Lesson 83: Acts 2

New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual, 2016


Introduction

The disciples were filled with the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost and were blessed with the gift of tongues as they preached the gospel. Peter proclaimed that Jesus is “both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36) and invited people to repent, be baptized, and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. About three thousand people were converted and baptized that day, after which they continued faithful in the Church.

Suggestions for Teaching

Acts 2:1–13

The disciples of Jesus Christ are filled with the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost

Ask students to think about the most recent opportunity they had to speak in church, teach a lesson, or share the gospel with someone.

  • What can be challenging about speaking, teaching, or testifying to others about the gospel of Jesus Christ?

Invite students to look for a truth as they study Acts 2:1–13 that will help them when they feel anxious or fearful about teaching and testifying to others about the restored gospel.

Explain that about one week after the Savior ascended into heaven, Jews from many nations came to Jerusalem to participate in the feast of Pentecost and to worship at the temple and give thanks to the Lord. This feast occurred 50 days after the Passover feast and celebrated the first harvest of the season (see Guide to the Scriptures, “Pentecost,” scriptures.lds.org).

Invite a student to read Acts 2:1–3 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the disciples of Jesus Christ experienced on the day of Pentecost.

  • What did the disciples experience on the day of Pentecost? (The outpouring of the Holy Ghost.)

  • How was this outpouring of the Holy Ghost described?

Explain that the phrase “cloven tongues” (verse 3) refers to tongues that are cloven or forked, or that have the appearance of the flame of a fire. Anciently, fire often symbolized the divine presence or influence. This was a sign that the disciples had received the gift of the Holy Ghost, promised by the Savior.

Invite a student to read Acts 2:4–8 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what happened as the disciples were filled with the Holy Ghost.

  • According to verse 4, what happened as the disciples were filled with the Holy Ghost? (The Spirit “gave them utterance” and enabled them to speak in other languages.)

  • Why did the Jews from different nations marvel at what they heard?

Invite students to scan Acts 2:9–11 and count the number of different groups of people or nationalities who heard the disciples speak in tongues by the power of the Holy Ghost. Ask them to report what they find. Consider displaying the accompanying map to help students visualize where these Jews were from.

map, eastern Mediterranean

Point out that according to verse 11, each of these groups heard in their own language “the wonderful works of God” taught by the disciples. You may need to explain that proselytes were Gentiles who had joined the Jewish faith.

  • As illustrated by the disciples’ experience on the day of Pentecost, what can help us teach and testify to others? (After students respond, write the following principle on the board: As we are filled with the Holy Ghost, He will help us teach and testify to others.)

To help students understand this principle, bring to class two empty cups, a pitcher of water, and a tray. Place the cups on the tray so that the tray can hold any water that spills. Then cover the top of one cup with a piece of paper or lid so that water cannot be poured into it, and place an object (such as a rock) in the other cup so that the cup is mostly filled with the object. Invite a student to try filling both cups with water from the pitcher.

  • If the cups represent us and the water represents the Holy Ghost, what might the piece of paper (or lid) and the rock represent? What behaviors and attitudes can prevent us from being filled with the Holy Ghost?

  • What can we do to be filled with the Holy Ghost so He can help us teach and testify to others?

  • In what ways has the Holy Ghost helped you teach the gospel or share your testimony with others?

Testify of the principle written on the board, and invite students to apply this principle by seeking the companionship of the Holy Ghost so they can teach and testify to others.

Summarize Acts 2:12–13 by explaining that some Jews were amazed by what they had heard, while others mocked the disciples by accusing them of having drunk too much wine.

Acts 2:14–47

Peter testifies of Jesus Christ and teaches how to gain salvation

Invite a student to read Acts 2:14 aloud, and ask the class to look for who began teaching the multitude. Invite students to report what they find.

Ask students to imagine themselves in Peter’s situation, standing before the multitude.

  • If you had been in Peter’s situation, what truths of the gospel would you have taught and testified of? Why?

Summarize Acts 2:15–35 by explaining that Peter declared that the events of the gift of tongues and other manifestations of the Spirit among the disciples were one fulfillment and meaning of Joel’s prophecy (see Joel 2:28–32). Peter then taught and testified to the people using some of King David’s words and psalms.

Write the following scripture references and questions on the board:

Acts 2:22–24, 29–33, 36

What are some of the important truths Peter taught and testified of?

