Lesson 116

2 Corinthians 8–9

“Lesson 116: 2 Corinthians 8–9,” New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2016)


Introduction

Paul wrote to the Saints in Corinth, explaining that the members in Macedonia had given freely to those in need. He encouraged the Corinthian 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.

Suggestions for Teaching

2 Corinthians 8

Paul counsels the Saints to care for the poor

Write the following statement by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (from “Are We Not All Beggars?” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2014, 40) on the board before class, but leave a blank space instead of the word poverty. Begin the lesson by inviting a student to read the statement aloud.

“Down through history, poverty 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.”

Ask the students to guess the missing word in the statement. Then write in the word poverty.

  • What is poverty? (The condition of having little or no money, goods, or means of support.)

  • Why can poverty be such a difficult challenge?

Encourage students to think of individuals they know who may need help or assistance of any kind, including physical, emotional, social, or spiritual. Invite students to look for truths as they study 2 Corinthians 8–9 that can help them understand and fulfill their role in helping others who are in need.

Summarize 2 Corinthians 8:1–8 by explaining that Paul told the Corinthian Saints that Church members in Macedonia had given generously to help the poor in their temporal needs. (You may want to have students locate Corinth and Macedonia on Bible Maps, no. 13, “The Missionary Journeys of the Apostle Paul.”) Paul explained that the Macedonian members did so because they desired to do the will of God. He encouraged the Saints of Corinth to follow this example of providing for the needs of others out of sincere love.

Write the words rich and poor on the board.

Invite students to read 2 Corinthians 8:9 silently, looking for what Paul said Jesus Christ did for the Saints. After sufficient time ask the following questions, and list students’ responses on the board under the words rich and poor.

  • In what ways was Jesus Christ rich in the premortal life? (Students’ responses may include the following: Jesus Christ was the Firstborn of the Father in the spirit and even before He was born in mortality. Jesus Christ was a God who stood next to Heavenly Father in authority, power, and glory and created many worlds under the direction of the Father.)

  • In what ways might He have been considered poor during His time in mortality? (He left His position of glory to be born in and live among lowly circumstances on earth.)

  • What do you think it means in verse 9 that we “through [the Savior’s] poverty might be rich”? (Because Jesus Christ condescended from His premortal throne and came to earth to minister, set an example for us, and perform the Atonement, we can gain the riches of eternal life.)

Explain to students that about a year earlier, the Corinthian Saints had committed to take up a collection of goods for the poor Saints in Judea. Invite a student to read 2 Corinthians 8:10–11 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Paul advised the Saints in Corinth to do.

  • What did Paul advise the Saints in Corinth to do?

Explain that the phrases “to do” and “perform the doing of it” mean that Paul admonished the Saints to fulfill their previous commitment to give what they could to the poor Saints, just as the Savior had given eternal riches to them.

  • What happens to each of us as we come to understand all that the Savior has given us? (Students may use different words but should identify a principle similar to the following: As we come to understand all the Savior has given us, we will be more willing to give of our substance to others.)

  • How can reflecting upon the Savior’s gifts to us motivate us to give to those in need?

  • What specific gifts has the Savior given you that might inspire you to give to others?

Invite a few students to read 2 Corinthians 8:12–15 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for an additional truth that Paul taught the people about the importance of supporting one another in temporal ways.

  • What truth can we learn from verses 12–13? (Help students identify the following truth: God wants us to be willing to give even when we may not have anything to give.)

To help the class understand this truth, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland:

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

“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 don’t have anything physical to give them?

  • According to verses 14–15, who benefits when all the Saints consistently give to those in need? (Whoever may be in need at any given time.)

  • What are some ways in which everyone benefits when we are all willing to give?

To help students feel the importance of these truths and principles and apply them, read aloud the following statement by Elder Holland. Invite students to listen for how the Lord can help us respond compassionately to the poor.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

“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).

video iconIf time permits and you are able, consider instead showing part of the video of Elder Holland’s general conference address “Are We Not All Beggars?” (0:00–7:04).

 
  • What did Elder Holland say we should do to be ready to help the poor and needy?

  • What are some ways the Church has established through which we can help meet the needs of the poor? (Through fast offerings, local service projects, and humanitarian opportunities.)

Encourage students to write in their class notebooks or scripture study journals one thing they plan to do based on what Paul taught about giving to the poor and needy.

Summarize 2 Corinthians 8:16–24 by explaining that 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 serve as evidence of their love for others.

2 Corinthians 9

Paul teaches about the blessings of being a sincere giver

Summarize 2 Corinthians 9:1–5 by explaining that Paul continued to praise the Corinthian Saints. He told the Saints he had sent Titus and others to confirm their willingness to give freely.

Ask students to ponder whether they have ever given something to someone or provided a service for someone in a grudging manner.

  • Why is it sometimes hard to be cheerful about giving your time, money, or other resources to help others?

Invite a student to read 2 Corinthians 9:6–7 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the comparison Paul used to teach the members in Corinth about giving freely.

  • What does it mean to sow? (To plant seeds.)

  • To what did Paul compare sowing? (Giving to others.)

Hold up some fruit or vegetable seeds, or display a picture of some.

seeds
  • Who are the sowers in this comparison? (The Saints, or us.)

  • According to verse 7, how does the Lord expect us to sow, or give? (Cheerfully, not grudgingly. See also Moroni 7:8.)

Write the following incomplete statement on the board: If we give to those in need with a cheerful heart …

  • How is giving to others like sowing seeds in a field?

  • What happens if we only sow sparingly?

  • What happens if we sow bountifully?

Complete the principle on the board so that it conveys the following truth: If we give to those in need with a cheerful heart, God will generously bless us.

  • How can giving to others with a cheerful attitude actually lead to our receiving more than we began with?

Invite a student to read 2 Corinthians 9:8–10 aloud. Ask the class to look for blessings Paul said would come to the Saints if they gave with a cheerful heart.

  • What are some phrases Paul used to describe blessings the Lord gives to those who give with a cheerful heart? (Answers may include “all grace abound toward you” [verse 8], “all sufficiency in all things” [verse 8], “his righteousness remaineth for ever” [verse 9], and “increase the fruits of your righteousness” [verse 10].)

Explain that these phrases suggest that we will receive the Lord’s grace, which may include temporal blessings, sufficient for our needs.

  • According to verse 10, who is “he that ministereth seed to the sower”? (The Lord. Display the seed again, and explain that we are only able to give to others because the Lord has provided for us in the first place.)

  • How can remembering where everything we have comes from help us to give cheerfully?

Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from 2 Corinthians 9:11–15. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Paul taught about those Saints who give and receive cheerfully.

  • According to verses 11–15, how do Saints who freely give and receive of one another’s substance feel toward God?

You may want to invite students to consider marking any phrases of gratitude found in these verses, such as “which causeth through us thanksgiving to God” (verse 11), “many thanksgivings unto God” (verse 12), “they glorify God” (verse 13), and “thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift” (verse 15).

You may want to suggest that students write the following truth in their scriptures near verses 11–15: Recognizing God’s generosity in blessing us can help us feel gratitude toward Him.

  • When have you felt gratitude toward God after recognizing the blessings He sent to you for serving and giving to others in a cheerful manner?

Testify of the principles and truths students identified in 2 Corinthians 8–9.

Encourage students to consider ways they might help someone in need this week. Invite them to set a goal to help that person.

Commentary and Background Information

2 Corinthians 8:9. “Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor”

For an explanation of the remarkable condescension of Jesus Christ on our behalf, see “The Condescension of God and of Man” ([First Presidency Christmas devotional, Dec. 7, 2014], lds.org/broadcasts), by Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

2 Corinthians 8:14. “That there may be equality”

In a general priesthood session, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency shared the following statement, which applies equally to both men and women:

“This very hour there are many members of the Church who are suffering. They are hungry, stretched financially, and struggling with all manner of physical, emotional, and spiritual distress. They pray with all the energy of their souls for succor, for relief.

“Brethren, please do not think that this is someone else’s responsibility. It is mine, and it is yours. We are all enlisted. ‘All’ means all—every Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood holder, rich and poor, in every nation. In the Lord’s plan, there is something everyone can contribute” (“Providing in the Lord’s Way,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2011, 54).