Posted in Gospel Doctrine 2015, Missionary work, New Testament

Gospel Doctrine 2015 – Lesson 31 – “And So Were the Churches Established in the Faith” – Part 2

Paul preaches on Mars’ Hill to the Athenian philosophers.

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Acts 17: 21 (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.)

“Why are a few members, who somewhat resemble the ancient Athenians, so eager to hear some new doubt or criticism? (See Acts 17:21.) Just as some weak members slip across a state line to gamble, a few go out of their way to have their doubts titillated. Instead of nourishing their faith, they are gambling ‘offshore’ with their fragile faith. To the question ‘Will ye also go away?’ these few would reply, ‘Oh, no, we merely want a weekend pass to go to a casino for critics or a clubhouse for cloakholders.’ Such easily diverted members are not disciples but fair-weather followers.” (Neal A Maxwell,Ensign, November 1988, pp. 32-33.)

Acts 17: 22 ¶Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.

‘This language was perfectly respectful, notwithstanding his heart had been deeply affected by their idolatry. Everything about this discourse is calm, grave, cool, argumentative. Paul understood the character of his auditors, and did not commence his discourse by denouncing them, nor did he suppose that they would be convinced by mere dogmatical assertion. No happier instance can be found of cool, collected argumentation than is furnished in this discourse.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

Acts 17:23 For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.

“This sermon of Paul’s was preached some nineteen hundred years ago, but it has its application to us. Truly, the intervening years have brought great changes in some things, notably in the fields of science and industry; but with respect to the subject of Paul’s sermon, the world today is in about the same status as it was then, for God to many is still an ‘unknown God,’ and therefore, ignorantly worshipped. Perhaps he is not thought of as being ‘like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device’; yet superstition and idolatry, in some forms, are still the order of the day. Some deny the very existence of God; others define him as ‘cosmic energy,’ as though he might be a current of electricity. He has been spoken of as ‘the first great cause,’ and as the ‘universal consciousness.’ God would not be described in such vague terms if men had the knowledge of him possessed by Paul.

“There are some people in the world today, however, as there were in Paul’s day, who know that God is their father and that he is not far from them. If they were to speak on the subject, they would tell you that of all their possessions, this knowledge is the most precious. From it, they obtain power to resist temptation, courage in times of danger, companionship in hours of loneliness, and comfort in sorrow. This knowledge of God gives them faith and hope that tomorrow will be better than today. It is an anchor to their souls which gives purpose to life, though all men and things around them be in confusion and chaos.” (Marion G Romney, “God Is Not Far from Us,”Ensign, Aug. 1976, 2)

Acts 17:24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;

‘Inseparable with the idea of a Divine Personal Being is the acceptance of Him as the Creator of the world. True Christianity does not look upon the universe as the result of mere interaction of matter and motion, of law and force, but, on the contrary, it regards all creation as the product of a Divine Intelligence “who made the world and all things therein”’ (David O McKay, General Conference, April 1944)

Acts 17:25 Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;

26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;

‘And hath made of one blood – All the families of mankind are descended from one origin or stock. However different their complexion, features, or language, yet they are derived from a common parent.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

Acts 17: 27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:

‘Feel after him’ – has the sense of ‘groping in the dark’.

Acts 17:28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.

29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.

“Before the world was created, we all lived as the spirit children of our Heavenly Father. Through a natural process of inheritance we received in embryo the traits and attributes of our Heavenly Father. We are His spirit children. Some of what our Eternal Father is, we have inherited. What he has become we may become.” (M Russell Ballard, Our Search for Happiness: An Invitation to Understand The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1993], 70.)

Acts 17: 30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:

Winked at = overlooked

Acts 17:31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

‘The day of judgment is fixed by God in his eternal purposes, and is sure and certain, and will come, though it is not known by men or angels; and this is a reason why God will have the doctrine of repentance everywhere published, both to Jews and Gentiles, since all must come to judgment: and the day for it is appointed by him.’ (Gill’s Exposition of the Bible)

Acts 17:32 ¶And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter.

33 So Paul departed from among them.

“When men heard that young Joseph Smith was claiming God had manifested Himself to the boy, they mocked him and turned away from him, just as in the Christian era wise and able men in Athens turned away from a singular man ministering in their midst. Yet the fact remains that Paul, in that earlier experience, was the only man in that great city of learning who knew that a person may pass through the portals of death and live. He was the only man in Athens who could clearly delineate the difference between the formality of idolatry and the heartfelt worship of the only true and living God.” (Howard W Hunter, “The Sixth Day of April, 1830,” Ensign,May 1991, 63)

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Posted in Gospel Doctrine 2015, New Testament

Gospel Doctrine 2015 – Lesson 31 – “And So Were the Churches Established in the Faith”

Paul, Silas, and Timothy preach throughout Macedonia and Greece.

Acts 15:36 ¶And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do.

37 And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark.

38 But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work.

39 And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus;

40 And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God.

41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches.

“Even apostles and prophets, being mortal and subject to like passions as other men, have prejudices which sometimes are reflected in ministerial assignments and decisions. But the marvel is not the isolated disagreements on details, but the near universal unity on basic principles; not the occasional personality conflicts, but the common acceptance, for the good of the work, of the faults of others. It is not the conflict between Paul and Barnabas which concerns us, but the fact that they (being even as we are) rose thereafter to spiritual heights where they saw visions, received revelations, and made their callings and elections sure-the fact of their disagreement thus bearing witness that we in our weaknesses can also press forward to that unity and perfection which shall assure us of salvation.” (Bruce R McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 2:145)

Acts 16: 6 Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia,

7 After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not.

‘No man can fill a mission acceptably before the heavens, unless God should give to him revelation, from time to time, to direct him in all his missionary labors. We have abundant testimony in the New Testament concerning this matter. Even when some of the very greatest revelators that we have any record of undertook to do things of their own accord, they were led directly different from their own judgments, in regard to their missionary labors. Paul had, at a certain time, a great desire to visit a certain place; such desire arose from his own natural judgment; but the Holy Ghost forbade him. Here it required a new revelation to know whether his own inclinations should be followed or not.’ (Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses)

 Acts 16: 8 And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas.

9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.

‘This was a call to preach the gospel in an extensive pagan land, amid many trials and dangers. To this call, notwithstanding all this prospect of danger, Paul and Silas cheerfully responded, and gave themselves to the work.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

10 And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.

“The ‘we’ begins in Acts 16:10, it ends when Paul leaves Philippi (Acts17:1) …Here, then, we see that Luke was St. Paul’s companion from Troas on his second apostolic journey, he was with him at Philippi, accompanied him to Jerusalem, and, so far as we know, never left him again till his martyrdom in Rome.

“How pathetic are those words, almost the last ones written by the great Apostle shortly before his death, and addressed to his friend Timothy from the gloomy dungeon in which he was incarcerated in the imperial city of Rome: ‘For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me’ (II Tim. 4:10, 11). This faithful friend and companion was nearly always by his side, and we feel no wonder, therefore, at the deep attachment which Paul had for his ‘beloved physician,’ whose character he had once summed up some six years previously in the words-‘the brother whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches’-(II Cor. 8:18). It is pleasant, too, to think that the medical skill and attention of this devoted friend must have been as great a source of comfort to the aged, feeble and sick Apostle, as we are sure that his companionship was a source of consolation to him during all the many trials of his later life.” (“St. Paul’s Companions in Rome.” by Col. R. M. Bryce-Thomas., Improvement Era, 1908, Vol. Xii. December, 1908. No. 2 .)

Acts 16:14 ¶And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.

The people of Thyatira were famous for their dyes. Purple was a very expensive dye obtained from shellfish.

Acts 16: 15 And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.

“If Lydia was the first one baptized, then she has the distinction of being the first person in Europe to accept Christianity. Whether ‘her household’ means she had children, or whether it refers to her servants or to both we do not know, but they became the nucleus of a thriving branch of the Church in that city, and in Lydia’s home town as well.” (David O McKay, Ancient Apostles [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1964], 186)

Acts 16: 16 ¶And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying:

17 The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.

‘Satan, though the father of lies, will declare the most important truths, when he can thereby serve his purposes.’ (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)

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Acts 16: 18 And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.

19 ¶And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers,

Her masters were more interested in profits than prophets.

20 And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city,

21 And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans.

‘There was at Philippi a colony of the Romans, and they were governed by their laws, by which they might make no innovation in religion without the consent of the senate, and afterwards of their emperors; which here these persecutors allege.’ (Matthew Poole’s Commentary)

Acts 16: 22 And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them.

‘Rent off their clothes – This was always done when one was to be scourged or whipped. The criminal was usually stripped entirely naked.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

23 And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely:

Jewish law restricted the number of lashes to no more than 40. They usually gave only 39 in case they miscounted. The Romans, however, had no such restriction and may have dealt out many more.

24 Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.

‘Made their feet fast in the stocks—an instrument of torture as well as confinement, made of wood bound with iron, with holes for the feet, which were stretched more or less apart according to the severity intended.’ (Jamieson-Fausset- Brown Bible Commentary)

Acts 16:25 ¶And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.

26 And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed.

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“With their backs sore and bleeding, their bodies chilled by the cold and dampness, their legs cramped and aching, hungry and sleepless and surrounded by the blackness of midnight, Paul and Silas who knew they were suffering for the sake of the true Gospel, could rejoice and praise the Lord. This they did at midnight, by praying and singing ‘praises unto God.’ Their voices rang out through the prison cells; and prisoners, hard hearted and sinful, listened in surprise to the first Christian hymn they had ever heard. The power of the Lord manifested itself not only in the hearts of His true servants, but in the entire prison and the town as well; for ‘suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken.’ All the bolts and bars at the doors fell from their sockets and the doors of the prison flew open, and ‘every one’s bands were loosed,’ but not a prisoner tried to escape.” (David O McKay, Ancient Apostles [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1964], 187-8.)

Acts 16: 27 And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled.

‘It was customary to hold a jailor responsible for the safe keeping of prisoners, and to subject him to the punishment due them if he suffered them to escape.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

Acts 16: 28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.

29 Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas,

30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

32 And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.

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“Is belief alone enough to bring salvation to the contrite soul? Assuredly yes, if by belief is meant the ringing declaration of him who, baptizing our Lord, then testified: ‘He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life’ (John 3:36); or if by belief is meant the pronouncement of Jesus: ‘He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do’ (John 14:12); or if by belief is meant that pure, perfect faith in Christ which presupposes and in fact cannot exist without the works of righteousness. (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed., pp. 78-80; See Heb. 11:1-3.) But belief alone is scarcely the beginning of that course leading to a celestial inheritance if it is isolated as a thing apart, if it is supposed that it does not embrace within its folds both baptism and a subsequent course of enduring to the end. (2 Ne. 31:15-21.) And in the very case at hand, Paul and Silas teach the gospel to the whole group, baptize them, and without question give them the gift of the Holy Ghost, thus starting them out in the direction of salvation. (Bruce R McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 2:151.)

33 And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.

34 And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.

The two sufferers may well have needed food. If the tumult had begun, as is probable, as they were going to the proseuclia for morning prayer, at the third hour of the day (9 A.M.), they had probably been fasting for nearly twenty-four hours. They were not likely to have made a meal when they were thrust into the dungeon. (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers)

Acts 17:1 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews:

2 And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,

3 Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.

‘Opening – The word means to explain or to unfold. It is usually applied to what is shut, as the eye, etc. Then it means to explain what is concealed or obscure. It means here that he explained the Scriptures in their true sense.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

Acts 17: 4 And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.

5 ¶But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.

6 And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also;

7 Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Cæsar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.

‘Although many Jews at Thessalonica received and heartily embraced the truth, there were many who rejected it, and that, as it afterward appeared, with much malignity of heart. For the great success which Paul had in converting the idolatrous Gentiles, raised the envy and indignation of the unbelieving Jews to such a pitch, that, transported with a blind and furious zeal, they hired (των αγοραιων τινας ανδρας πονηρους) certain dissolute fellows who frequented the market-place, and were prepared to do any thing, however bad, for a small reward.’ (Benson Commentary)

8 And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things.

9 And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go.

10 ¶And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.

‘And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas – They did this for their safety. Yet this was not done until the gospel had taken deep root in Thessalonica. Having preached there, and laid the foundation of a church; having thus accomplished the purpose for which they went there, they prepared to leave the city.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

Posted in Gospel Doctrine 2015, Jesus Christ, New Testament

..but some doubted

An interesting question came up in our Gospel Doctrine class last week. We read in Matthew 28:

16 ¶Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.

17 And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.

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The question was – how could some of the eleven disciples still doubt when they had seen the resurrected Lord?

A little research was called for.

