Unit 18, Day 2: Acts 8

New Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students, 2015


Introduction

Persecution against the Church in Jerusalem resulted in Church members being scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Philip ministered in Samaria, where many people accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ. After Peter and John bestowed the gift of the Holy Ghost on the new converts, a sorcerer named Simon attempted to purchase the priesthood. God later led Philip to an Ethiopian official whom Philip taught about Jesus Christ and baptized.

Throughout this lesson you may want to refer to Bible Maps, no. 13, “The Missionary Journeys of the Apostle Paul,” and find the various cities and places you read about.

Acts 8:1–25

Philip ministers in Samaria, where Simon the sorcerer attempts to purchase the priesthood

If you received a large amount of money, what is something you would purchase? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Some people believe that anything can be purchased with money. However, some of the most valuable things in life cannot be purchased. As you study Acts 8, look for a gift from God that cannot be purchased.

In Acts 7 you learned about the death of the disciple Stephen at the hands of persecutors. Read Acts 8:1–5, looking for what Church members did as a result of persecution against the Church in Jerusalem. The word haling in verse 3 means forcibly dragging.

Note the name Philip in verse 5. Philip was one of the seven disciples ordained to assist the Twelve Apostles in ministering to the needs of Church members (see Acts 6:5).

Refer to the “Overview of the Acts of the Apostles” graphic in the Unit 17: Day 1 lesson, and read the Savior’s commission to His Apostles recorded in Acts 1:8. According to Acts 8:5, how did Philip help to fulfill this commission?

Read Acts 8:6–8, looking for how the Samaritans responded to Philip’s preaching and the miracles he performed.

Read Acts 8:9–11, and notice how Simon, a man in that city, is described.

What influence did Simon have on the people?

Elder Bruce R. McConkie

Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles defined sorcery as the “use of power gained from the assistance or control of evil spirits” (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. [1966], 747).

The word bewitched, as used in Acts 8:11, means amazed.

Read Acts 8:12–13, looking for how Simon responded to Philip’s preaching.

According to verse 13, how was Simon affected by the “miracles and signs” he saw?

In Acts 8:14–16 we learn that Peter and John came to Samaria after hearing that the people there had accepted the word of God. They prayed that the converted Samaritans would receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Read Acts 8:17, looking for what Peter and John did for the new Church members in the city of Samaria.

This account illustrates the following doctrine: The gift of the Holy Ghost is bestowed after baptism through the laying on of hands by authorized priesthood holders.

Read Acts 8:18–19, looking for the offer Simon made to Peter.

If you had been in Peter’s position, how would you have responded to Simon? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Read Acts 8:20–24, looking for what Peter taught Simon about receiving the priesthood.

coins and bills

The priesthood cannot be purchased with money. Because the priesthood belongs to God, it can be bestowed only according to His will. God establishes the manner in which the priesthood may be obtained (see Articles of Faith 1:5).

According to Acts 8:21–23, why could Simon not yet receive the priesthood? In what ways do you think Simon’s heart was “not right in the sight of God” (Acts 8:21)? See Alma 41:11 for insight on what it means to be “in the gall of bitterness” (Acts 8:23).

This account teaches the following truth: The priesthood is bestowed according to God’s will and standard of worthiness.

  1. journal icon1.

    Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:

    1. a.

      Why do you think it is important to know that the priesthood is bestowed upon individuals only according to God’s will and standard of worthiness?

    2. b.

      Read Doctrine and Covenants 121:36–42. What are the principles upon which the priesthood must be exercised? What happens to men who attempt to use the priesthood “in any degree of unrighteousness” (D&C 121:37)?

In Acts 8:25 we learn that Peter and John preached the gospel in many Samaritan villages.

Acts 8:26–40

Philip teaches and baptizes an Ethiopian official

  1. journal icon2.

    Think of situations in which you have needed or would need someone to guide you. In your scripture study journal, list a few situations in which you could be a guide for someone else. (Think about destinations or subjects you are knowledgeable about or talents you have developed.)

As you study the remainder of Acts 8, look for an important way in which you can be a guide for others.

Read Acts 8:26, looking for who directed Philip to travel to Gaza. (You may want to locate Gaza on Bible Maps, no. 11, “The Holy Land in New Testament Times.”)

Read Acts 8:27–28, looking for the person Philip met on the road.

What was this Ethiopian official doing in his chariot? (It may help to know that Esaias is the Greek form of Isaiah.)

Read Acts 8:29–35, looking for what took place between Philip and the Ethiopian official.

Consider marking in verse 29 who prompted Philip to go to the Ethiopian official’s chariot. You might also mark in verse 31 what the Ethiopian said he needed in order to understand the writings of Isaiah. Consider writing Isaiah 53:7–8 as a cross-reference in your scriptures next to Acts 8:32–33.

Use the words guide, promptings, and opportunities to complete the following principle we can learn from Philip’s experience: As we heed ____________________ from God, we can receive ____________________ to help ____________________ others to Jesus Christ.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught about the importance of helping guide others to the Savior: “For each of us to ‘come unto Christ’ [D&C 20:59], to keep His commandments and follow His example back to the Father is surely the highest and holiest purpose of human existence. To help others do that as well—to teach, persuade, and prayerfully lead them to walk that path of redemption also—surely that must be the second most significant task in our lives. Perhaps that is why President David O. McKay once said, ‘No greater responsibility can rest upon any man [or woman] than to be a teacher of God’s children’ [in Conference Report, Oct. 1916, 57]” (“A Teacher Come from God,” Ensign, May 1998, 25).

  1. journal icon3.

    Select one or more of the following situations:

    Situation 1: A young man you are friends with belongs to another Christian church. One day during lunch, you feel prompted to talk with him about the Church.

    Situation 2: While walking home from school, you see a young woman who is crying. You recognize her as a member of your ward who has not attended any Church meetings for several years. You feel prompted to talk to her. As you try to comfort her, she describes her challenges and asks, “Why can’t I just be happy?”

    Situation 3: The mother of a young man you are connected with on a social media site recently died. You feel prompted to respond to the following post he recently made: “Feeling alone right now. Wishing that someone understood.”

    In your scripture study journal, write what you would say and do to help guide this person to Jesus Christ. In your description, include answers to the following questions:

    1. a.

      What truths of the gospel would you share to help guide this person to Jesus Christ?

    2. b.

      What is one scripture you might invite this person to study?

    3. c.

      What would you invite this person to do?

Read Acts 8:36–40, looking for what happened as a result of Philip teaching the Ethiopian official about Jesus.

  1. journal icon4.

    Answer one or both of the following questions in your scripture study journal:

    1. a.

      When and how have you helped guide someone to Jesus Christ?

    2. b.

      When and how has someone helped guide you to Jesus Christ?

As you begin your day with personal prayer, seek for the guidance of the Holy Ghost to prompt you. Then, as you go about your day, listen for promptings from God that will help you guide others to Jesus Christ.

  1. journal icon5.

    Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:

    I have studied Acts 8 and completed this lesson on (date).

    Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: