Lesson 82: Acts 1:9–26

New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual, 2016


Introduction

After instructing His disciples for 40 days, Jesus Christ ascended into heaven. The Apostles and others united in prayer and supplication. Through inspiration, Matthias was called to fill the vacancy in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles left by the betrayal and death of Judas Iscariot.

Suggestions for Teaching

Acts 1:9–12

The Savior ascends into heaven

Write the following question on the board: True or False?

Read aloud the following statements about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Invite students to indicate whether the statements are true or false. (Note: At this point in the lesson, students do not need to know the answer to each question or spend a great deal of time discussing their answers.)

  1. 1.

    Jesus Christ will return to the earth in the latter days.

  2. 2.

    At His Second Coming, Jesus Christ will appear only to righteous people.

  3. 3.

    Because Jesus Christ will be in disguise when He comes again, most people will not realize that the Second Coming has occurred.

You may want to briefly review the answer to each statement: (1) True (see Moses 7:60); (2) False (see Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:26; D&C 101:23); (3) False (see D&C 49:22–23).

Explain that during His mortal ministry, Jesus Christ prophesied that in the last days some people would promote false teachings about His Second Coming (see Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:22–25).

  • How can we know whether a particular teaching about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ is true or false? (If we heed the Savior’s words and the words of His prophets, we can avoid being deceived [see Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:37].)

Invite students to look as they continue to study Acts 1 for an important truth concerning the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

Remind students that the Savior instructed His disciples for 40 days after His Resurrection (see Acts 1:3). Display the picture The Ascension (Gospel Art Book [2009], no. 62; see also LDS.org).

The Ascencion of Jesus

Invite a student to read Acts 1:9–12 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what happened after the Savior finished instructing His Apostles.

  • What happened after the Savior finished instructing His Apostles?

  • If you had seen the Savior ascend into heaven, what thoughts and feelings do you think you might have had?

Explain that in ancient Israel a cloud sometimes served as a visible representation of the presence and glory of God (see Exodus 40:34). The cloud mentioned in Acts 1:9 was a cloud of glory (see Bible Dictionary, “Cloud”), and the two men mentioned in verse 10 were angels.

  • What did the angels tell the Apostles?

  • What do you think it means that Jesus will come again “in like manner” (Acts 1:11) as He ascended? (After students respond, write the following truth on the board: At His Second Coming, the Savior will descend from heaven in glory.)

Point out that the Savior’s Ascension took place on the Mount of Olives (see verse 12). Explain that when the Savior comes again, one of His appearances will be when He will descend and actually stand on the Mount of Olives (see Zechariah 14:4; D&C 45:47–53; D&C 133:19–20). This will be before His great and grand appearance to the world (see Isaiah 40:5).

  • How can knowing the manner in which the Savior will return help us avoid being deceived while we await His Second Coming?

Acts 1:13–26

Matthias is chosen to fill the vacancy in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Explain that after the Apostles returned to Jerusalem, they gathered with some faithful men and women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, to pray and worship. Invite students to read Acts 1:13 silently and count the number of Apostles listed. Ask students to report what they find.

  • Why were there only 11 Apostles at that time? (Judas Iscariot had betrayed Jesus Christ and then ended his own life [see Matthew 27:3–5].)

Summarize Acts 1:15–20 by explaining that Peter stood before 120 disciples and recounted the death of Judas Iscariot. Because Judas had been one of the Twelve Apostles, the disciples gathered to choose a new Apostle.

Invite students to describe the different ways in which some of the following leaders are chosen: a team captain, a local government leader, a king or queen, and a president of a company.

  • What might some of the qualifications for these leadership positions be?

Show students a picture or pictures of the current First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and testify that each of these men is an Apostle of Jesus Christ. Ask students to consider how an Apostle of Jesus Christ is chosen and what qualifies someone to serve as an Apostle.

Divide students into pairs. Invite them to read Acts 1:21–26 aloud with their partners and look for how a new Apostle was chosen after the death of Judas Iscariot.

  • What does it mean that “they gave forth their lots”? (verse 26).

You may need to explain that anciently, casting lots was a faithful means of making a decision that showed trust in God directing the outcome (see Acts 1:26; see also Proverbs 16:33). “If they cast lots, it was an instance in which the Lord chose the result. More probably, however, ‘they gave forth their votes,’ presumably ‘sustaining votes’ to uphold him whom God had chosen to serve in the holy apostleship” (Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1965–73], 2:32).

  • According to verses 21–22, what qualifications did Peter say the new Apostle must have? (He must be a follower of Jesus Christ who was also a witness of His ministry and Resurrection.)

  • What stands out to you about the Apostles’ prayer recorded in verses 24–25?

  • What truth can we learn from verse 24 about how an Apostle of Jesus Christ is called? (Students may use different words, but make sure to emphasize that Apostles of Jesus Christ are called by God through revelation. Write this truth on the board, and invite students to consider writing it in their scriptures next to verse 24.)

  • Why do you think it is important that an Apostle is called by God through revelation instead of being selected in a way similar to other leaders in the world?

