September 4, 2022 – Acts 1
Lesson Date: September 4, 2022
Focal Scripture Passage: Acts 1:1-26
AIM: To lead students to identify and describe Jesus’ final instruction to His followers, and to make plans to take the Gospel to one person this week.
Before class: Read the notes on Acts 1 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book. Write the word “Witness” on the marker board or chalkboard.
INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Direct the students’ attention to the word “Witness” written on the board. Ask them to suggest definitions for the word (they will probably give some of the following definitions: to testify in a court of law, to tell someone about Jesus, to observe a transaction and verify that it took place, to furnish proof, to have personal knowledge of something and tell others, etc.).
In summary, tell the class that a witness is someone who has seen or experienced something and tells other people about it. Here are a few everyday examples of ways we witness:
- We see an incredible play in a sporting event and tell our friends about it.
- We tell others about some cute or clever thing that our child, grandchild, or pet did.
- We post on social media about a vacation spot we enjoyed, a sunset we saw, or a song we heard.
- We tell our friends about a helpful product, a good restaurant, or our medical conditions.
Tell the class we witness about things all the time.
Be sure everyone has a copy of the Sunday School Member Quarterly for the fall quarter study of Acts. Direct their attention to the front cover and read the title of the quarterly, “Ye Shall Be Witnesses….” Tell the students these are Jesus’ words; He has commanded us to be witnesses.
Tell the class that this morning we are beginning a six-month study of the New Testament book of Acts. Today’s lesson from Acts 1 is titled, We Shall Be Witnesses.
HEART OF THE LESSON (Bible Study):
- Ask: “What was last week’s final lesson from the book of Judges about?” (the terrible consequences of doing things man’s way instead of God’s way).
- Ask if any volunteer would recite last week’s memory verse (Judg. 17:6).
- Briefly introduce the book of Acts, using the following outline:
- Acts was written by Luke, the same person who wrote the Gospel of Luke.
- It was written about d. 60, approximately thirty years after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
- The book of Acts begins with the ascension of Jesus, and describes the expansion of the Gospel throughout the known world.
- The theme of the book is found in today’s scripture passage.
- Jesus is Alive.
- Read Acts 1:1-2.
- Tell the students that the “former treatise” mentioned in verse 1 is the Gospel of Luke.
- Ask: “According to verses 1 and 2, what did the Gospel of Luke describe?” (Jesus’ actions and teachings up until the time He was taken back up to heaven).
- Ask a volunteer to read Acts 1:3.
- Ask: “What ‘infallible proofs’ did Luke offer to prove that Jesus arose from the dead?” (He was seen by His followers, He appeared to them over a period of forty days, and He continued to teach them about the kingdom of God).
- Tell the class that more “infallible proofs” of Jesus’ resurrection are found in other Bible passages.
- Read 1 Corinthians 15:1-8.
- Ask: “Who saw Jesus alive after He arose from the dead?” (Peter, the apostles, more than 500 others at one time, James, all the apostles, and finally Paul).
- Tell the students that in addition to the Bible, secular historians also testified that Jesus arose from the dead; in fact, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the best documented events in ancient history.
- Summarize: After His crucifixion, Jesus appeared alive again to many witnesses over a period of forty days.
- Jesus’ Instructions.
- Ask a volunteer to read Acts 1:4-5.
- Explain that the word “them” in verse 4 refers to the apostles (v. 2-3).
- Ask: “What did Jesus command the apostles to do in verse 4?” (wait in Jerusalem until they received what He had promised them).
- Ask: “According to verse 5, what was that promise?” (that they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit in just a few days).
- Read Luke 24:45-49 for another account of Jesus making this same promise to the apostles.
- Remind the students that throughout the Old Testament and up until that time, the Holy Spirit did not come to live in the heart of believers, as He does now.
- Ask a volunteer to read Acts 1:6-7.
- Ask: “What did the disciples ask Jesus in verse 6?” (if He was now going to restore the kingdom to Israel).
- Explain the following:
- Jews in the First Century were looking for a Messiah who would throw off the oppression of the Romans and set up a new kingdom like that of King David.
- The apostles didn’t understand that Jesus was about to return to heaven and that He will not establish His earthly kingdom until after His Second Coming.
- In verse 7 Jesus told them they were not allowed to understand the Father’s timing of future events.
- Read Acts 1:8.
- Tell the class that this is the key verse of the entire book of Acts.
- Ask: “What did Jesus say His followers would receive?” (power).
