Comfort / Comforter

Comforter ComforterRescuer

What kind of comfort do you need?

The origin of the English word comfort from the Oxford online dictionary: “Middle English (as a noun, in the senses of strengthening, support, consolation; as a verb, in the senses of strengthen, give support, console): from Old French confort (noun) or conforter (verb), from late Latin confortare, strengthen, from com- (expressing intensive force) + Latin fortis, strong. The sense of something producing physical ease arose in the mid 17th century.”

Thus scriptural comfort is a reinforcement of strength – mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical.

In 2 Corinthians 1:4 the Apostle Paul said this about comfort:

  • “who (i.e. the God of all comfort, v. 3) 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.” (KJV)
  • “who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (NIV)
  • “who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (NASB)
  • “who comforts and encourages…” (AMP)

Note: The KJV word tribulation in this verse is from the Greek word thlipsis, meaning pressure, oppression, affliction, distress, straits; it’s translated trouble or affliction in other versions.

Comfort here is from the Greek word paraklesis (G3874, noun), defined in Strong’s as meaning:

– a calling near, summons, (esp. for help); importation, supplication, entreaty; exhortation, admonition, encouragement
– consolation, comfort, solace; that which affords comfort or refreshment
– thus of the Messianic salvation (so the Rabbis call the Messiah the consoler, the comforter)
– persuasive discourse, stirring address
– instructive, admonitory, conciliatory, powerful hortatory discourse

John 14:16-17 (NIV) says, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever — the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.”

Advocate here in the NIV is translated Comforter in the King James Version. It is from the Greek word paraklatos (G3875, noun), defined in Strong’s as:

– one who is summoned, called to one’s side, esp. called to one’s aid
– one who pleads another’s cause before a judge, a pleader, counsel for defense, legal assistant, an advocate
– one who pleads another’s cause with one, an intercessor
– of Christ in his exaltation at God’s right hand, pleading with God the Father for the pardon of our sins
– in the widest sense, a helper, succourer, aider, assistant
– of the Holy Spirit destined to take the place of Christ with the apostles (after his ascension to the Father), to lead them to a deeper knowledge of the gospel truth, and give them divine strength needed to enable them to undergo trials and persecutions on behalf of the divine kingdom

John used this word to describe the Holy Spirit. It is translated Comforter in KJV, Advocate in NIV, Helper in NASB, and Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby) in the Amplified Version. He is all that, in every imaginable variation and circumstance.

What kind of comfort did Peter need?

  • Understanding, wisdom, speaking ability, revelation knowledge
  • Angel for a jailbreak…

5 So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. 6 The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. 7 Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists. 8 Then the angel said to him, “Put on your clothes and sandals.” And Peter did so. “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,” the angel told him. 9 Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. 10 They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him. (Acts 12:5-8 NIV)

What kind of comfort did Paul need?

  • Understanding, supernatural information, healing from beatings, resurrection from stoning, deliverance from mobs
  • Earthquake for a jailbreak…

25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. 27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!” 29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:25-30 NIV)

See the Book of Acts for these and many other examples. Also see I Corinthians 12 for Gifts of the Holy Spirit, i.e. God’s power tools, equipment, supplies, inside information, wisdom and weaponry.

God the Holy Spirit, the believer’s indwelling Comforter / Helper / Assistant / Intercessor / Strengthener does more than just bring emotional calmness and peace of mind which is what most people today tend to think of as comfort, although he certainly does that.

And he isn’t just called alongside to help, he’s INSIDE to help.

So – what kind of comfort do you need?

Sozo salvation

Paul wrote “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power (Greek word dunamis, from which we get dynamite) of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16 KJV.)

The gospel — the good news — of Christ — is the power of God.

Christ, the anointed one, the designated one, the sin-free one who was qualified to accept my sin so I could get clear of it, clean of it, free of it myself. And to those who hear this good news and believe it, that good news is power. Not just ordinary human power, like a get-out-of-jail-free card, though.

The power of God. Dunamis, dynamite power, miracle power. God’s ability, strength, capability, resources, tools, knowledge and determination.

What does God use his power for?

For one thing, to create the creation. All the planets, all the universes, all the galaxies, all the matter and all the people that ever have existed or will exist, everything.

Then, to maintain the creation. Keep things running, existing, cohering, living. Forever.

But in this verse, this specific instance, it is the ability to produce or result in salvation to everyone that believes. Salvation, that’s the key point in this verse.

Many Christians think of salvation as a combination get-out-of-hell-free card and deed to a mansion in heaven after we die. We don’t think about it much more than that. But we should.

The Greek word for salvation in this verse is sozo. It is an inclusive word, and it includes rescue, deliverance, safety, preservation, sustenance, healing and health, for the body, spirit and soul. Every provision for life. (II Peter 1:3 contains this same concept.)

Need rescue from sickness, disease, poverty, fire, earthquake, volcano, flood, tornado, tsunami, drought? Need rescue from a terrorist, abuser, thief, or con man? Need freedom from addictions, phobias or fear? Or demon harassment? Sozo to the rescue.

What about provision for body, soul and spirit? Food. Water. Exercise. Rest. Refreshment. Wisdom. Knowledge. Community. Network. First Aid. Medicine. Healing. Health. Employment. Strength. Training. Mentoring. Counseling. Guidance. Encouragement. Correction. Direction. Companionship.

All those concepts are contained in this one four-letter word, sozo. That aspect of God’s power is like a laser beam, a conduit or a conveyor belt from God to me when I need something. I’d say that qualifies as good news indeed.

The problem of my suffering lack isn’t on God’s end. His end, the supply end is always there. But sometimes when the conveyor belt is running, the laser beam is blasting or the conduit is flowing, I don’t see it. I’m busy trying to fix things by myself all the time wondering why God doesn’t do something to help me.

“God helps those who help themselves,” doesn’t He? Well sure. He helps them by telling them PLAINLY HOW TO RECEIVE HIS HELP. It’s not his fault if they just don’t listen.

So how do we receive this supply? Well, the God-power container, the gospel, is there for those that believe it. Believe all of the gospel, all of the manifold aspects of the gospel. If all you believe is that God will take your soul to heaven when you die, that’s not the whole gospel. You’ll get as much gospel as you believe, and sometimes you just don’t believe enough of it.

Mark 16:20 says, “And they went forth and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.” They believed the Lord, they preached the gospel (word) and the Lord confirmed what they preached, with “the attesting miracles that accompanied them,” the Wuest translation says.

Today as I watch the television’s bad news, I have a feeling we’re going to need more of God’s good news in the days ahead. I’m going to do my utmost to believe more of it.

(Reprinted from July, 2006.)