The Apostle Paul taught that the trials and afflictions of this life are temporary and small compared to the blessings of eternity. He also taught the Saints in Corinth about the Judgment and testified that Jesus Christ made it possible for us to be reconciled to God. As Paul continued to defend his conduct as a minister of God, he counseled the Saints to separate themselves from all unrighteousness and rejoiced that they had experienced godly sorrow and repented.
What does this picture seem to portray? What might the person being pushed think about the person who is pushing him?
The expanded version of this picture reveals that the man is actually pushing the other man out of the way of an oncoming car.
How does seeing the situation in a larger context, or perspective, change your judgment about what the first picture portrays?
As recorded in 2 Corinthians 4, the Apostle Paul wrote to the Saints in Corinth to help them see the larger context of their tribulations. As you study this chapter, consider how you can apply what Paul taught the Saints about their tribulations.
In 2 Corinthians 4:1–7 we read how Paul assured the Saints that he had truthfully preached the gospel to them. He taught that Satan, “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4), works to keep people from accepting the gospel. Paul compared himself and his fellow ministers to clay pots that contain the “treasure” of “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 4:6–7).
Read 2 Corinthians 4:8–9, looking for how Paul described the challenges of his missionary labors.
Why do you think Paul could keep a positive attitude while he experienced these challenges?
As recorded in 2 Corinthians 4:11–14, Paul taught that even though some people would die for the gospel of Jesus Christ, their death would be temporary.
Read 2 Corinthians 4:14–16, looking for what Paul knew that helped him face trials and persecution.
The phrase “though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16) means that even though Paul and his companions would die physically, their spirits were being strengthened daily.
Read 2 Corinthians 4:17–18, looking for truths Paul taught the Saints about trials and afflictions.
One truth we can learn from these verses is that our trials and afflictions in this life are small compared to the everlasting blessings and growth that come as we faithfully endure them.
Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
Why is it important to see our afflictions in the larger context of Heavenly Father’s plan?
When have you seen someone remain strong during trials because he or she saw the afflictions in the larger context of Heavenly Father’s plan?
Fold a sheet of paper in half. Open the paper. Write your name on one half of the paper, and write Heavenly Father on the other half. When we came to earth, we left Heavenly Father’s presence. Tear the paper in half, and keep the two halves separated. Consider how the ripped paper can represent what happened when we left Heavenly Father’s presence and came to earth to experience mortality. In 2 Corinthians 5 we read about several truths Paul shared that can help us understand what we must do to return to Heavenly Father’s presence.
Read 2 Corinthians 5:6–10, looking for truths that can help us keep our relationship with Heavenly Father in perspective. You may want to mark or note in your scriptures what you find.
The following are two truths we can learn from these verses: Because we are separated from God in mortality, we are to walk by faith and not by sight. Each of us will be judged by Jesus Christ according to what we have done in mortality.
Think about what it means to “walk by faith, [and] not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Who is someone you know who walks by faith and not by sight?
Consider what you might do in your life to labor to “be accepted of [the Lord]” (2 Corinthians 5:9).
Read 2 Corinthians 5:15–16, looking for what followers of Jesus Christ do because of the Atonement. Also read Joseph Smith Translation, 2 Corinthians 5:16 (in 2 Corinthians 5:16, footnote a). The phrase “live we no more after the flesh” means we forsake a worldly life.
On the half of the paper that has your name on it, write what you learned about how followers of Jesus Christ should live.
Read 2 Corinthians 5:17–19, looking for how the Atonement of Jesus Christ can help us return to Heavenly Father’s presence. You may want to mark or note in your scriptures what you find.
Write the following truth on the half of the paper that has “Heavenly Father” written on it: Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can become new creatures and be reconciled to God.
What do you think it means to become “a new creature” (2 Corinthians 5:17)?
Put the two halves of your paper back together. To be reconciled to God means that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ we can be changed and purified, meaning we become new creatures, so that we can return to live in Heavenly Father’s presence.
In 2 Corinthians 5:20–21 we read that Paul referred to himself and those who were teaching with him as “ambassadors for Christ,” and he admonished the Saints to be reconciled to God.
Have you ever been mocked or criticized when you were trying to serve or help someone else? In 2 Corinthians 6:1–13 we read how Paul encouraged the Saints to be ministers of God and to be patient and careful not to offend, even when they had been treated unkindly.
In 2 Corinthians 6:14–18 we learn that Paul taught the Saints about the blessings of separating themselves from unrighteousness.
Complete the following chart by reading 2 Corinthians 6:14–18 and listing Paul’s counsel and the associated promises:
Counsel to the Saints
Promises from the Lord
In 2 Corinthians 6:15 the word concord means harmony, the word belial means wickedness (see Bible Dictionary, “Belial”), and infidel refers to an unbeliever or one who believed in false gods. To early Christians, those who were not Christian were infidels.
The phrases “be ye separate” and “touch not the unclean thing” (verse 17) are warnings to avoid idol worshippers and their false practices and have application for us in our day also. “Paul compared the Corinthian Saints to ‘the temple of the living God’ (2 Corinthians 6:16). He then discouraged them from entering into relationships with idol worshippers or participating in their ‘unclean’ practices (see Isaiah 52:11). With these teachings, Paul reiterated a promise made to God’s people of old—that if they would ‘come out from among’ the wicked, God would dwell among them and be their God (2 Corinthians 6:17; see also … Jeremiah 32:38; and Ezekiel 11:19–20)” (New Testament Student Manual [Church Educational System manual, 2014], 402). Paul specifically warned the members to avoid all false worship, idolaters, and false practices, just as the Old Testament had taught the people to worship God and become His chosen people, rejecting all other gods.
A principle we can learn from 2 Corinthians 6:14–18 is that as we separate ourselves from false practices and unclean things, the Lord will receive us. (This principle does not mean we treat those of other faiths rudely or refuse to associate with them.)
Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
In our day, what does it mean for us to separate ourselves from false practices and unclean things? (See D&C 1:15–16.)
When have you felt blessed because you separated yourself from a situation that could have led you away from the Lord?
In 2 Corinthians 7 the Apostle Paul explained that as he and his missionary companions were struggling through severe tribulation in Macedonia, Titus brought word from Corinth that filled Paul with joy and comfort. Paul had previously sent an epistle to Corinth calling some of the Saints to repentance, and Titus told him about the Church members’ response.
Read 2 Corinthians 7:8–10, looking for how the Saints in Corinth responded to Paul’s letter.
Why was Paul pleased that the Saints felt sorrow because of his letter?
Consider whether the sorrow you feel for your sins is a godly sorrow, which “worketh repentance to salvation,” or “sorrow of the world” (2 Corinthians 7:10), which means you regret being caught or having to face the consequences of your wrongdoing.
Read 2 Corinthians 7:11, looking for the kinds of changes the Saints made in their lives because their godly sorrow helped them repent.
Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied 2 Corinthians 4–7 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: