Key passage

Blessed by the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation. If we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings that we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that as you share in the sufferings, so you will also share in the comfort.
We don’t want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, of our affliction that took place in Asia. We were completely overwhelmed—beyond our strength—so that we even despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death, so that we would not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a terrible death, and he will deliver us. We have put our hope in him that he will deliver us again while you join in helping us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gift that came to us through the prayers of many.

2 Corinthians 1:3–11

Quotes from Chapter 14

… the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.

2 Corinthians 1:3

God is gently and lowly in heart.

The justice of God was vindicated and the wrath of God was satisfied in the work of the Son. Christ did not live, die, and rise from the dead as a moral example mainly or a triumph over Satan mainly or a demonstration of his love mainly. Supremely, the work of the Son, and especially his death and resurrection, satisfied the Father’s righteous wrath against the horror of human rebellion against him.

At the level of legal acquittal, the Father’s wrath had to be assuaged in order for sinners to be brought back into his favour, but at the level of his own internal desire and affection, he was as eager as the Son for this atonement to take place.

The Father is just and righteous. Unswervingly, unendingly. Without such a doctrine, such a reassurance, we would have no hope that all wrongs would one day be righted.

He is the Father of mercies.

That the Lord is much compassionate or greatly compassions is synonymous with saying that he is merciful.

To speak of God the Father as “the Father of mercies” is to say that he is the one who multiplies compassionate mercies to his needful, wayward, messy, fallen, wandering people.

His love is not a forced love, which he strives only to bear toward us, because his Father hath commanded him to marry us; but it is his nature, his disposition… This disposition is free and natural to him; he should not be God’s Son else, nor take after his heavenly Father, unto whom it is natural to show mercy, but not so to punish, which is his strange work, but mercy pleases him; he is “the Father of mercies,” he begets them naturally.1

Thomas Goodwin

The label “Father of mercies” is the Bible’s way of taking us into the deepest recesses of who God the Father is. A correct understanding of the triune God is not that of a Father whose central disposition is judgment and a Son whose central disposition is love. The heart of both is one and the same; this is, after all, one God, one two. Theirs is a heart of redeeming love, not compromising justice and wrath but beautifully satisfying justice and wrath.

The triune God is three in one, a fountain of endless mercies extending to, meeting, and overflowingly providing for us in all our many needs and failures and wanderings.

Beyond what we are conscious of at any given moment, the Father’s tender care envelopes us with pursuing gentleness, sweetly governing every last detail of our lives.

Aren’t two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s consent. But even the hairs of your head have all been counted. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Matthew 10:29–31

The good in our earthly dads is a faint pointer to the true goodness of our heavenly Father, and the bad in our earthly dads is the photo negative of who our heavenly Father is. He is the Father of whom every human father is a shadow.

Jesus said to him, “Have I been among you all this time and you do not know me, Philip? The one who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who lives in me does his works. Believe in me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Otherwise, believe because of the works themselves.

John 14:9–11

“Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of his nature…

Hebrews 1:3

Jesus is the embodiment of who God is. He is the tangible epitomization of God. Jesus Christ is the visible manifestation of the invisible God.

In their case, the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God… For God who said, “Let light sine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 4:4, 6

When we see the heart of Christ, we are seeing the very compassion and tenderness of who God himself most deeply is.

This God in whose hand are all creatures, is your Father, and is much more tender of you than you are, or can be, of yourself.2

John Flavel

The heart of Christ is gentle and lowly. And that is the perfect picture of who the Father is.

For the Father himself loves you.

John 16:27

  1. Thomas Goodwin, The Heart of Christ (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2011), 60.
  2. John Flavel, Keeping the Heart: How to Maintain Your Love for God (Fearn, Scotland: Christian Heritage, 2012), 57.

Questions

  • What did the Son’s work supremely do?
  • What would happen if God the Father was not just and righteous?
  • How does God’s love work with His judgment? (Reference chapter 11 if needed.)
  • How is God the Father described in this chapter? Find as many adjectives or names for God the Father as possible in this chapter that describe God the Father.
  • What is mercy? How does it compare with grace?
  • What is it to say that God the Father is “the Father of mercies”?
  • How does a proper understanding of the Trinity help us understand God the Father?
  • How should we view God the Father in light of our earthly dads? Should we allow our understanding of who God the Father is be shaped by who our earthly fathers are? How do we get to know who God the Father is?
  • What do John 14:9–10, Hebrews 1:3, and 2 Corinthians 4:4, 6 tell us about God the Father?
  • How is God’s mercy relevant today?
  • Describe a time when you deserved judgment but received God’s mercy instead.

This article is adapted from: Gentle and Lowly by Dane Ortlund and Gentle and Lowly Study Guide by Robert Zink.