“Lesson 96: Acts 20–22,” New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2016)
“Lesson 96,” New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual
Paul preached the gospel in Asia Minor (present-day Turkey), and while he was in Miletus, a city near Ephesus, he warned of a future apostasy and encouraged priesthood leaders to edify Church members. He then traveled to Jerusalem, where he was persecuted and arrested. While standing on the steps of the Antonia fortress (a garrison where Roman troops stayed), Paul shared his conversion story.
Ask students to think of a time when they had to leave their family, friends, or other people they care about for several days, weeks, or months.
What kinds of feelings did you or those you were with have before you left?
What did you say to each other before parting?
Explain that during Paul’s third missionary journey, he spent time in Macedonia, Greece, and Asia Minor. During this journey, he felt impressed to return to Jerusalem. As he traveled, he stopped to preach and say good-bye to Church members along the way. The night before his departure from Troas, on the new Sabbath (Sunday), Paul and the disciples came together to partake of the sacrament (see Acts 20:7). Paul then spoke with the Saints long into the night.
Invite a student to read Acts 20:9–12 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what happened to a young man named Eutychus after he fell asleep during Paul’s sermon.
What happened to Eutychus?
What did Paul do to show love and concern for this young man?
How did Paul’s actions mirror the Savior’s ministry?
Explain that as part of Paul’s third missionary journey, Paul had spent about three years in Ephesus laboring among the people there. Summarize Acts 20:13–17 by explaining that on his way to Jerusalem, Paul paused in Miletus, just outside of Ephesus, and sent word for the Church leaders of Ephesus to meet with him.
Invite a student to read Acts 20:18–23 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Paul explained about his service.
How did Paul describe his missionary service?
What might Paul’s statement that he “kept back nothing” (verse 20) from those he taught mean?
According to verse 23, what was Paul willing to face as the Lord’s servant?
Explain that Paul was particularly susceptible to danger in Jerusalem, where the Jewish leaders viewed him as a traitor because of his efforts to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.
According to verse 22, why was Paul willing to go to Jerusalem?
Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Acts 20:24–27. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Paul was prepared to do as a servant of the Lord.
According to verse 24, what was Paul prepared to do as a servant of the Lord?
What emotion did Paul say he felt in doing what the Lord directed?
What can we learn from Paul’s example of service? (Students may use different words, but make sure they identify the following truth: True servants of the Lord faithfully perform their duty, and in doing so they feel joy.)
What does it mean to you to faithfully perform your duty?
How can we apply this truth in our own lives?
Invite students to share a time when they or someone they know chose to serve the Lord with all their energy and strength and experienced great joy.
Remind students that Paul visited Church leaders in Ephesus for the last time before departing for Jerusalem.
If you were in Paul’s position and knew that you would not see the Church leaders of Ephesus again, what advice would you give them before you left?
Ask students to read Acts 20:28–31 silently, looking for Paul’s warnings to these Church leaders.
What did Paul warn these leaders about?
Explain that Paul used wolves as a metaphor for unfaithful people who would deceive faithful Church members.
What word do we use to describe the condition of those who turn away from the truth and seek to lead others away from the truth? (Apostasy. Explain that Paul was warning Church leaders of future apostasy within the Church.)
Invite a student to read Acts 20:36–38 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the Church leaders responded as Paul departed. Invite students to report what they find.
Summarize Acts 21:1–10 by explaining that Paul continued his journey toward Jerusalem and stopped in different regions to spend time with Church members along the way. When Paul stopped in a city called Tyre, some disciples—evidently concerned for Paul’s safety—advised Paul not to go to Jerusalem (see Acts 21:4).
In Caesarea, a prophet named Agabus prophesied concerning what would happen to Paul in Jerusalem. Invite a student to read Acts 21:11 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Agabus prophesied. (You may want to explain that the word girdle refers to a belt.) Invite students to report what they find.
Invite a student to read Acts 21:12–14 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how Paul and his companions responded to the prophecy.
How did Paul’s companions react to the prophecy?
How did Paul react to the prophecy? What stands out to you about Paul’s response?
What principle can we learn from Paul’s example about being true servants of the Lord? (Students may use different words, but be sure they identify the following truth: True servants of the Lord are willing to do God’s will regardless of the personal cost.)
Invite students to ponder the kinds of sacrifices we might be asked to make as servants of the Lord.
When have you been willing to do God’s will regardless of the cost to you? Why were you willing to do that?
Invite a student to read aloud the following summary of Acts 21:17–40.
Paul arrived in Jerusalem and gave a report of his missionary labors to local Church leaders. Paul went to the temple, and when a group of Jews who knew Paul from his missionary journeys saw him, they proclaimed that Paul was a false teacher who taught against the law of Moses and unlawfully brought Gentiles into the temple. Because of this accusation, a mob removed Paul from the temple and began beating him. Roman soldiers intervened and carried him away to be tried. While on the stairs of the Antonia Fortress (see Bible Maps, no. 12, “Jerusalem at the Time of Jesus”), Paul asked the soldiers if he could speak to the people.
Write the word convert on the board, and explain that to convert means to change. Ask students how water can be converted or changed so that it can be used for different purposes. (For example, water can be converted to ice.) Ask students to ponder the kind of change that conversion to the gospel entails.
Invite a student to read Acts 22:1–5 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how Paul described himself as he spoke to the Jews from the stairs of the Antonia Fortress in Jerusalem.
What was Paul like before he was converted and became a disciple of Jesus Christ?
Copy the following questions and scripture references on the board or provide them to students on a handout. Divide students into five groups and assign each group one of the questions. Ask students to silently read the scriptures that correspond with their assigned questions and then answer the questions in their class notebooks or scripture study journals.
After sufficient time, invite students to report their answers. Invite a few students to summarize what they learned about Paul’s conversion process. (You may also want to explain that between the time of Paul’s initial vision and the time he served as a missionary, he spent three years in Arabia, which was likely a period of spiritual preparation and growth [see Galatians 1:11–18].) Then ask the following questions:
In what ways do you think Paul changed as a result of his conversion?
What happened that allowed these changes to take place?
What can Paul’s conversion teach us about how we can become converted? (Students may use different words, but be sure they identify the following truth: As we obey the words of Jesus Christ, we can become fully converted.)
How might this principle help someone who wants to be converted?
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women general president, in which she explained the difference between having a testimony of the gospel and being truly converted to it:
“True conversion is more than merely having a knowledge of gospel principles and implies even more than just having a testimony of those principles. It is possible to have a testimony of the gospel without living it. Being truly converted means we are acting upon what we believe. …
“… Conversion comes as we act upon the righteous principles we learn in our homes and in the classroom. Conversion comes as we live pure and virtuous lives and enjoy the companionship of the Holy Ghost” (“Be Ye Converted,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2013, 76, 78).
Read the following question aloud, or write it on the board: How can I become truly converted to the gospel? Invite students to record their answers in their class notebooks or scripture study journals.
Summarize Acts 22:17–30 by explaining that Paul told his audience that after his conversion the Lord sent him away from Jerusalem to be a missionary among the Gentiles. The audience then proclaimed that Paul should be put to death. Paul was brought before the chief captain of the Roman army in Jerusalem, who decided that Paul should be scourged, or whipped, a punishment normally used to humiliate and obtain information from criminals. However, when the Roman officers learned that Paul was a Roman citizen, they decided not to scourge him because it was against Roman law to bind or scourge a Roman citizen who was “uncondemned” (verse 25). They instead brought him before the Jewish governing council, the Sanhedrin.
Conclude by sharing your testimony of the principles taught in Acts 20–22.