2 Corinthians 1-3: The Spirit Giveth Life

New Testament: Student Study guide, (2003), 126–127


Many people who join the Church go through a time of transition when they are still learning about the basic principles of the gospel and the standards and practices that are unique to members of the Church. Baptism does not automatically make new converts forget false teachings and practices they once followed.The Corinthian Saints were no different. In 2 Corinthians 1–3 you will read how they had to be reminded of basic gospel principles that are vital to spiritual well-being. How did Paul’s loving way of teaching strengthen those Saints in the faith?

Understanding the Scriptures

2 Corinthians 1

Abound, aboundeth (v. 5)Plentifully supplied 
Consolation (vv. 5–7)Comfort 
Pressed out of measure (v. 8)Burdened beyond measure 
Bestowed (v. 11)Granted, given 
Fleshly (v. 12)Worldly 
Was thus minded (v. 17)Had made a plan 
Yea and nay (vv. 17–19)Yes and no 
Earnest (v. 22)Promise 

2 Corinthians 2

Lest (vv. 3, 7)For fear that 
Overmuch (v. 7)Excessive 
Savour (vv. 14–16)Sweet smell, odor 

2 Corinthians 3

Commend, commendation (v. 1)Recommend, recommendation 
Ministration of death, ministration of condemnation (vv. 7–9)Law of Moses 
Ministration of the spirit, ministration of righteousness (vv. 8–9) Fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ 
Abolished (v. 13)Removed, rendered idle 
Vail (vv. 14–16)That which blocks or limits vision and understanding 
Glass (v. 18)Mirror 

2 Corinthians 3:2–4—“Ye Are Our Epistle Written in Our Hearts”

Elder Bruce R. McConkie said: “In the ultimate sense, the gospel is not written on tablets of stone or in books of scripture, but in the bodies of faithful and obedient persons; the saints are, thus, living epistles of the truth, the books of whose lives are open for all to read” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 2:414).

2 Corinthians 3:6—“The Letter Killeth, but the Spirit Giveth Life”

President James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, taught: “Paul said, ‘The letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.’ We are not only to avoid evil, not only to do good but, most important, to do the things of greatest worth. We are to focus on the inward things of the heart, which we know and value intuitively but often neglect for that which is trivial, superficial, or prideful” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1997, 75; or Ensign, Nov. 1997, 53).

Ezra Taft Benson

President Ezra Taft Benson counseled: “In this work it is the Spirit that counts” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1986, 98; or Ensign, May 1986, 77).

Studying the Scriptures

Do two of the following activities (A–C) as you study 2 Corinthians 1–3.

Activity A iconWrite a Summary

Mortality brings difficulties. Even Jesus Christ had to suffer as part of His mortal experience. In 2 Corinthians 1:3–7 we learn about some of the blessings that can come as a result of our trials. As you read this passage, summarize each verse with a sentence in your own words.

Activity B iconWhat Would You Teach?

Study 2 Corinthians 2:1–11 and Doctrine and Covenants 64:10. Using the information from these scriptures, tell what you would teach if you had a friend who encountered the following situations:

  1. 1.

    Your friend Roberta has become bitter toward her father, who was excommunicated from the Church. She asks you why she should forgive him.

  2. 2.

    Richard borrowed a car from your friend without asking. He wrecked it and does not have the money to make the repairs. He said he was sorry.

two girls on a country road

Activity C iconComplete the Sentences

As you read 2 Corinthians 3:2–18 and the “Understanding the Scriptures” section, look for ideas that complete the following sentences:

  1. 1.

    Saying that our epistles are written “in fleshly tables of the heart” means that …

  2. 2.

    The Spirit gives life to the gospel because …

  3. 3.

    Moses asked the people to cover their faces so they would not see God, but Jesus Christ …

  4. 4.

    When we follow Jesus Christ, our faces …