Number of the Disciples Was Multiplied”
Seven men are ordained to supervise the temporal work of the Church.
Stephen testifies before the Sanhedrin and is stoned to death.
Philip preaches and performs miracles in Samaria.
Saul is converted and baptized and begins to preach the gospel.
A study of this lesson will help us recognize that the work of the Church is
done by many people, all of whom contribute their talents and testimonies to
strengthen the Church.
Scripture references for study:
Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked
to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window.
Lesson 29 Handout (PDF
Acts 6 & 7
"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." (Acts 6:1)
Due to the rapid growth of the early church some members (widows) were
neglected. Some of the Greek members murmured against the Hebrew
DO WE, IN THE CHURCH TODAY, SOMETIMES HAVE DIVISIONS OR PREJUDICE BASED
ON ETHNIC, ECONOMIC, EDUCATIONAL, OR CULTURAL DIFFERENCES? HOW CAN WE OVERCOME
Importance of overcoming those divisions or prejudices.
"For none of these iniquities come of the Lord; for he
doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing
save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to
come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come
unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth
the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile."
(2 Nephi 26:33)
- The Lord's acceptance is not based on differences in people.
D&C 38:24-27. Let every man esteem his brother
If we are divided we cannot be unified. If we are not one, we are not the
Howard W. Hunter: "It is in understanding and accepting [the] universal
fatherhood of God that all human beings can best appreciate God's concern
for them and their relationship to each other. This is a message of life
and love that strikes squarely against all stifling traditions based on
race, language, economic or political standing, educational rank, or cultural
background, for we are all of the same spiritual descent. We have a divine
pedigree; every person is a spiritual child of God." (Ensign, Nov
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES PRESENTED BY THE CHURCH'S
The Church is increasing in numbers throughout the world in such diverse
places as Russia, India, and Nigeria. Large numbers of members are joining
the Church in Central and South America, Europe, and Asia.
HOW DOES THE RACIAL, NATIONAL, AND CULTURAL VARIETY OF TODAY'S MEMBERS
ENRICH THE CHURCH?
ACTS 6:2-6. Seven chosen to assist the work.
WHY DID THE APOSTLES CALL THESE OTHERS TO HELP THEM?
"It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and
serve tables." (v2)
The church was growing so fast that the Twelve could not administer in all
things, so they called seven others to assist with the temporal affairs
of the church.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT FOR CHURCH LEADERS TO DELEGATE AUTHORITY?
The work of the Church is too great for only those in leadership positions.
It affords others the opportunity to grow and serve.
Stephen brought before the Sanhedrin.
False witnesses were set up and accused Stephen of speaking
words against their holy place, and the law" (Acts 6:13).
"And all that sat in the council looking stedfastly on him,
saw his face as it had been the face of an angel." (v15)
Stephen then speaks to the council (see
He began by speaking of Abraham and the Lord's promise to him.
History of Abraham's family up to Jacob. Joseph going into Egypt.
The story of Moses and Israel in Egypt.
Some Hebrew history up to Solomon's temple.
The disobedience of Israel in making idols.
WHAT DO YOU SUPPOSE WERE STEPHEN'S PURPOSES IN RECITING THE HISTORY OF
THE LORD'S DEALINGS WITH HIS CHILDREN?
To emphasize the mighty works of the Lord.
To recall Israel's frequent disobedience in a hope of pricking their hearts.
ACTS 7:51-54. The council
is accused by Stephen.
WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO HELP YOU REMEMBER THE LORD'S WORKINGS IN YOUR LIFE?
- HOW CAN KEEPING A JOURNAL OR COMPILING A PERSONAL HISTORY BLESS YOU, YOUR
FAMILY, AND YOUR POSTERITY?
- President Spencer W. Kimball: "What could you do better for your children and your
children's children than to record the story of your life, your triumphs
over adversity, your recovery after a fall, your progress when all seemed
black, your rejoicing when you had finally achieved?
"Some of what you write may be humdrum
dates and places, but there will also be rich passages that will be quoted
by your posterity.
"Get a notebook, my young folks, a journal
that will last through all time, and maybe the angels may quote from it
for eternity. Begin today and write in it your goings and comings, your
deepest thoughts, your achievements and your failures, your associations
and your triumphs, your impressions and your testimonies. Remember, the
Savior chastised those who failed to record important events." (Teachings
of Spencer W. Kimball, p351)
WHAT DO WE LEARN FROM THESE VERSES ABOUT THE GODHEAD?
ACTS 7:57-60. Stephen stoned by his accusers.
WHAT DO STEPHEN'S LAST WORDS REVEAL ABOUT HIS DISCIPLESHIP?
Note that Saul (Paul) is first mentioned here.
ACTS 8:5-13. Phillip preaches in Samaria. The
WHAT DID THE PEOPLE OF SAMARIA DO WHEN THEY BELIEVED PHILLIP'S TESTIMONY
ABOUT JESUS CHRIST?
They were baptized, which requires faith and repentance in advance of the
ACTS 8:14-17. The Holy Ghost given to the people
HOW DID THESE PEOPLE RECEIVE THE GIFT OF THE HOLY GHOST?
Through the priesthood authority of the Apostles.
WHY DIDN'T PHILLIP BESTOW THE GIFT OF THE HOLY GHOST?
It would appear that he did not have the Melchizekek Priesthood.
ACTS 8:18-24. Simon offers to buy the power to
bestow the Holy Ghost.
WHAT DIDN'T SIMON UNDERSTAND?
James E. Faust: "This greatest of all powers, the priesthood power,
is not accessed the way power is used in the world. It cannot be bought
or sold. ...Worldly power often is employed ruthlessly. However, priesthood
power is invoked only through those principles of righteousness by which
the priesthood is governed." (Ensign, May 1997, p43)
ARE THERE SIMONS IN THE WORLD TODAY?
ACTS 8:26-40. Phillip teaches the eunuch.
WHY WAS PHILLIP SO SUCCESSFUL IN THE LORD'S WORK?
He was obedient to the commands of the Lord.
He understood and taught from the scriptures.
THE EUNUCH DID NOT UNDERSTAND THE SCRIPTURES UNTIL PHILLIP TAUGHT HIM THE
TRUTH. WHAT HAS THE LORD PROVIDED TO HELP US UNDERSTAND THE SCRIPTURES
The gift of the Holy Ghost.
Additional scripture (cross-referenced with
a large topical guide).
Prophets and apostles to teach us the truth.
The Background of Saul.
Name & family.
Saul is his Hebrew name. Paul is his Roman name.
Luke (in Acts) calls him Saul until he meets the Roman Proconsul Sergius
Paulus on the island of Cyprus during his first missionary journey.
From that time he seems to have sensed the appropriateness of a Roman name
for a missionary to the Roman Empire. Luke then generally refers to him
He was born a free Roman.
He was brought up as a Jew, being the son of a Pharisee from the tribe
He often supported himself as a tentmaker.
Saul's early training in Tarsus.
Saul was from Tarsus, in Cilicia, now part of Turkey.
Tarsus was the capital of Cilicia, a city centuries old. It had both old
Oriental qualities and the characteristics of its Greek citizens.
Tarsus was one of the three greatest centers of learning in Paul's day.
It was one of the great university cities and students flocked to it from
Understanding that this was a great center of learning, Paul being the
son of a strict Pharisee, his parents would not fail to teach him and indoctrinate
him at an early age in their Sacred Law.
As was the tradition of that day, Saul was probably sent to an elementary
school, in a room connected with the Jewish synagogue.
Here, with other Jewish boys his age, he would be instructed in the reading
of Scripture. This may have been the Septuagint (the Greek version of the
scriptures), because in later years he seems to have quoted extensively
Saul at the feet of Gamaliel in Jerusalem.
At about the age of fifteen, Saul's parents sent him to Jerusalem to receive
additional theological or rabbinical training.
He was sent to study at the feet of Gamaliel, one of the most celebrated
Jewish scholars of his time.
To study in the "Beth Hammidrash" or "House of interpretation" in the Holy
City was a coveted honor among young Jews.
Gamaliel appears once in the New Testament. When the Apostles were brought
before the Sanhedrin, its members were disposed to kill them, but Gamaliel's
words carried conviction and saved the Lord's servants. "Refrain from
these men," he pleaded, "and let them alone: for if this counsel
or this work be of men, it will come to nought; but if it be of God, ye
cannot overthrow it; lest happly ye be found even to fight against God"
We do not how long Saul remained under the tutelage of Gamaliel or how
long he remained in Jerusalem.
It appears that Saul remained in Tarsus until after the death of the Lord.
There is no indication in the scriptures that Saul knew the Lord or the
Apostles prior to the time we see him involved in their persecution.
Was Saul married? It would seem that he was.
It was the custom of the Jews for their young men to marry between 16 and 18.
Marriage was considered a sacred obligation among the Jews.
If Saul was a member of the Sanhedrin (evidence indicates that he was) it was
required of one who belonged to that tribunal to be not only a married
man, but a father as well.
Paul comes to Jerusalem as a persecutor.
He first comes to our attention in Acts 7:58, where we are told that the
witnesses to Stephen's martyrdom "laid down their clothes at a young
man's feet, whose name was Saul."
What brought Saul to Jerusalem as a persecutor?
The scriptures provide no explanation.
We might suppose that Saul's zeal and talents were remembered by some
of his former friends in Jerusalem when the numbers and influence of the
followers of Jesus began to be thought of as a genuine menace to Judaism.
At the time Stephen was preaching and performing miracles, Saul may have
been drawn to Jerusalem for the Passover as a representative of Cilicia.
ACTS 8:1-4. Paul makes havoc of the church.
Paul later said this of himself:
"For I am the least of the Apostles, that am not
meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God."
