Lesson 93: Acts 16

“Lesson 93: Acts 16,” New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2016)

“Lesson 93,” New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual

Lesson 93

Acts 16


The Holy Ghost guided Paul and his companions to preach the gospel in Macedonia (northern Greece). A woman named Lydia received their message and was baptized. 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 prison guard and his household.

Suggestions for Teaching

Acts 16:1–15

Paul and his companions preach the gospel in Macedonia

Write on the board the following statement by President Thomas S. Monson. (This statement is found in “The Spirit Giveth Life,” Ensign, June 1997, 5.)

“Never postpone a prompting” (President Thomas S. Monson).

  • A prompting refers to feelings or impressions we receive from the Holy Ghost to say or do something. What might happen if someone postponed heeding a prompting?

Invite students to look for a principle as they study Acts 16 that can help them further understand the importance of heeding the Holy Ghost’s promptings.

Summarize Acts 16:1–5 by explaining that Paul, Silas, and a Gentile convert named 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.

Invite a student to read Acts 16:6–10 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how Paul and his companions (likely including Luke) knew where to go as they traveled.

  • How did Paul and his companions know where not to go? How did they know where to go?

  • What did Paul see in a vision?

  • How did Paul and his companions respond to Paul’s vision?

Summarize Acts 16:11–13 by explaining that Paul and Silas traveled for many days until they came to Philippi, a city in Macedonia. (You may want to invite students to turn to Bible Maps, no. 13, “The Missionary Journey of the Apostle Paul,” and locate Phillipi.) On the Sabbath day, they left the city to pray near a riverbank and began talking with the women gathered there.

Invite a student to read Acts 16:14–15 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how a woman named Lydia responded to Paul’s teachings. (You may want to explain that the phrase “a seller of purple” [verse 14] refers to the fact that Lydia sold purple dye, which was very expensive, and probably indicates that Lydia was a woman of wealth and influence.)

  • How did Lydia respond to Paul’s teachings? (You may need to explain that attended means paid attention or gave heed to.)

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

  • What principle can we learn from Paul’s experience about what can happen as we follow revelation? (Students may use different words, but make sure they understand that as we follow revelation from God, we can be guided to those who are ready to receive the gospel. Write this principle on the board.)

Point out that by following revelation we can also help others begin or continue the process of becoming ready to receive the gospel.

To help students further understand this principle, ask a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ask the class to listen for what we must do to be guided to those who are ready to receive the gospel.

Oaks, Dallin H.

“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).

  • According to Elder Oaks, what must we do to be guided to those who are ready to receive the gospel?

Consider sharing an experience of your own regarding how heeding the Spirit’s promptings led you to someone who was ready to receive the gospel or regarding how another person’s heeding the Spirit’s promptings led him or her to find you when you were ready to receive the gospel. Ask a few students to share an experience that they or someone they know has had in which he or she was guided to someone who was ready to receive the gospel.

Invite students to ponder how, where, when, and with whom they can share the gospel. Encourage them to record any promptings they receive and to continue to pray for guidance.

Acts 16:16–40

Paul and Silas are imprisoned and then freed

Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from Acts 16:16–19. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Paul did when he encountered a “damsel” (verse 16), or servant girl, who was possessed by an evil spirit. You may want to explain that divination is the process of foretelling or trying to foretell the future using superstitious means.

  • What did Paul eventually do to the evil spirit that possessed the girl?

  • What problem did the girl’s masters in the city experience after Paul cast the evil spirit out of the girl?

Summarize Acts 16:20–24 by explaining that the men who could no longer profit from the girl took Paul and Silas before the “magistrates” (verse 20), or local authorities, and claimed that Paul and Silas had taught the people that they should not follow Roman law. At the magistrates’ command, Paul and Silas were then beaten and imprisoned, and their feet were bound so that they could not walk.

To help students understand the content of Acts 16:25–36, divide students into pairs and provide each pair with a sheet of paper. Copy the following chart onto the board and invite each pair to copy the chart onto their paper.

Acts 16:25

Acts 16:26

Acts 16:27–28

Acts 16:29–30

Acts 16:31–32

Acts 16:33–34

Invite each pair to read aloud the verses on the chart and then to take turns drawing simple pictures to represent each of the six verse groupings (one student in the pair could draw pictures to represent three of the verse groupings, and the other student in the pair could draw pictures to represent the other three verse groupings). After sufficient time, invite students to display and briefly explain their pictures to another pair of students or to the entire class.

