Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » How We Taught the New Testament in the Past: Lesson 6: “They Straightway Left Their Nets”

How We Taught the New Testament in the Past: Lesson 6: “They Straightway Left Their Nets”

By: Ardis E. Parshall - January 23, 2011

Lesson 6: “They Straightway Left Their Nets”

This year’s lesson is a general overview of the calling of the Twelve Apostles, with the goal of helping “class members understand that Apostles are called to be special witnesses of Jesus Christ and that we are blessed when we sustain and follow them.” The following lessons from a children’s Sunday School class of 1942 show how we introduced the same material in an earlier generation, with more factual detail if a little less “application to our own lives” approach (although I admit I like some of the questions in the old manual – they’re more thought provoking to me – than in the current one).


Peter was not the only interesting and great apostle of the early Church. There were others who loved Jesus and whom Jesus also loved.


1. Who were the other members of the Twelve?
2. What is outstanding in their lives?

Sons of Thunder

Jesus ordained … James the Son of Zebedee and John the brother of James; and He surnamed them Boanerges, which is, the sons of thunder. – Mark 3:17

As you know, James and John, together with Peter, were Christ’s most intimate associates. They were often privileged to be with Him when the other members of the Twelve were not.

One day Jairus, one of the rulers of the Jewish synagogue, came to Jesus and said: “My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed and she shall live.” Before Jesus arrived at the house of Jairus the child had died. But Jesus had power over life and death and went into Jairus’ house to bring his daughter back to life. and He allowed no man to go with Him except Peter, James and John. These Apostles must have been men of faith and strong character to have been thus selected.

Another time Jesus went up on to a high mountain to be visited by Moses and Elias, another messenger from God, to strengthen Him for the great work He was just beginning. He took with Him Peter, James, and John. And on other occasions, in times of deepest trial and sorrow, Jesus asked these three to go with Him. (Read Mark 13:3 and Matthew 26:37).

When Jesus restored the Church in our day, He sent these same three men – Peter, James, and John – to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in 1829 to ordain them Apostles. This is further evidence of the high position held by these three men in the primitive church of Christ.


1. Why did Jesus call James and John sons of thunder?
2. Why, do you suppose, did James become the first martyr of the Church?
3. What request did John make of Jesus?

Once Jesus and the Twelve were journeying from Galilee southward to Jerusalem. Their way led through the province of Samaria. Jesus sent some of His disciples ahead to a Samaritan village to arrange lodging for them. But these returned to report that Jesus and His friends had been refused hospitality. this was not surprising for little love existed between Jews and Samaritans as we learned in an earlier lesson.

When James and John learned that the Samaritans had refused their Lord hospitality,they became angry indeed and said to the Savior,

Wilt Thou that we bid fire to come down from heaven and consume them? – Luke 9:52-54

No doubt it was because of just such fiery tempers and zealousness as exhibited at this time that Jesus named them “sons of thunder.” Like Peter, they were impulsive and impetuous men ready to do violence against anyone who would harm their Lord or fail to show Him proper respect. Jesus had to teach them that men’s hearts are conquered with love and not with the sword.

James – The First Martyr

After the death of Jesus, James continued to fight for his Lord. But by this time he had learned to be a new kind of Christian soldier. he taught the Gospel and worked to establish the Church. His former fiery spirit had become tempered with a greater understanding of the mission of Jesus and by the influence of the Holy Ghost. Yet he lost none of his former zeal and courage.

James became the first of the Twelve, as far as the New Testament record reveals, to give his life for the cause of Christ. The Book of acts, which tells us most about the history of the Church, records the following:

Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the Church. And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And … he saw that it pleased the Jews … – Acts 12:1-3

Why did Herod kill James? Why did it please the Jews? One can well believe it was because James was such an outspoken and courageous preacher of the gospel, and Herod and others feared his influence.

John the Beloved

John is spoken of as the “disciple whom Jesus loved” and has been called John the Beloved throughout Christian history. He apparently was the younger brother of James and is generally pictured as the youngest of the apostles of Jesus.