To illustrate how a modern Apostle is called by God through revelation, invite a student to read aloud the following account from the life of President Heber J. Grant:

President Heber J. Grant

“President [Heber J.] Grant received revelations as President of the Church to guide the Church as a whole. One such revelation came just after he was set apart as President of the Church, when he sought the will of the Lord in appointing a new member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. As he pondered this responsibility, his thoughts turned repeatedly to his lifelong friend Richard W. Young, a faithful Latter-day Saint and a proven leader. President Grant discussed this possibility with his counselors, who supported his decision. When he finally felt confident with this course of action, he wrote his friend’s name on a piece of paper and took the paper with him to the weekly temple meeting with the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve. However, when he was about to present the name for the approval of his Brethren, he was unable to do so. Instead of presenting the name of Richard W. Young, he presented the name of Melvin J. Ballard, a man whom he hardly knew. President Grant later told of the impact this experience had on him:

“‘I have felt the inspiration of the living God directing me in my labors. From the day that I chose a comparative stranger to be one of the apostles, instead of my lifelong and dearest living friend, I have known as I know that I live, that I am entitled to the light and the inspiration and the guidance of God in directing His work here upon this earth’” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Heber J. Grant [2002], 181–82).

  • How is the truth taught in Acts 1:24 illustrated in this account describing the calling of a modern-day Apostle?

  • How does the calling of an Apostle show that the Savior continues to direct His Church? (You may want to remind students of the truth taught in Acts 1:2—that Jesus Christ directs His Church by revealing His will to His Apostles through the Holy Ghost.)

Refer to the picture or pictures you displayed earlier of the living Apostles. You may want to take a moment to help students learn or review their names.

Write the following questions on the board:

What experiences have helped you come to know that the living Apostles have been called by God?

Why is it important to you to have a testimony that the living Apostles have been called by God?

Invite students to write a response to one of the questions in their class notebooks or scripture study journals. Invite a few students to share their responses with the class.

Conclude by testifying of the truths students identified in Acts 1:9–26.

scripture mastery iconScripture Mastery Review

To help students review the first 10 scripture mastery passages, write the following references and corresponding key words on the board (if you prefer, you can provide students with copies of the chart):

Matthew 5:14–16

Let your light so shine.

Luke 24:36–39

A resurrected body has flesh and bones.

Matthew 11:28–30

Come unto me.

John 3:5

Born of water and of the Spirit

Matthew 16:15–19

The keys of the kingdom

John 14:6

The way, the truth, and the life

Matthew 22:36–39

Love the Lord; love thy neighbor.

John 14:15

If ye love me, keep my commandments.

Matthew 28:19–20

Teach and baptize all nations.

John 17:3

Knowing God and Jesus Christ is eternal life.

Divide students into pairs. Ask students to review with their partners the scripture mastery passages written on the board. You might suggest that one partner read aloud the key words from a scripture mastery passage and the other partner name the corresponding reference. Invite students to alternate roles until they have reviewed all 10 passages.

If time permits, consider giving students a quiz. Provide students with pieces of paper that include the key words for each scripture mastery passage followed by a blank line. Invite students to write the corresponding reference on the blank line. After sufficient time, review the quiz.

Commentary and Background Information

Acts 1:18. Judas’s death

The Joseph Smith Translation helps clarify the discrepancy between Matthew 27:3–5, which records that Judas hanged himself, and Acts 1:18, which records that Judas fell and his “bowels gushed out.” The Joseph Smith Translation of Matthew 27:6 reads as follows: “And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself on a tree. And straightway he fell down, and his bowels gushed out, and he died” (see Matthew 27:5, footnote a).

Acts 1:21–22. “A witness with us of his resurrection

President Joseph Fielding Smith taught that the greatest witness of the Savior’s divinity comes from the Holy Ghost:

“They [the Twelve Apostles] are special witnesses for Jesus Christ. It is their right to know the truth and to have an abiding witness. This is an exacting duty upon them, to know that Jesus Christ is in very deed the Only Begotten Son of God, the Redeemer of the world. …

“The question frequently arises: ‘Is it necessary for a member of the Council of the Twelve to see the Savior in order to be an apostle?’ It is their privilege to see him if occasion requires, but the Lord has taught that there is a stronger witness than seeing a personage, even of seeing the Son of God in a vision. Impressions on the soul that come from the Holy Ghost are far more significant than a vision” (“The First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve,” Improvement Era, Nov. 1966, 979).

Acts 1:24–26. How are Apostles called in our day?

Following the calling and sustaining of Elder Robert D. Hales as an Apostle, President Gordon B. Hinckley explained how an Apostle is called today:

“Under the Lord’s plan, those who have responsibility to select officers are governed by one overriding question: ‘Whom would the Lord have?’ There is quiet and thoughtful deliberation. And there is much of prayer to receive the confirmation of the Holy Spirit that the choice is correct.

“… In filling [the vacancy in the Quorum of the Twelve], each member of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve was at liberty to make suggestions. I am confident that in every case, there was solemn and earnest prayer. A choice was then made by the First Presidency, again after solemn and serious prayer. This choice was sustained by the Council of the Twelve. Today, the membership of the Church in conference assembled has sustained that choice.

“I give you my testimony … that the impression to call Brother Hales to this high and sacred office came by the Holy Spirit, by the spirit of prophecy and revelation. Brother Hales did not suggest his own name. His name was suggested by the Spirit” (“God Is at the Helm,” Ensign, May 1994, 53–54).

Acts 1:24–26. Apostles called in our day

Although the general membership of the Church does not choose the next Apostle or even local priesthood leaders of the Church, we do have the opportunity to sustain those whom God calls. President Gordon B. Hinckley taught what it means to sustain others: “The procedure of sustaining is much more than a ritualistic raising of the hand. It is a commitment to uphold, to support, to assist those who have been selected” (“This Work Is Concerned with People,” Ensign, May 1995, 51).