“Unit 24, Day 1: 2 Corinthians 8–9,” New Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2016)
“Unit 24, Day 1,” New Testament Study Guide
The Apostle Paul wrote to the Saints in Corinth, explaining that the Church members in Macedonia had given freely to those in need. He encouraged the Corinthians Saints to also follow the Savior’s example by giving to the poor. Paul taught about the blessings that come to those who cheerfully give to the poor.
Read the following statement by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and consider what word is missing that would make this a true statement: “Down through history, ____________________ has been one of humankind’s greatest and most widespread challenges. Its obvious toll is usually physical, but the spiritual and emotional damage it can bring may be even more debilitating” (“Are We Not All Beggars?” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2014, 40).
Write the word poverty on the line, and reread Elder Holland’s statement, considering what it means.
Poverty is the condition of not having enough needed resources, which could include money, goods, or means of support. Why can poverty be such a difficult challenge?
Think of individuals you know who may need help of any kind, including physical, emotional, social, or spiritual help. As you study 2 Corinthians 8–9, look for truths that can help you understand and fulfill your role in helping others who are in need.
In 2 Corinthians 8:1–8 the Apostle Paul told the Corinthian Saints that Church members in Macedonia had given generously to help the poor with their temporal needs (see Bible Maps, no. 13, “The Missionary Journeys of the Apostle Paul”). He explained that the Macedonian members did so because they wanted to do the will of God. Paul encouraged the Saints of Corinth to follow this example of providing for the needs of others out of sincere love.
- Draw a vertical line down the middle of a blank page in your scripture study journal, creating two columns. Write the word Rich at the top of one column, and write the word Poor at the top of the second column.
Read 2 Corinthians 8:9, looking for what Paul said Jesus Christ did for the Saints. Then answer the following questions, listing your responses in your scripture study journal under the words Rich and Poor.
In what ways was Jesus Christ rich in the premortal life?
In what ways might He have been considered poor during His life in mortality?
What do you think it means in verse 9 that we “through [the Savior’s] poverty might be rich”?
Consider that even before Jesus Christ was born, He was a member of the Godhead, and He stood next to Heavenly Father in authority, power, and glory. Because Jesus Christ condescended, or humbled and lowered Himself, from His premortal throne and came to earth to minister, set an example, and perform the Atonement, we can gain the riches of eternal life (see 1 Nephi 11:26–28).
About a year earlier, the Corinthian Saints had committed to take up a collection of goods for the poor Saints in Jerusalem. Read 2 Corinthians 8:10–11, looking for what Paul advised the Saints to do at that time. The phrases “to do” and “perform the doing of it” refer to Paul’s admonishment that the Saints follow through on their previous commitment to give what they could to the poor Saints, just as the Savior had given eternal riches to them.
One principle we can learn is that as we come to understand all that the Savior has given us, we will be more willing to give of our substance to others.
Think about how recognizing the abundance of the Savior’s gifts to us can motivate us to give to those in need.
- Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: What specific gifts has the Savior given you, and how do they inspire you to give to others?
Read 2 Corinthians 8:12–15, looking for another truth that Paul taught the people about the importance of supporting one another in temporal ways.
One truth we can learn from 2 Corinthians 8:12–13 is that God wants us to be willing to give even when we may not have anything to give.
To better understand what this truth means, read the following statement by Elder Holland, and then consider the following questions: “Rich or poor, we are to ‘do what we can’ when others are in need” (“Are We Not All Beggars?” 41).
What can we do for others if we do not have anything physical to give them?
Why should we do all that we can do for others?
According to 2 Corinthians 8:14–15, who benefits when all the Saints consistently give of their abundance?
Ponder some ways in which everyone benefits when we are all willing to give.
Read the following statement by Elder Holland, looking for how the Lord can help us respond compassionately to the poor: “I don’t know exactly how each of you should fulfill your obligation to those who do not or cannot always help themselves. But I know that God knows, and He will help you and guide you in compassionate acts of discipleship if you are conscientiously wanting and praying and looking for ways to keep a commandment He has given us again and again” (“Are We Not All Beggars?” 41).
Notice that Elder Holland said we should be “conscientiously wanting and praying and looking for ways” to help the poor and needy. Fast offerings, local service projects, and humanitarian opportunities are a few ways the Church has established so that we can help meet the needs of the poor. Can you think of any other ways we can do this?
- In your scripture study journal, write about a time you helped someone in need and how you felt as a result. You could also write one thing you plan to do based on what Paul taught about giving to the poor and needy.
As recorded in 2 Corinthians 8:16–24, Paul spoke to the Corinthian Saints about Titus and two other brethren who were being sent to collect charitable contributions for the Saints in Jerusalem. Paul spoke of his confidence in the Corinthian Saints and explained that their giving generously would be evidence of their love for others.
Paul continued to praise the Corinthian Saints (see 2 Corinthians 9:1–5). He told them that he had sent Titus and others to confirm their willingness to give freely to the poor.
Think about whether you have ever given something to someone or done something for someone grudgingly, or unwillingly. Why is it sometimes hard to be cheerful about giving your time, money, or other resources to help others?
Read 2 Corinthians 9:6–7, looking for the comparison Paul used to teach the Church members in Corinth about giving freely.
To sow means to plant seeds. Who are the sowers in this comparison?
Consider how giving to others is like sowing seeds in a field. What happens if we only sow sparingly? What happens when we sow bountifully?
According to 2 Corinthians 9:7, how does the Lord expect us to sow, or give?
From 2 Corinthians 9:6–7 we learn the following truth: If we give to those in need with a cheerful heart, God will generously bless us.
How can our giving to others with a cheerful attitude lead to us receiving more abundantly?
Read 2 Corinthians 9:8–10, looking for blessings Paul said would come to the Saints if they gave with a cheerful heart. Mark or note in your scriptures some phrases Paul used to describe how the Lord blesses those who give with a cheerful heart.
Notice that the phrases Paul used to describe the Lord’s blessings suggest that we will receive the Lord’s grace, which includes temporal blessings sufficient for our needs.
According to 2 Corinthians 9:10, who is “he that ministereth seed to the sower”? How can remembering where the seed comes from help us to give cheerfully?
Read 2 Corinthians 9:11–15, looking for what Paul taught about those Saints who give and receive cheerfully.
- Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: According to 2 Corinthians 9:11–15, how do those who freely give of their substance and those who receive of another’s substance feel toward God? (Consider marking or noting any phrases of gratitude found in these verses.)
Consider writing the following truth near 2 Corinthians 9:11–15 in your scriptures: Recognizing God’s generosity in blessing us can help us feel gratitude toward Him.
- Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: When have you felt gratitude toward God after recognizing the blessings He sent you for serving and giving to others in a cheerful manner? (Consider adding your testimony of the principles and truths identified in 2 Corinthians 8–9.)
To help you apply this lesson, consider ways you might help someone in need this week (perhaps someone in your family). Set a specific goal to help that person, and write it on a piece of paper.
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied 2 Corinthians 8–9 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: