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Come, Follow Me — New Testament Study and Teaching Helps
Lesson 38, September 11 — 17
2 Corinthians 1–7 — “Be Ye Reconciled to God”

2 Corinthians 1-2 “Comforted of God”

This epistle was written by Paul in about 58 AD, about a year after writing 1 Corinthians and near the end of his third missionary journey. In the first verse Paul includes Timothy as sending his greetings and perhaps as a co-writer of this epistle:

  • Find in 2 Corinthians 1:2-5; 2:14 the many blessings that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ bestow upon us.
  • What does Paul say about “the sufferings of Christ” in their own lives, in 1:6-7?
  • What did the Lord (and the Corinthian saints) do for Paul and Timothy, in 1:8-11, 21-22?
  • Has there been a time when you felt that your life was preserved by God? Note how Paul felt doomed to death in 1:9, yet was rescued by the Lord’s intervention in 1:10. AND, He that “raiseth the dead” (1:9) “will yet deliver” all of us through the gift of resurrection (1:10). Read and ponder 2 Nephi 9:8-12.
  • Apparently, Paul rebuked some of the church members in Corinth (see 2:1-3), yet what were Paul’s feelings toward them, according to verse 4? (see also 2 Corinthians 3:2; 6:11; 7:16; 2 Nephi 33:3; D&C 127:12; 128:25).

2 Corinthians 3 Liberty through the Spirit

  • How would you explain Paul’s meaning in 2 Corinthians 3:2-3?
  • Keeping in mind the law of Moses (of the Old Testament) and the law of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (of the New Testament), how would you explain verse 6?
  • What comparison is Paul making in verses 7-8?
  • What did he say about the spiritual state of the Jews of his day, in verses 13-15?
  • What did he say could happen to the Jews, in verses 16-18? (Note that the JST for verse 16 says, “Nevertheless when their hearts shall turn to the Lord….”)

2 Corinthians 4-5 “We Faint Not”

  • Surely the gospel is for everyone, yet most reject it when it is presented to them. Why is this, according to 2 Corinthians 4:3-4? (Note that “the god of this world” refers to Satan.)
  • What descriptive terms does Paul use as he teaches of the gospel, in verses 5-7?
  • In verses 8-9, 16-18, what is Paul’s attitude regarding persecution and other trials? Do you feel the same? (see also D&C 98:12-14; 121:7-8).
  • What stands out for you in Paul’s teachings about our future resurrection, in 4:10-14 and 5:1-4, 15?

2 Corinthians 5 “The Earnest of the Spirit”

Read again 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 and read also 5:5. In both places, Paul uses the term, “the earnest of the Spirit.” This can be compared to “earnest money,” wherein a potential buyer pays a small part of the total purchase price (of a house or other asset), to show his or her willingness to follow through with a future full payment. Consider your spiritual impressions and experiences to be a foretaste from God of what He promises to give you in full. And, there is more—much more—yet to come from our loving Father. How do verses 7-9 help you?

Read 2 Corinthians 5:17-18 and Mosiah 5:2-4, 7-9. If you could add your own words to these verses, what would you say?

2 Corinthians 6 “Workers Together With Him”

Make a list of the things Paul taught those who labor to share the gospel, in verses 1-11 (called “ambassadors for Christ” in 5:20). Can you identify with any of these teachings? Paul’s life history shows that he endured all these trials himself, and that he displayed all the attributes he is encouraging upon each of us.

Read 2 Corinthians 6:14-17. Note also Paul’s description of unbelievers in 5:12, saying: “them which glory in appearance, and not in heart.” What does it mean not to be yoked with unbelievers? To which aspects of your life might this refer, and in what ways? Read also the promises made in 6:18.

2 Corinthians 7 “Godly Sorrow”

It appears that Paul learned that some of the Corinthians had taken offense over his previous epistle to them (verse 8). How did Paul react to this, in verses 9, and 11? Now read verse 10. How would you expand on this, to describe “godly sorrow,” and “the sorrow of the world”?

President Ezra Taft Benson taught, “Godly sorrow is a gift of the Spirit. It is a deep realization that our actions have offended our Father” (Ensign, October 1989, p. 4).

And President Dallin H. Oaks, in speaking of repentance, said: “There is a big difference between the ‘godly sorrow [that] worketh repentance’ (2 Corinthians 7:10), which involves personal suffering, and the easy and relatively painless sorrow for being caught…. We often think of the results of repentance as simply cleansing us from sin. But that is an incomplete view of the matter. A person who sins is like a tree that bends easily in the wind. On a windy and rainy day the tree bends so deeply against the ground that the leaves become soiled with mud, like sin. If we only focus on cleaning the leaves, the weakness in the tree that allowed it to bend and soil its leaves may remain. Merely cleaning the leaves does not strengthen the tree. Similarly, a person who is merely sorry to be soiled by sin will sin again in the next high wind….

“When a person has gone through the process that results in what the scriptures call a broken heart and a contrite spirit, that person is not only eligible to be cleansed from sin. He is also strengthened, and that strengthening is essential for us to realize the purpose of the cleansing, which is to return to our Heavenly Father. To be admitted to his presence we must be more than clean. We must also be changed from a weak person who once transgressed into a strong person with the spiritual stature that qualifies one to dwell in the presence of God. We must, as the scripture says, become ‘a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord’ (Mosiah 3:19)…. Forsaking sins is more than resolving not to repeat them. It involves a fundamental change in the individual” (“Sin and Suffering,” BYU, 5 August 1990).

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