“Unit 17, Day 3: Acts 2,” New Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2016)
“Unit 17, Day 3,” New Testament Study Guide
The disciples were filled with the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost and were blessed with the gift of tongues as they preached the gospel. Peter proclaimed that Jesus is “both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36) and invited people to repent, be baptized, and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. About 3,000 people were converted and baptized that day, and they continued faithful in the Church.
Think of the most recent opportunity you might have had to speak in church, teach a lesson, or share the gospel with someone. What is challenging to you about speaking, teaching, or testifying to others about the gospel of Jesus Christ?
As you study Acts 2:1–13, look for a truth that can help you when you feel anxious or fearful about speaking, teaching, and testifying to others about the restored gospel.
About one week after the Savior ascended into heaven, Jews from many nations came to Jerusalem to participate in the feast of Pentecost and to worship at the temple and give thanks to the Lord. “As part of the law of Moses, the feast of Pentecost or Firstfruits was held fifty days after the Feast of the Passover (Lev. 23:16). Pentecost was to celebrate the harvest, and in the Old Testament it is called the Feast of Harvest or the Feast of Weeks” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Pentecost,” scriptures.lds.org).
Read Acts 2:1–4, looking for what the disciples of Jesus Christ experienced on the day of Pentecost.
The phrase “cloven tongues,” taken literally, refers to tongues that are cloven or forked, or that have the appearance of the flame of a fire. As the Holy Ghost was poured out on the disciples, the “cloven tongues like as of fire” (Acts 2:3) were a manifestation of the Spirit’s presence.
John the Baptist had likened the reception of the Holy Ghost to a baptism “with fire” (Matthew 3:11; Luke 3:16). In ancient Israel, fire often symbolized God’s presence. The image of “cloven tongues,” used to describe the divine fire on the day of Pentecost, symbolized that the disciples had received the gift of the Holy Ghost, promised by the Savior (see Acts 1:8).
Read Acts 2:5–8, looking for what happened when the disciples were filled with the Holy Ghost. Imagine what it would have been like to witness this event.
Scan Acts 2:9–11, and count the different groups of people or nationalities who heard the disciples speak in tongues by the power of the Holy Ghost. On the accompanying map, locate some of the places mentioned.
Notice that each of these groups heard “the wonderful works of God” preached in their own language (Acts 2:11). In what ways are people around the world able to hear the truths of the gospel preached in their own language in our day?
As a result of being filled with the Holy Ghost, the disciples were able to share the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ with others, even in the native languages of those they were teaching. One truth we can learn from this account is that as we are filled with the Holy Ghost, He will help us teach and testify to others.
One illustration of this truth is when the Holy Ghost helps us teach the gospel to those who speak languages other than our own.
To better understand what it means to be filled with the Holy Ghost, look at the following drawing and imagine trying to pour water into the cups. Notice why it would be difficult to fill any of the cups.
Consider how the cups could be likened to people and the water to the Holy Ghost. What might the obstacles to filling the cups represent? What behaviors and attitudes can prevent us from being filled with the Holy Ghost?
- Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
What can you do to be filled with the Holy Ghost so that He can help you teach and testify to others?
In what ways has the Holy Ghost helped you teach the gospel or share your testimony with others?
How does partaking of the sacrament allow the Holy Ghost to be with us?
In Acts 2:12–13 we read that some Jews were amazed by what they heard when the disciples spoke in tongues, while others mocked the disciples by accusing them of having drunk too much wine.
Read Acts 2:14, looking for who began teaching the multitude.
Imagine yourself in the Apostle Peter’s situation, standing before the multitude. What truths of the gospel would you teach and testify of? Why?
As recorded in Acts 2:15–35, Peter declared that the gift of tongues and other manifestations of the Spirit among the disciples were at least one of the fulfillments and meanings of the prophecy given by the prophet Joel (see Joel 2:28–32). Peter then taught and testified to the people using some of King David’s words and psalms.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that Joel 2:28–32 is an example of a scripture that can have multiple meanings and fulfillments:
“Many of the prophecies and doctrinal passages in the scriptures have multiple meanings. …
“[One] illustration of multiple meanings concerns the prophecy in the book of Joel that in the last days the Lord will pour out his spirit upon all flesh and that our sons and our daughters will prophesy (see Joel 2:28). On the day of Pentecost, the Apostle Peter declared that the events they had witnessed were those ‘spoken by the prophet Joel’ (Acts 2:16). Eighteen hundred years later, the angel Moroni quoted this same prophecy and said that ‘this was not yet fulfilled, but was soon to be’ [Joseph Smith—History 1:41]” (“Scripture Reading and Revelation,” Ensign, Jan. 1995, 8).
