This verse leaves some room for interpretation:
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy….
The term encouragement can mean something like coaching – to call others to press on. Or it can mean something like “being cheered up”. And the phrase “in Christ” can mean something like “by Christ” or “in connection with Christ” or “through Christ”, or and this is a seminarian’s delight, “in the sphere of Christ.”
So should we be specific?
- Is there any coaching by Christ
- Is there any coaching having to do with Christ
- Is there any hugging by Christ
- Is there any hugging by Christ and his people
So we have been a little creative in the options. There are arguments for specific meanings. But is there not an argument for a larger meaning – a pregnant meaning. That we can be free (in light of the repeated “if there is any”) to think on all the nuances of meaning.
Have I ever been encouraged in my inner spiritual life by Christ? Have I ever been encouraged by His teaching? Have I ever been challenged by him? Have I ever been encouraged by the Christian community? Those all seem fair questions to us.
In this case, lets not be too exact.