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Come, Follow Me — New Testament Study and Teaching Helps
Lesson 29, July 10 — 16
Acts 6–9 — “What Wilt Thou Have Me to Do?”

Acts 6 Additional Leadership

In Acts 6:1 we are introduced to a new challenge in the church: Grecian church members (former gentiles) murmured against the Hebrew church members (converts from Judaism) because widows were being “neglected in the daily ministration” of food (perhaps a system of welfare for the poor and needy was in place):

  • What solution did the apostles provide, in verses 2-7? What inspired innovations have you seen in the Church today, in response to arising needs?
  • Note that in verse 7 the “great company of the priests” who joined the church were former temple officials.
  • The new leaders called to assist the apostles were holders of the lower (“Aaronic” or “lesser”) priesthood. One of these seven men was Stephen.
  • Read about Stephen’s ministry in verses 8-15 (In verse 11, “suborned” means to put forth false testifiers). Note that bringing forth “false witnesses” (verses 11, 13)—which reminds us of the fraudulent charges brought against Jesus—is the only way to fight the truth, and it ultimately will fail.

Acts 7 The Trial and Teachings of Stephen

Stephen’s appearance before the corrupt Sanhedrin continues, and in Acts 7:1 he is challenged by the high priest (believed to be Caiaphas, the same high priest before whom Jesus appeared). It is instructive and inspiring to read verses 2-50, which is Stephen’s recitation of Israel’s history from Abraham to Solomon, revealing the Israelites’ history of rebellion and hard-heartedness. What do you draw from Stephen’s discourse?

Then Stephen boldly declares his purpose—read his accusations in verses 51-53. What resulted, in verses 54-60? What impresses you most about Stephen?

(Note that in verse 58 we are introduced to Saul, who later becomes the apostle Paul; one of the most remarkable characters in Christian history. At this time Saul was a Pharisee, meaning he believed in a strict interpretation of the Jews’ oral traditions surrounding the law of Moses.)

Acts 8 God’s Work versus Satan’s Work

The Jews killed Jesus, but the apostles rose up and continued His teachings and works. In Acts 7 they killed Stephen, but Philip rose up and performed a marvelous ministry. As we begin Acts 8, Saul still strongly opposes the Church of Jesus Christ. Note the extreme examples of opposition and persecution against the Lord’s work, as well as the growth and power of His work:

The work of Satan The work of God
Verses 1-3 (Saul) Verses 4-8 (Philip)
Verses 9-11 (Simon) Verses 12-13 (Philip and Simon)
Verses 14-17 (Peter and John)
Verses 18-23 (Simon versus Peter) Verse 24 (Simon)
Verses 25-39 (Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch)
Verse 40 (Philip)
  • It is significant that “Samaria had received the word of God” (verse 14), especially considering the centuries-old adversarial relationship between the Samaritans and the Jews (see John 4:3-23).
  • Note also that Philip and others were able to baptize—as holders of the lesser priesthood—while Peter and John, holding the higher priesthood, traveled to Samaria to bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost (Acts 8:14-17).
  • In verses 20-23, Peter teaches that Simon, after being baptized, was still susceptible to the influence of the adversary, because Simon’s heart was not yet right. Simon was still seeking to practice “priestcraft,” as defined in 2 Nephi 26:29-31.
  • However, Simon also offers us a positive example in verse 24, showing that although he was misguided, he chose to be humble and submit himself to the Lord and His leaders.
  • In the story of Philip and the Ethiopian, the eunuch was apparently a converted Jew, returning from worshiping in Jerusalem (verses 27-28).
  • The Ethiopian stopped along the way, pausing to read from the Old Testament. The scripture quoted in verses 32-33 is from Isaiah 53:7-8; a perfect scripture to prepare him for his encounter with Philip.
  • Note Philip’s willingness to be spiritually guided in his labors, in Acts 8:6-7, 12-13, 26, 29-30, 35-37. Have you observed or heard about a conversion story wherein the Lord’s hand was abundantly evident?

In what ways do the events in Acts 8 mirror what you see in the work of the adversary, and in the Lord’s work today? What ongoing, repeated evidence do you see that promotes “the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ”? (verse 12).

Commenting on Saul’s persecution against the Lord’s church, Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote, “What value is sincerity without truth? Satan is zealous on his errand. False religious zeal profiteth nothing” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 2:80).

Acts 9 The Conversion of Saul

Something serious happened on the road to Damascus (which is in modern-day Syria, about 180 miles north of Jerusalem). The Lord orchestrated events that stopped Saul in his persecution of the church and its members, but to become converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ, Saul had to make the necessary choices and changes:

  • What was Saul doing against the church before his conversion, according to Acts 7:58; 8:1, 3; 9:1-2?
  • In His appearance to Saul in Acts 9:3-8, what question did Jesus ask him? What two questions did Saul ask Jesus?
  • Other stirring reactions to the Lord’s call are exemplified by Samuel (1 Samuel 3:10); Mary (Luke 1:38); and Nephi (1 Nephi 3:7).
  • Read Acts 9:10-18, wherein Ananias of Damascus is next to play a role. What was Ananias’s hesitation, in verses 13-14? What three things did the Lord say about Saul in verse 15, to diminish Ananias’s concern?
  • What did the Lord prophesy about Saul, in verse 16? What was Ananias’s response, and its results, in verses 17-18?
  • As a Pharisee, Saul knew the scriptures, but now he understands them. What did Saul do with his new-found understanding, in verses 20-22?
  • How did Saul’s former associates react to Saul’s change, in verses 23-25?
  • What happened next, in verses 26-28, 31?
  • What are some of the challenges that new converts face when they join the Lord’s true church in our day? How can we help them?
  • Verses 32-42 relate more of the ministry of Peter, including the raising from death of Dorcas (also called Tabitha).

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