Lesson 91: Acts 13–14

New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual, 2016


Introduction

Paul (formerly called Saul) embarked on his first missionary journey with Barnabas as his companion. They preached the gospel and established branches of the Church amidst continued persecution. When the Jews refused to receive the word of God, Paul and Barnabas focused on preaching among the Gentiles.

Suggestions for Teaching

Acts 13:1–13

Paul and Barnabas embark on a missionary journey and rebuke a false prophet

Before class, prepare one sign that says “No opposition” and another sign that says “Constant opposition.” Post them on opposite walls of the classroom.

Ask students to imagine the space between the signs as a scale representing the level of opposition one encounters when trying to live the gospel. Invite students to stand between the signs in places that they think demonstrate the level of opposition experienced by Moses. Ask a few students to explain their choices of location. Repeat this exercise by asking students to stand somewhere on this scale of opposition for Joseph Smith and then for Nephi. Ask a few students to explain their choices for each one. Invite students to return to their seats.

Acknowledge that every disciple of Jesus Christ will encounter opposition at different times in his or her life. Ask students to think about where they would place themselves along the scale of opposition as they have tried to live the gospel. Encourage students to look for principles as they study Acts 13–14 that can help guide them when they encounter opposition in their efforts to live righteously.

Summarize Acts 13:1–6 by explaining that as certain prophets and teachers were gathered in Antioch in Syria, they received direction from the Holy Ghost that Saul (later known as Paul) and Barnabas should be called to preach the gospel together. After they were set apart, Saul and Barnabas traveled from Antioch to the island of Cyprus and preached in a synagogue in the city Salamis. From there they traveled to the other side of the island to the city Paphos. (You may want to invite students to locate Antioch and Cyprus on Bible Maps, no. 13, “The Missionary Journeys of the Apostle Paul.”)

Invite a student to read Acts 13:6–8 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what happened when Saul and Barnabas arrived in Paphos.

  • According to verse 7, who wanted to hear the gospel from Saul and Barnabas? (Sergius Paulus, who was the Roman deputy of the country.)

  • What opposition did the missionaries face in teaching the gospel to Sergius Paulus?

Explain that beginning in Acts 13:9, Saul is referred to as Paul. Invite a student to read Acts 13:9–12 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how Paul dealt with opposition from the false prophet Elymas.

  • What did Paul say about Elymas in verse 10? (Explain that Paul used harsh words because Elymas was attempting to keep another person from receiving salvation.)

  • According to verse 11, what did Paul do to the false prophet through the power of God?

  • According to verse 12, how did witnessing God’s power influence the deputy?

  • What can we learn from this account about God’s power compared to the power of the devil? (Though students may use different words, make sure they identify the following truth: The power of God is far greater than the power of the devil. You may want to suggest that students write this truth in their scriptures next to Acts 13:9–12.)

Invite students to ponder how understanding that God’s power is vastly superior to the power of the devil could help us as we face opposition in our lives. Ask a few students to share their thoughts with the class.

Acts 13:14–43

Paul recounts the history of the Israelites and testifies that Jesus Christ came in fulfillment of God’s promises

Invite students to think of a mistake they have made that they wish they could go back and erase. Explain that sometimes the opposition we face occurs because of our own sinful choices. Encourage students to look for a principle as they study Acts 13:14–43 that can help them overcome this opposition.

Summarize Acts 13:14–37 by explaining that Paul and Barnabas left Cyprus and sailed to Pamphylia (in present-day Turkey), after which one of their companions, John Mark, decided to leave them and return home. Paul and Barnabas continued on to Antioch in Pisidia (not to be confused with Antioch in Syria, from which they began their mission). On the Sabbath there, Paul stood before the men at the synagogue and recounted events from Israelite history. Paul then testified of Jesus Christ as the promised Savior of Israel.

Invite students to read Acts 13:26–34 silently, looking for what Paul taught about Jesus Christ.

  • What did Paul want those at the synagogue to understand about Jesus Christ?

Ask a student to read Acts 13:38–39 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for what blessing Paul taught we can receive through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

  • What blessing can we receive because of Jesus Christ and His Atonement? (Using students’ words, write the following truth on the board: We can be forgiven of our sins and justified through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.)

Explain that the word justified, as used in verse 39, means “to be pardoned [or forgiven] from punishment for sin and declared guiltless” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Justification, Justify,” scriptures.lds.org). When a person is justified through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, his or her relationship with God is again made right.

  • How does the Atonement of Jesus Christ allow us to be justified from our sins?

To help students understand the doctrine, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

Elder D. Todd Christofferson

“Jesus suffered and gave His life to atone for sin. The power of His Atonement can erase the effects of sin in us. When we repent, His atoning grace justifies and cleanses us (see 3 Nephi 27:16–20). It is as if we had not succumbed, as if we had not yielded to temptation” (“That They May Be One in Us,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2002, 71).

  • What must we do to be forgiven of our sins and justified through the Atonement of Jesus Christ?

  • Who are some people from the scriptures who were forgiven of their sins and justified through the Atonement of Jesus Christ? (Some examples could include Paul, Alma the Younger, and Enos.)

Invite students to sing the first two verses of “I Stand All Amazed” (Hymns, no. 193). Encourage them to look as they sing for how the author of the hymn expressed his gratitude for the Savior’s Atonement and forgiveness.

