Wherefore Comfort One Another With these Words (revised)
Our Hope of Glory
1 Thessalonians 4:18 (KJV)
Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
Comfort is derived from the Latin word: comfortare, which has as its meaning…
to strengthen greatly.
A close look at the entire letter to the Thessalonians will uncover an overall tone of encouragement, meant to bring comfort to the new Macedonian Church. Paul and his party of evangelizers encountered trouble that made his departure necessary early on. Not only was he hampered in his efforts, but the Church itself was also put through some rigors times as well. Words of comfort would certainly be a part of any encouragement that Paul was moved to give.
In general, everyone will find themselves in need of comfort at some point in their life. Aside from the occasion of loss when a death occurs, there are many times when our spirit is challenged and put to the test. As followers of Christ, we share a responsibility to continually seek to comfort both those in the “Body of Christ” as well as those beyond.
Genesis 5:29 (KJV)
And he called his name Noah, saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the LORD hath cursed.
Although Lamech probably didn’t know it at the time, his words were marked by God to describe what every believer is faced with. Noah means comfort in Hebrew; and all of us can take direct comfort in his obedience, and service to the Lord. After all, none of us would be here if not for his effort. However… there is a greater significance associated with these words as far as Christians are concerned. We find our hope in Christ Jesus who gives us comfort as we work to share the good news of the gospel. Sin is a curse on the whole of mankind, and our effort is to bring light to those still in darkness. It is through the “Spirit of Christ” that we are all strengthened greatly.
1 Peter 1:21 (KJV)
Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.
The “Him”, referred to in this passage is Christ Jesus. It is in His gospel message that we find our comfort. There we find strength to bring comfort to others. Believing, or accepting faith in Christ; which itself comes by hearing the “Word”, should be a comfort to those who are hurting and lost. But as Paul stresses over and over again in this letter to the Thessalonians; the comfort we are charged with runs deeper, and involves much more than words alone. Just as love is an action word, so too is comfort. Our efforts must incorporate actions that bring our words to life.
The Gospel Transformation
Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.
In chapter 2 of 1 Thessalonians, Paul recounts the things that took place when he and his party first arrived. He reminds the Church that in spite of the hardships, their efforts toward them were maintained. This was done not for profit, personal gain, or the recognition of men; but for the pleasing of God in furthering the gospel. Here Paul not only addresses the gospel, he places emphasis on the work and behavior associated with the gospel. The message is spread just as much through the action of those that bring it, as in all the words made use of. Paul makes a literal exclamation point when he says…
1 Thessalonians 2:8
So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.
It’s behavior such as this that defines followers of Christ, and put a face on His Spirit. One must truly be living the commandments of Jesus… to love God and love your neighbor, in order to come close. Anyone that encounters someone of this mindset will truly be comforted by the experience.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is meant to change us; it’s a requirement and part of what is known as "The Gospel Transformation” (be ye transformed). Not only is this a central doctrine in Christianity but much has been devoted to this subject in the form of books and study courses alone. Being called to faith allows us to accept that we are “His Workmanship”, and to understand that we are created to do “Good Works.”
Established By Faith
Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
Chapter 3 opens with Paul stating plainly the reason Timothy was sent in his absence; that being, “…to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith.” As was said earlier, comfort comes from a Latin root which means to strengthen greatly. In this case it is the faith that is being both established and strengthen at the same time. Through the initial delivery of the gospel, faith is established. In order to strengthen that faith, Paul and his team put forth living examples of what is necessary in the face of sure hardship. They, in fact give warnings as to the hardships the Church will encounter in being persecuted. The message of the gospel gives reason for all of us of just how it is possible to have comfort in our faith in the first place.
Verse 13, in chapter 4 makes clear what Christian faith is all about. We are not like those who are without hope. We have placed our faith in Christ, and His work on the cross, Our hope is that by His power over death, we too will be raised just as He was. All who are asleep, and those alive at His return will be caught up together to be with the Lord forever. No matter where we are when that takes place; until that time as Paul encourages… we can use the gospel to…
“Comfort One Another with these Words.”