Like his brother and Peter, he too learned much before he became a great Apostle of the Lord. One day, in company with James and their mother, Salome, John came to Jesus. Salome asked the savior this privilege:

Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on Thy right hand, and the other on Thy left, in Thy Kingdom. – Matt. 20:20-21

She was ambitious for her sons. Perhaps they sought the honors of men. Jesus tactfully refused them this honor, and proceeded to teach them what it means to be great in the Kingdom of God. (Read Matthew 20:20-28)

John learned his lesson. When on a later occasion, Jesus invited the Twelve to state their wishes regarding their future, Peter and others expressed the desire to be with Jesus in His Father’s Kingdom. John, however, desired to remain on the earth and bring souls into the Church and to Jesus until the savior should come again. (John 21:20-23)

Another incident shows clearly Jesus’ great trust in John. As the Savior was dying on the cross He said to His mother, “Woman, behold thy son.” he was referring to John the Beloved. Then He said to John, “Behold thy Mother,” and John took the Mother of Jesus to his home. (Read John 19:25-27)

A Man Without Guile

After Philip had become a disciple of Jesus he went to find his friend, Nathanael, to tell him the good news about the new prophet from Nazareth. Upon hearing Philip’s story, Nathanael asked, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip replied, “Come and see.” They went together to find Jesus, and when the Savior saw Nathanael, He said of him, “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile.” (Read John 1:43-51)


1. Why did Nathanael doubt that anything good could come out of Nazareth?
2. What did Jesus mean by “an Israelite without guile?”

Doubting Thomas

After His resurrection from the dead Jesus appeared unto some of His disciples. Thomas, one of the Twelve, was not with them at the time, and when they told him later of the marvelous event, Thomas doubted and answered,

Except I shall see in His hands the print of his nails, and put my finger into the print of his nails and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. (Read John 20:24-29)

This statement has given Thomas the name of “Doubting Thomas.”

Though he seems to have had less faith than others, yet he was great in other qualities. When Lazarus, brother of Martha and Mary, was sick in Bethany in Judea, Jesus expressed His intention to go to him. The Twelve knew of the hatred of the Judean rulers toward Jesus and themselves and doubtless feared for their lives. But Thomas said, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.”


1. Why ought we to believe some things we cannot see?
2. What do you admire in the character of Thomas?
3. Comment on Will Rogers’ philosophy: “I have never seen a man I didn’t like.”

Other Members of the Twelve

We know very little about the other members of the Twelve except Judas Iscariot. He, of course, lost his membership in the Quorum of Apostles when he betrayed the Savior. His place was filled by the selection of Matthias. (Acts 1:16-26). Judas made a direct contribution to the rise of the Church of Christ. Yet his betrayal of Christ which terminated in Christ’s death on the cross became a victory and inspired his loyal disciples to proclaim His Gospel and establish His Church throughout the Roman Empire.

You will be interested in learning at least the names of the other members of the original Twelve chosen by Christ. The first was Andrew, brother of Peter, who in fact first brought Peter to Jesus. He too was a fisherman, and a former disciple of John the Baptist. Matthew was a collector of dues or taxes for the Romans. Thus he was a publican, belonging to a class which was hated and classed with sinners by other Jews. Matthew was doubtless quite well-to-do when he left his work to be a follower of Jesus. James, “the Little,” may have been a brother of Matthew. His name suggests he may have been much shorter than James, the son of thunder. Philip, we have already mentioned as the friend of Nathanael who brought the latter to see Jesus. the other member of the Twelve was Thaddeus, also called Judas, who is not to be confused with Judas Iscariot.

Early Christian tradition leads us to believe that most of these men lost their lives in valiant defense of Jesus who had called them to His ministry many years before.

Preparation for the Ministry

A little girl was stricken with a throat infection so her parents called the doctor. after he had left, the brother of the girl said, “Daddy, when I get to be a man I am going to be a doctor.” The boy was but five years old. His father smiled and then began to estimate how much time and expense would be required to give his boy complete medical training. There would be eleven years in elementary and high schools, three or four in the university, four in a medical school and two years of internship in a hospital. He concluded that twenty years of schooling and several thousand dollars would be the price his boy would have to pay to learn how to heal men’s bodies. And this did not include the vast sums of money spent by state and private institutions in the erection and maintenance of schools and hospitals.


1. The purpose of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is to heal men’s souls: How important is this as compared with the healing of the body?
2. What preparation is necessary to heal men’s souls?
3. How did Jesus help his disciples qualify for the ministry?
4. Name some of the “tools” used by (1) a physician, (2) an Apostle.

Lessons in Leadership

For three years the Twelve walked and talked with Jesus. They saw Him eat with sinners, comfort the poor, heal the sick, and feed the multitude. They accompanied Him to Jerusalem where they witnessed His courage in driving out the money-changers from the temple and in denouncing the hypocrisy of some of the Pharisees. They saw Him “from afar off” taken first to the High priest’s house, and then to Pilate; and finally they saw Him forced to wear a crown of thorns on His head from which blood dripped, and to drag a heavy cross through the streets of Jerusalem on His way to Calvary. to the mocking soldiers who cried: “If thou be King of the Jews, save Thyself” some of them heard Jesus reply: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”

Surely intimate association for three years with the greatest personality the world has ever known, with the very author of the Gospel, would prove to be one great source of preparation to teach the gospel to others. Incidents occurred in that fellowship which the Twelve could never forget, and which came to mean all the more to them after Jesus had ascended to His Father in Heaven following His resurrection. Let us learn of some of these memorable happenings through which the twelve learned about their mission as servants of Jesus.