  • Benson’s Commentary states that some Bible editors translate the phrase ‘but some doubted’ as ‘even those who had doubted’.
  • Matthew Poole’s Commentary suggests ‘some had doubted’.
  • Bornemann suggests the translation: ‘some fell prostrate, the others started back from each other with astonishment’
  • Tim Chaffey writes: The doubt exhibited here is not unbelief, but more like hesitation, which is what the Greek word distazo This is not the typical word for doubt used in the New Testament (diakrino). In fact, it is only used in one other time (Matthew 14:31). Instead of refusing to believe what they were seeing, like some have said, the disciples were amazed. The concept here is somewhat comparable to our modern statements like “It’s too good to be true,” or “Pinch me, I’m dreaming.”

So, it seems it is a question of how you translate the original Greek. An alternative, but valid, translation would be ‘And when they saw him, they worshipped him, even those who had previously doubted.’ It appears that another way of translating it could be something like ‘And when they saw him they fell down and worshipped him, but some of them were astonished.’

Posted in Gospel Doctrine 2015, New Testament, Symbolism

Gospel Doctrine 2015 – Lesson 30 – “God Is No Respecter of Persons”

Peter learns in a vision that the gospel should be preached to the Gentiles.

Acts 10: 1 There was a certain man in Cæsarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band,

2 A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.

Here we have the start of a new phase in the expansion of the gospel message. Previously the gospel had only been extended to Jews, Samaritans and Jewish proselytes. Now it is to go forth to gentiles such as Cornelius.

Acts 10: 3 He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius.

4 And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.

5 And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter:

6 He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.

“From this example we learn that no matter how righteous one may be who seeks after truth, the Lord directs him to one of his servants who has been ordained to the priesthood, so that he can be baptized at his hands and be instructed.

“This was also true with respect to Saul (Paul), to which we have already referred. Even though the Savior spoke to him on the road to Damascus, the Lord directed him to go into the city of Damascus, where the Lord instructed one of his servants, Ananias, what to do. Ananias first restored Paul’s sight by the laying on of hands, and then baptized him. Paul was later ordained to the ministry. (See Acts 9:1; 13:1-3.)” (LeGrand Richards, A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, p. 105.)

Acts 10: 7  And when the angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually;

8 And when he had declared all these things unto them, he sent them to Joppa.

“When the angel came to Cornelius and told him that his prayers and his alms had ascended up before God as a memorial, he did not see proper on that occasion to tell exactly what he should do in order to be saved; but he told him to send for Peter, and he would tell him words whereby he and his house should be saved. Cornelius had faith enough in that angel to actually send for Peter. There was something required on the part of Cornelius to manifest his faith before God.” (Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses)

Acts 10: 9 ¶On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour:

“The small room in the second story, or on the roof of the house, was the usual place for retirement and prayer. Even when there was no room constructed on the roof, the roof was a common resort for retirement and prayer. Around the edge a battlement or parapet was commonly made, within which a person could be quite retired from public view.” (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

Acts 10:10 And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance,

11 And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth:

12 Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.

13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.

14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.

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“The prejudices were deep rooted in Peter, and it took a vision from heaven to help him cast off his bias. The voice had commanded: ‘Rise, Peter; kill, and eat,’ when the vessel descended from the heaven containing all manner of beasts, reptiles, and fowls. Punctilious Peter expressed his lifelong prejudices and habits in saying, ‘Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.’ Then the heavenly voice made clear that the program was for all. ‘What God hath cleansed,’ it said, ‘that call not thou common.’ Peter’s long sustained prejudices finally gave way under the power of the thrice-repeated command. When the devout gentile Cornelius immediately thereafter appealed to him for the gospel, the full meaning of the vision burst upon Peter and he exclaimed, ‘. . . God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.’ (Acts 10:13-15, 28.)” (Spencer W KimballFaith Precedes the Miracle, 294.)

Acts 10:15 And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.

16 This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven.

“The prejudices of Peter against the Gentiles, would have prevented his going to Cornelius, unless the Lord had prepared him for this service. To tell a Jew that God had directed those animals to be reckoned clean which were hitherto deemed unclean, was in effect saying, that the law of Moses was done away. Peter was soon made to know the meaning of it. God knows what services are before us, and how to prepare us; and we know the meaning of what he has taught us, when we find what occasion we have to make use of it.” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)

Acts 10: 28 And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.

Now Peter understands the meaning of the vision.

Acts 10: 34 ¶Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:

35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.

“The Lord would have eliminated bigotry and class distinction. He talked to the Samaritan woman at the well, healed the centurion’s kin, and blessed the child of the Canaanitish woman. And though he personally came to the ‘lost sheep of the House of Israel’ and sent his apostles first to them rather than to the Samaritans and other gentiles, yet he later sent Paul to bring the gospel to the gentiles and revealed to Peter that the gospel was for all. (Spencer W Kimball, Faith Precedes the Miracle, p. 294-5)

Acts 10: 36 The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:)

37 That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judæa, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached;

38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.

God anointed Jesus with the Holy Ghost – a clear scriptural indication that the Godhead are separate individuals.

Acts 10:39 And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree:

40 Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly;

41 Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead.

“The way that Peter and the ancients proved that Jesus was the Son of God, and therefore that the gospel which he taught was the plan of salvation, was to establish that he rose from the dead. And the way you prove that a man rises from the dead, because it is in the spiritual realm, is to bear witness by the power of the Spirit of knowledge that is personal and real and literal to you. Peter could have gone into a congregation and said, ‘I know that Jesus is the Lord because Isaiah said this and this with reference to him. Or one of the other prophets said this.’ And he did that, for a reason, I suppose. But the great crowning thing that Peter could do was to stand before the people and say, ‘I know he was the Son of God. I stood in the upper room. I recognized him. He is the man who ministered among us for more than three years. I felt the nail marks in his hands and in his feet. I thrust my hand into the spear wound in his side. I saw him eat food; he ate fish and an honeycomb. He has a body. He said his body was flesh and bone. I know he is the Son of God. I am his witness!” (Sermons and Writings of Bruce R. McConkie, p. 124.)

Acts 10:42 And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.

43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.

“Thus the ancient prophets testified of his divine birth and mission, and the New Testament confirms the happenings foretold by these Old Testament prophets and bears witness of that virgin birth and divine mission of the Savior.” (Howard W Hunter, General Conference, October 1968)

Acts 10: 44 ¶While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.

The Holy Ghost bears witness of Peter’s words.

Acts 10: 47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?

48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.

“Peter did not say, Cornelius, you have received the Holy Ghost as well as we have, and there is no necessity for you to obey any further ordinances, which, under the circumstances, if he had considered baptism or the laying on of hands nonessential, he would have been very likely to do; but instead of that he commanded them to be baptized.” (George Q Cannon, Journal of Discourses)

Acts 11:1 And the apostles and brethren that were in Judæa heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God.

