New Testament Lesson 28 (Acts 1–5)
The Savior’s Charge to the Twelve
● The Savior promised the Apostles on the Mount of Olives: “Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:8).”
● The early Apostles and Saints labored diligently and faithfully to fulfill the divine charge to take their witness to all the world.
● In our dispensation, the Church of Jesus Christ has once again been organized, and our commission is the same as was theirs: to take the blessings of the Church and the witness of the resurrected Christ to all the world (D&C 1:17–23).
The Apostles Were Eyewitnesses of Christ
● Peter: “Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: . . . This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.” (Acts 2:22–24, 32).
● Paul: “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the Apostles. And last of all he was seen of me . . . “ (1 Corinthians 15:3–8).
● John: “That which . . . we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled . . . the Word of life.” (1 John 1:1).
THE BOOK OF ACTS
● Most Biblical scholars believe that the book of Acts was written by Luke (Acts 1:1).
● As in the Gospel of Luke, he wrote it for “most excellent Theophilus,” a prominent Greek (Luke 1:3).
● These “we” verses suggest that Luke was an active participant in some events that he records (Acts 16:10; 20:6).
● The place of its writing cannot be determined with any degree of certainty.
● The time of its writing was sometime after Paul’s imprisonment at Rome in AD 61–63 (Acts 28:30), but before Paul’s trial and execution, which it does not mention.
● The book of Acts provides us with a view of the Church of Jesus Christ during its formative years.
● Elder Bruce R. McConkie said, “Acts ranks first among biblical books “in telling how the Church and kingdom of God on earth operates when Jesus the King is not personally resident on planet earth.”1
The First Acts of the Apostles
● The Aftermath: A “Sabbath day’s journey” is about 3,000 feet—the distance from the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem (Acts 1:12–14).
— They went to the “upper room” where they worshiped.
— This room was in the home of Mark’s mother Mary.
— Both men and women were present in this meeting.
— This is the last mention of Jesus’ mother Mary in the Bible.
— The Meeting: Peter, as the presiding officer, conducted and taught (Acts 1:15–20).
Appointing a New Apostle
● A pattern was established for appointing new Apostles (Acts 1:21–26). Their qualifications were that they must be:
— A member for at least three years.
— Active during all that time.
— A personal witness of the resurrected Christ.
● Note also the process by which people are called to Church offices:
— Nomination of qualified individuals.
— Prayer seeking understanding of whom the Lord has called.
— Asking for a sustaining vote.
— Casting lots, or voting, was the same as presenting a sustaining vote, in modern terms. It was sometimes done in ancient cultures by each voter putting forward a sherd, or pottery fragment, with the name written on it.
● Matthias was chosen. This is the only mention of Matthias in the Bible.
THE DAY OF PENTECOST
Events on the Day of Pentecost
● Acts 2:1 says they met on the Day of Pentecost.
— Pentecost was a feast held fifty days after Passover (in Greek, penekoste means fiftieth).
— In Hebrew the feast is called Shavuot (Feast of Weeks, Harvest, or First Fruits).
— Pentecost is the day of first fruits or the first harvest of the season (Numbers 28:26).
— How appropriate to begin the great harvest of souls on this very day on which three thousand persons were added to the Church through baptism (Acts 2:37–41).
● Peter saw it as a partial fulfillment of the ancient prophecy of the prophet Joel (Acts 2:2–4; Joel 2:28–32).
— “Cloven tongues like as of fire” is both literal and symbolic (v. 3).
— God dwells in everlasting burnings (Isaiah 33:14).2
— The Holy Spirit’s influence is also compared to fire (Luke 24:32; D&C 9:8).
● The gift of tongues was given to these unlearned fishermen and farmers (Acts 2:4–18). Thus, visitors from all over the world hear the gospel in their own languages. The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “The gift of tongues by the power of the Holy Ghost in the Church, is for the benefit of the servants of God to preach to unbelievers, as on the day of Pentecost.”3
● The Holy Ghost acted as the translator and communicator (D&C 90:10–11).
A Similar Day of Pentecost in Our Day at Kirtland
● A similar outpouring occurred at the dedication of the Kirtland Temple, in answer to Joseph Smith’s prayer for such a manifestation (D&C 109:35–37).
● This plea was literally fulfilled, not once, but for several days following the initial dedicatory services.
— The Prophet Joseph Smith said, [On one occasion,] “a noise was heard like the sound of a rushing mighty wind, which filled the Temple, and all the congregation simultaneously arose, being moved upon by an invisible power; many began to speak in tongues and prophesy; others saw glorious visions; and I beheld the Temple was filled with angels, which fact I declared to the congregation.”4
— William Draper Jr., who witnessed the event, said: “In the Temple on the day of Pentecost, or the 6th day of April, 1836, there was such a time of the outpouring of the Spirit of the Lord that my pen is inadequate to write it in full, or my tongue to express it. But I will here say that the Spirit was poured out and came like a mighty rushing wind and filled the House. Many that were present spoke in tongues, and had visions, and saw angels, and prophesied; and had a general time of rejoicing such as had not been known in this generation.”5
● On the evening of 27 March 1836 Joseph Smith and over four hundred priesthood bearers met in the temple to instruct and be instructed in the ordinances of the priesthood.
— Ivan J. Barrett wrote: “George A. Smith stood upon his feet and began to prophesy. Immediately the room was filled with the sound of a violent motion of wind, and the vibration seemed to lift the men simultaneously to their feet. Men old and young began to speak in tongues and to prophesy and to see visions. The Prophet beheld the temple filled with angels and informed the brethren of what he saw. . . . The people living near the temple; hearing an unusual sound and seeing a bright light like a pillar of fire resting upon the steeple, ran in fearful astonishment and gathered around the building6. . . . The Savior made his appearance to some, while angels ministered to others. The day was spent in exhorting, prophesying, and speaking in tongues.”7
The Fate of King David and Other Murderers
● Peter’s spoke plainly concerning what they had done to the Son of God (Acts 2:22–24).
● King David’s received some consolation after his sins because of Christ (Acts 2:25–27).
● Nevertheless, David has not yet been resurrected because of his murder of Uriah (Acts 2:29, 34). The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “A murderer, for instance, one that sheds innocent blood, cannot have forgiveness. David sought repentance at the hand of God carefully with tears, for the murder of Uriah; but he could only get it through hell: he got a promise that his soul should not be left in hell.”8
Peter Calls Them to Repentance
● Peter taught the simple first principles of the gospel to them (Acts 2:36–41).
● He advised them to reject the sins of their “untoward generation.”
— In King James’ English “toward” meant obedience, teachable, amenable.
— “Untoward,” therefore, meant rebellious, unteachable, and perverse.
APOSTOLIC MIRACLES AND PREACHING
Faith and Miracles
● On their way to worship in the temple, about 3 PM, the Apostles encountered a lame man who was asking for alms at the gate “Beautiful”—the eastern gate of the Temple (Acts 3:1–3).
● The Apostles followed Jesus’ example by using the priesthood to heal him (Acts 3:4–7).
— Note that, in addition to blessing him, Peter physically lifted him up.
● The man had been lame since birth (40 years) and everybody knew it (Acts 3:8–11).
Peter Speaks of a “Restitution of All Things”
● Peter used the miracle to testify of Christ, whom they had murdered (Acts 3:12–15).
● Because he was addressing the murderers who had crucified Jesus, he invited them not to “repent and be baptized” but to repent and hope their sins could be blotted out by the time of the Millennium. The Prophet Joseph Smith said: “They could not be baptized for the remission of sins, for they had shed innocent blood.”9
● Peter told them what they could do now to save themselves (Acts 3:19–21).
— “The times of refreshing” refers to the millennium (v. 19).
— “The times of restitution” refers to the latter-day restoration of the gospel (v. 21).
● Christ will not come again until after a restitution “of all things”—an event prophesied of by every prophet since the world began.
The Sanhedrin Seeks to Silence the Apostles
● The multitude responded with faith, and 5,000 more were baptized.
● The Jewish leaders were angry and had Peter and John arrested (Acts 4:1–5).
● Peter testified boldly of Jesus Christ (Acts 4:6–14).
● The Sanhedrin failed in multiple attempts to silence the Apostles (Acts 4:15–31).
● The Apostles continued to preach and perform miracles (Acts 5:12–28).
● Arrested again, Peter boldly accused them of murdering the Christ (Acts 5:29–32).
● Gamaliel (Saul’s famous teacher) advised the Jews to leave them alone (Acts 5:33–40).
● Gamaliel’s advice was, “Let nature take its course. If the work be of men, it will fail. If it is of God, it will triumph to your injury.” (Acts 5:35–39).
● It is likely that his wise advice saved the lives of the Apostles, even though the council beat them before sending them away (Acts 5:40).
● The Apostles continued daily to teach of Christ in the temple and in “every house” (Acts 5:41–42).
THE LAW OF CONSECRATION
● The members of the Church lived the law of consecration (Acts 4:32–37).
● Ananias and Sapphira misused sacred funds and lost their lives as a result (Acts 5:1–11).
— Elder Bruce R. McConkie said, “In effect the lesson to learn from Ananias is that unrepentant liars will be damned. What, then, of the part tithepayer who tells his bishop the sum given the Church is a full tithing? Or of the immoral couple who, conspiring together, assert their purity in order to get a temple recommend? Or of church members who deny sins of any sort which would keep them from receiving temple blessings, priesthood ordinations, or positions of leadership?”10
The Fundamental Principles
— Victor L. Brown said, [Unless we] “feel in total harmony” with the principle that everything we have belongs to the Lord, “it will be difficult, if not impossible, for us to accept the law of consecration. As we prepare to live this law, we will look forward with great anticipation to the day when the call will come. If, on the other hand, we hope it can be delayed so we can have the pleasure of accumulating material things, we are on the wrong path.”11
● In February 1831, soon after the Saints began to gather in Kirtland, Ohio, the Lord revealed that they should begin to live the law of consecration (D&C 42:30).
— To “consecrate” means to set apart or dedicate something to the service of the Lord.
— The law of consecration is an organized way in which individuals consecrate their time, talents, and possessions to the Church to build the Lord’s kingdom and serve others.
— Consecration seeks to make us “equal” in earthly opportunities (D&C 51:19).
— The law of consecration is not just a temporal or economic program. It is also a spiritual law that helps members grow spiritually and prepare for eternal life (D&C 29:34–35).
— Faithful and wise stewards will inherit all that the Father has (D&C 78:22).
How Proper Consecration Is Practiced
● Consecrating possessions
— Under the law of consecration, Church members voluntarily consecrate their possessions to the Church by legal deed (D&C 42:30).
● Receiving a stewardship
— After Church members consecrate their possessions, the bishop grants them stewardships, or portions, from all the properties received. The size of the stewardship depends on the circumstances and needs of the family, as determined by the bishop in consultation with the member who receives it (D&C 42:32; D&C 51:3).
— The stewardship is given with a deed of ownership so each member will be fully responsible and accountable for managing it (D&C 51:4; 72:3–4).
— The stewardship, therefore, is private property, not common or communal property (D&C 104:11–13).
— If members produce a surplus from their stewardships beyond what is necessary for their families, at the end of the year they gave the surplus to the bishop to put in the bishop’s storehouse (D&C 42:33; 51:13).
— The bishop then uses the surplus to care for the poor, to build houses of worship, and for other worthy purposes (D&C 42:34–35).
● The United Order
— In March 1832, the Lord revealed that there must be an organization to regulate and administer the law of consecration among His people (D&C 78:3).
— He called this organization the “united order” (D&C 92:1).
— In subsequent revelations the Lord gave further instructions concerning the united order (D&C 104).
How We Can Consecrate Today
● We can make the sacrifices the Lord requires now—our time, talents, and possessions—for the building up of the Kingdom of God upon the earth, and for the establishment of Zion.
● We can pay tithing and fast offerings, and give generously in other ways to those in need. By doing this, we can help care for the poor and carry on the important activities of the Church. Elder Marion G. Romney said, “What prohibits us from giving as much in fast offerings as we would have given in surpluses under the united order? Nothing but our own limitations.”12
● We can serve willingly in the Church. The Lord has admonished each person to “learn his duty, and to act in the office in which he is appointed, in all diligence” (D&C 107:99).
● We can serve as a full-time missionary. Elder Robert D. Hales said, “Going on a mission teaches you to live the law of consecration. It may be the only time in your life when you can give to the Lord all your time, talents, and resources. In return, the Lord will bless you with His Spirit to be with you. He will be close to you and strengthen you.”13
● We can develop Christlike love for others. Every man seeking the interest of his neighbor is the foundation of the law of consecration (D&C 82:19).
● We must willingly consecrate, not do so grudgingly (D&C 64:34). Elder Neal A. Maxwell said, “We tend to think of consecration only in terms of property and money. But there are so many ways of keeping back part.”14
— Elder Neal A. Maxwell also said, “The submission of one’s will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God’s altar. The many other things we ‘give’ . . . are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us. However, when you and I finally submit ourselves, by letting our individual wills be swallowed up in God’s will, then we are really giving something to Him! It is the only possession which is truly ours to give!”15
1. Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1966–73], 3 vols. , 2:19.
2. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Elder Joseph Fielding Smith , 361.
3. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 195.
4. History of the Church, 2:428; 432.
5. William Draper’s Autobiography: “A Biographical Sketch of the Life and Travels and Birth and Parentage of William Draper and Lydia Lathrop.”
6. History of the Church, 2:428.
7. Joseph Smith and the Restoration : A History of the LDS Church to 1846 , 324–325.
8. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 339.
9. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 339.
10. Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 2:58–59.
11. “The Law of Consecration,” 1976 Devotional Speeches of the Year, 439.
12. In Conference Report, Apr. 1966, 100; or Improvement Era, June 1966, 537.
13. In Conference Report, Apr. 1996, 50; or Ensign, May 1996, 36.
14. In Conference Report, Oct. 1992, 90; or Ensign, Nov. 1992, 66.
15. In Conference Report, Oct. 1995, 30; or Ensign, Nov. 1995, 24.