What stands out to you about Peter’s testimony to the Jews?

Divide students into pairs. Invite each pair to study the scripture references on the board and discuss their answers to the accompanying questions. After sufficient time, invite a few students to share their responses with the class.

Display a picture that portrays Peter’s denial of the Savior (for example, Peter’s Denial by Carl Heinrich Bloch, available on LDS.org). Invite a student to summarize what Peter said and did when asked about his relationship to Jesus on the night the Savior was arrested (see Luke 22:54–62).

Peter’s Denial

Peter’s Denial, by Carl Heinrich Bloch. Courtesy of the National History Museum at Frederiksborg Castle in Hillerød, Denmark. Do not copy.

  • How did Peter’s words and actions on the day of Pentecost differ from his behavior on the night the Savior was arrested?

  • What do you think influenced this change in Peter?

Invite a student to read Acts 2:37 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how Peter’s words affected the multitude.

  • How did Peter’s words affect the multitude?

You may want to invite students to mark the phrase “pricked in their heart.” Explain that the Holy Ghost pricked the people’s hearts as they heard Peter’s testimony. The word pricked here means “pierced thoroughly” and suggests that the people felt remorse because the Jews as a people and nation had crucified their Lord, Jesus Christ. Peter was not implying that the group of Jews from various nationalities that he was teaching on the day of Pentecost were the ones responsible for the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

  • According to verse 37, what question did the people ask?

  • What does this question reveal about what was happening in the hearts of the people? (The people were beginning to experience a change of heart.)

Invite a student to read Acts 2:38–41 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Peter instructed the people to do. Explain that untoward means rebellious, perverse, or crooked.

  • What did Peter instruct the people to do?

  • According to verse 41, how did the people respond to Peter’s teachings and invitation to repent and be baptized?

Write the following incomplete statement on the board: As we receive the word of God by the power of the Holy Ghost, …

Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Acts 2:42–47. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the new converts to the Church did after they received the truth by the power of the Holy Ghost and were baptized. Explain that the phrase “breaking of bread” (verse 42) refers to participating in the ordinance of the sacrament and that to have “all things common” (verse 44) refers to the Saints being unified and living the law of consecration.

  • According to these verses, what actions demonstrated that those who were baptized were truly converted (see also 3 Nephi 26:17–21)? (Invite a student to list the class’s responses on the board.)

Remind students that before the Jews heard and acted on Peter’s words, they had not accepted Jesus as their Savior, nor did they follow His teachings. Invite them to consider how the people changed.

  • What principle can we learn from Acts 2:37–47 about what can happen as we receive the word of God by the power of the Holy Ghost? (Using students’ words, complete the statement on the board so that it conveys the following truth: As we receive the word of God by the power of the Holy Ghost, our hearts will change and we will be converted to Jesus Christ.)

  • What can we do to receive the word of God by the power of the Holy Ghost?

Invite students to review the actions listed on the board of those who were baptized and converted.

  • As you have endeavored to learn and live the truths of the gospel, how has the Spirit helped you change and become converted to Jesus Christ? (You may want to share an experience from your own life as well.)

Invite students to ponder what they can do to better receive God’s words and teachings by the power of the Holy Ghost. Encourage them to act on any promptings they receive.

scripture mastery iconScripture Mastery—Acts 2:36–38

Invite students to compare Acts 2:36–38 to the fourth article of faith. Ask students to identify in Acts 2:36–38 the words that demonstrate or teach the first principles and ordinances of the gospel. Then divide students into pairs, and ask each pair to discuss how each of these principles and ordinances helps us receive the full blessings of the Savior’s Atonement. After sufficient time, ask:

  • What blessing did Peter say the people would receive as a result of repenting and being baptized?

  • Based on your understanding of Acts 2:38, what must we do to prepare to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost? (Using their own words, students should identify a truth similar to the following: When we have faith in Jesus Christ, repent, and are baptized, we are prepared to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Write this truth on the board.)

  • How do faith, repentance, and baptism prepare someone to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost?