2 And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him,

3 Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them.

“Peter’s action in regard to Cornelius precipitated a controversy which was bound to come if the Church was to be anything more than a Jewish sect. It brought to light the first tendency to form a party in the Church. ‘They. . . of the circumcision’ were probably ‘certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed,’ and were especially zealous for all the separating prescriptions of the ceremonial law. They were scarcely a party as yet, but the little rift was destined to grow, and they became Paul’s bitterest opponents through all his life, dogging him with calumnies and counterworking his toil. It is a black day for a Church when differences of opinion lead to the formation of cliques.” (MacLaren’s Expositions)

Posted in Gospel Doctrine 2015, Jesus Christ, New Testament

Gospel Doctrine 2015 – Lesson 29 – “The Number of the Disciples Was Multiplied”

  1. Seven men are ordained to supervise the temporal work of the Church.

Acts 6:1 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.

“…Jews of the dispersion who adopted Hellenists’ customs and who spoke Greek (Acts 6:1; 9:29) were called Grecians. New Testament references to Greeks refer to persons of Greek lineage.” (Church News: Question of the Week, LDS Church News, 1994, 10/22/94)

Acts 6:2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.

“Was Jesus asking His disciples to respond to random requests from the crowd or to serve tables?  No! He was asking them to serve in His way. The people were not to be masters of his disciples. The Lord is their Master.

In rendering service to others, which way do we face? From the right or the left, we can only push or pull. We can lift only from a higher plane. To reach it we don’t look sideways; we look up to our Master. Just as we must look to God to live well, so we must look to God to serve well.” (Russell M Nelson)

Acts 6:3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.

4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.

“But we will give ourselves continually – The original expression used here denotes “intense and persevering” application to a thing, or unwearied effort in it. It means that the apostles designed to make this their constant and main object, undistracted by the cares of life, and even by attention to the temporal needs of the church.” (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

Acts 6: 5 ¶And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:

6 Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.

“Where does the Church’s practice of setting apart come from?

“The priesthood ordinance of setting apart is the formal process of giving authority to members called to labor in specific responsibilities. It involves a specific priesthood procedure, including the laying on of hands. It has been a practice of the Lord’s servants since Old Testament times, even though in some scriptural references it is not clear whether the wording refers to being ordained, set apart, or both. In fact, it may be that earlier dispensations made very little distinction between these two practices.

“…In other Old Testament passages, the word separate seems to refer to the procedure of designating someone for the Lord’s work. For example, 1 Chronicles 23:13, we read that ‘Aaron was separated, that he should sanctify the most holy things, he and his sons for ever, to burn incense before the Lord, to minister unto him, and to bless in his name for ever.’

“In the New Testament we find clearer instances of individuals being set apart. In the ancient Church when seven men were chosen to assist the Apostles, they were ‘set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.’ (Acts 6:6.) Also, when Barnabas and Saul were selected for the Lord’s work, the Church leaders fasted and prayed, and ‘the Holy Ghost said [to them], Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.’ (Acts 13:2.) The Church leaders then ‘laid their hands on them,’ after which they sent Saul and Barnabas out to do the work. (Acts 13:3.)” (Rex Allred, “I Have a Question,” Ensign, Mar. 1983, 67)

  1. Stephen testifies before the Sanhedrin and is stoned to death.

Acts 6:11 Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God.

“The words indicate with sufficient clearness the nature of Stephen’s teaching. The charge was a false one, but its falsehood was a distortion of the truth, as that against our Lord had been. He was accused of blasphemy in calling Himself the Son of God; making Himself equal with God; threatening to destroy the Temple—each of the counts in the indictment resting on words that He had actually spoken. And Stephen, in like manner, was charged with offences for which there must have seemed colourable ground. He had taught, we must believe, that the days of the Temple were numbered; that with its fall the form of worship of which it was the representative would pass away, that the Law given by Moses was to make way for the higher revelation in Christ, and the privileges of the elect nation to be merged in the blessings of the universal Church. In this case, accordingly, the antagonism comes, not only or chiefly, as in the previous chapters, from the Sadducean high priests and their followers, but from the whole body of scribes and people. Pharisees and Sadducees, Hebrews and Hellenistæ, are once more brought into coalition against the new truth.” (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers)

Acts 6:12 And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council,

13 And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law:

14 For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us.

15 And all that sat in the council, looking steadfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.

“Emmeline B. Wells: ‘The power of God rested upon him (Joseph Smith) to such a degree that on many occasions he seemed transfigured. His expression was mild and almost childlike in repose; and when addressing the people, who loved him it seemed to adoration, the glory of his countenance was beyond description. At other times the great power of his manner, more than of his voice (which was sublimely eloquent to me) seemed to shake the place on which we stood and penetrate the inmost soul of his hearers, and I am sure that then they would have laid down their lives to defend him.’

“Mary Ann Winters: ‘I stood close by the Prophet while he was preaching to the Indians in the Grove by the Temple. The Holy Spirit lighted up his countenance till it glowed like a halo around him, and his words penetrated the hearts of all who heard him and the Indians looked as solemn as Eternity.'” (Truman Madsen, Joseph Smith the Prophet, pp. 89-90)

Acts 7:51 ¶Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.

52 Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers:

53 Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.

“The discourse of Stephen has every appearance of having been interrupted by the clamors and opposition of the Sanhedrin. This verse has no immediate connection with what precedes, and appears to have been spoken in the midst of opposition and clamor. If we may conjecture in this case, it would seem that the Jews saw the drift of his argument; that they interrupted him; and that when the tumult had somewhat subsided, he addressed them in the language of this verse, showing them that they sustained a character precisely similar to their rebellious fathers.” (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

Acts 7: 54 ¶When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.

“They were cut to the heart.—Literally, were sawn through and through.“(Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers)

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Acts 7:55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,

56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.

“Peter and Stephen testify that they saw the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God. Any person that had seen the heavens opened knows that there are three personages in the heavens who hold the keys of power, and one presides over all” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 312).

Acts 7:59 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.

60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

“Stephen was stoned, not for his preaching, nor even for his scolding of the people, but for saying he had had a vision of the Father and the Son. He was stoned for proclaiming that he had received revelation. Stephen foreshadowed the work of Paul and is the earliest person mentioned in the New Testament to imply that the law of Moses was fulfilled and that its rites and customs should come to an end.” (Robert J. Matthews, Studies in Scripture, Vol. 6: Acts to Revelation, ed. by Robert L. Millet [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1987], 30.)

  1. Philip preaches and performs miracles in Samaria.

Acts 8:6 And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.