To help students deepen their understanding of Acts 16:25–36, ask the following questions:

  • How did Paul and Silas answer the prison guard’s question about how he could be saved?

  • What did the prison guard do to show his belief in Jesus Christ?

  • What principle can we learn from Acts 16:31–33 about what we must do to receive salvation? (Students may use different words, but make sure they identify the following truth: Salvation requires believing in Jesus Christ, and we manifest our belief in Him by being baptized.)

Explain that salvation means “to be saved from both physical and spiritual death” (see Guide to the Scriptures, “Salvation,”

  • 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?

Summarize Acts 16:35–40 by explaining 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 because they knew that if their superiors discovered they had treated a Roman citizen as they did, they could be punished, even with death. The magistrates came to the prison, released Paul and Silas, and asked them to leave the city.

Conclude by testifying of the truths taught in Acts 16.

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Scripture Mastery Review

Use the accompanying chart to review the scripture mastery passages students have studied so far this year. Read aloud the question or concern in the left column of the chart and invite students to find the scripture mastery passage that could provide an answer (answers are provided in the right column of the chart). You may want to read aloud the questions or concerns in a random order. After students find a scripture, ask them how that scripture mastery passage could help someone with that concern.

I am afraid to live what I believe. I worry about what others will think of me.

Matthew 5:14–16

I feel overwhelmed by my trials and challenges.

Matthew 11:28–30

Why is the prophet able to receive revelation for the entire Church?

Matthew 16:15–19

I love Heavenly Father, but I am struggling to love a friend right now. Does God really expect me to love him or her too?

Matthew 22:36–39

I know that as a priesthood holder, I have the duty to serve a mission wherever the Lord calls me, but I worry about being far away from everyone I know and being lonely.

Matthew 28:19–20

How do we know that Jesus Christ really has been resurrected with a physical body of flesh and bones?

Luke 24:36–39

Is baptism really necessary in order to live with God?

John 3:5

Some people say it does not matter whether I choose to follow Jesus Christ or someone else. As long as I am a good person, I will go to heaven.

John 14:6

What is the best way for me to show the Lord that I love Him?

John 14:15

Why does knowing Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ matter?

John 17:3

What must I do to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost?

Acts 2:36–38

Did anyone who lived in biblical times know and prophesy that there would be a Restoration of the gospel in the latter days?

Acts 3:19–21

Commentary and Background Information

Acts 16:1–3. Why did Paul circumcise Timothy even though it was no longer required?

“Even though Gentile converts were not required to be circumcised … , Paul circumcised Timothy prior to their missionary labors together ‘because of the Jews which were in those quarters’ (Acts 16:3). After being circumcised, [during this period of transition] Timothy could labor more effectively among the Jews, who would feel that an uncircumcised missionary lacked respect for the God of Israel and His laws. … For the sake of the gospel, at times Paul himself modified his behavior to reach both Jews and Gentiles (see Acts 21:20–26; 1 Corinthians 9:20–22). He also taught Gentile converts to willingly refrain from any behavior that might be perceived as offensive to the Jews, even though it may not have been prohibited by any commandment (see Romans 14:13–15; 1 Corinthians 8:9–13)” (New Testament Student Manual [Church Educational System manual, 2014], 312).

Acts 16:16–18. Why was the witness of the servant girl who was possessed by an evil spirit a problem?

Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained:

“The testimony of the devil-led damsel was true. Paul and Silas were prophets; they had the words and power of salvation. But true testimony from Satan’s servants does not lead to salvation. In effect the damsel was saying: ‘Go ahead and believe in Paul and Silas and this Jesus whom they preach. I agree they and their Master are of God; and since we are now united on that point, you can also continue to follow me and enjoy the fruits of my divination.’ And how many other practitioners of false religions there are who give lip service to Jesus and his doctrines so that people will the more readily follow them and their special brand of ‘saving’ grace. It was for the very reason here involved that Jesus himself forbade the devils whom he cast out to testify that he was the Son of God. (Luke 4:41.)” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1965–73], 2:149).