Term 3 – Week 7

Big Idea – God showed Peter through Cornelius that he wants all people to be saved!

Acts 10-11:18


Understand that the gospel is for all people, and radically breaks through human barriers!



Leaders Introduction

Gospel ministry has not begun in earnest outside Jerusalem. Philip spread the word in Samaria, confirmed by the visit of Peter and John (8:14). God orchestrated these events to prevent disunity in the church along the religious divide between Jerusalem and Samaria. Now we see an even greater divide being crossed through these apostles – that of Jew and Gentile. Before this happens, Saul’s conversion and transformation from persecutor to preacher brought a period of peace and strengthening (9:31) – once Saul had escaped the murderous threats of Jews in Damascus and Jerusalem. The narrative leaves Saul in Tarsus and re-joins Peter, who is still the main character in this part of Acts. Peter is travelling around the country spreading the news and encouraging the new Christians. Peter demonstrates the extraordinary miraculous power the apostles had been given as he heals Aeneas and raises Dorcas from the dead. These signs, as a conformation of Peter’s message, brings many more to believe in the Lord.

But now we head to Caesarea to meet a Gentile called Cornelius, as Luke presents to us the first unambiguous Gentile conversion and the start of worldwide all-nations ministry. As we read we cannot help notice how all the events dovetail perfectly through God’s guiding hand and perfect timing. Cornelius the centurion was a Gentile. Yes, he was a God-fearer and he knew the God of the bible (10:2, 22), but he was still a Gentile. Cornelius had not been saved. His actions were pleasing to God, but he did not know Jesus and his sins had not been forgiven (proven by how he needed this explained to him in order to believe and be baptised!). Even before that however, his Gentile status meant that in Jewish eyes he was uncircumcised and therefore unclean. Any serious Jews would not have even entered his house, due to an unbiblical extension of the Jewish purity laws; God’s people were always intended to be a light and a blessing to the nations, but the Jewish nation had confused their status ‘chosen’ with ‘exclusive favourites.’ We mustn’t minimise the extent of this divide. There was no friendship or community between these two groups. They were totally divided.  

Enter Peter – A Jew who both his Bible and the extra regulations in Jewish laws. God gives him a vision where the heavens open and he sees a sheet descending that contains clean and unclean animals (see Leviticus 11:13-19, 27, 29-30, 46-47) – these were used in the Bible to teach his people about the importance of purity before God and to set his people apart as holy and distinct from the nations. Peter questions the instruction to kill and eat something unclean, despite Jesus’ authoritative permission (Mark 7:19). The ‘white’ sheet (denoting purity) contains both clean and unclean animals – and is used to teach Peter that the ‘sheet’ of the gospel is to wrap around all peoples, no one is too ‘unclean’ to be saved by Jesus. Peter needs these divine and extraordinary pointers to realise how God’s kingdom is really for all people (10:28.) The timing is perfect – the men leave Cornelius (v.9) and arrive at just the right time (v.19) and the Spirit tells Peter to go with them (v.20). At first he doesn’t get it, for he asks, “Why have you sent for me?” (v.29) But after the explanation from Cornelius, he realises the gospel is for the Gentiles too. God has declared that the Gentiles are clean, the gospel is to be held out to them just as Peter had done so in Jerusalem and Samaria already. So Peter preaches the gospel to Cornelius and those in his household, in an exemplary summary of the key events and conclusions in the gospel message (10:34-43). They repented, trusted in Jesus, received the Holy Spirit and were baptised. No one is exempt from the kingdom of God. The story finishes with Peter explaining to the Jewish Christians back in Jerusalem this truth. They too come to understand that God had granted repentance that leads to life to the Gentiles (11:18). God does not show favouritism!

Memory Verse

43… everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name

Acts 10v43


Leaders PDF

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Dundonald Kids

Dundonald Kids is the team led by our Children's Minister Natasha Small that aims to partner with parents in growing young disciples of Christ.

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