Once the decision was made not to require gentile converts to keep the law of Moses, Paul set out on a second missionary journey to the gentile nations (see Bible map 13 ). This time Silas was his companion. Acts 16–18 focuses primarily on the people, places, and events that Paul encountered. This mission ends in Acts 18:22 , and the account of Paul’s third missionary journey begins in verse 23 . Notice the teaching methods that made Paul a successful missionary.
Prayerfully study Acts 16–18 and consider the following principles before preparing your lessons.
Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For
- Missionaries should be considerate of the culture of the people they teach (see Acts 16:1–3 ; see also Acts 21:16–26 ; Articles of Faith 1:11 ).
- Opportunities to teach the gospel often come at unexpected times (see Acts 16:9–33 ).
- We should teach the gospel from the scriptures by the power of the Spirit (see Acts 17:2, 22–31 ; 18:4, 19 ; see also Acts 19:8 ; D&C 42:12–14 ).
- We are all children of our Heavenly Father, and He decides when and where we are born on earth (see Acts 17:24–28 ).
- The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, 229 , 265–71 , 280–81.
- “The Missions of the Apostle Paul,” 296 in this manual.
Suggestions for Teaching
Choose from the following ideas, or use some of your own, as you prepare lessons for Acts 16–18 .
Acts 16:1–18:22 . During Paul’s second missionary journey, he revisited old branches of the Church and founded new ones. (5 minutes)
Have students turn to Bible map 13 and trace the course of the Apostle Paul’s second missionary journey. Ask:
- According to the map, approximately how far did Paul travel?
- How does that compare to his first missionary journey? (It is nearly twice as far.)
Tell students that this journey gave Paul an opportunity to revisit branches of the Church he had founded during his first missionary journey and also to establish several new branches in areas not yet touched by the gospel message.
Acts 16:1–3 . Missionaries should be considerate of the culture of the people they teach. (10–15 minutes)
Ask students: What are some examples of customs or manners in other cultures that are different from ours? (Answers might include table manners, dating customs, laws.) Explain that to keep from offending people, missionaries need to be sensitive to differences between their own culture and the cultures of the places they are called to teach the gospel. Have students read Acts 16:1–3 , and ask:
- Who is the missionary described in verse 1 as “he”? (Paul; see Acts 15:40 .)
- Who did Paul choose to serve as his companion? (Timothy.)
- What Jewish rite had not been performed in Timothy’s case? (He had not been circumcised, perhaps because his father was Greek.)
- What did Paul do in this case? Why? (He circumcised Timothy to make him more acceptable to the Jews they would be teaching.)
- How do we know Paul did this for cultural, not religious, reasons? (see Acts 15:1–11 ).
Go around the room asking students to name places where a brother, sister, or friend is currently serving as a missionary. Invite them to study the culture of this place. Tell them that in a few days you would like them to tell the class about aspects of the culture in that place that they think would be important for a missionary to understand.
Acts 16:9–33 . Opportunities to teach the gospel often come at unexpected times. We should be prepared at all times to share the gospel. (15–20 minutes)
Tell an experience (or have a student tell one) where you unexpectedly had an opportunity to share the gospel. Discuss what might have happened if you had not been prepared. Ask: Who can be witnesses of the gospel of Jesus Christ?
Explain to students that we should be “witnesses of God at all times and in all things” ( Mosiah 18:9 ).
Have students read Acts 16:9–15 looking for the circumstances that allowed Paul to preach the gospel and to baptize, and ask:
- What made these circumstances unexpected?
- What evidence can you give that Paul was prepared?
Have students silently read verses 16–33 looking for answers to the same questions. Then ask:
- What can we learn from Paul’s experiences?
- What can you do now to prepare yourselves to share the gospel, whether as a full-time missionary or a member?
Have a student read the following quotation from Elder L. Tom Perry, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve:
“I often greet young priesthood bearers of the Church as we meet them throughout the world with the question, ‘Future missionary?’ Their faces usually brighten with a positive reply. Then I encourage them to start today preparing for that great experience.
“What preparation is necessary for this exciting service? First and most important is that the Lord expects it of us. He expects us to be involved in building His kingdom. Our prophets have continually reminded us that every able, worthy young man is expected to serve a full-time mission.
“Your preparation must have you ready to sit in front of your bishop and certify to him of your personal worthiness to be a full-time missionary. You will be much more comfortable with the interview with your bishop if he is already your friend” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1991, 52; or Ensign, May 1991, 39 ).
Acts 17:1–18:8 . We should teach the principles of the gospel from the scriptures by the power of the Spirit. (20–25 minutes)
Write on the board: The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “No man can preach the Gospel without ___ ____ _____.” Invite students to fill in the missing words. Explain that several answers could make the statement true but that you are looking for one in particular. Write their suggestions on the board beneath the sentence and ask why each makes the sentence true. When they give the correct words, write them in the blanks, and have a student read the entire quote as follows:
“All are to preach the Gospel, by the power and influence of the Holy Ghost; and no man can preach the Gospel without the Holy Ghost” ( Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 112).
Read Doctrine and Covenants 42:6–7, 12–13 and ask:
- According to these verses, what should missionaries teach?
- According to verses 13–14 , how should gospel principles from the scriptures be taught?
Explain that Paul is a good example of following this divine pattern for teaching the gospel. Have students read what happened in Thessalonica (see Acts 17:1–4 ), Berea (see Acts 17:10–12 ), Athens (see Acts 17:16–18, 32–34 ), and Corinth (see Acts 18:1–8 ). (It might be helpful to quickly locate the cities on Bible map 13 .) As the students read, have them look for the answers to these questions:
- In what settings did Paul teach the gospel?
- How did Paul teach? (He taught from the scriptures.)
- What evidence is there that he taught by the power of the Holy Ghost?
- What are the results of teaching the gospel by the power of the Spirit?
- What can we learn from Paul’s example?
Consider inviting a returned missionary to class to share how applying this principle helped bring converts into the Church.
Acts 17:22–28 . We are all children of our Heavenly Father, and He decides when and where we are born on earth. (15–20 minutes)
During his second missionary journey, Paul taught the intellectuals at Athens a most important doctrine. Draw on the board a representation of an altar with the words “To the Unknown God.” Ask:
- What difficulties might we experience trying to worship an unknown god?
- How would worshiping an unknown god affect our understanding of the gospel?
- How would worshiping an unknown god affect our faith?
Invite students to read Acts 17:22–23 , and ask:
- Why would Paul say they “ignorantly” worshiped this unknown god?
- If God were unknown, how would we know how to worship Him?
- What did Paul say he would do for them?
Give the following questions to students as a handout or write them on the board. Have them study Acts 17:24–29 and answer the questions.
- Who made the earth and “all things therein”? (see v. 24 ).
- What did Paul declare about God’s need for worship? (see vv. 24–25 ).
- What does the true God give each of us? (see v. 25 ).
- How are all the nations of the earth “one blood”? (see v. 26 ; see also 2 Nephi 2:19–20 ).
- What two things did God determine before we were born? (see v. 26 ).
- If we were to seek God, why would we be able to find Him? (see v. 27 ).
- What is our relationship with God? (see vv. 28–29 ).
- How does knowing these principles help us worship God more appropriately?
Have a student read the commentary for Acts 17:26 in The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles (p. 266) . Discuss the blessings that come into our lives as a result of being children of our Father in Heaven. Ask: What responsibilities do we have as we come to know who we are?
Acts 18:23–28 . Paul spent more time and covered more miles on his third missionary journey than on either of his previous missionary journeys. (5 minutes)
Have students turn to Bible map 13 and trace the course of the Apostle Paul’s third missionary journey. Ask:
- According to the map, approximately how far did Paul travel?
- How does this compare with his other missionary journeys?
Point out to students that not only did he travel farther but he also spent more time (about four years) than on any of his previous missionary journeys.