Paper Cup Apostasy

For those who have served a Mission, you may or may not have seen this “Paper Cup Apostasy” already. While I was serving, this worked as an effective tool for me to explain to investigators the Restoration and the Apostasy. It’s often hard for investigators to grasp what happened, the true magnitude of it, and how it ties in with the Joseph Smith story. By creating this Object Lesson out of Paper Cups, the people you’re teaching can see a visual example for why a Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ was necessary.

paper cup apostacy 1

What you’ll need:

  • Conference Issue of the Ensign (mine happens to be in Spanish).
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Sharpie
  • Paper Cups (I’ve found the plastic 3 oz. white from Great Value “Walmart” brand are the best)
  • A small picture of Jesus Christ (pass-along cards work great. Or you can print one)
  • Gospel Principles Book

Start by planning out the different “levels” of your cups. This is really where your creation comes in. You can really organize or change it up anyway that you want. It’s not so strict that you have to do it in any certain way. Feel free to morph it however you please. I organized mine in such a way:

  • Level 1: The names of the original 12 apostles (12 cups)
  • Level 2: Any number of Gospel Principles (11 cups)
  • Level 3: Priesthood Offices (9 cups)
  • Level 4: The Gospel of Jesus Christ (5 cups)
  • Level 5: The three-fold Mission of the Church (3 cups)
  • Level 6: One last cup representing Jesus Christ, the head of the Church (1 cup)

paper cup apostacy 2

Then, start by writing on the cups with the Sharpie. The names of the original 12 Apostles of Jesus Christ are:

  1. (Simon) Peter
  2. James
  3. John
  4. Andrew
  5. Philip
  6. Bartholomew
  7. Matthew
  8. Thomas
  9. James
  10. Simon
  11. Judas
  12. Judas Iscariot

paper cup apostacy 3

Once you’re done, it should look similar to this. Excuse my handwriting and the apartment behind.

paper cup apostacy 4

Now, grab your Conference Ensign and flip open to the middle of the magazine where the First Presidency, Quorum of the Twelve, and the First Quorum of the Seventy is displayed. It should look something like this. If you’re not comfortable cutting up your Ensign magazines, you can always print out the pictures from the Church website as well. Also, I guess I should mention that this step is optional. You can leave the cups as the original Twelve apostles, but I like having the pictures displayed on the cups.

paper cup apostacy 5

Carefully cut out each picture:

paper cup apostacy 6

And then glue them onto the back of the cups with the Apostles’ names written.

paper cup apostacy 7

When you’ve finished that stage, it should appear something like this:

paper cup apostacy 8

Now, continue customizing your pyramid as you see fit. And once you’re done, it should look something similar to this:

paper cup apostacy

The Analogy: Now, once your pyramid is all set up, explain the Apostasy and how the Apostles were killed off one by one, but that they didn’t have successors. If you pull one cup out from the bottom slowly, a few of the upper cups will fall, but the entire pyramid will not collapse entirely.

paper cup apostacy 10

The Gospel was changed slowly, but the main organization was still standing. But throughout time, all of the Apostles were killed. Without the Apostles and the authority, the Church as a whole collapses.

paper cup apostacy 11

Then, talk about Joseph Smith and how vital his role was in the Restoration. Explain how the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is organized. Pick up the cups, and as you speak about the organization, you can reset the cups how they were originally, but this time with the modern-day apostles showing. Build up the Gospel Principles, the Gospel of Christ, the 3-Fold Mission, etc. And then explain that our organization is identical to that of the primitive Church.

How were the Original Apostles killed?

Summary: The Bible only mentions the deaths of two apostles, James who was put to death by Herod Agrippa I in 44 AD and Judas Iscariot who committed suicide shortly after the death of Christ. The details of the deaths of three of the apostles (John, Bartholomew, and Simon) are not known at all, either by tradition or early historians. The deaths of the other seven apostles are known by tradition or the writings of other Christian historians. According to traditions and the Bible, eight of the Apostles died as Martyrs. At least two of the Apostles, Peter and Andrew were crucified.

