Unit 19: Day 3

Acts 16–17

“Unit 19, Day 3: Acts 16–17,” New Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2016)


Introduction

The Holy Ghost guided Paul and his companions to preach the gospel in Macedonia (northern Greece). After Paul cast an evil spirit out of a servant girl, he and Silas were beaten and imprisoned. That night, they were miraculously freed from prison, after which they baptized the jailer and his household. Paul and Silas also taught the gospel in Thessalonica and Berea. Persecution from unbelievers in these cities forced Paul to flee to Athens, where, on Mars’ Hill, he taught the people about the true nature of God.

Acts 16:1–15

Paul and his companions preach the gospel in Macedonia

A prompting refers to feelings or impressions we receive from the Holy Ghost to say or do something.

President Thomas S. Monson

President Thomas S. Monson related an experience he had when he followed a prompting to go and give a priesthood blessing to a friend in the hospital. This resulted in saving his friend’s life. President Monson said that he learned the following lesson that day: “Never, never, never postpone a prompting” (“The Spirit Giveth Life,” Ensign, June 1997, 5).

  1. journal iconIn your scripture study journal, write Never postpone responding to a prompting from the Lord. Below that statement write about the possible positive consequences of continually heeding the promptings of the Holy Ghost.

As you study Acts 16, look for a principle that can help you further understand the importance of heeding the promptings of the Holy Ghost.

In Acts 16:1–5 we read that Paul, Silas, and Timotheus (also known as Timothy) traveled to several branches of the Church to announce decisions Church leaders in Jerusalem had made that would affect the whole Church and strengthen Church members in the faith.

Read Acts 16:6–10, looking for how Paul and his companions, who likely included Luke, knew where to go as they traveled. You may want to refer to Bible Maps, no. 13, “The Missionary Journeys of the Apostle Paul,” for the locations of where Paul traveled.

Notice in Acts 16:10 that Paul and his companions obeyed the Spirit and responded “immediately” to the vision Paul had received.

We read in Acts 16:11–13 that Paul and Silas traveled from Troas until they came to Philippi, a city in Macedonia. On the Sabbath day, they left the city to pray near a riverbank and began talking with the women gathered there.

Lydia, with fabric and dye pot

“Lydia, a seller of purple” (Acts 16:14)

Read Acts 16:14–15, looking for how a woman named Lydia responded to Paul’s teachings. In verse 14 the phrase “a seller of purple” refers to the fact that Lydia sold purple dye, which was very expensive and probably meant that she was a woman of wealth and influence. The word attended means she paid attention or gave heed to.

What phrases in Acts 16:14 indicate that Lydia was ready to receive the gospel?

From Paul’s experience we can learn that as we follow revelation given to us from God, we can be guided to those who are ready to receive the gospel.

Read the following statement by Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and mark what he said we must do to be guided to those who are ready to receive the gospel:

Elder Dallin H. Oaks

“We must pray for the Lord’s help and directions so we can be instruments in His hands for one who is now ready—one He would have us help today. Then, we must be alert to hear and heed the promptings of His Spirit in how we proceed.

“Those promptings will come. We know from countless personal testimonies that in His own way and His own time the Lord is preparing persons to accept His gospel. Such persons are searching, and when we are seeking to identify them the Lord will answer their prayers through answering ours. He will prompt and guide those who desire and who sincerely seek guidance in how, where, when, and with whom to share His gospel” (“Sharing the Gospel,” Ensign, Nov. 2001, 8).

  1. journal iconPonder a time when you or someone you know heeded the promptings of the Holy Ghost and found someone who was ready to receive the gospel or when someone followed the promptings of the Holy Ghost to find you when you were ready to receive the gospel. Record the experience in your scripture study journal.

Seek to follow the counsel given by Elder Oaks by praying for the Lord’s help and then following the Spirit’s promptings to share the gospel with those around you.

Acts 16:16–40

Paul and Silas are imprisoned and then freed

Read Acts 16:16–18, looking for what Paul did when he encountered a “damsel” (Acts 16:16), or servant girl, who was possessed by an evil spirit. Divination (Acts 16:16) is “any superstitious method of trying to discover the course of future events. Such practices have been found among all nations and in every age; they are frequently condemned in scripture” (Bible Dictionary, “Divination”).

Read Acts 16:19–21, looking for how the servant girl’s masters responded to Paul’s actions.

According to Acts 16:19, why were they upset?

In Acts 16:22–24 we learn that the multitude and local authorities commanded that Paul and Silas be beaten and imprisoned.

  1. journal iconCopy the following chart in your scripture study journal. Read the scripture passages listed on the chart and draw a simple picture on your own chart depicting what is being described in each passage.

