lesson
23

Bible Class
Discussion Guide
by Edward Thomason

Are all men are created equal?
Acts 10:24-35

warm up

Have you ever prejudged a book by looking at its cover or title without knowing its content? 
Have you ever pigeon holed an individual without first really getting to know him or her? Why do people often do this?
Have you ever been given the "cold shoulder" by a group or individual? How did it feel? 
wise up
  

    Prejudging people on the basis of their income, clothing fashion, type or age of their car, and size of their home, may not seem like such a big deal unless you are one being judged. The same is true regarding race, religion and relationships. And yet, while we know that such is wrong, there are times in all of our lives when we probably have been guilty of showing (or at least feeling) bias and prejudice toward others. 

I. Readiness: Vs. 24-27
   1. According to Verse 23, certain brethren accompanied Peter to the home of Cornelius. (There were six men according to Acts 11:12.) These were witnesses of what was about to happen. When they arrived, Cornelius was ready and anxiously awaiting their arrival. Who had he invited to his home to hear the words that Peter would share? Why do you think he invited these people? What do you think you would do if God told you to send for someone who would tell you what you "ought to do" (Cf., Acts 10:6) and "words by which you and all thy house shall be saved" (Acts 11:14). Would you invite you friends and relatives? 

    2.
What did Cornelius do when Peter entered his home? What was Peter's response to such gratitude and reverence? Did Peter desire or expect such worship and adoration? Discuss how the words of Peter implied that he as a Jew was not racially superior but just a man like himself? Discuss how the words of Peter implied that he as an apostle was not religiously superior but just a man like himself. What other implications might we derive from Peter's words and response?

II. Realization: Vs. 28-29
   1. The Jewish law and tradition required a "separation" from the heathen nations. They were not to make covenants with or enter into marital relationships with the Gentiles. The purpose was two fold: (1) To maintain the purity of their race and (2) To keep from being led into idolatry. The Jews did not always keep these laws and traditions any more so than they did many of the other laws of God. But an almost self righteous arrogance and bias seemed to become a part of their tradition. Evidently, they would not even enter into the home of a Gentile lest they be defiled by such contact. According to verse 28, what was Peter's new understanding (under the law of Christ) in regards to contact with and relationships with Gentiles?

    2. Did Peter always live up to his understanding that we are not to show bias or prejudice toward those of different races? Cf. Galatians 2:11ff. Do Christians today sometimes struggle with bias and prejudice?

III. Revelation: Vs.30-35
   1. Cornelius reviewed why he had sent for Peter and concluded with an indication that he was ready to "hear all things that are commanded thee of God." With that invitation to speak, Peter began his sermon with a profound truth that would shake the foundations of many social and ethnical traditions. What was the truth that Peter now understood about God?

    2.
According to verse 35 what must "one and all of us" do to be acceptable to God? While it is true that one cannot by his own merit "work" his way to heaven and one is not justified by the works of the law of Moses, there are "works of righteousness" (God's not man's righteousness) that one must work to be pleasing to God. To refuse to do those righteous things which God commands is an affront to God. The ground is truly level at the foot of the cross. But the conditions for all of us are the same. All of us of every race and generation "that fear God and work righteousness (keep his commands) are accepted of him." Compare the wording of this text with Ecclesiastes 12:13.  
    3.
What kind of prejudices are hardest to overcome in peoples lives today? In what way does the "golden rule" counteract prejudice? As time permits, discuss the strong rebuke of James in James 2:1-6 toward brethren who did not possess the faith of Christ when it came to showing partiality. 

wrap up

   1.  We like Peter, may bring our personal prejudices with us into the Kingdom of God, but with God's help we can bury them and learn to love the brotherhood (I Peter 2:17.)

Assignment

  Please read Acts 10:34-48 for next week    copyright 2001