Invite students to answer the following question in their class notebooks or scripture study journals or on a piece of paper.

  • What feelings do you have toward Jesus Christ when you think about how His Atonement makes it possible for you to be forgiven of your sins?

After sufficient time, invite a few students to share what they wrote. Encourage students to follow any promptings they may have received from the Holy Ghost to help them receive forgiveness and justification through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Summarize Acts 13:40–43 by explaining that following Paul’s sermon, many Gentiles asked Paul to teach again on the following Sabbath.

Acts 13:44–52

Paul and Barnabas preach boldly despite increased persecution

Explain that on the next Sabbath day, nearly the entire city came to hear Paul and Barnabas teach the word of God (see Acts 13:44).

Divide students into pairs and invite them to read Acts 13:44–52 together. Instruct one student in each pair to look for the attitudes and actions of the Jews and the other student to look for the attitudes and actions of the Gentiles as the people gathered to hear Paul and Barnabas. Encourage students to also read the Joseph Smith Translation in verse 48, footnote a. When students are finished reading, ask each pair of students to compare and contrast the actions and attitudes of the Jews with the actions and attitudes of the Gentiles.

  • What blessings came to those who were willing to listen to Paul and his companions?

Acts 14

Paul and Barnabas perform miracles as they preach the gospel amidst continued persecution

Write the following question on the board: Why does the Lord allow good people to experience difficult trials?

Invite students to look for a principle as they study Acts 14 that can help them understand one way to answer this question.

Explain that Acts 14:1–21 describes some of the tribulations that Paul and Barnabas endured as they continued to preach. Invite a few students to read the following verses aloud, and ask the class to follow along, looking for the tribulations the missionaries faced.

  1. 1.

    Acts 14:1–2 (Unbelieving Jews stir up the Gentiles against Paul and Barnabas.)

  2. 2.

    Acts 14:8–18 (After Paul heals a crippled man, the people in Lystra think Paul and Barnabas are Greek gods and attempt to offer sacrifice to them.)

  3. 3.

    Acts 14:19–20 (Paul is stoned and revived.)

  • What tribulations did Paul and Barnabas have to endure?

  • What thoughts might you have had if you had been with Paul and Barnabas during these trials?

Invite a student to read Acts 14:22 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Paul taught about tribulation.

  • What principle does Paul teach in this verse? (Students may use different words but should identify a principle similar to the following: As we faithfully pass through tribulation, we will be prepared to enter the celestial kingdom.)

  • In what ways do you think faithfully enduring tribulation can prepare us for the celestial kingdom?

Ask students to ponder blessings that have come to them or to people they know as they have faithfully passed through tribulation. Invite a few students to share their experiences. Remind students that they should not share experiences that are too sacred or private. Consider sharing your own personal experiences that can further illustrate this principle and testify of its truthfulness.

Encourage students to ponder the truths they identified from Acts 13 and 14 and choose one that will help them most during trials. Provide a small note card or piece of paper for each student, and invite students to write the principle they chose on the card. Encourage students to post it somewhere they will see it often (a mirror, their school locker, and so on) to provide strength and encouragement when they face trials.

Commentary and Background Information

Acts 13:9. Saul becomes known as Paul

“[The Apostle Paul] was known in early life as Saul; his Latin name Paul is first mentioned at the beginning of his gentile ministry (Acts 13:9)” (Bible Dictionary, “Paul”).

Acts 13:51. “They shook off the dust of their feet”

Elder James E. Talmage of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles provided this explanation regarding shaking off the dust from one’s feet:

“To ceremonially shake the dust from one’s feet as a testimony against another was understood by the Jews to symbolize a cessation of fellowship and a renunciation of all responsibility for consequences that might follow. It became an ordinance of accusation and testimony by the Lord’s instructions to His apostles as cited in [Matthew 10:14]. In the current dispensation, the Lord has similarly directed His authorized servants to so testify against those who wilfully and maliciously oppose the truth when authoritatively presented” (Jesus the Christ, 3rd ed. [1916], 345; see also D&C 24:15; 75:18–22; 84:92–96). However, because of its serious nature, the practice of shaking off the dust from one’s feet should never be done except under the direction of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Acts 14:22. “Through much tribulation”

Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught the following about tribulation:

“There is meaning and purpose in our earthly challenges. … Each of us must go through certain experiences to become more like our Savior. In the school of mortality, the tutor is often pain and tribulation, but the lessons are meant to refine and bless us and strengthen us, not to destroy us” (“Faith through Tribulation Brings Peace and Joy,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2003, 17).

Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained the purposes of affliction in mortal life:

“There are many kinds of challenges. Some give us necessary experiences. Adverse results in this mortal life are not evidence of lack of faith or of an imperfection in our Father in Heaven’s overall plan. The refiner’s fire is real, and qualities of character and righteousness that are forged in the furnace of affliction perfect and purify us and prepare us to meet God” (“The Songs They Could Not Sing,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2011, 106).

Supplemental Teaching Idea

video iconActs 14:1–28. Video presentation—“The Refiner’s Fire”

In addition to asking students to share experiences of receiving blessings as they or people they know have faithfully passed through tribulation, you could show the video “The Refiner’s Fire” (5:02). This video is available on LDS.org.

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