7 For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed.

8 And there was great joy in that city.

12 But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

“Philip-saintly, valiant, a powerful preacher, a mighty worker of miracles-held only the Aaronic Priesthood! Peter and John must yet come from Jerusalem to Samaria to confer the Holy Ghost upon his baptized converts. (Acts 8:14-17.) And yet Philip, magnifying his calling, casts out devils, commands the lame to leap and the sick to rise from their beds of affliction. Miracles are wrought by the power of faith, and a righteous man need not hold the Melchizedek Priesthood to have power and influence with his Creator. As Joseph Smith said, ‘If a priest understands his duty, his calling, and ministry, and preaches by the Holy Ghost, his enjoyment is as great as if he were one of the Presidency.’ (Teachings, p. 112.)” (Bruce R McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 2: 81.)

Acts 8: 9 But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one:

10  To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God.

11 And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries.

“And bewitched – This is an unhappy translation. The Greek means merely that he “astonished” or amazed the people, or “confounded” their judgment. The idea of “bewitching” them is not in the original.” (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

Acts 8:18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,

19 Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.

“The chief Apostle had discerned the real intent of Simon the sorcerer’s heart. His desire for the priesthood power was not so much to bless as to impress.” (Spencer J Condie, In Perfect Balance [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1993], 68.)

Acts 8: 20 But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.

21 Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.

22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.

23 For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.

“The attempted grafting of foreign doctrines on the true vine of the gospel of Christ was characteristic of the early years of the apostolic period. We read of the sorcerer Simon, who professed belief and entered the Church by baptism, but who was so devoid of the true spirit of the gospel that he sought to purchase by money the authority and power of the priesthood. This man, though rebuked by Peter, and apparently penitent, continued to trouble the Church, by inculcating heresies and winning disciples within the fold. His followers were distinguished as a sect or cult down to the fourth century; and, writing at that time, Eusebius says of them: ‘These, after the manner of their founder, insinuating themselves into the Church, like a pestilential and leprous disease, infected those with the greatest corruption, into whom they were able to infuse their secret, irremediable, and destructive poison.’ This Simon, known in history as Simon Magus, is referred to by early Christian writers as the founder of heresy, owing to his persistent attempts to combine Christianity with Gnosticism. It is with reference to his proposition to purchase spiritual authority that all traffic in spiritual offices has come to be known as simony.” (James E Talmage, The Great Apostasy [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1958], 97.)

Acts 8:25 And they, when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans.

26 And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.

27 And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship,

28 Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.

29 Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.

“We are, in fact, all somewhat like the man of Ethiopia to whom Philip was sent. Like him, we may know enough to reach out for religion. We may invest ourselves in the scriptures. We may even give up our earthly treasures, but without sufficient instruction we may miss the meaning of all this and the requirements that still lie before us. So we cry with this man of great authority, “How can [we understand,] except some [teacher] should guide [us]?: (Jeffrey R Holland, General Conference, April 1998)

  1. Saul is converted and baptized and begins to preach the gospel

Acts 9:1 And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,

“Yet breathing out threatenings.—The “yet” implies a considerable interval since the death of Stephen, probably coinciding with the time occupied by the mission-work of Philip in the previous chapter. During this interval the persecution had probably been continuing. The Greek participle, literally,breathing-in, is somewhat more emphatic than the English. He lived, as it were, in an atmosphere of threats and slaughter. It was the very air he breathed.” (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers)

Acts 9:2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.

3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:

4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?

5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

“In this figure of speech is captured the essence of rebellion against God; we can only hurt ourselves. If one is pricked by a goad and angered by the pain, he may foolishly strike out at the source of irritation, only to suffer even more.” (Spencer W Kimball, Faith Precedes the Miracle, p. 305.)

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Acts 9:6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.

“On occasion individuals can have such experiences, but for the most part, conversion happens over a period of time as study, prayer, experience, and faith will help us to grow in our testimony and conversion.” (Robert D Hales, General Conference, April 1997)

Acts 9:7 And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.

8 And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.

9 And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.

In this account, we are told that Paul’s associates heard the voice of Jesus. However, a later account of Paul’s conversion conflicts with this version. Paul stated that they ‘saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me’ (Acts 22:9). “Evidently here is a misstatement of fact. As corrected by the Prophet, the passage in Acts 9:7 is altered to agree with that in Chapter 22. This would seem to be the reasonable conclusion for surely the voice and message of the Lord was for Paul alone, although his companions in travel might be permitted to see the light and thereby be assured of the unusual event that was taking place.” (Robert J. Matthews, Joseph Smith Memorial Sermons, p. 10)

Acts 9:10 ¶And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord.

11 And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,

12 And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.

13 Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem:

14 And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.

“The passage of such a train of thoughts through the mind was perfectly natural at the command to go and search out Saul. There would instantly occur all that had been heard of his fury in persecution; and the expression here may indicate the state of a mind amazed that such a one should need his counsel, and afraid, perhaps, of entrusting himself to one thus bent on persecution.” (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

Acts 9:15 But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:

16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.

“It is given to but few to wield a more powerful influence over Christian history than to Saul of Tarsus, the persecutor who became a prophet, the Pharisee who became the apostle to the Gentiles. The life and teachings of the Apostle Paul stand as bright reminders of the power of Christ to transform the souls of men and women, to remake the human heart, and to refocus one’s misdirected zeal into the way of the Master. When the risen Lord appeared in vision to Ananias of Damascus and instructed him to send for the stricken and blinded Saul, Ananias answered: ‘Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: and here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.’ The response that followed bespeaks the Redeemer’s insight into the wonders that would be done at Paul’s hand: ‘Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel’ (Acts 9:11-15; emphasis added)….[Paul] taught with a power, a persuasion, and a holy zeal known only to those who, like Alma and the sons of Mosiah, have gone from darkness to light and whose whole soul yearns to lead others to that same light.” (Selected Writings of Robert L. Millet: Gospel Scholars Series, p. 69.)

Acts 9:17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.

18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.

“From that time Saul, who was also called Paul, became one of the most valiant and strong of the Christian preachers and defenders.” (N Eldon Tanner, General Conference, April 1969)

Acts 9:19 And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus.

20 And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.

“And straightway – Immediately. It was an evidence of the genuineness of his conversion that he was willing at once to avow himself to be the friend of the Lord Jesus.” (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

Acts 9:21 But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests?

22 But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.

“Already the man from Tarsus is one with the saints and has commenced his ministry as a missionary, scriptorian, theologian, a preacher of righteousness, a student of the law. Soon he will become the apostle to the Gentiles, a special witness of Christ his adopted Lord, and an author of world renown. There are yet to come visions, revelations, and heavenly manifestations equalling those of Peter and the chiefest apostles….

“Paul was a small man physically, a giant spiritually. In outward appearance he had little to recommend him; his features and physique probably repelled rather than attracted others. But because of his inward grace and goodness, and as a result of his overpowering zeal for Christ, he radiated an influence that led thousands to forsake all in the Master’s Cause. From the Prophet Joseph Smith we have received the following revealed knowledge about him: ‘He is about five feet high; very dark hair; dark complexion; dark skin; large Roman nose; sharp face; small black eyes, penetrating as eternity; round shoulders; a whining voice, except when elevated, and then it almost resembled the roaring of a lion. He was a good orator, active and diligent, always employing himself in doing good to his fellow man.’ (Teachings, p. 180.)” (Bruce R McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 2: 93.)

Acts 9:26 And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple.

27 But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.

28 And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem.

29 And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him.

“Disputed against the Grecians.—It will be remembered that it was as the leader of the Hellenistic-Jews of the synagogue named in Acts 6:9 that Saul had first appeared in the history of the Church. Now, it would seem, he sought to undo the evil that he had then wrought, by preaching to them the faith which he had then opposed, and presenting, we may well believe, the very aspects of the truth that had been most prominent in Stephen’s teaching, and which, therefore, now, as then, roused them to a passionate frenzy. Twice, within a few weeks, the Apostle’s life was in danger.” (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers)

Posted in Gospel Doctrine 2015, Jesus Christ, Missionary work, New Testament

Gospel Doctrine 2015 – Lesson 28 – “We Are Witnesses”

  1. The Lord ascends into heaven. Matthias is called to be an Apostle.

Acts 1: 4 3 To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:

4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.

5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.

“The world is hard pressed to give any meaningful explanation as to what took place during the forty days that Christ ministered to the Twelve following his resurrection (see Acts 1:3). In fact, their attempts at commentary are embarrassingly poor. To Latter-day Saints the matter seems most obvious…to teach the nature of vicarious ordinances, and to instruct the Apostles in the fulness of the temple ceremony.” (Robert L. Millet and Joseph Fielding McConkie, The Life Beyond [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1986], 159.)

Acts 1:8 But 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 Judæa, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

This verse is the keynote for the whole of the book of Acts.

Acts 1:10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;

11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

‘This address was designed to comfort the disciples. Though their master and friend was taken from them, yet he was not removed forever. He would come again with similar majesty and glory to vindicate his people, and to tread his enemies under his feet.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

Acts 1:21 Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,

22 Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.

23 And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias.

24 And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen,

25 That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.

26 And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

Mark E. Petersen stated, “There was a great significance in this action. It demonstrated beyond all doubt the fact that it was the plan and purpose of the Lord that the Quorum of Twelve should continue to be a Quorum of Twelve and not a Quorum of Eleven, or a Quorum of Ten, or Nine, finally to disappear…It gave encouragement to the Saints. It proved to them and to all men that the Church organization as provided by the Savior was to go on without change as long as men were willing to hear and accept the true gospel.” (“Which Church is Right,” Latter-day Tracts [Pamphlets], 6.)

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“Is there a difference between the organization of the Church today and anciently?

Since I was ordained an apostle on October 7, 1943, I have participated and assisted in the call of a great many General Authorities. How were they called? May I assure you that every one of those men was called by God, by prophecy and by revelation. There was a process of elimination through much fasting and prayer. Many people may have been considered, but finally, one man from the entire Church was nominated by the Prophet of the Lord, approved by his counselors and by the members of the Council of the Twelve, sustained by the people, and ordained by the Prophet of the Lord. This is comparable to the same operation in the days of Peter following the ascension of the Christ, when the remaining apostles, with Peter presiding as the prophet of God, combed the area for great men and by the process of elimination brought it down to two: Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. Peter took leadership and explained the qualifications necessary, stating that the appointee must have been associated with them during the entire ministry of the Christ from his baptism to his ascension, thus being a special witness of the Christ. (Spencer W Kimball, Faith Precedes the Miracle [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1972], 45.)

2. On the day of Pentecost, the Apostles are filled with the Holy Ghost.

Acts 2:1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.

The Feast of Pentecost was the Jewish feast which attracted the most visitors from foreign lands.

2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.

The rushing might wind is a symbol of the powerful force of the Spirit.

3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.

An audible symbol is followed by a visible symbol.

4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

The outward manifestation of the ability to speak with other tongues was a sign of the greater and more marvellous gift that had been bestowed upon them.

Acts 2: 5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.

6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.

7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilæans?

‘Galileans – Inhabitants of Galilee. It was remarkable that they should speak in this manner, because:

(1) They were ignorant, rude, and uncivilized, John 1:46. Hence, the term Galilean was used as an expression of the deepest reproach and contempt, Mark 14:70, John 7:52.

(2) Their dialect was proverbially barbarous and corrupt, Mark 14:70; Matthew 26:73. They were regarded as an outlandish people, unacquainted with other nations and languages, and hence, the amazement that they could address them in the refined language of other people. Their native ignorance was the occasion of making the miracle more striking.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

Acts 2:8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?

9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judæa, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,

10 Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,

11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.

12 And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?

13 Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.

“‘They shall speak with new tongues.’ (Mark 16:17.) So said Jesus of those who would believe his gospel. And now amid this Pentecostal outpouring of divine grace, the purpose of this gift of the Spirit is dramatically set forth. It is to preach the gospel, to make known God’s saving truths, and to do it under faith-promoting and testimony-inspiring circumstances. Peter and the others spoke and people of all languages and tongues understood, thus showing forth the power of God and foreshadowing the apostolic ministry which would take the gospel to all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people.

“In speaking of the purpose of the gift of tongues, 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.’ (Teachings, p. 195.) Also: ‘Be not so curious about tongues, do not speak in tongues except there be an interpreter present; the ultimate design of tongues is to speak to foreigners, and if persons are very anxious to display their intelligence, let them speak to such in their own tongues [that is in the tongues of the foreigners].’ (Teachings, pp. 247-248.) (Bruce R McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 2: 33.)

Acts 2:14 ¶But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judæa, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:

15 For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.

16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;

17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:

“Because Peter, referring to the Spirit that was then resting upon the Twelve Apostles, said, ‘this is that which was spoken by the Prophet Joel,’ etc., the very general opinion prevails that Joel’s prophecy was then fulfilled; and hence the last days were come. This is an entire misapprehension of the purpose of Peter in making the quotation; as also of the quoted passage itself. Beyond all controversy Peter meant only: This Spirit which you now see resting upon these Apostles of Jesus of Nazareth, is that same Spirit which your Prophet Joel says will, in the last days, be poured out upon all flesh. Obviously he did not mean that this occasion of the Apostles receiving the Holy Ghost was a complete fulfilment of Joel’s prediction. To insist upon such an exegesis would be to charge the chief of the Apostles with palpable ignorance of the meaning of Joel’s prophecy. On the occasion in question the Holy Ghost was poured out upon the Twelve Apostles, who were given the power to speak in various tongues; Joel’s prophecy for its complete fulfilment requires that the Spirit of the Lord, the Holy Ghost, shall be poured out upon all flesh; and undoubtedly refers to that time which shall come in the blessed millennium when the enmity shall not only cease between man and man, but even between the beasts of the forests and of the fields; and between man and beast..” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church)

Acts 2: 18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:

“…the angel of the Lord declared to John that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy; and the Prophet Joseph Smith has declared that every man who has come into this Church; and every woman, for that matter, who has received the testimony of the Spirit of the Lord, is a prophet or a prophetess; that every man should be a prophet, because every man in the Church should have the testimony of Jesus which is the spirit of prophecy; and he should declare the truth, teach the principles of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, call upon the people to repent of their sins, and instruct them in the things of the kingdom.” (Elder Joseph F Smith Jr, Conference Report, April 1918, Second Meeting Outdoors. 158 – 159.)

Acts 2:19 And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:

Blood, fire and smoke are all symbols of war.

Acts2:20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:

“This is called the great day of the Lord, because on that day he will be signally manifested, more impressively and strikingly than on other times. The word “notable,” ἐπιφανῆ epiphanē, means “signal, illustrious, distinguished.” In Joel the word is “terrible or fearful”; a word applicable to days of calamity, and trial, and judgment.” (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

Acts 2:36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.

“That is the kind of teaching that introduced the gospel of Jesus Christ in the ancient day. There is no equivocation, no temporizing, there is no dodging of the issue. There is the straightforward declaration that this man who had lived among them was recognized of God, that they had taken him in foul hands and had destroyed his life, but that he was raised up and had become and was recognized of God as both Lord and Christ.

That is our religion. That is what we believe. Wipe that out, and we have nothing left upon which to rest our faith. It is basic to every principle that is acknowledged in our teaching.” (Elder Albert E Bowen, Conference Report, April 1952, Afternoon Meeting 64.)

Acts 2:37 ¶Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?

“Ever since, this very question has been asked by people all over the world, by people like you and me. Daily we are confronted with decisions concerning our physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being of those around us. Our decisions are based upon our understanding of what is good and right for us, and we try to avoid pitfalls and mistakes. We hope for happiness, and we wish for comfort.

In my own life, this hope and wish for a happier and more meaningful life causes me to evaluate my daily decisions more carefully. And never do I feel the need for some guiding principle more than when I come to a crossroad, for without some direction I feel incapable of pursuing my course consistently.

But it is one thing to know the way, and another to take it. Some of us probably struggle to find guiding principles, some sort of foundation on which to build, and others have designed the perfect plan but never find the motivation, time, or courage to use it. In one way or another, we are paralyzed by the lack of understanding that true happiness comes from realizing our plans, beliefs, and hopes.

I believe that the foundation and guiding light for all our decisions is the gospel of Jesus Christ and His message to the world. The teachings of Christ must be embedded in our desire to choose the right and in our wish to find happiness. His righteous life must be reflected in our own actions. The Lord not only teaches love, Heis love. He not only preached the importance of faith, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, He lived accordingly. His life reflected the gospel that He preached. There was and is total harmony between His thoughts and His actions.” (Hans B Ringger, General Conference, April 1990)

Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

“By this we learn that the promise of the Holy Ghost is made unto as many as those to whom the doctrine of repentance was to be preached, which was unto all nations…We discover here that we are blending two principles together in these quotations. The first is the principle of repentance, and the second is the principle of the remission of sins; and we learn from Peter that remission of sins is to be obtained by baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ; and the gift of the Holy Ghost follows inevitably, for, says Peter, ‘you shall receive the Holy Ghost.’

“Therefore we believe in preaching the doctrine of repentance in all the world, both to old and young, rich and poor, bond and free…But we discover, in order to be benefitted by the doctrine of repentance, we must believe in obtaining the remission of sins. And in order to obtain the remission of sins, we must believe in the doctrine of baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. And if we believe in baptism for the remission of sins, we may expect a fulfillment of the promise of the Holy Ghost, for the promise extends to all whom the Lord our God shall call; and hath He not surely said, as you will find in the last chapter of Revelation-‘And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely’ (Rev. 22:17).” (Joseph Smith, History of The Church, 2: 256 – 257.)

Acts 2:41¶Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

“The apostle’s exhortation was not given in vain; many were awakened and savingly brought to God by it; for the influence of the Holy Spirit accompanied it, and wrought wonders thereby. Many of the same persons that had been eye-witnesses of the death of Christ, and of the prodigies that had attended it, and were not at all influenced by them, were now effectually wrought upon by the preaching of the word, and found it the power of God to their salvation.” (Benson Commentary)

Acts 2:42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.

44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common;

45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.

46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,

47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

“The scriptures speak about an interesting religious practice that has sometimes been used over the ages to promote the economic welfare of people. This program has been known by various names, such as the United Order, the Order of Enoch, the Law of Consecration. It is based on the philosophy of an ideal economic order in which everyone works to the full limit of his ability, and each member has the privilege of withdrawing from the total accumulation according to his need rather than according to his ability to contribute. In the ideal operation of this program, no one has that which is above another, and those who are sick or have large families or other kinds of problems share in the total-not according to any equity, but according to what their needs may be.

“We hear of this unique arrangement first in the days of Enoch, one of the greatest prophets who ever lived on this earth…He gathered his people together in the city of Enoch, about which the scripture says: ‘And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.’ (Moses 7:18.)

“We might try to imagine a society in which there were no poor, no slums, no idlers, and no sinners. Apparently this idea worked pretty well in the entire city of Enoch, for all its people were eventually translated and taken up into heaven.

“This economic order was also practiced for a time in the days of Jesus. In Acts 2:44 we find this reference: ‘And all that believed were together, and had all things common.’ The scripture also says: ‘And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own, but they had all things common.’ (Acts 4:32.)

“There was also a period of great righteousness among the Nephites. Of them the record says: ‘And they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift.’ (4 Ne. 1:3)

“This program would mean a utopia among us if we had the righteousness and self-control to make it work…But because of human weaknesses, this system has never seemed to work very well for very long. We have too much selfishness and too many idlers to make any common program work very well. There are too many people who want to take more out of life than they put in.

