Lesson 85

Acts 4–5

“Lesson 85: Acts 4–5,” New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2016)


Introduction

After healing a lame man at the temple (see Acts 3), Peter and John were arrested. The Sanhedrin commanded them to stop teaching in the name of Jesus. However, the Apostles continued to preach and heal in Jesus’s name. They were arrested again and beaten for refusing to comply with the Jewish leaders’ orders. Church members lived the law of consecration, but two of them died as a result of lying to Peter and to God.

Suggestions for Teaching

Acts 4:1–31

Members of the Sanhedrin command Peter and John to stop teaching in the name of Jesus

Ask students to ponder what they would do in the following situations:

  1. A friend posts something untrue about the Church on social media.

  2. A coach schedules a tournament that requires your team to play on Sunday.

  3. Your friends ask your opinion about a social issue that is generally popular and supported but is contrary to the teachings of the Church.

After sufficient time, ask:

  • What are some other circumstances in which we might need to share or defend our faith?

  • What can be challenging about sharing or defending our faith?

Invite students to look for truths as they study Acts 4–5 that can guide them in these types of situations.

Invite students to summarize what they remember about the events and teachings recorded in Acts 3. If needed, remind them that after healing the lame man, Peter and John taught a group of people who had gathered around them at the temple.

Invite a student to read Acts 4:1–4 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what happened to Peter and John as they taught the people at the temple.

  • What happened to Peter and John?

Summarize Acts 4:5–6 by explaining that Peter and John were arrested and taken before the Jewish governing council called the Sanhedrin (see Bible Dictionary, “Sanhedrin”). Remind students that many members of the Sanhedrin had been involved in bringing about the arrest and Crucifixion of the Savior.

Invite a student to read Acts 4:7 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the question the Jewish leaders asked Peter and John.

  • What did the Jewish leaders ask Peter and John?

  • What could happen to Peter and John if they indicated they were followers of Jesus Christ?

Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from Acts 4:8–21. Invite students to look for what Peter declared to the council.

video iconInstead of having students read Acts 4:8–21, consider showing the video “Peter and John Are Judged” (2:51) from The Life of Jesus Christ Bible Videos. This video is available on LDS.org.

 
  • According to Acts 4:10–12, what truths did Peter teach the council? (Students may identify several truths, but be sure to emphasize that the name of Jesus Christ is the only name through which we can receive salvation.)

  • According to verse 13, why did the council marvel at Peter and John?

Invite students to review Acts 4:8 silently, looking for what influenced Peter and helped him speak with boldness to the council.

  • How do you think being filled with the Holy Ghost influenced Peter’s ability to teach the gospel with boldness?

  • What principle can we learn from Peter’s example as recorded in verses 8 and 13? (Students may use their own words, but make sure they identify the following principle: As we are filled with the Holy Ghost, we can share the gospel with boldness.)

Invite students to look for additional illustrations of this principle as they continue to study Acts 4–5.

  • According to verse 18, what command did the council give to Peter and John?

  • According to verses 19–20, how did Peter and John respond to the council’s order?

Summarize Acts 4:23–28 by explaining that after Peter and John were released, they gathered with other believers and prayed with them.

Invite a student to read Acts 4:29–30 aloud, and ask the class to look for what the believers asked of God.

  • What did the believers ask of God?

Invite a student to read Acts 4:31 aloud, and ask the class to follow along and look for what happened after their prayer.

  • What happened after the people prayed?

  • Based on these verses, what can we do to invite the Holy Ghost to help us speak the words of God with boldness?

Refer to some of the situations mentioned at the beginning of the lesson.

  • In what ways can we be bold in sharing the gospel in situations like these?

  • How can we boldly share and defend the gospel with others while still being respectful and civil?

  • When has the Holy Ghost helped you speak the word of God with boldness?

Acts 4:32–5:11

Church members live the law of consecration, but Ananias and Sapphira lie to Peter

Ask students to consider the following scenarios:

  1. A youth group is planning to do baptisms for the dead at the temple. One member of the group knows that she needs to see the bishop for a recommend, but she also knows that she has committed some sins that have not been confessed.

  2. A young man is preparing for a mission. He knows the bishop is going to ask questions about his worthiness to serve a mission. He is trying to figure out ways to answer those questions without having to tell the bishop about some of the mistakes he has made.

Invite students to look for a principle as they study Acts 4:32–5:11 that can help them understand the importance of being honest with God’s servants.

Invite a student to read Acts 4:32–35 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Church members did with their possessions.

  • What did Church members do with their possessions?

  • According to verses 34–35, what was their process for sharing their physical possessions?

Invite a student to read Acts 5:1–2 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what a married couple named Ananias and Sapphira did with money they received from selling land.

  • What did Ananias and Sapphira do that was so serious?

Invite a student to read Acts 5:3–4 aloud, and ask the class to look for what Peter said to Ananias.

  • According to verse 4, whom had Ananias ultimately lied to?

  • From Peter’s response, what principle can we learn about lying to the Lord’s servants? (Students may use their own words to identify the following principle: If we lie to God’s servants, it is the same as lying to Him.)