The Touch of Faith

One day while Jesus was on His way to heal a daughter of Jairus, a Jewish leader of great faith, He was followed by a large number of people who were eager to see and hear this remarkable man of Galilee. In the crowd was a woman. She was not there just out of curiosity. for twelve long years she had suffered from ill health. All she possessed she had paid to physicians but was no better for it, “but rather grew worse.”

Too timid to speak to Jesus she touched His garment. “For she said if I may but touch His clothes, I shall be whole.” And straightway she felt in her body that she was healed.

When she touched His garment Jesus knew it. he felt virtue and power leave Him to heal this woman of great faith. yes, He turned around and asked his disciples, “Who touched my clothes?” His disciples, who were less sensitive to the touch of faith than Jesus, replied, “Thou seest the multitude thronging Thee, and sayest Thou, “who touched me.” (Mark 5:24-35)


1. Why did the Apostles notice only the multitude, while Jesus at the same time felt the woman touch His garment?
2. What do you think the twelve might have learned from this experience?

The Washing of Feet

At the Last Supper, in a house in Jerusalem, Jesus knew that He soon would have to leave the Twelve and that they would have to establish His Church. He, therefore, took the occasion to teach the Twelve another great lesson in leadership.

He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that He poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith He was girded. So after He had washed their feet, and had taken His garments and was set down again, he said unto them, know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. – John 13:4, 5; 12, 13.


1. What great lesson was Jesus teaching the Twelve by washing their feet?
2. Which of the Twelve may have learned most from the experience? (Note John 13:6-9)
3. Give other illustrations of this same teaching in the Gospels.

Ordination to the Priesthood

No one can establish the church of Christ at any time without the Priesthood of God. before the Church was restored in 1830, Joseph smith and Oliver Cowdery had to receive the Priesthood. Likewise before Jesus sent the Twelve forth to proclaim the Gospel and to establish His Church, He ordained them to the same Priesthood which He Himself possessed.

And He (Jesus) ordained twelve, that they should be with Him, and that He might send them forth to preach, and to have power to heal sickness, and to cast out devils. – Mark 3:14-15

Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, He may give it you. – John 15:16


1. What is the Priesthood?
2. why would the Twelve need the Priesthood to establish the Church?
3. What is the Fifth Article of Faith of the Latter-0day Saint Church?
4. What are you doing, boys, as holders of the Priesthood?

The Comforter

After Jesus had taught the Twelve these three years, He said to them:

These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you, but the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. – John 14:24-25

If you love me, keep my commandments. and I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another comforter that he may abide with you forever even the spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him; but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. – John 14:15-17


1. What is the mission of the Holy Ghost?
2. Why would the twelve need the companionship of the Holy Ghost?
3. What influence does the Holy Ghost have in your life now?
4. How can one enjoy the gift of the Holy Ghost in fullest measure?

Before the death of Jesus, the Twelve had learned great lessons in humility, faith, and service. They had received the Priesthood of God with which to establish the Church and bless mankind. They had received the gift of the Holy ghost to lead them into truth and to bring the great teachings of Jesus to their remembrance. The stage had become set for the rise of the primitive Church of Jesus Christ.

Fire from Heaven

After His resurrection Jesus appeared unto the Twelve, ate with them, and showed them His pierced hands and feet. Imagine their joy in seeing their Master alive again, in knowing that they too would rise again and live eternally with Him. They must have been willing and eager to tell the whole world of this event. But they were not yet ready to do so for Jesus had

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. for John truly baptised with water; but ye shall be baptized with fire and the Holy Ghost not many days hence … ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. – Acts 1:4-8


1. Why did Jesus have the Apostles tarry in Jerusalem until the Holy Ghost should come?
2. How did the Holy Ghost manifest Himself on the day of Pentecost?
3. Contrast Peter before and after he received the gift of the Holy ghost. (Read Luke 22:54-62 and Acts 2)

Men Full of New Wine

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they (the Apostles) were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from Heaven as a rushing, mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. – Acts 2:1-4

Jews from many lands were at Jerusalem to celebrate the Pentecost Feast. This was one of the leading holidays of the Jews when they celebrated the giving of the law of Moses to Moses on Mount Sinai. When these Jews heard these men of Palestine, Galileans, speaking in the languages of foreign peoples, they marvelled, and said, “Behold, are not all these Galileans? And how hear we every m an in our own tongue, wherein we were born?” Some asked, “What meaneth this?” Others mocking said, “these men are full of new wine.”

