After two years of imprisonment in Caesarea, Paul set sail for Rome to be tried by Caesar. He traveled in the company of 276 prisoners and sailors. Paul foresaw that the voyage would be troubled and advised the sailors to wait out the winter near Lasea. The centurion refused to follow his advice, and the ship was wrecked off the island of Melita. Paul was inspired to reassure the passengers that all would be saved (see Acts 27:21–26). While stranded on the island, Paul healed the sick and was himself bitten by a poisonous snake but suffered no harm. Finally arriving in Rome, Paul lived as a private citizen, though guarded by a soldier. He spent the next two years preaching the gospel, thus fulfilling the Lord’s promise (see Acts 23:11). This is where the book of Acts ends.
Prayerfully study Acts 27–28and consider the following principles before preparing your lessons.
Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For
The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, 342–43.
Suggestions for Teaching
Choose from the following ideas, or use some of your own, as you prepare lessons for Acts 27–28.
Acts 27. Heeding the prophets’ warnings will give us protection and safety.
Begin class by reading the following story:
“In January of 1975, on a dark, rainy night in Tasmania, a 7,300-ton barge smashed into two piers of the Tasman Bridge, which connects Hobart, Tasmania, with its eastern suburbs across the bay. Three spans of the bridge collapsed. An Australian family by the name of Ling were driving across the bridge when suddenly the bridge lights went out. Just then a speeding car passed them and disappeared before their very eyes. Murray Ling ‘slammed on his brakes and skidded to a stop, one yard from the edge of a black void’ (Stephen Johnson, ”Over the Edge!“ Reader’s Digest, Nov. 1977, 128).
“Murray got his family out of the car and then began warning oncoming traffic of the disaster ahead. As he frantically waved his arms, to his horror, a car ‘swerved around him and plummeted into the abyss’ (p. 128). A second car barely stopped in time, but a third car showed no sign of slowing down and crashed into the Lings’ car at the edge of the bridge.
“Suddenly a loaded bus headed toward Murray, ignoring his waving arms. In desperation, risking his very life, he ‘ran alongside the driver’s window. “There’s a span missing,” he yelled’ (p. 129). The bus swerved just in time and came to a halt against the railing. Dozens of lives had been saved” (Spencer J. Condie, in Conference Report, Oct. 1993, 21; or Ensign, Nov. 1993, 17).
Tell the students that Paul was in a similar position to the man on the bridge. Have them read Acts 27:9–26, and ask:
What difficulties did the ship’s passengers face when the centurion chose not to listen to Paul?
What can we learn from this experience?
Invite students to finish the story by reading verses 27–44. Ask:
How was Paul vindicated as a prophet?
What does this teach us about the confidence we can have in what a prophet says?
Discuss with students the “downed bridges,” or dangers, we face in life. Ask:
Who has the Lord given us to warn about the dangers ahead?
What have the prophets warned us about recently?
What could happen if we choose not to listen to the prophets?
What happens when we do listen and heed?
Read the following statement by Elder Spencer J. Condie, a member of the Seventy:
“I am grateful for these Brethren whom we sustain as prophets, seers, and revelators who forewarn us of bridges not to be crossed” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1993, 21; or Ensign, Nov. 1993, 17).
Encourage students to develop this same appreciation for the living prophets and to carefully heed their counsel.
Acts 27:13–28:10. Facing difficulties with courage can strengthen our character. Having faith in God gives us courage.
Ask: What are some difficulties people face in their lives? (Answers might include illness, loss of loved ones, work-related stress.) Read with students Acts 27:13–15 and look for the difficulty encountered by Paul on his way to Rome. Ask: How can this be compared to the difficulties or “storms” of life?
Read with students Acts 27:16–44 looking for Paul’s characteristics that allowed him to survive this crisis, and list them on the board. These might include courage (see vv. 21–24), hope (see vv. 22, 25), faith in God (see vv. 30–31), common sense and the ability to calm others (see vv. 33–36). Discuss how these traits can help us weather our own “storms.”
Bring a dumbbell to class and ask a student to curl the weight (lift it from the waist upwards to the shoulders), or invite a student to do some push-ups. Explain that muscles grow and become strong as they overcome resistance. Ask:
How do character and spiritual growth compare to muscle growth?
What happens to us as we overcome the obstacles in our life?
What was Paul’s attitude toward the challenges of his life?
What can we learn from Paul in facing our own challenges?
How would having the wrong attitude toward life’s challenges affect our strength of character?
How can we develop an appropriate attitude toward dealing with the trials of life?
Have a student read the following testimony from Elder Richard G. Scott, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve:
“The Lord is intent on your personal growth and development. That progress is accelerated when you willingly allow Him to lead you through every growth experience you encounter, whether initially it be to your individual liking or not. When you trust in the Lord, when you are willing to let your heart and your mind be centered in His will, when you ask to be led by the Spirit to do His will, you are assured of the greatest happiness along the way and the most fulfilling attainment from this mortal experience. If you question everything you are asked to do, or dig in your heels at every unpleasant challenge, you make it harder for the Lord to bless you” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1996, 33; or Ensign, May 1996, 25).
Have students read Acts 28:1–10, and ask:
How did the spiritual strength and character Paul showed in these verses allow him to bless others?
What are some ways we can allow the Lord to help us become a blessing to others also?