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Sabbath School Lessons on Biblical Missionaries
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About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 39 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 9: Peter and the Gentiles *
Introduction: "Peter and the Gentiles" sounds like it might be a
singing group! Peter brought a sound alright, but it was the sound of
the gospel to the Gentiles. Peter, under the direction of the Holy
Spirit, broke through barriers of race and religion to expand the
work of God. Let's dive into our study of the Bible and see what we
can learn from Peter's evangelistic work that will guide us in our
missionary efforts today!
- Two weeks ago we read Acts 1:6, which revealed that the
disciples had not yet accurately grasped the gospel
message. At the time we discussed what turned this
situation around. Let's read Acts 2:1-4. What has
arrived? (The Holy Spirit!)
- How do we know it? (Sound, fire, and tongues.)
- Read Acts 2:5. Tell me about the audience?(The audience is
a group who fear God and who come "from every nation.")
- Why were they in Jerusalem? (Short history: Part of
God's pressure on Pharaoh to release His people from
slavery in Egypt was the plague of death for the
first born male. However, God protected His own
people from this death. The celebration of this
protection is "Passover" ( Exodus 12:3-14). Fifty
days ("seven weeks") after Passover, the Jews were to
celebrate the "Feast of Weeks" ( 2 Chronicles 8:13;
Leviticus 23:4-16). This feast was also called
"Pentecost" because of the fifty day period.
Commentaries add that Pentecost was celebrated in
part because God gave His law on Mount Sinai fifty
days after Passover. The people were in Jerusalem for
the Feast of Weeks/Pentecost.)
- Read Acts 2:6-12. What missionary tips can we find in what
we have studied so far? (People who are open to God's word
are a good place to start our missionary efforts. The Holy
Spirit provides tools for effective witnessing.)
- Read Acts 2:13-15. How does Peter start his witnessing
defense? (With logic! It is too early in the morning to be
- What appeal to logic might you have added? (How do
you think the sound and fire got here? Is that
because of drinking?)
- Read Acts 2:16-18. What is Peter's next tactic for
witnessing? (Recall that these are "God-fearing" people?
Peter presents a practical argument, but then he
immediately switches to quoting the Bible. He takes the
events they see and lines them up with the Scripture they
- What do you think about that missionary approach?
- How would you do this today?
- We have discussed how we should use common sense (Matthew
10:16)in our missionary efforts. What are the shrewd,
common sense tactics of the Holy Spirit in this event with
Peter? (Godly visitors from many places are in town. The
Holy Spirit gets their attention, and Peter explains the
gospel. This allows the gospel to be carried back to the
- How would you apply this strategy today? (Consider
the Internet. People who care about God may be
looking for something on the Internet. The Internet
reaches out to every nation.)
- We are going to skip over the main message presented by
Peter. Let's read Acts 2:36-37. How did the people react
to Peter's message? (They were convicted of the truth of
what he said.)
- How can we replicate that today? (We have to use
common sense in bringing a message that calls for
action. However, conviction is the work of the Holy
- Read Acts 2:38-39. How many times do you hear a call to
repent? How many times do you make a call to repent?
- Read Acts 2:40-41. Notice how this is written. The
"generation" is "corrupt" and Peter's words "warn" and
"plead." Are we afraid to call sin by its right name
today when we want to bring people into the church? Are we
afraid to offend people by calling them to repentance?
- In Acts 2:2-4 we saw the amazing things the Holy
Spirit was doing. Add in miracles, and if something
like that happened in a local church today, many
potential converts would come. Have you asked, "Why
doesn't that happen today?" Is it possible that it
does not happen today because we would not call them
- Read Acts 10:1-2. Consider the description of this
soldier. Can people say the same about you?
- Read Acts 10:3-6. What does God's angel tell Cornelius
that God has noticed? (His prayers and his charity.)
- Read Acts 10:9-14. What is the problem with Peter eating?
(The animals are unclean. This is a reference to the
dietary rules of Leviticus 11.)
- Read Acts 10:15. Have the rules in Leviticus 11 on clean
and unclean meats been revoked?
- Did these dietary rules originate with Moses? (Read
Genesis 7:8-9. This shows us that the distinction
between clean and unclean meat did not originate with
Moses and the sanctuary system. They existed from
earliest times, even before humans were allowed
( Genesis 9:1-3) to eat meat.)
- Read Acts 10:17-19. Why is Peter wondering about the
vision? (It seems so wrong to eat unclean animals.)
- Read Acts 10:20 and Acts 10:28. Is the vision about eating
unclean meat? (No. The vision is intended to bring Peter
to consider the rules about Jews not associating with
Gentiles. The problem is that Peter would normally be
hesitant to go with these Gentiles send by Cornelius.)
- Read Acts 10:22-26 and Acts 10:29. Why did Cornelius fall
at Peter's feet? Why did Peter not automatically consider
this a missionary opportunity? Why did Peter only ask,
"Why [did] you send for me?" (This shows that neither
Cornelius nor Peter perfectly understood God's will in
- Read Acts 10:30-33. How would you translate Cornelius'
response in today's terms? (Peter asks "Why did you send
for me?" Cornelius answers, "I don't know, God told me to
do it." Cornelius is not stupid, so he continues that
Peter must have some message for them.)
- Read Acts 10:34-35. Peter then continues with the gospel
account of Jesus. Read Acts 10:44-46. What lessons for
missionary work do we find here? (First, to put aside our
prejudices. Second, to look for the leading of the Holy
- Look again at Acts 10:45-46. When we read Acts 2:4
earlier, this was clearly the gift of speaking (or being
understood) in a foreign language. What gift are we seeing
here? (There are no foreigners here. There is no reason to
believe this is a foreign language.)
- Why did the Jews associate speaking in tongues with
being given the gift of the Holy Spirit?
- Read Acts 10:47-48. What is significant about Peter's
question? (It shows that he completely accepts the leading
of God. He started out thinking that he should not even go
to the home of a Gentile. Now he accepts the message of
the vision, the proof of the pouring out of the Holy
Spirit, and he follows through with the conclusion that
they should be baptized.)
- Speaking in tongues is a controversial matter in some
denominations. What makes it important to have a
correct understanding of this topic? (Read Matthew
12:22-24 and Matthew 12:31-32. If you read the full
context of these verses in Matthew 12, Jesus warns us
that calling the work of the Holy Spirit the work of
Satan is the unpardonable sin. This is a very serious
- Read Acts 11:1-3. Can we expect criticism in our
- Friend, Peter pioneered missionary work to the Gentiles.
We have seen that the key to Peter's work is being attuned
to the leading of the Holy Spirit, even if it goes against
things we have believed in the past. Are you open to the
leading of the Holy Spirit? If not, why not commit right
now to go where the Holy Spirit leads you!
- Next week: Phillip as Missionary.
* Copr. 2015, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.