“Unit 20, Day 2: Acts 23–28,” New Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2016)
“Unit 20, Day 2,” New Testament Study Guide
After his arrest in Jerusalem, Paul was taken to Caesarea, where he defended himself against false charges before several Roman leaders. He recounted his conversion and testified of Jesus Christ. While traveling to Rome as a prisoner, Paul was shipwrecked on an island, where he remained unharmed after being bitten by a poisonous snake and healed many who were sick. Eventually, Paul was taken to Rome. While there he was confined to a house as a prisoner for two years and taught and testified of Jesus Christ.
What blessings have you received by following God’s commandments and teachings?
What might lead someone to turn away from God and stop living according to His commandments and teachings?
Ponder what can result when people turn away and distance themselves from God.
As you study Acts 23–26, look for truths that will help you when you feel you have distanced yourself from God and His blessings.
Remember that Paul had been arrested outside the temple in Jerusalem and brought before Jewish leaders (see Acts 21:30–33; 22:23–30). In Acts 23–25 we learn about his meeting with the Jewish leaders and that Paul was imprisoned. While Paul was in prison, the Lord came to comfort and reassure him (see Acts 23:11). The Roman captain who had arrested Paul sent him to Caesarea to prevent a band of Jews from killing him. There Paul declared his innocence before the Roman governor Felix. Although convinced of Paul’s innocence, Felix continued to keep him confined to a house as a prisoner for two years. Festus replaced Felix as the Roman governor of Judea, and King Herod Agrippa, who ruled an area located northeast of the Sea of Galilee, visited Festus and desired to hear Paul’s case. Paul was then brought before King Agrippa.
Read Acts 26:4–11, looking for how Paul described his past to King Agrippa.
As recorded in Acts 26:12–16, Paul again told of his vision of the Savior on the road to Damascus.
Think about the following questions: What do you think helps open a person’s eyes spiritually? What can help someone turn away from darkness and turn toward the light and the commandments and blessings of God?
According to verse 20, what had Paul taught both Jews and Gentiles to do?
One truth we can learn from these verses is that if we repent and turn to God, we can overcome Satan’s power in our lives, receive forgiveness for our sins, and qualify for the celestial kingdom. Consider writing this truth in your scriptures next to Acts 26:18–20.
To help you understand this principle, read the following statement by Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“When we sin, we turn away from God. When we repent, we turn back toward God.
“The invitation to repent is rarely a voice of chastisement but rather a loving appeal to turn around and to ‘re-turn’ toward God [see Helaman 7:17]. It is the beckoning of a loving Father and His Only Begotten Son to be more than we are, to reach up to a higher way of life, to change, and to feel the happiness of keeping the commandments” (“Repent … That I May Heal You,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2009, 40).
- Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: Based on what you have learned from Paul and Elder Andersen, what can we achieve as we repent and turn back toward Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ?
As you continue to study Acts 26, look for what prevented Festus and King Agrippa from repenting, turning to God, and becoming converted to Jesus Christ.
Read Acts 26:24–29, looking for how Festus and King Agrippa each reacted to Paul’s teachings and testimony of the Savior. In the chart below, write phrases that describe their reactions to Paul’s teachings:
Reactions to Paul’s Teachings
Notice that Festus did not believe Paul’s teachings. King Agrippa believed the words of the prophets but would not fully commit to becoming a Christian.
One truth we learn from Festus and King Agrippa is that to become converted to Jesus Christ, we must choose to believe in and be fully committed to living the gospel.
Read the following account by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency, looking for what he taught about commitment:
“Two young brothers stood atop a small cliff that overlooked the pristine waters of a blue lake. This was a popular diving spot, and the brothers had often talked about making the jump—something they had seen others do.
“Although they both wanted to make the jump, neither one wanted to be first. The height of the cliff wasn’t that great, but to the two young boys, it seemed the distance increased whenever they started to lean forward—and their courage was fading fast.
“Finally, one brother put one foot at the edge of the cliff and moved decisively forward. At that moment his brother whispered, ‘Maybe we should wait until next summer.’
“The first brother’s momentum, however, was already pulling him forward. ‘Brother,’ he responded, ‘I’m committed!’
“He splashed into the water and surfaced quickly with a victorious shout. The second brother followed instantly. Afterward, they both laughed about the first boy’s final words before plunging into the water: ‘Brother, I’m committed.’
“Commitment is a little like diving into the water. Either you are committed or you are not. Either you are moving forward or you are standing still. There’s no halfway. As members of the Church, we must ask ourselves, ‘Will I dive in or just stand at the edge? Will I step forward or merely test the temperature of the water with my toes?’ …
“Those who are only sort of committed may expect to only sort of receive the blessings of testimony, joy, and peace. The windows of heaven might only be sort of open to them. …
“In some way, each of us stands at a decision point overlooking the water. It is my prayer that we will have faith, move forward, face our fears and doubts with courage, and say to ourselves, ‘I’m committed!’” (“Brother, I’m Committed,” Ensign, July 2011, 4–5).
According to President Uchtdorf, why is it important to be fully committed rather than “sort of committed” to living the gospel?
- Complete one or both of the following activities in your scripture study journal:
Write how your commitment to living a commandment or principle of the gospel has helped strengthen your conversion to Jesus Christ.
Make a list of commandments or gospel principles that you feel you are fully committed to living. Consider any principles of the gospel that you feel “almost” but not “altogether” (Acts 26:29) committed to living. Write a goal of what you can do to increase your understanding of and commitment to one of these principles.
Pray for help as you strive to become truly converted to Jesus Christ by more fully living His gospel.
In Acts 26:30–32 we read that Festus and King Agrippa found Paul innocent and would have freed him, but because Paul had appealed his case to Caesar, they were required to send him to Rome.
Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles referred to life’s challenges and trials as “spiritual whirlwinds” (see “Spiritual Whirlwinds,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2014, 18–21).
Ponder examples of trials and difficulties that can be likened to whirlwinds in a person’s life.
As you study Acts 27–28, look for a principle that can help you faithfully endure the spiritual whirlwinds you face.
Acts 27 tells how Paul was taken toward Rome by sea during winter months. The ship was nearly destroyed during a storm, and Paul and all those who were on the ship were shipwrecked on the island of Melita, or Malta (see Bible Maps, no. 13, “The Missionary Journeys of the Apostle Paul,” in the Bible appendix).
- Read Acts 28:1–10 and Acts 28:16–24, looking for what Paul experienced on the island and in Rome. In your scripture study journal, draw a picture and write a newspaper headline that summarizes the events described in each of these scripture passages.
Consider the trials Paul experienced that were recorded in Acts 23–28: he was wrongly imprisoned, shipwrecked, bitten by a poisonous snake, and taken to Rome, where he was confined to a house as a prisoner.
Read Acts 28:30–31, looking for what Paul was able to do in Rome despite being confined to a house as a prisoner.
What did Paul do that showed he remained faithful to God despite the trials he experienced?
What good came from the trials Paul experienced while at sea, while shipwrecked, and while imprisoned in Rome?
One principle we can learn from Paul’s experiences is that if we are faithful, God can help us turn trials into blessings for ourselves and others.
- Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
What are some examples of ways God can help people turn trials into blessings for themselves and others?
When has God helped you or someone you know turn a trial into a blessing for yourself or others?
Make the choice to follow Paul’s example and remain faithful when you experience trials so that God can help turn those trials into blessings for yourself and others.
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Acts 23–28 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: