There have been attempts to understand God the Father as being quite different from God the Son. The God of the Old Testament is a vengeful God. Jesus is the loving and forgiving God. But Paul and the other New Testament writers don’t see it that way at all. After his usual greeting to the Corinthians in his second letter to them, Paul adds his understanding of the God of the Old Testament. 2 Corinthian 1:3 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.”

In Psalm 86:5, the writer says he is “Abounding in mercy.” Paul is not telling the Corinthians anything new but is reminding them that the Father-God of the Old Testament is the same Father-God of Jesus Christ. God explains his mercy to his people in the Old Testament in several places. It is seen in his actions towards his creation and his people throughout Genesis. In Exodus, this truth is proclaimed. In Exodus 34:6-7 we read, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.” But, as Pink says, “the title “Father of Mercies” conveys more than the idea that He is our most merciful Father. It also connotes that these mercies issue from His very nature and that they are, therefore, both His offspring and His delights.” Just as Satan is the “Father of lies,” God is the “Father of Mercies.” It has its origin in Him. Pink goes on to suggest that there are three reasons Paul calls Him the “Father of mercies.” First, He sent Jesus to take the penalty for our sins. Second, as Micah 7:18 tells us, mercy is one of the things he “delights” in as a father delights in a son. Third, Paul wants the sinful Corinthians to realize that God has not and will not abandon them even in their sin.[1]

He’s not only the God of mercies but also the God of all comfort. As God gives Isaiah instructions regarding his prophecy, he tells him, “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem.” That the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is the God of all comfort was a radical statement, and it still is in some ways. As Pink points out, “None of the false gods of heathendom have such a quality ascribed to them; rather, they are represented as being cruel and ferocious. Consequently, they are regarded, even by their worshipers, as objects of dread. But how different is the Lord God.” If God is a Father with respect to His mercy, he is a mother with respect to His comfort. Isaiah 66:13 tells us, “As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.”

One website explains, “Of course, the fullest expression of the mercy of God is found in the person and work of Jesus Christ, the compassion of God incarnate. But the New Testament does not represent a departure from the Old Testament at this point, but rather the arrival of its fullest expectation.”[2] I know someone who likes to say, “God loves us because of what Jesus did for us on the cross.” I tried to correct him, but he keeps saying it that way. Jesus’ death for us on the cross is not the cause of God’s love for us but the result of God’s love. Romans 5:8 tells us that “God demonstrated his love for us in this: While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

[1] Pink, Arthur Walkington. 2005. Gleanings from Paul Studies in the Prayers of the Apostle. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.