COMFORT (נָחַם, H5714, console; Greek παράκλησις, G4155; encouragement; παραμυθέομαι, G4170; console: noun, a calling or summons to one’s side, encouragement, consolation and entreaty; verb, to strengthen, morally and spiritually; to encourage, lend moral support; to relieve anxiety; to console one who is in distress.
Usage in the Bible
In the Old Testament
In the New Testament
In the New Testament, the Greek word most frequently used for "comfort" is paraklesis, which is closely related to one of the titles of the Holy Spirit, παράκλητος, G4156, (Paraclete, one called alongside, cf. John 16:7). The idea is that of one present as a helper. “Comfort” in the New Testament has a personal and wide application. Christ not only saves from sin but gives relief from present troubles and from distraction about the future (cf. John 14:1, 2; 1 John 4:18).
Characteristics of Biblical comfort
Comfort is such a multi-faceted idea that many words have been used to interpret and apply it. It describes the blessedness of those who mourn (Matt 5:4), and the blessed state of the one in “Abraham’s bosom” (Luke 16:22). In some places, it is translated “mutually encouraged” (Rom 1:12 RSV), and in Romans 15:4 it suggests inspiration and strength amidst difficulties; while in 1 Corinthians 14:31 “comforted” (KJV), is “exhorted” in ASV and “encouraged” in RSV.
Second Corinthians has been called the “Epistle of Comfort.” Ten times some form of the Greek word paraklesis is used (2 Cor 1:3-7), which the ASV and RSV uniformly translated “comfort,” and the KJV, which generally uses “comfort” more often than the RSV, and NEB use both “consolation” and “comfort” in those passages, for the same Greek word. “Comfort” means more than patient endurance; it means also to be strengthened by the “upholding power” of the Holy Spirit.
The methods by which comfort is given are not always the same, nor are they always apparent. “Comfort” may involve the removal of an affliction or deliverance from some terrible experience, thus producing joy because of “relief” (cf. Acts 20:12, Moffatt; 1 Thess 4:18, KJV). It may be by progress despite discouraging situations (Acts 9:31); or “mutually encouraged” (Rom 1:12 RSV) by what God has done for His children who are to comfort others whether it be by exhortation, consolation, edification, inspiration, or the alleviation of grief, or acute physical needs (cf. Col 4:11; 1 Thess 2:11 ASV; 5:11 RSV).