Ministry in Face of Mental Illness                       30 NOV 14

What Our lesson is NOT about:

Our lesson verses have nothing to do with Mental Illness. The “sufferings” in the passage is about the problems of allowing in and following the false spiritual doctrines of the Judaizers. Our lesson title is one of the worst in trying to make Bible verses apply to wrong issues in this current series.

The church should not attempt to treat Mental Illness with untrained and uncertified people, no matter how well intentioned and Biblically trained they are. Seminary graduates do not have a mental health treatment degree as part of their degrees. Also note that when Paul was ship wrecked in Acts 16. Luke did some doctor medical treatment and Paul did some miracle medical treatment.


What is the definition of Mental Illness? According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness it is:

“Mental illnesses are medical conditions that disrupt a person's thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. Just as diabetes is a disorder of the pancreas, mental illnesses are medical conditions that often result in a diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life.

Serious mental illnesses include major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and borderline personality disorder. The good news about mental illness is that recovery is possible.

Mental illnesses can affect persons of any age, race, religion, or income. Mental illnesses are not the result of personal weakness, lack of character or poor upbringing. Mental illnesses are treatable. Most people diagnosed with a serious mental illness can experience relief from their symptoms by actively participating in an individual treatment plan.

In addition to medication treatment, psychosocial treatment such as cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, peer support groups and other community services can also be components of a treatment plan and that assist with recovery. The availability of transportation, diet, exercise, sleep, friends and meaningful paid or volunteer activities contribute to overall health and wellness, including mental illness recovery.”

Children are a special issue with mental-health problems can have lower educational achievement, greater involvement with the criminal justice system, and fewer stable placements in the child welfare system than their peers.


Critical Fact Number One:Mental illnesses are serious medical illnesses. These cannot be overcome through "will power" and are not related to a person's "character" or intelligence. Mental illness falls along a continuum of severity. Even though mental illness is widespread in the population, the main burden of illness is concentrated in a much smaller proportion-about 6 percent, or 1 in 17 Americans-who live with a serious mental illness. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that one in four adults-approximately 57.7 million Americans, experience a mental health disorder in a given year.” [My emphasis]

An excellent source on the types of Mental Illness is WebMD lists the common types. It definitely recommends seeing a qualified doctor.

The Military and First Responders Mental Illness: For military members, these challenges may include depression, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and traumatic brain injury. First responders can have similar problems.

Mental Illness Treatment: A mental illness, like many chronic illnesses, requires ongoing treatment. Fortunately, much progress has been made in the last two decades in treating mental illnesses. As a result, many mental conditions can be effectively treated with one or a combination of the following therapies:

·         Medication.

Family Awareness of Mental Illness: Navy Yard gunman's sister on opportunities missed


The above is only a short and incomplete overview of the scope and seriousness of Mental Illness.


What Our lesson IS about:

2 COR 1:1-3 Paul had been having major problems with the Judaizers and their false spiritual doctrines at Corinth. After witnessing and starting a local church for the believers, he left to go other places. The Corinth church is a prime example as to why Discipleship Training in basic doctrine is so critical. Left without a strong growth program, these new Christians were ripe for the false doctrines of the Judaizers. Thus some of them took their side and started to oppose Paul. He wrote 1 Cor and sent Timothy to correct the situation. But that was not enough. So he sent Titus. Then he had to write 2 Cor. Note that he defends himself as being a True Apostle. A True Apostle is one personally appointed by God. That is why no Apostles exist today. Timothy was still at Corinth while Titus was traveling to meet Paul. Also note that he specifically names the God the Father and Jesus as Lord Messiah. "Even" in the Greek is 2532. kai, kahee; appar. a prim. particle, having a copulative and sometimes also a cumulative force; and, also, even, so, then, too, etc.; often used in connection (or composition) with other particles or small words:--and, also, both, but, even, for, if, indeed, likewise, moreover, or, so, that, then, therefore, when, yea, yet. Because of verse 2, it should read "God indeed Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." Everywhere the Bible calls the Father the male term Father. That is what He wants us to know Him by: Father. To call him mother is to reject His word about himself. It has nothing to do with human gender or the minimizing of women. By being Father, He is the originator of "mercies." The Greek means acts of pity. Because of His love for his "very good" creation, created in the Trinity's image, the Father had pity on the sinners. (John 3:16 KJV) "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." God also is the originator of "all comfort." "All" is without the definite article, thus every single part of the whole. "Comfort" is a personal action of walking along side to assist. It was God who came up with the Gospel long before humans were created. It was He, along with Jesus, who sent the Holy Spirit as a permanent one who is called alongside of every Christian by indwelling in them. The Greek base word is the same. It is important to note that it is "to call alongside" and not to be or do. The Holy Spirit advises and supports the Christian, but he will not control. He offers perfect help but the Christian must decide whether to take and use that advice.

