The “Mutual Faith” that Comforts
By Bro Jim Brasseal, Pastor Landmark MBC
Presented at the Rocky Mountain Missionary Baptist Association Meeting hosted by Bradley Road Missionary Baptist Church, Colorado Springs, CO on August 8, 2014.
“For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established. That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me” (Romans 1:11-12).
In the Bible, you can find comfort of the scriptures (Romans 15:4), comfort of the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:31), comfort in fellowship (Philippians 2:1, Colossians 4:8), and many other lessons of comfort.
The Greek word translated “comforted together” is sum-para-kaleo and is a compound word. The word that refers to the Holy Spirit coming to be the Comforter is a different form of the same word used in Romans 1:12. The first part or prefix of the word is sum, which refers to a union or being together. The second part of the word is para, which means standing beside or coming along side as an assistant and a helper. The last part of the word is kaleo, which means “to call.” The word “call” appears several times in Romans 1. For example, Paul refers to himself as “called” (Romans 1:1), and he refers to the people in the church at Rome as “called to be saints” (Romans 1:7).
Let’s suppose I asked a Cajun friend of mine down in Louisiana, “What’s your dog’s name?” He may answer, “I call him Fido” (since we’re down in Louisiana, we spell it P-H-I-D-E-A-U-X!). When my friend used the word “call,” he used it to explain how he refers to his dog, that is, his dog’s name. Paul did not use the word “call” to refer to the name of a person (or dog). Paul used the word to mean called to a work or called to a purpose. The word para-kaleo means called alongside to help. Adding the prefix sum means to be called alongside together to help each other.
Paul said, “That I may be comforted together [that is, that I may call you alongside so that we can help or comfort each other] with you by the mutual faith.” The word “mutual” refers to something that you share, and, in this case, the thing that Paul and the church in Rome shared was the faith. Sharing in the faith is a great blessing. Paul said, “I long to see you.” Paul’s words are evidence of his love for those people. Through the mutual or shared faith, Paul wanted to do something that would help them, and he wanted them to help him.
“We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death” (1 John 3:14). It is a natural and regular thing for Christian people to love each other. We can enjoy the company, fellowship, and encouragement of being together especially when physical distance usually keeps us apart.