BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 5, Day 3: Acts 10:1-11:18

Summary of passage:  A Roman Centurion (a very important man) named Cornelius was living in Caesarea.  He was God-fearing and gave generously to the poor.  One day he had a vision of the angel of God.  The angel told Cornelius to send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter, which he did.

Peter had a vision that same day of a large sheet being let down from heaven with all kinds of four-footed animals, reptiles, and birds on it.  A voice told Peter to kill and eat these animals.

Peter freaked out.  He couldn’t possibly eat anything unclean (as the laws for centuries have been).  The voice corrected him, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”

While Peter was pondering this vision, Cornelius’ men arrived and the voice said to go with these men, which he did.

The next day when Peter arrived, Cornelius had invited all of his relatives and close friends to hear what Peter had to say.  Peter reminds everyone it is against Jewish law for Jews to associate with Gentiles but God has said otherwise through this vision.

Cornelius repeats his vision to Peter.  Peter finally understands his dream:  God now accepts every man into His kingdom; the Jews are no longer singled out as God’s chosen people.  With Jesus’ death, everyone is eligible for Salvation.

Peter explains how God chose people to be witnesses to Jesus’ death and resurrection and to preach to the people and testify that God is the one and only judge of the living and the dead.

The Holy Spirit then came upon all who were listening, much to the astonishment of the Jews present with Peter.  Then they were baptized.

Peter’s actions shocked the Jewish community and he was questioned when he went to Jerusalem.  Peter retold the story of his meeting with the Centurion, explaining who was he to oppose God who blessed these Gentiles with the Holy Spirit. (Great explanation by the way!).

Finally, it began to dawn on the Jewish leaders that God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life and given everyone the gift of Heaven.

Questions:

5a)  He was a devout, God-fearing man and gave generously to those in need.  He prayed to God regularly.  He was a strong man, authoritative, and loyal to be a Roman Centurion (commander in the Roman army).  He must have been respected, admired, and a good leader.  He obeyed God and yearned to know Him more.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Loving mother, good wife, homemaker.  Different than I would.

6a)  Unclean

b) Jesus’ death.  He made everything clean with his blood.

7a)  10:13:  “Get up, Peter.  Kill and eat.”

b)  10:34  When he heard Cornelius retell his tale and finally understood his vision meant tall were now clean and accepted into God’s arms.

c)  10:44-5; 11:15-17

8 )  Personal Question.  My answer:  Openness to the absurd, sharing with others.

9)  Peter is speaking about the possibility of coming into God’s family.  Everyone is eligible to be in God’s family through Jesus.  No one is excluded as previously taught/thought.  God will accept men from every nation.  He does not discriminate.

John 14:6:  “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.'”

John 10:9:  Jesus says, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.”

Acts 4:12:  “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Peter speaking about Jesus.

10)  For centuries God’s chosen people has been only Jewish.  God himself has said do not marry foreigners or associate with them.  Jews were accustomed to only thinking God’s words were for them (which it was–they were the chosen ones).  For only 3 short years, Jesus taught otherwise and then overnight, with his death, everyone was made equal and included in God’s kingdom.

This was a MAJOR paradigm shift.  This could be akin to the Equal Rights Movement in the US. When people grow up with a culture and a thought so ingrained in their mind it takes a while for it to change–usually a long while.

So for the Jews to accept the Gentiles would be a process.  We are human after all.  Most can’t just flip a switch and get rid of past prejudices that have been ingrained in us since childhood.

Conclusions:  I liked the last question.  It’s hard (at least for me) to visualize what life was like almost 2000 years ago.  We are so used to thinking in our world and in our terms that we don’t understand why people did things they did so long ago.

But we’re all human.  We’re the same now as we were then:  just more advanced in some ways. But fundamentally we’re not.  So for me, getting my mind back in the first century AD is huge in understanding the Book of Acts.