It is evident from the salutation that the apostle Paul is the author of this epistle and that it was written to the church at Corinth, probably from Philippi, a city of Macedonia, a year or so after the first epistle. In this epistle Paul defends his office and gospel against false teachers, urges the church to comfort and restore the fallen brother, writes of the true glory of God and reconciliation to God which is only seen in and accomplished by Christ Jesus, tells of his sufferings and afflictions in the service of Christ and gives perhaps the fullest instructions concerning collections, offerings and giving to he found the New Testament.
(Vs. 1.) Paul identifies himself by name and office. His salutation is much the same as is found in other epistles and reveals that the true servants of Christ are not fond of fancy titles, before or after their names, and they ascribe their offices and authority to the will and call of God. God put Paul in the ministry and gave him his gifts (1 Tim. 1:12-14). In humility (characteristic of Paul) he includes young Timothy in this greeting, calling him "our brother" in the grace of God and the ministry of the gospel. The epistle is addressed to the church at Corinth and to all believers in that region.
(Vs. 2.) "Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ." Paul prays for an increase of grace, for every grace is imperfect in us, and those who have the most stand in need of more (2 Peter 3:18; 1 Peter 1:1-3). By "peace" is meant peace with God through Christ, peace and contentment in our own hearts and peace among believers and with all men. The Father is the giver and Christ is the fountain of all grace and peace in this life and throughout eternity.
(Vs. 3.) The word "blessed" means to praise, to thank, to speak of in the highest adoration and to give all glory to our eternal God. He is described as "the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ," not by creation, as angels and men, nor by adoption as believers, but by eternal generation, having the same nature with him and equal to him in perfection, power and glory (John 1:1-3). The title "Father" denotes his covenant relation to the Mediator and his seed (Gal. 3:16). He is called "the Father of mercies" even as life, love, light and all mercies are from God (Micah 7:18), physical, material and spiritual! And he is called "the God of all comfort." There is no comfort nor rest except from him and in him. Whatever comfort believers enjoy, they have from the Father, who is their covenant God, through Christ, who is their Redeemer and Mediator and by the Holy Spirit, who is called the Comforter.(Vs. 4.) Two things are evident from this verse.
1. The apostle attributed all comfort, strength and grace; which he experienced in trials and tribulations, to God (Heb. 13:5, 6) as the fountain of mercies.
2. The gifts, grace and comforts which God bestows upon us are not merely for our own use, but in order that we may help and comfort others by the comfort we have from our Lord.
(Vs. 5.) "The sufferings of Christ" are not those which he suffered himself in our stead, but the persecution, afflictions and trials which ministers and believers endure on earth because of the gospel and opposition from men (2 Cor. 4:7-10). Christ called Saul's persecution of believers a persecuting of himself (Acts 9:4; Matt. 25-40). God multiplies his comfort in Christ according to the measure of his trials. As our afflictions increase, so do our comforts in order that we may comfort others and not be overwhelmed with grief.
(Vs. 6.) The afflictions and comfort, the sufferings and blessings of the apostles and other ministers of the gospel were all for the good of believers, who saw their boldness, submission and courage in trial, heard their comforting words (Phil. 1:13, 14) and were encouraged to endure with faith the same trials. The spirit and attitude we exhibit both in trial and comfort have a great and lasting effect upon those to whom we minister the Word (Phil. 4:11-13; 2 Cor. 4:15-18). God uses men as ambassadors and examples (1 Cor. 10:11; 1 Peter 5:3).
(Vs. 7.) "Our hope for you" that is, "our confident expectation the good work of God in regeneration, sanctification and in Christ, which is begun in your souls, will be carried on and perfected. You will continue in the faith and not be moved away from your profession of Christ by the afflictions and trials which you see in us and experience yourselves. Just as you share and are partners in our sufferings, you share and are partners in our comfort."
(Vs. 8, 9.) We are not sure about the troubles Paul refers to in this verse but, whatever they were, he says they were so great he despaired even of life, for these trials were above his natural strength to bear them. It was his opinion that he would die, but God brought him to this extreme condition that he might lay aside all trust and confidence in human strength, wisdom and power to survive and be encouraged to trust in God alone, who raised the dead. If he is able to raise the dead, so he is able to deliver us at all times. Abraham believed this (Heb. 11:17-19).
(Vs. 10.) The Lord in mercy delivered us from this heavy affliction and, knowing that we are continually exposed to danger and death, he will continue to preserve and protect us! All three tenses - past, present and future - are mentioned, which shows Paul's confidence in God's goodness in delivering of troubles for his glory and our good. This confidence can also apply to our redemption. We have been saved (Eph. 2:8, 9), we are being saved (l Cor. 1:18), and our salvation is nearer than when we believed (Rom. 13:11).
(Vs. 11.) Faith in God's purpose, power and sovereignty ought not to discourage prayer, the use of means, nor intercession for one another (James 4:2; Matt. 7:7, 8). "You prayed for us and God was pleased to deliver us. Therefore, for this gift bestowed upon us by the means of many praying, many ought also to give thanks to God on our behalf." We ought to pray for those in distress, but we ought also to give thanks when prayers are heard.