Peter then arose to the occasion and offered an explanation: “ye man of Judea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: for these are not drunken as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.”

The influence of the Holy Ghost had been sent to the Apostles. Thus they were able to speak in tongues and bear witness of the Christ.

A Contrast in Personality

You will recall that Peter, a few weeks before this great day of Pentecost had denied three times that he was a disciple of Jesus. (Read again Luke 22:54-62.0 Peter denied Jesus even though he had been with Jesus three years, and could still see Him as He was led away to be tried before the High Priest and Pilate.

But now, under the influence of the Holy ghost, Peter was a disciple born again. No more would he deny his Master. Never again would he run away to view the fate of the Lord’s work “from afar off.” to these same Jews whom he had once feared, he boldly declared:

Ye men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know; Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, Ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain. Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it. – Acts 2:22-24


1. Which is more important: (a) to witness miracles or (b) to live worthy of the constant influence of the Gift of the Holy Ghost?

A Great Sermon

Peter was convincing his preaching about Jesus, for when the people heard him:

They were pricked in their hearts, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the Apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 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. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. – Acts 2:37-39

Thus did the Church of Jesus Christ come to be established in Jerusalem. It was done under the influence of the Holy Ghost with peter acting as leading spokesman. People joined the Church in large numbers the very first day. No fewer than three thousand souls, according to the Book of acts, were baptized.


1. What was Peter’s message on the day of Pentecost?
2. What did he demand of those who would join the church?
3. Compare Acts 2:38 with the fourth Article of Faith of our Church.

Peter Proves His Worth

The day of Pentecost was not to mark the end of the success of Peter and his associates. the Holy Ghost continued with them. Peter, walking in the footsteps of the master, read men’s thoughts and healed the sick, as Jesus had done. Prison locks and chains were not strong enough to hold him. Jewish priests and rulers feared the multitude which followed him; and, moreover, they were unable to cope with the wisdom, enthusiasm, and inspiration of this unlearned fisherman and his associates.

Stories of Peter’s work recorded in the Book of Acts reveal the greatness of his character, the bigness of his heart, and his unbounded love and devotion to the Church. He fully justified the faith the Lord had placed in him. He earned the name which the Lord had given him. As you read about some of his experiences note the strength of hsi character as revealed in them.

The Lame Walk

Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer – and a certain man lame from his moth4r’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called beautiful to ask alms of them that entered the temple; who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms. And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John said, look on us. and he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. 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. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered into the temple, praising God. – Acts 3:1-8


1. By what power was the lame man healed?
2. Pick out sayings of Peter in Acts, chapter three, which reveal his greatness of character.
3. What things are difficult to purchase with silver and gold?
4. Which of these may be attained through faith in Jesus Christ?

There were many people who witnessed this healing. They marvelled and turned to Peter for an explanation. he might have taken the honor himself, but the Spirit of Christ and the Holy Ghost filled his heart and he said:

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. – Acts 3:12

Then he continued his sayings with the statement that God had glorified His Son Jesus in this healing – the same Jesus, Prince of life, whom they had crucified. And that faith in Jesus “hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know.” (Acts 3:16)

The Price of Deception

The early Christian community established by Peter and others had all things in common.

Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold and laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. – Acts 4:34-35


1. what qualities of character would a person have to possess to give all he had to the Church for distribution among the membership?
2. If your family were asked to give all to the Church, what might you be tempted to keep back?
3. What are the fruits of lying?

Ananias and his wife Sapphira, converts to the Church, sold their property but agreed to keep back a part of the price and give only a portion of it to the Apostles, believing they could deceive them. But Peter, blessed with the gift of discernment, could read their thoughts and condemned them for lying unto God. (Read Acts 5:1-11).

Peter Unafraid

The deep convictions and marvelous works of Peter were converting people in large numbers. In fact so many people were joining the Church that the high priests, the ruling Sadducees, feared lest their people would desert them and all become followers of Jesus. So they “laid hands on the Apostles, and put them in a common prison.” But an angel of the Lord opened the prison door by night and let them out. The next day found them preaching again as confidently as before. Again the council asked them:

Did we not straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.

Peter had lost all fear. No one could frighten him into submission and denial of the Christ, not even the Jewish rulers who sought his life. Courageously he replied,

We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom he slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath god exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, born to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sin. And we are his witnesses of those things; so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him. When they heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them. – Acts 5:29-33


1. What things in peter’s reply were particularly offensive to the high priests, do you suppose?
2. What does his reply reveal regarding Peter’s character?
3. How does one feel when one does what is right even though it is a difficult thing to do at the time?
4. What experiences in your life have called for courage?
5. What experiences lie before you which will call for courage?


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