- Ask: “When did He say they would receive power?” (after the Holy Spirit came upon them, as He had promised).
- Ask: “What did Jesus say they would be?” (witnesses; those who have seen or experienced something and tell other people about it).
- Ask: “Where did He command them to witness?” (in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost part of the earth).
- Explain the following:
- Jesus commanded His followers to witness (tell others about Him) in the familiar city of Jerusalem and in their native region of Judea (locate Jerusalem and Judea on the Map).
- Jerusalem and Judea contained people of similar cultural and religious backgrounds to the disciples: people they would be comfortable talking to.
- Samaria (locate on the Map) was a region populated by ethnic half-breeds and idol worshippers.
- Jews usually did not have any contact with the people of Samaria, but Jesus told His followers to take the Gospel to them, as well.
- The “uttermost part of the earth” meant that Jesus wanted the Gospel to go throughout the world, to people of every ethnic, cultural, and religious background.
- When Jesus gave these commands there was no radio, TV, telephone, or Internet, and the main form of transportation was walking.
- Ask: “How would you feel if Jesus gave you such a task?” (overwhelmed).
- Summarize: Jesus commanded His followers to await the filling of the Holy Spirit, after which they were to witness of Him to everyone on earth.
- Jesus’ Ascension and Promised Return.
- Ask a volunteer to read Acts 1:9.
- Ask: “What happened?” (Jesus was miraculously taken up into heaven).
- Ask: “How do you think the disciples felt when they realized Jesus was gone?” (confused, scared, abandoned, alone, etc.).
- Ask a volunteer to read Acts 1:10-11.
- Ask: “Who appeared after Jesus ascended?” (two angels).
- Ask: “What did they tell Jesus’ followers?” (one day Jesus will return just as He left).
- Tell the class this promise points to Christ’s Second Coming, when He will return to earth, set foot on the Mount of Olives, and establish His earthly kingdom (Dan. 7:13; Zech. 14:4; Matt. 24:30; 26:64).
- Summarize: Jesus miraculously ascended to heaven as His followers watched. Two angels promised that He will one day return in the same manner.
- A New Apostle.
- Read Acts 1:12-14.
- Tell the students the eleven remaining apostles and Jesus’ other followers returned to Jerusalem, just as He had told them to do.
- Ask: “According to verse 14, what did they do?” (prayed).
- Explain the following:
- Jesus’ mother and half-brothers were present with the apostles and other disciples.
- Jesus’ half-brothers did not believe in Him until after His resurrection.
- Peter told the group they should appoint a new apostle to replace Judas (v. 15-20).
- The requirements for being an apostle were given in verses 21-22: he must have followed Jesus from the baptism of John until the time Jesus was taken up to heaven.
- Two men met those requirements; Matthias was chosen.
- Summarize: After Jesus’ ascension, His followers remained in Jerusalem and prayed. They also selected a new apostle to replace Judas Iscariot.
PERSONAL APPLICATION: Ask: “What is the last thing Jesus told His followers before He left them and returned to heaven?” (you must tell everyone you can about me). Ask: “Was that command only for His original followers, or does it apply to us today?” (it applies to us).
Direct the students’ attention to the word “Witness” written on the board and remind them that a witness is someone who has seen or experienced something and tells other people about it.
Read Acts 1:8 again. Ask: “Did Jesus tell His followers to go to seminary or take an evangelism class before they could tell others about Him?” (no). Ask: “According to that verse, what is the only requirement for being witnesses?” (the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit). Tell the students that everyone who has accepted Christ has the Holy Spirit living within. Tell them that means we already have everything we need to tell others about Jesus.
Ask: “What are some ways we can tell others about Jesus?” (telling them how we came to know Jesus, reading or giving them a Gospel tract, reading them the verses printed on the back cover of the Sunday School Member Quarterly, sharing the “Roman Road,” taking their Sunday School teacher to go with them to share the plan of salvation, etc.).
Remind the students that Jesus has commanded us to be witnesses. The question we must answer is this: “Will we obey Jesus’ command?”
Ask everyone to bow their head and close their eyes. Ask: “Who do you know that needs to know how to be saved through faith in Jesus?” Wait a moment, and then ask: “Will you take the Gospel to that person this week?” Voice a closing prayer of commitment.
CONCLUSION: Ask everyone to memorize Acts 1:8. Encourage them to follow through on the commitment they have made to be a witness of Jesus Christ this week. Offer to help them.
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