    Acts 16:25


    Acts 16:26


    Acts 16:27–28


    Acts 16:29–30


    Acts 16:31–32


    Acts 16:33–34


Notice in Acts 16:31 how Paul and Silas answered the prison guard’s question, “What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30). What did the prison guard then do to show his belief in Jesus Christ?

From Paul’s teachings to the prison guard, we learn that salvation requires believing in Jesus Christ, and we manifest our belief in Him by being baptized.

Salvation means “to be saved from both physical and spiritual death” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Salvation,” scriptures.lds.org). How does being baptized demonstrate our faith in Jesus Christ?

In addition to being baptized, what are other ways we can demonstrate our belief in Jesus Christ?

In Acts 16:35–40 we learn that the magistrates sent word to the prison guard to let Paul and Silas go. Paul refused to go because he knew his rights as a Roman citizen and knew that their treatment of him was unjust. It was unlawful to beat a Roman citizen without first holding a trial. When the magistrates found out that Paul and Silas were Romans, they were frightened. The magistrates came to the prison, released Paul and Silas, and asked them to leave the city.

Acts 17:1–15

Some of the Jews in Thessalonica try to stop Paul from preaching the gospel

Think about the advice you would give to the individuals in the following scenarios:

  • A young man who is a member of the Church listens to a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speak about the importance of marriage and family in Heavenly Father’s plan. Some of the young man’s friends express their disagreement with the Apostle’s teachings. The young man wants to know for himself whether the Apostle’s teachings are true.

  • A young woman questions the importance of keeping the Sabbath day holy. Most of her friends get together on Sundays to shop, eat out, or go to the movies. Her mother explains the blessings that can come from honoring the Lord on Sunday, but the young woman still struggles to believe that keeping the Sabbath day holy is important.

Look for principles as you study Acts 17 that will help you know for yourself the truthfulness of messages we receive from the Lord’s servants.

In Acts 17:1 we learn that Paul and Silas traveled to Thessalonica, where they taught in the Jewish synagogue.

Read Acts 17:2–3, looking for what Paul used to teach the Jews that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah.

The word alleging in verse 3 means declaring or claiming. Paul used scriptural passages as evidence to support his testimony that Jesus is the Christ.

Read Acts 17:4–5, looking for how the people of Thessalonica responded to Paul’s teachings. The word consorted in verse 4 means gathered with or joined, and lewd in verse 5 means wicked or evil.

In Acts 17:6–9 we learn that a mob of unbelievers tried to find Paul and Silas, but when they could not find them, the mob took a few of the believers and went to the rulers of Thessalonica and claimed that Paul’s teachings threatened Caesar’s authority.

Read Acts 17:10–12, looking for where Paul and Silas escaped to and how the Jews there responded to Paul’s teachings.

Consider marking in Acts 17:11 what the people did that led to their belief in Paul’s teachings. Then complete the following equation with the actions you marked:

__________________________ + _____________________________ = Belief

To better understand what it means to “[receive] the word with all readiness of mind” (Acts 17:11), imagine what it looks like when someone is ready to catch a ball. Now imagine what it might look like if someone is not ready to catch a ball. What might it look like when someone is ready to receive the words of God’s servants? What might it look like if someone is not ready to receive the words of God’s servants?

Someone who receives the word with readiness of mind is someone who is humble, patient, and willing to follow the will of the Lord as he or she learns it (see Mosiah 3:19).

From Acts 17:10–12 we learn that if we receive the words of God’s servants with all readiness of mind and search the scriptures daily, then our belief in their words will be strengthened.

  1. journal iconReview the scenarios described at the beginning of this section, and then answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:

    1. How might this principle help the people in these scenarios?

    2. In what ways can a readiness to learn help our ability to believe truth?

    3. In what ways can daily scripture study influence our ability to believe truth?

Consider times when you have witnessed the truthfulness of this principle. You might consider sharing your experiences with a friend or family member.

In Acts 17:13–15 we learn that when the Jews in Thessalonica heard that Paul was preaching in Berea, they went to provoke the people of Berea. Paul again had to flee, so he traveled to Athens.

Acts 17:16–34

Paul preaches on Mars’ Hill

Paul teaching

Paul taught on Mars’ Hill.

In Acts 17:16–34 we learn that in Athens Paul noticed an altar with the inscription “To the unknown god” (Acts 17:23). Paul then taught the Athenians about the nature of the true God—Heavenly Father—the God they did not know.

  1. journal iconWrite the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:

    I have studied Acts 16–17 and completed this lesson on (date).

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