  • Why do you think that lying to God’s servants is the same as lying to Him?

Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Acts 5:5–11. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what happened to Ananias and Sapphira as a consequence of breaking their covenant and lying to Peter.

  • What happened to Ananias and Sapphira?

  • Although we or those we know may not experience such severe or immediate consequences for lying, what are some consequences we may experience if we lie to the Lord or break our covenants?

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Gordon B. Hinckley. Ask students to listen for some of the consequences of dishonesty:

President Gordon B. Hinckley

“In our time, those found in dishonesty do not die as did Ananias and Sapphira, but something within them dies. Conscience chokes, character withers, self-respect vanishes, integrity dies” (“We Believe in Being Honest,” Ensign, Oct. 1990, 4).

  • According to President Hinckley, what are some consequences of lying? Refer to the scenarios from the beginning of this section of the lesson.

  • What do the individuals in these scenarios need to know about what happens to us if we lie to a priesthood leader?

  • What blessings come from being honest with the Lord’s servants?

Acts 5:12–42

The Apostles are put into prison for healing in the name of Jesus Christ

Ask students to imagine that they are living at the time of Peter and John and are reporters for a newspaper. Explain that they will be invited to study portions of Acts 5:12–32 and then write a headline summarizing what happened. (To provide context for these passages, remind students that the Sanhedrin had commanded Peter and John to stop speaking in the name of Jesus Christ.) Follow the instructions given with each block of verses.

  1. Acts 5:12–16 (Read this passage as a class, and write a headline together.)

  2. Acts 5:17–23 (Ask students to read this passage with a partner and write a headline. Invite some pairs to share their headlines with the class.)

  3. Acts 5:24–32 (Ask students to read individually and write a headline. Invite some students to share their headlines with the class.)

After students share their headlines, ask:

  • According to verse 29, why did Peter and the other Apostles say they had continued to preach in Jesus’s name despite the command from the council?

Write the following incomplete statement on the board: If we choose to obey God rather than men, then …

  • From what you have read in Acts 4–5, what are some ways we could complete this statement? (After students have responded, complete the statement on the board as follows: If we choose to obey God rather than men, then He will be with us.)

  • In what ways was God with Peter and the other Apostles as they obeyed Him rather than the council? (God filled them with the Holy Ghost [see Acts 4:8, 31], enabled them to perform miracles [see Acts 5:12–16], and sent His angel to deliver them from prison [see Acts 5:17–20].)

  • When have you or someone you know chosen to obey God rather than men? How did God show He was with you or this person?

Ask a few students to take turns reading aloud from Acts 5:33–42. Invite the class to follow along, looking for additional examples of how the Lord was with Peter and the other Apostles.

video iconInstead of having students read Acts 5:33–42, you could review and summarize the content of Acts 5:12–42 by showing the video “Peter and John Continue Preaching the Gospel” (5:38). This video is available on LDS.org.

 

Point out that we learn in Acts 5:33 that the council sought to kill Peter and John.

  • According to verses 41–42, how did the Apostles remain faithful to the Lord in the face of this threat? How was the Lord with them at this time?

  • How can the truths we have identified in this lesson assist us as we live the gospel and share it with those around us?

Share your testimony of the truths taught today.

Commentary and Background Information

Acts 4:1–13. Sharing and defending the gospel with boldness

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught how we can share and defend the gospel appropriately with others who may not agree with our beliefs:

“Even as we seek to be meek and to avoid contention, we must not compromise or dilute our commitment to the truths we understand. We must not surrender our positions or our values. The gospel of Jesus Christ and the covenants we have made inevitably cast us as combatants in the eternal contest between truth and error. There is no middle ground in that contest. …

“… We should all follow the gospel teachings to love our neighbor and avoid contention. Followers of Christ should be examples of civility. We should love all people, be good listeners, and show concern for their sincere beliefs. Though we may disagree, we should not be disagreeable. Our stands and communications on controversial topics should not be contentious. We should be wise in explaining and pursuing our positions and in exercising our influence” (“Loving Others and Living with Differences,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2014, 26, 27).

Acts 4:10. “By the name of Jesus”

President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught the following about the importance of the name of Jesus Christ:

“Foremost and underpinning all that we do, anchored throughout the revelations, is the Lord’s name, which is the authority by which we act in the Church. Every prayer offered, even by little children, ends in the name of Jesus Christ. Every blessing, every ordinance, every ordination, every official act is done in the name of Jesus Christ. It is His Church, and it is named for Him—The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (see D&C 115:4)” (“The Witness,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2014, 96).

Acts 4:32–35. “They had all things common”

“Members of the Church in Jerusalem attempted to live the law of consecration. ‘They had all things common’ (Acts 4:32) probably does not mean that they pooled all of their resources and then divided up equal portions among believers. Rather they used their excess resources to care for the poor and needy among them. Similar attempts to live the law of consecration occurred among the people of Enoch and in the Book of Mormon (see Moses 7:18; 4 Nephi 1:3–18; D&C 105:3–5)” (New Testament Student Manual [Church Educational System manual, 2014], 286–87).