“Unit 17, Day 1: Acts 1:1–8,” New Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2016)
“Unit 17, Day 1,” New Testament Study Guide
Jesus Christ ministered to His Apostles for 40 days after His Resurrection. He prepared them to be witnesses of Him throughout the earth.
Imagine that a friend of another faith approaches you with a desire to know more about your Church and asks, “Who leads your Church?” How would you respond?
As you study Acts 1:1–8, look for truths that can help you answer that question and understand that the Apostles who led the Church anciently were witnesses of Jesus Christ and had a duty to share that witness throughout the world. Apostles who lead the Church today have the same blessing and responsibility.
Turn to the book of Acts in your scriptures, and identify the full title of this book.
The book of Acts is an important transition in the New Testament. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John provide accounts of the Savior’s mortal ministry and Atonement. In contrast, the book of Acts relates the Apostles’ ministry after the Savior’s Ascension into heaven.
Read Acts 1:1–2, looking for whom this book was written to.
Luke is the author of the book of Acts, and the “former treatise” referred to in verse 1 is the Gospel of Luke, which was also written to an unknown individual named Theophilus. Luke’s purpose in writing was to help Theophilus obtain his own testimony of Jesus Christ (see Luke 1:1–4).
Read Acts 1:2, looking for how Jesus Christ continued to lead His Church after His Resurrection.
According to verse 2, how has Jesus Christ directed His Church since He left mortality?
We learn in Acts 1:2 that Jesus Christ directs His Church by revealing His will to His Apostles through the Holy Ghost.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that Jesus Christ continued to lead His Church after His Resurrection:
“From the first verse of the book of Acts … the declaration was that the Church will continue to be divinely led, not mortally led. … Indeed, a more complete title for the book of Acts could appropriately be something like ‘The Acts of the Resurrected Christ Working through the Holy Spirit in the Lives and Ministries of His Ordained Apostles.’ …
“The direction of the Church was the same. The location of the Savior had been altered, but the direction and leadership of the Church were exactly the same” (“Teaching, Preaching, Healing,” Ensign, Jan. 2003, 37).
Think about why it is important to know that Jesus Christ continues to direct His Church by revelation today.
- Ponder experiences that have strengthened your testimony that Jesus Christ directs His Church today through revelation. Write about your experiences in your scripture study journal. If you do not feel that you have had such an experience, ask a faithful member of the Church to share with you how he or she knows the Lord leads His Church through revelation. In your scripture study journal, write what you learn from your conversation.
Jesus spent 40 days giving personal instruction to the Apostles before His Ascension into heaven and the Apostles started leading the Church here on earth through the Holy Ghost. Read Acts 1:3, looking for what the Apostles experienced and learned during those 40 days.
In verse 3, the word passion refers to the Savior’s atoning sacrifice and His sufferings (see Joseph Smith Translation, Acts 1:3 [in Acts 1:3, footnote b]). The phrase “infallible proofs” refers to the undeniable evidence Jesus provided that He was resurrected.
Read Acts 1:4–5, looking for what Jesus commanded the Apostles to do. You may want to mark what you find.
Jesus commanded the Apostles to stay in Jerusalem until they were baptized with the Holy Ghost. This refers to their receiving the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, which the Apostles had not needed while the Lord was physically with them.
Read Acts 1:8, looking for what the Apostles were told to do after they received the Holy Ghost.
From what the Savior taught in verse 8, we learn that the Apostles are witnesses of Jesus Christ and testify of Him throughout the earth.
President Gordon B. Hinckley taught about the responsibility of Apostles today to be witnesses of Jesus Christ: “In our day the Lord has called 15 special witnesses to testify of His divinity before all the world. Theirs is a unique calling; they are Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ, chosen and commissioned by Him. They have been commanded to bear witness of His living reality by the power and authority of the holy apostleship in them vested” (in “Special Witnesses of Christ,” Ensign, Apr. 2001, 4).
Read the document “The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles,” which accompanies this lesson. Mark the parts of the Apostles’ testimony that are most significant to you.
- Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: How does the witness of modern-day Apostles influence your personal testimony of Jesus Christ?
Even though Acts 1:8 refers specifically to the Apostles’ role as special witnesses of the Savior, it also teaches us about what can help us be witnesses of Jesus Christ throughout the world.
Based on the Lord’s promise to the Apostles in Acts 1:8, we learn that through the power of the Holy Ghost, we can become witnesses of Jesus Christ.
In what ways does the power of the Holy Ghost help us become witnesses of the Savior?
- Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
When have you felt the Holy Ghost as others have shared their testimony of Jesus Christ?
When have you felt the Holy Ghost help you testify of Jesus Christ to others?
Look for opportunities to share your testimony of Jesus Christ with others, and trust that the Holy Ghost will confirm the truth of what you are witnessing to them.
Acts 1:8 not only teaches truths about the responsibility of Apostles, but it also provides an overview of the latter half of the New Testament. According to Acts 1:8, where did the Savior prophesy that His disciples would witness of Him?
Use the maps found in the appendices of the Bible or in the Guide to the Scriptures to look up places mentioned in the scriptures to help you visualize the travels of the Apostles and the fulfillment of the Savior’s prophecy.
Acts 1–5 documents the Apostles’ ministry in Jerusalem, Acts 6–9 documents the Apostles’ ministry throughout Judea and Samaria, and Acts 10–28 documents the Apostles’ ministry throughout the Roman Empire, or “the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). You may want to write this outline of the book of Acts in the margin of your scriptures near Acts 1:8.
Turn to your Bible’s table of contents. Look at the New Testament books that follow the book of Acts. The books of 1 Corinthians through Hebrews are epistles (letters) written by the Apostle Paul. You will learn about Paul’s conversion and ministry as you study Acts 9, 13–28.
Look at the “Overview of the Acts of the Apostles” map, which displays the cities or areas that correspond with many of Paul’s epistles. Many of the epistles in the New Testament were written to congregations of the Church in different cities to address their specific needs. For example, Thessalonians were people who lived in the city Thessalonica, and the book of 1 Thessalonians is believed to be the earliest epistle Paul wrote. In addition to writing to congregations of Saints, Paul wrote to individuals such as Timothy, Titus, and Philemon.
Look in the table of contents for what epistles follow Hebrews. In addition to Paul, other Apostles and Church leaders wrote to members of the Church. Some of these epistles are the books of James, Peter, John, and Jude. The book of Revelation records a vision given to the Apostle John.
As you continue studying the second half of the New Testament, be prayerful so that the Holy Ghost can enlighten you and help you gain greater understanding from the teachings of the New Testament Apostles.
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Acts 1:1–8 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: