

Here we must notice, in the first place, the relation 300300     “La correspondance mutuelle;” — “The mutual correspondence.” which Paul requires between the gospel of God and our faith; for as every thing that God says is more than merely certain, so he wishes that this should be established in our minds by a firm and sure assent. Secondly, we must observe that, as an assurance of this nature is a thing that is above the capacity of the human mind, it is the part of the Holy Spirit to confirm within us what God promises in his word. Hence it is that he has those titles of distinction — the Anointing, the Earnest, the Comforter, and the Seal. In the third place we must observe, that all that have not the Holy Spirit as a witness, so as to return their Amen to God, when calling them to an assured hope of salvation, do on false grounds assume the name of Christians.


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