2 COR 1:4 It is the Father, through the Holy Spirit, who is alongside Christians in every single one of our (Greek) tight places in life that seems to have no relief at the time they occur. But the Father's help to us is not exclusive. By having and responding to the Father's help, we overcome these tribulations of life and gain wisdom in living. We are to share this wisdom both to new Christians as in Matt 28:20 and to our neighbors. The Hobbs Commentary says it well that this Christian comfort "is more than a pat on the back and a 'God bless you.'" Why? Because we are to give the same kind of comfort that we receive ourselves from the Father. In a way it is strange yet wonderful that many Christian want to outdo God to other people. I again point out that Paul aid to do the same kind of comforting as the Father. Therefore this means we are not to get into a person's life and try to run it for them. Some welfare goes too far. It takes away the personal effort of the one in current need. God's help to us is rarely if ever a direct intervention. It is usually providing a job opportunity. We can still refuse it and remain in need of money. This is no small point but it is almost never taught from this verse.

2 COR1:5 The KJV translates the Greek for "encouragement" three different ways when Paul had one idea in mind. How can we say this? This word is 3874. paraklesis, par-ak'-lay-sis; from G3870; imploration, hortation, solace:--comfort, consolation, exhortation, intreaty which comes from the Greek 3870. parakaleo, par-ak-al-eh'-o; from G3844 and G2564; to call near, i.e. invite, invoke (by imploration, hortation or consolation):--beseech, call for, (be of good) comfort, desire, (give) exhort (-ation), intreat, pray used in verse 4 as "comfort." Contextually it should continue to be translated as comforted.

            It is not natural to want to have "the sufferings" of anyone "overflows into (Greek) us." We must recognize that these are the "sufferings of Christ" and Paul doesn't mean to literally experience the same suffering. These suffering have nothing to do with mental illness. This is a theological phrase Paul coined to say the Cross Event of the Gospel. Jesus paid a high personal price to be the comforter to the disciples in his 3 1/2 years on earth and then give his life on the cross. The result is the activation of the Plan of Salvation. Since this salvation has overflowed into a Christian, so our comfort also "overflows by Christ." In other words, our comfort as a Christian comes to be active because Jesus continues to give us Salvation. It is a statement of Eternal Security. It comes because the replacement comforter (the Holy Spirit-John 16:7) keeps on keeping us saved. (Eph 1:13-14).

2 COR 1:6-7 Paul then stated the result and response in a Christian's life. When our own lives develop "sufferings", we have an ongoing comfort from God. So when Paul and company had problems, it was for their comfort and continuance of the Gospel that Paul lived through the problems. They could see that when they run into the same kind of problems, Paul (with the Holy Spirit's guidance) had shown that life can continue through these sufferings. Further, if comfort comes quickly to end a particular problem, this is also to show that God can provide real solutions that can eliminate or relieve problems: again is for their comfort and continuance of the Gospel. So Paul's purpose for them was that they stay "steadfast." In Greek this is 949. bebaios, beb'-ah-yos; from the base of G939 (through the idea of basality); stable (lit. or fig.):--firm, of force, stedfast, sure. "Know" is perceptive knowledge from experience. Which "sufferings" does Paul mean here, Christ's or his? It is Christ's as in verse 5. So an idea translation is "And our hope of you is firm, knowing by experience, that you are saved, so shall you continue in the comfort of the Holy Spirit." He stressed two major points because of the Gospel:

1.      Paul knows that they are really saved. They do not need to become a Jew in order to be saved as the Judaizers were teaching them.

2.      The Holy Spirit is in a Christian for life. He does not come and go, nor does he stop his guidance. He will give a lifetime of comfort to each Christian.


The facts we can gain from these verses that may apply to Mental Illness are:

1.      Christians, so afflicted, still have the indwelling Holy Spirit to help them.

2.      The Holy Spirit will not automatically heal them of Mental Illness any more than any other illness.

The church can perform a supportive roll. But this should be done only through those trained to do so. Critical to a mentally ill person is safety and financial security. The church may have opportunities to help with these through trained Christians.


Marvin Ganote, Advanced Bible Study Class, Adult Teacher. Lesson at:  or