Today we see the events of chapter 10 are not going to pass by without some controversy.
When Peter returns to Jerusalem he is criticized for going to the house of Cornelius and eating with the Gentiles. These men have similar misgivings about the situation as Peter had when first told to go.
Why would they think it was so wrong to visit and eat with Gentiles?
How does what they complain about compare with what we read about God in 10:34?
Yesterday we read the sermon Peter gave to the Gentiles. As Peter was speaking something surprising happened. “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word”.
The Jews who came with Peter were “astonished” by this and Peter responded by saying the Gentiles should be baptized. He commanded them to be baptized and then Peter then was asked to stay a few days.
What do you think is the meaning of the Holy Spirit falling on the Gentiles?
Today’s reading is the teaching that Peter gave to Cornelius and his family and friends. He begins by saying “God shows no partiality”, a truth especially relevant for this audience!
Peter informs them about “Jesus of Nazareth”. Specifically he speaks about the miraculous things He did in His life, about how He died and was raised from the dead, and about how God has appointed Him to be the Judge of all mankind.
Note carefully in verses 35 and 43 – who does Peter say can be saved?
What else do you see in Peter’s sermon?
Peter wants to know why Cornelius sent for him. In today’s reading Cornelius tells him how four days earlier he was praying and had seen a man in bright clothing (called an angel in v3). The angel told Cornelius that God had heard his prayers and seen his alms and told him to send to Joppa for Simon Peter. He then tells Peter “I sent to you immediately and you have done well to come”.
Consider the next statement by Cornelius: “We are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God.” What is commendable in that statement? How is it like the attitude of the Eunuch we studied in Acts 8?
Peter arrives at the house of Cornelius in Caesarea. Cornelius has gathered his friends and family together to hear Peter. At first Cornelius worships Peter but Peter corrects him immediately.
Peter now understands the vision he received: “God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean” (10:28), but is still unclear about why he is there.
What does it say about Cornelius that he had gathered “his relatives and close friends” and “many who had come together” to meet and hear Peter?
What else do you see in today’s reading?
The men sent from Caesarea make themselves known at the house where Peter is staying. They explain how, at the instruction of an angel, Cornelius had sent for Peter. Peter also received an additional word from the Spirit to “go with them, doubting nothing”, and he is convinced and willing to go.
Jesus had commanded Peter and the rest of the apostles to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15) and to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). Why are they slow to understand that every creature includes gentiles?
Note the timing of these events. It is as the men from Cornelius are drawing near to Joppa that Peter goes up onto the housetop to pray. He is hungry and falls into a trance and has a vision of an object like a sheet containing all types of animals. A voice (Peter takes this to be the Lord, 14) says, “rise Peter kill and eat”. Peter says “Not so Lord for I have never eaten anything common or unclean”. The text says this happened three times.
The Law of Moses declared certain animals unclean and unlawful to eat. We might admire Peter’s determination to not violate the clean / unclean animal restrictions of the Law. On the other hand what should he do if the Lord tells us to do something? Should we ever say, “not so Lord”?
In verses 1 and 2 we are introduced to Cornelius. Note his important position as a Roman soldier (v1), and his relationship with God (v2). An angel appears to him and tells him that God is aware of his prayers and good deeds and tells him to send for Peter who will “tell you what you must do”.
Note the four positive spiritual characteristics that Cornelius possessed according to verse 2. Yet there was something he must do. Later, 11:14 says Peter would tell him “words by which you and all your household will be saved”. Do you believe Cornelius was saved when the story begins in chapter 10?
While Peter was at Lydda, a beloved and greatly respected disciple at Joppa named Dorcas died. Joppa was a port city on the Mediterranean not far from Lydda so the disciples sent word to Peter who came and raised her from the dead.
Compare verse 42 with what we read yesterday about the healing of Aeneas in verse 35. Why do you think Peter performed this miracle? Was it God’s will that none of the disciples die?
Please share other thoughts about Dorcas or the miracle recorded here?