“To make this higher law really work, everyone would need to be ambitious, virtuous, and love his neighbor as himself. It would be necessary for each one to live as near to the top of his condition as possible. Because we haven’t been able to qualify for the United Order, the Lord has instituted some lesser laws, including tithing, fast offerings, and other welfare programs. However, because of our personal weaknesses and lack of faith, even these lesser laws are not obeyed very well.” (The Wealth of Wisdom[Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1977], 208 – 210.)

  1. Peter and John heal a lame man by the power of Jesus Christ.

Acts 3:6 Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.

“’Such as I have.’ All of us need to ponder those words. Do we, too, have something we need to share? Yes! We have the gospel of Jesus Christ, the gospel of peace, the gospel of joy. We have truths that can make any person better and more fulfilled, any marriage happier and sweeter, any home more heavenly. We have the priesthood power of God to bless our homes and lives and the lives of others. Yes, it is to ourselves, our homes, our quorums, our classes, our Church assignments that we must carry more energetically those things that we have received. And it is to our nonmember neighbors and associates that we are now asked to also “give such as we have.” The Lord has commanded us to do so. We must lengthen our stride and must do it now.” (Spencer W Kimball, “Always a Convert Church: Some Lessons to Learn and Apply This Year,” Ensign, Sept. 1975, 2)

from The Very First Christians Concordia Publishing House
from The Very First Christians
Concordia Publishing House

Acts 3: 12 ¶And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?

13 The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go.

“As if it were a singular fact, the like of which you had never seen? Why do you wonder at what has now happened, when so much greater miracles have lately been performed among you? The fact was indeed marvellous, and they justly wondered at it, but it was no more than what Christ had done many a time. It was but a little before that Christ had raised Lazarus from the dead: nay, and he had lately risen from the dead himself; why did they not marvel at these facts, and why were they not convinced by them?” (Benson Commentary)

Acts 3:16 And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.

“The gist of this verse is a reference to Jesus Christ as a source of miraculous power, not merely because He wrought miracles when on earth, but because from heaven He gave the power of which Peter was but the channel.” (MacLaren’s Expositions)

Acts 4:1 And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them,

2 Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.

3 And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day: for it was now eventide.

“Hitherto the Jewish authorities had let the disciples alone, either because their attention had not been drawn even by Pentecost and the consequent growth of the Church, or because they thought that to ignore the new sect was the best way to end it. But when its leaders took to vehement preaching in Solomon’s porch, and crowds eagerly listened, it was time to strike in.” (MacLaren’s Expositions)

Acts 4:4 Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.

As with the feeding of the 5000, this number does not include the number of women and children.

Acts 4:10 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.

 “The boldness of the declaration was startling. He does not shrink now from confessing the Nazarene as the Messiah. He presses home the fact that, though Pilate had given the formal sentence, it was they who had crucified their King. He proclaims that He has been raised from the dead, and is still as a Power working to heal as when on earth.” (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers)

Acts 4:13 ¶Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.

14 And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.

15 But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves,

16 Saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it.

“Of course, the tidal wave of conversion that swept Jerusalem under Peter’s direction aroused the anger and fear of both Sadducee and Pharisee. But Peter’s compelling declarations could not be silenced. In prison he overwhelmed his accusers with a piercing testimony of Jesus and found himself set free by angels as well as mortal men. Such powers stunned Jewish lawyers, who marveled at these ‘unlearned and ignorant men.’ (Acts 4:13.) They did not understand that in the gospel of Jesus Christ those have never been synonymous terms.” (Jeffrey R Holland, However Long and Hard the Road [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1985], 96.)

Acts 4:19 But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.

20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.

“We stand in awe before the great Peter, who had so completely received his total assurances and who had so graciously donned the robe of leadership and the mantle of authority and the courage of the inspired and assured. What strength he had come to have as he led the saints and faced the world with all its persecutors, unbelievers, and difficulties. And, as he rehearsed over and over his absolute knowledge, we glory in his stamina as he faced mobs and prelates, officials who could take his life, and as he boldly proclaimed the resurrected Lord, the Prince of Peace the Holy One and the Just, the Prince of Life, the Prince and Savior. Peter certainly now was sure, impregnable, never to falter. We should gain much sureness by his certainty.” (Spencer W Kimball. General Conference, April 1969)

Acts 4: 29 And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,

30 By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus.

“Now is the moment in the timetable of the Lord to carry the gospel farther than it has ever been carried before-farther geographically, and farther in density of coverage. Many a person in this world is crying, knowingly and unknowingly, ‘Come over … and help us.’ He might be your neighbor. She might be your friend. He might be a relative. She might be someone you met only yesterday. But we have what they need. Let us take new courage from our studies and pray, as did Peter, ‘And now, Lord, grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word.’ (Acts 4:29.)” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, edited by Edward L. Kimball [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982], 593.)

  1. The Apostles continue to preach and heal with great power.

Acts 5: 17 ¶Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation,

18 And laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison.

The high priest was probably Caiaphas.

“They were not merely kept in custody, but dealt with as common criminals, compelled to herd with ruffians and robbers and murderers.” (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers)

Acts 5:19 But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said,

20 Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life.

“Hereby God evidently showed how impotent the rage of the priests and rulers was against those whom he determined to support.” (Benson Commentary)

Acts 5: 33 ¶When they heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them.

34 Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space;

“The grandson of the famous rabbi Hillel and famous in his own right, Gamaliel was a member of the Sanhedrin and a distinguished scholar of the Jewish law during the time when the early church was first getting underway. Paul states that he was ‘brought up at the feet’ of Gamaliel (Acts 22:3), an idiomatic expression meaning that he was tutored by the famous master of the law. Gamaliel had a reputation for being tolerant and kindhearted, emphasizing the humanistic considerations of the law, relaxing the demands of Sabbath observance so they were not so rigorous, and encouraging more humane treatment of the woman in divorce laws.” (Institute Manual, The Life and Teachings of Jesus & his Apostles, 2nd ed., p. 245)

Acts 35 And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men.

36 For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought.

37 After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed.

38 And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought:

39 But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.

‘But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.’

“So I would say to all. Refrain from the spirit of condemnation and bitterness against the work of Joseph Smith. If it be of man, it must assuredly fail. If it be of God you cannot destroy it, and it is a terrible thing to be found fighting against God! I am not speaking on this occasion with intention of argument, but merely to bear witness to what I know to be the truth.” (Joseph Fielding Smith, The Restoration of All Things [Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1945], 88.)