Commentary and Background Information

Acts 2:1–4. “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind”

“This great Pentecostal experience, when the Holy Ghost was poured out upon a large gathering of people, has a parallel in Latter-day Saint history. At the time of the dedicatory services for the Kirtland Temple, the Prophet Joseph Smith … prayed for a special outpouring of the Spirit from on high: ‘Let it be fulfilled upon them, as upon those on the day of Pentecost,’ he pleaded in behalf of the Saints. ‘Let the gift of tongues be poured out upon thy people, even cloven tongues as of fire, and the interpretation thereof. And let thy house be filled, as with a rushing mighty wind, with thy glory’ (D&C 109:36–37). This plea was fulfilled, not just once, but several times during the days following the initial dedicatory services. Joseph Smith recorded that on one occasion, ‘a noise was heard like the sound of a rushing mighty wind, which filled the [Kirtland] Temple, and all the congregation simultaneously arose, being moved upon by an invisible power; many began to speak in tongues and prophesy; others saw glorious visions; and I beheld the Temple was filled with angels, which fact I declared to the congregation’ (in History of the Church, 2:428)” (New Testament Student Manual [Church Educational System manual, 2014], 278).

Acts 2:3. Cloven tongues

“Cloven tongues” may also indicate that this powerful outpouring of the Spirit was divided among the people present that day—they each felt and experienced it. The word sat in Acts 2:3 is changed to rested in the Joseph Smith Translation.

Acts 2:4–6. The gift of tongues

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught about the purpose of the gift of tongues:

“The gift of tongues by the power of the Holy Ghost in the Church, is for the benefit of the servants of God to preach to unbelievers, as on the day of Pentecost” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 383).

Acts 2:16–21. The fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel

In our dispensation, Moroni quoted these same verses to the prophet Joseph Smith and told him they were not yet fulfilled but soon would be (see Joseph Smith—History 1:41). Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that Joel 2:28–32 is an example of a scripture that can have multiple meanings and fulfillments:

“Many of the prophecies and doctrinal passages in the scriptures have multiple meanings. …

“[One] illustration of multiple meanings concerns the prophecy in the book of Joel that in the last days the Lord will pour out his spirit upon all flesh and that our sons and our daughters will prophesy (see Joel 2:28). On the day of Pentecost, the Apostle Peter declared that the events they had witnessed were those ‘spoken by the prophet Joel’ (Acts 2:16). Eighteen hundred years later, the angel Moroni quoted this same prophecy and said that ‘this was not yet fulfilled, but was soon to be’ (JS—H 1:41)” (“Scripture Reading and Revelation,” Ensign, Jan. 1995, 8).

Therefore, both Peter and Moroni correctly stated that the prophecy given by the prophet Joel had fulfillment, meaning, and application for the day of Pentecost and in the latter days, respectively.

Acts 2:27. “Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell”

Concerning King David’s eternal inheritance, Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that David “received the promise that his soul would not be left in hell, that is, he would not be a son of perdition, he would not be cast out eternally with the devil and his angels. Rather, when death and hell deliver up the dead which are in them, he shall come forth from the grave and receive that inheritance which he merits. See Rev. 20:11–15” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1965–73], 2:39).

Acts 2:37. “They were pricked in their heart”

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught:

“True conversion comes through the power of the Spirit. When the Spirit touches the heart, hearts are changed. When individuals … feel the Spirit working with them, or when they see the evidence of the Lord’s love and mercy in their lives, they are edified and strengthened spiritually and their faith in Him increases. These experiences with the Spirit follow naturally when a person is willing to experiment upon the word. This is how we come to feel the gospel is true” (“Now Is the Time,” Ensign, Nov. 2000, 75).

Supplemental Teaching Idea

Acts 2:37–38. “Ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost”

Circle the word receive in the following principle written on the board: When we have faith in Jesus Christ, repent, and are baptized, we are prepared to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

  • How does someone receive the gift of the Holy Ghost?

Explain that after baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost is conferred upon individuals by the laying on of hands. In that ordinance, the person being confirmed is directed to “receive the Holy Ghost.” To help students understand what receiving the Holy Ghost means, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

“The Holy Ghost does not become operative in our lives merely because hands are placed upon our heads. … As we receive this ordinance [confirmation], each of us accepts a sacred and ongoing responsibility to desire, to seek, to work, and to so live that we indeed ‘receive the Holy Ghost’ and its attendant spiritual gifts” (“Receive the Holy Ghost,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 95).

  • According to Elder Bednar, what must we do to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost?