From the day of his conversion while on the road to Damascus (see Acts 9:1–9), Paul was devoted to the Savior and His cause. Though beaten and stoned, imprisoned and rejected, in peril and physical discomfort, he gladly gave all he had to the Lord (see 2 Corinthians 11:23–31). He did so with the firm testimony that all things are insignificant compared to “the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus” (see Philippians 3:8). Through all of his trials and challenges God did not leave Paul without comfort. Paul received visions and revelations (see 2 Corinthians 12:1–4) that left him firm in the belief that God would strengthen him in his weakness (see 2 Corinthians 12:7–10).
Prayerfully study 2 Corinthians 10–13and consider the following principles before preparing your lessons.
Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For
Satan can transform himself into an angel of light in order to deceive. Those who follow him may pretend to be ministers of light for the same purpose (see 2 Corinthians 11:7–17; see also Alma 30:50–53).
The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, 303–5.
Suggestions for Teaching
Choose from the following ideas, or use some of your own, as you prepare lessons for 2 Corinthians 10–13.
2 Corinthians 11–13. God gives us weaknesses and trials to humble us; He will help us endure them.
Show the class the largest thorn or thistle you can find. Ask:
What would it be like to have this thorn puncture your side?
How would it affect you if for some reason it could not be removed?
What would it be like to live with it?
Read 2 Corinthians 12:7looking for what Paul experienced. Ask: What is a “thorn in the flesh”? President Brigham Young, commenting on these verses, said:
“We find a pure spirit inhabiting the tabernacle of the creature which is always prompting the individual to good, to virtue, to truth and holiness; all of which emanate from that source of purity from which this spirit came. And here the evil that came through transgression that is in this tabernacle, is warring with this pure spirit, it seeks to overcome it, and is striving with all its power to bring this spirit into subjection. … This is the warfare which Paul refers to when speaking of the ‘thorn in the flesh,’ which is no more or less than the spirit contending against the flesh, and the flesh against the spirit” (inJournal of Discourses, 18:258).
Invite students to discuss the types of “thorns” we have today.
Why do you think the Lord didn’t remove Paul’s thorn?
Since trials and afflictions are a part of life, what effect do they have on the human soul?
How familiar was Paul with affliction?
Invite students to read 2 Corinthians 11:23–27. They may wish to underline Paul’s afflictions. Ask:
How committed was Paul to the gospel?
What evidence is there for your answer?
What do you think gave Paul the strength to endure?
How can we feel this same strength in our lives?
Read 2 Corinthians 12:10and look for Paul’s attitude regarding his trials.
Paul’s suffering strengthened his faith in Christ. Read 2 Corinthians 13:5, 9and ask:
How can we examine our own faith?
How might our weaknesses make our faith stronger?
Share Elder Neal A. Maxwell’s remark:
“As it must be with anyone who seeks sainthood, Paul had to be ‘willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him’ (Mosiah 3:19)” (All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience, 31).
Testify that if we are humble and learn to rely on our God, we will be strong enough to endure any trial, persecution, or weakness of the flesh.
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