  • Simon Peter: Died 33-34 years after the death of Christ. According to Smith’s Bible Dictionary there is “satisfactory evidence that he and Paul were the founders of the church at Rome, and died in that city. The time and manner of the apostle’s martyrdom are less certain. According to the early writers, he died at or about the same time with Paul, and in the Neronian persecution, A.D. 67,68. All agree that he was crucified. Origin says that Peter felt himself to be unworthy to be put to death in the same manner as his Master, and was therefore, at his own request, crucified with his head downward.”
  • James: He was beheaded by Herod Agrippa I, in the year 44 A.D., or about 11 years after the death of Christ. (Acts 12: 1-9.)
  • John: We don’t have an exact death date or how, but it guessed to be between 89 A.D. to 120 A.D. He was banished to the Isle of Patmos and was there for the remainder of his life.
  • Andrew: No accurate death date given. A variety of traditions say he preached in Scythia, in Greece, in Asia Minor and Thrace. He is reported to have been crucified at Patrae in Achaia and then preached continuously for two days until he passed away.
  • Philip: Again, the Bible does not say when he died nor do we have accurate information. According to tradition he preached in Phrygia, and was later crucified at Hierapolis.
  • Bartholomew: He was flayed to death by a whip.
  • Matthew: He must have lived many years as an apostle, since he was the author of the Gospel of Matthew which was written at least twenty years after the death of Christ. There is reason to believe that he stayed for fifteen years at Jerusalem, after which he went as missionary to the Persians, Parthians and Medes. He was slain by the sword.
  • Thomas: Earlier traditions believed he preached in Parthia or Persia, and was finally buried at Edessa. Later traditions carry him farther east. His martyrdom, whether in Persia or India, is said to have been by a lance.
  • James: We know he lived at least five years after the death of Christ because of mentions in the Bible. According to tradition, James was thrown down from the temple by the scribes and Pharisees; he was then stoned, and his brains dashed out with a fuller’s club.
  • Simon: He was crucified in Persia around 74 A.D.
  • Judas: According to tradition Judas taught in Armenia, Syria and Persia where he was shot to death by arrows.
  • Judas Iscariot: Shortly after the death of Christ Judas killed himself. According to the Bible he hanged himself, (Matthew 27:5) at Aceldama, on the southern slope of the valley of Hinnom, near Jerusalem, and in the act he fell down a precipice and was ripped into pieces.

Scriptures about the Apostasy:

You might be able to use these as a scripture chase? Not really sure. I’m sure you can come up with an interesting way to incorporate these.

  • Isa. 29: 10, 13 – This people draw near me with their mouth.
  • Isa. 60: 2 – Darkness shall cover the earth.
  • Amos 8: 11 – The Lord will send a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.
  • Matt. 24: 24 – There shall arise false Christs and false prophets.
  • Acts 20: 29 – Grievous wolves shall enter in among you.
  • Gal. 1: 6 – I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him.
  • 2 Thes. 2: 3 – There will be a falling away before the Second Coming.
  • 2 Tim. 2: 18 – Some people err concerning the truth.
  • 2 Tim. 3: 5 – Some people have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof.
  • 2 Tim. 4: 3-4 – The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine.
  • 2 Pet. 2: 1 – There will be false prophets and false teachers among the people.
  • Jude 1: 4 – Certain men crept in denying the only Lord God.
  • Rev. 2: 2 – Some men said they were Apostles and were not.
  • 1 Ne. 13: 26 – Nephi saw the formation of a great and abominable church.
  • 2 Ne. 26: 20 – The Gentiles have stumbled and built up many churches.
  • D&C 1: 15 – They have strayed from mine ordinances and have broken mine everlasting covenant.
  • D&C 112: 23 – Darkness covers the earth and gross darkness the minds of the people.
  • JS-H 1: 19 – Joseph was told that the churches were all wrong; their hearts were far from God.

What do you think? How did you create your Paper Cup Apostasy? Let us know how yours turned out!

4 thoughts on “Paper Cup Apostasy

  • Great idea! I’ll probably do it on a powerpoint instead for now, but it is a great visual to teach the apostasy and restoration!

  • Good idea. Bytheway, john the beloved did not die. It was his desire which was granted to live on the earth until jesus comes again.this is what it says in the bible.

  • I have seen this done by missionaries many times. It is a wonderful visual aid lesson! I have always seen Christ put on the bottom of the pyramid because he is the “chief cornerstone”of the church.

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