(1 Corinthians 15:9)
"For ye have heard in my conversation in time past in
the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the Church of
God, and wasted it." (Galatians 1:13)
ACTS 9:1-9. Paul's encounter with the resurrected
WHY DID SAUL CHANGE FROM A HARD-HEARTED PERSECUTOR OF THE SAINTS TO ONE
OF THE GREATEST SERVANTS OF THE LORD?
In contrast to most of the persecutors of his time, Paul was a man honest
in heart and truly wished to serve God. When he learned the truth, he continued
his service in a new way.
WHAT EXPERIENCES IN YOUR LIFE HAVE INFLUENCED YOU TO CHANGE FOR THE BETTER?
ACTS 9:10-18. Ananias and Saul.
WHY DID ANANIAS HESITATE TO GO MEET SAUL? WHY DID ANANIAS GO DESPITE HIS
DO YOU KNOW OF A PERSON WHO SEEMED BEYOND REPENTANCE BUT EVENTUALLY CAME
The stories of Philip and Ananias are great examples of the blessings that
come when a person receives and heeds spiritual impressions.
WHAT BLESSINGS HAVE COME TO YOU (OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW) BECAUSE YOU HAVE
LISTENED TO SPIRITUAL IMPRESSIONS?
WHAT MUST WE DO TO BE IN TUNE WITH THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD SO WE CAN FEEL
THESE IMPRESSIONS WHEN THEY COME?
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED ABOUT HOW THESE IMPRESSIONS COME?
S. Dilworth Young: "If I am to receive revelation from the Lord, I must
be in harmony with him by keeping his commandments. Then as needed, according
to his wisdom, his word will come into my mind through my thoughts....
Accompanying this always is a feeling of peace." (CR, Apr 1976)
Also see Enos 1:10,
1 Nephi 17:45.
Following Saul's conversion.
ACTS 22:12-16. Saul's commission as delivered
ACTS 9:19-22. Saul preaches to the Jews in Damascus.
Saul retires to Arabia.
Sidney B. Sperry: "Saul's conversion was such an upsetting experience
that he must have thought it necessary to seek retirement in a quiet place,
think through his changed situation, and seek the spiritual instruction
and uplift required for his coming mission to the Gentiles." (Paul's
Life and Letters, p23)
GALATIANS 1:16-18. Paul goes to Arabia.
- It is believed that Saul remained in Arabia from 1-3 years based on his
statement in Galatians.
- Sidney B. Sperry: "...we can be sure that through prayer and meditation
Saul came to peace with himself and his God in the desert place. Like Moses
and the Christ before him, in such solitary places was he prepared for
his ministry; doubtless, during this desert sojourn, he became the recipient
of divine revelations instructing him in the truths of his new faith."
(Paul's Life and Letters, p24)
- Throughout the scriptures, we find accounts of those who went off by themselves
to commune with the Lord.
Do we take similar opportunities? President McKay said that,
is one of the most secret, most sacred doors through which we pass into
the presence of the Lord" (CR, Apr 1967). We cannot take off to Arabia
for three years, but it is essential that we find quiet, undisturbed moments
to ponder the things of God.
This is something that requires focus and effort. Elder J. Golden Kimball once
said, "Think of God. How many of us think of God thirty minutes out
of twenty-four hours? There is not one out of five hundred that actually
thinks of God and his son Jesus Christ thirty minutes a day. I do; but
the first thing I know, my mind wanders off on something else." (CR,
ACTS 9:23-25. Saul the target of a plot and escapes
ACTS 9:26-28. Saul goes to Jerusalem.
ACTS 9:29-30. Saul preaches and sent to Tarsus.
Sidney B. Sperry: "We can only imagine Saul's reception by his family
and former associates upon his return to Tarsus. Yet it would very probably
be a sad one, marked by the sorrow and evident displeasure of his father,
a strict old Pharisee, at his son's conversion to the hated sect composed
of the followers of Christ. Saul never once in later years refers to the encounter
with his family and former friends. He doubtless chose to forget a scene
that had caused another tragedy in his life. Surely he would have mentioned
his father and mother if they had turned to Christ through his preaching;
he mentions the names of so many other converts in his Epistles. And what,
in the meantime, became of his wife and child (or children) whom we believe
he had before Stephen's martyrdom? Perhaps there is still another tragedy
here. His wife may have completely forsaken him also, after his conversion.
But of this we can only speculate; the record is silent." (Paul's Life
and Letters, pp29-30)
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
We, like Stephen, Philip, and Saul, are living in a time when the Church
is growing rapidly. We are each given responsibilities to serve in the
kingdom. Like these three great men, we need to be willing to give all
that we have to serve the Lord and bring forth his kingdom. To do so, is
to bless the lives of others and bring eternal blessings to ourselves.
Record your thoughts on the servants of the Lord discussed in this lesson.
How can you be a better witness of the Lord?
Resources Used In This Lesson
Conference Reports (CR).
Paul's Life and Letters by Sidney B. Sperry.
Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball.
Gospel Doctrine Class
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Changes last made on:
10 June 2015