“The body of Christ” is a mysterious phrase used more than 30 times in the New Testament. The apostle Paul especially settled on that phrase as an image of the church. After Jesus ascended to heaven, He turned over His mission to flawed and bumbling men and women. He assumed the role of head of the church, leaving the tasks of arms, legs, ears, eyes, and voice to the erratic disciples—and to you and me.
Jesus’s decision to operate as the invisible head of a large body with many parts means that He often relies on us to help one another cope during times of suffering. The apostle Paul must have had something like that in mind when he wrote these words: “[God] comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ” (2 Cor. 1:4–5). And all through his ministry Paul put that principle into practice, taking up collections for famine victims, dispatching assistants to go to troubled areas, acknowledging believers’ gifts as gifts from God Himself.
The phrase “the body of Christ” expresses well what we are called to do: to represent in flesh what Christ is like, especially to those in need.
Dear Lord, thank You for always being faithful to comfort me when I’m hurting. Show me who needs my encouragement today.
God’s presence brings us comfort; our presence brings others comfort.
We receive God’s comfort for our sake but also to extend God’s comfort to those around us. The word paraklesis, translated as comfort, appears twenty-nine times in the New Testament. The word has a range of meaning that encompasses comfort, consolation, and earnest request and is most often translated encouragement. And of the eight times paraklesis is translated comfort, seven appear in this passage. Paul paints a picture of the God who is concerned: The God who, out of His compassion, is acting to provide consolation for His people. The text says not simply that God is a dispenser of comfort but that He is the source of all comfort.