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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!

  1. Pentecost


    1. 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!)


      1. How do we know it? (Sound, fire, and tongues.)


    2. Read Acts 2:5. Tell me about the audience?(The audience is a group who fear God and who come "from every nation.")


      1. 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.)


    3. 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.)


    4. Read Acts 2:13-15. How does Peter start his witnessing defense? (With logic! It is too early in the morning to be drunk.)


      1. What appeal to logic might you have added? (How do you think the sound and fire got here? Is that because of drinking?)


    5. 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 know.)


      1. What do you think about that missionary approach?


        1. How would you do this today?


    6. 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 visitors' countries.)


      1. 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.)


    7. 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.)


      1. 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 Spirit.)


    8. 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?


    9. 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?


      1. 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 to repentance?


  2. Cornelius


    1. Read Acts 10:1-2. Consider the description of this soldier. Can people say the same about you?


    2. Read Acts 10:3-6. What does God's angel tell Cornelius that God has noticed? (His prayers and his charity.)


    3. 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.)


    4. Read Acts 10:15. Have the rules in Leviticus 11 on clean and unclean meats been revoked?


      1. 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.)


    5. Read Acts 10:17-19. Why is Peter wondering about the vision? (It seems so wrong to eat unclean animals.)


    6. 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.)


    7. 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 this matter.)


    8. 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.)


    9. 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 Spirit.)


    10. 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.)


      1. Why did the Jews associate speaking in tongues with being given the gift of the Holy Spirit?


    11. 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.)


      1. 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 matter.)


    12. Read Acts 11:1-3. Can we expect criticism in our missionary work?


    13. 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!


  3. 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.

© 2015 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
Website by Blake Cameron, M.D.
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