Both Peter and Moroni correctly stated that the prophecy given by the prophet Joel had fulfillment, meaning, and application for the day of Pentecost and in the latter days.
- Read Acts 2:22–24, 29–33, 36, and then answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
What are some of the important truths Peter taught and testified of?
What stands out to you about Peter’s testimony to the Jews?
Consider what Peter said and did when asked about his relationship to Jesus the night the Savior was arrested (see Luke 22:54–62).
Think about how Peter’s words and actions on the day of Pentecost differed from the incident when he denied three times that he knew Jesus. What do you think influenced this change in Peter?
Read Acts 2:37, looking for how Peter’s words affected the multitude. (Acts 2:36–38 is a scripture mastery passage. You may want to mark it in a distinctive way so you will be able to locate it easily.)
Notice the phrase “pricked in their heart” in Acts 2:37. The word pricked here means pierced and suggests that the people felt sorrow and remorse because the Jews, as a people and a nation, had crucified their Lord, Jesus Christ. Peter was not implying that the group of Jews from various nationalities that he was teaching on the day of Pentecost were the ones responsible for the Savior’s crucifixion.
According to Acts 2:37, what question did the people ask? Consider how this question reveals that the people were beginning to experience a change of heart.
Read Acts 2:38–41, looking for what Peter instructed the people to do. The word untoward means rebellious, perverse, or crooked.
According to Acts 2:41, how did the people respond to Peter’s teachings and invitation to repent and be baptized?
Read Acts 2:42–47, looking for what the new converts to the gospel of Jesus Christ did after they received the truth by the power of the Holy Ghost and were baptized.
How did their actions demonstrate that they were truly converted?
The phrase “breaking of bread” (Acts 2:42) refers to participating in the ordinance of the sacrament, and to have “all things common” (Acts 2:44) refers to the Saints living the law of consecration, which included taking care of the poor and needy among them.
Remember that before they heard and acted on Peter’s words, these Jews had not accepted Jesus as their Savior, nor did they follow His teachings. Consider how much the people had changed.
One principle we can learn from Acts 2:37–47 is that as we receive the word of God by the power of the Holy Ghost, our hearts will change and we will be converted to Jesus Christ.
- In your scripture study journal, do the following:
Write down what a person can do to receive the word of God by the power of the Holy Ghost.
Ask the following question to a family member, friend, or neighbor, and write down his or her response (you might also want to write your own answer to the question): As you have tried to learn and live the truths of the gospel, how has the Spirit helped you change and become converted to Jesus Christ?
- Take a few minutes to think deeply about what you can do to better receive God’s words and teachings by the power of the Holy Ghost. What specific changes can you make as you seek to act on the promptings you receive? Record your thoughts and feelings in your scripture study journal. Set a goal concerning what you will do this week to better receive God’s words and teachings by the power of the Holy Ghost.
Reread Acts 2:38, looking for what blessing Peter said the people would receive as a result of repenting of their sins and being baptized.
From this verse we learn that when we have faith in Jesus Christ, repent, and are baptized, we are prepared to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. How do repentance and baptism prepare a person to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost? From the Book of Mormon we learn that we are “sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost” (3 Nephi 27:20) and that through the Holy Ghost we can receive a remission of our sins (see 2 Nephi 31:17).
- Compare Acts 2:36–38 to the fourth article of faith. Identify in Acts 2:36–38 the words and phrases that demonstrate or teach the first principles and ordinances of the gospel. Write the first letters of each word in Acts 2:38 in your scripture study journal (for example, T P s u t, R, a b b …). Then use what you wrote to help you memorize that verse from the scripture mastery passage. Recite the verse until you can say it from memory. Imagine inviting someone to be baptized so that he or she can enjoy the gift of the Holy Ghost in his or her life.
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Acts 2 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: