2 Corinthians 8-9 Giving to Those in Need
In 8:1-5 Paul is telling the Saints in Corinth about the generous charitable giving of the church members in Macedonia (the northern part of Greece; see also 2 Corinthians 11:9). This was in spite of the Macedonians’ enduring “a great trial of affliction” and “deep poverty” (verse 2). Consider:
- What motivated such “liberality,” according to verse 5? What does it mean to you to “give yourself” to the Lord?
- What were Paul’s invitations to the Corinthian Saints, in verses 7-8, 11, 24?
- In what ways was Jesus Christ a perfect example, according to verse 9?
- What other principles regarding our charitable giving do you see in 8:12-13? (see also Mosiah 4:24, 27); and in 9:6-7? (see also Moroni 7:5-8).
- What can be the blessings of our generosity, according to 9:8-11? How have you “increased the fruits of your righteousness” (verse 10) through your giving and your other service?
- Read 2 Corinthians 9:15. What things come to your mind as you consider God’s “unspeakable gifts” in your life?
2 Corinthians 10 Spiritual Self-Control
What does it mean to you to “bring into captivity every thought” (verse 5)? What have you learned in your life about controlling your thoughts?
In verse 12 Paul speaks against “commending ourselves.” Where should our commendations be directed, according to verse 17? (see also Alma 26:11-12). What does 2 Corinthians 10:18 say should be our goal?
2 Corinthians 11 A True Apostle
- Read verses 3-4. The gospel of Jesus Christ is not mysterious nor complicated. How would you explain Paul’s characterization, “the simplicity that is in Christ”
- In verse 12 Paul mentions false apostles who “desire occasion; that wherein they may glory.” What else does he say about them, in verses 13-15?
- Next, “as a fool” (verse 23), Paul reluctantly speaks of himself and all that he had endured as a true apostle of Jesus Christ. Read his remarkable history, as recounted in verses 23-28. What thoughts and feelings come to you as you ponder these verses?
- What have you suffered or sacrificed because of your commitment to the Lord’s gospel and His restored church?
2 Corinthians 12 Great, Yet Humble
In this chapter Paul describes a vision he once had of “the third heaven” (the celestial kingdom), humbly referring to himself as “a man in Christ” that he knew (verse 2). He goes on to say that “whether in the body” or “out of the body,” he could not tell (verses 2-3). The process of visionary and revelatory experiences given to prophets and apostles may not be easy to describe or understand, but they are real. Also, “ordinary” members of the Church have spiritual experiences that we cannot fully explain—nonetheless they are real.
- Paul goes on to say that he heard “unspeakable words,” which were impossible for him “to utter” (verse 4), but he does share one thing, which is his desire to “glory” in the Lord, and not of himself (verse 5).
- What did Paul say the Lord gave him, to keep him from “exalting” himself (verse 7)?
- Read also verses 8-10 and Ether 12:27. In what ways has the Lord helped you to remain humble?
- We do not know if Paul’s “thorn” (which he also referred to in verse 7 as “the messenger of Satan to buffet me”) was something like Moses’s experience with the adversary in Moses 1, or the devil’s attack upon Joseph Smith before the Father and the Son appeared to him in the First Vision; but we may reasonably conclude that it helped Paul remain humble and fully dependent upon the Lord.
- How would you re-write 2 Corinthians 12:10, to adapt it to your own life experiences, testimony, and commitment?
- In verse 15 Paul declared to the Corinthians, “I will very gladly spend and be spent for you.” This was followed by, “We do all things, dearly beloved, for your edifying” (verse 19). This is reminiscent of President Spencer W. Kimball, who stated, “My life is like my shoes—to be worn out in service” (Ensign, December 1985, p. 41).
2 Corinthians 13 Farewell
- In verse 5, Paul exhorts us: “examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith.” What do you think such a process should entail? (For example, we may consider the temple recommend questions and Alma, chapter 5.)
- Read Paul’s farewell to the Corinthian Saints, in verses 11-14. What admonitions did Paul express in verse 11? What did he say we can receive from the three Members of the Godhead, in verse 14?