lesson
24

Bible Class
Discussion Guide
by Edward Thomason

1st Sermon to the Gentiles
Acts 10:34-48

warm up

If you were invited to come and share the gospel with someone who was eager to hear and learn where would you begin and where would you end? In other words: "What would be the most important and most needed information for you to share?" Before answering... see what Peter preached.
wise up
  

    In verses 34-35 Peter began with the declaration of a truth that had just been divinely revealed to him thru the vision and chain of events that had transpired. There was no question in Peter's mind but that "God was not a respecter of persons." Those of every nation (including this Gentile named Cornelius) who feared God and worked righteousness would be accepted by God. Whatever God had done for one he would do for all. Peter's sermon outline is simple and basic: He began with what his listeners knew, convinced them of its truth, spoke to them of faith and the promise of salvation and shared with them the command of God.

I. What they already knew: Vs. 36-38
   1. The "word" or gospel message of "peace" that God had sent to the nation of Israel had evidently spread far and wide. What kind of peace did Jesus preach that his followers can know or experience? (Cf., Phil 4:7.) 

    2. Who was the main subject of Peter's sermon? Did Cornelius already know something about Jesus and the peace of God that he offers to mankind? What commonly shared information about Jesus did Cornelius already know?  Why would Peter have expected Cornelius to know this information about Jesus already?

    3. Obviously, more information was required for salvation than just a knowledge that Jesus was anointed by God with miraculous powers and proofs that God was with him. Remember that Peter had been sent for to tell Cornelius what was commanded (Acts 10:33) and words that would lead to salvation (Acts 11:14.)  We might wonder what did Cornelius not know?

II. What others had seen: Vs. 39-43
   1. What important information about Jesus had been witnessed by others (the apostles)? What would be the value of having several witnesses? There is no reason to think that Cornelius had never heard about the death and resurrection of Jesus. If all the previous facts were know then he probably had heard of the resurrection. But Peter's testimony and eyewitness account was offered as a persuasive argument that what had been heard was "true."

    2. Further and perhaps even more convincing proof that these things were true was what the prophets of old had written about Jesus. (V.43.)  In 2 Pet 1:16-19ff, Peter argued that the gospel story was true not only because of eyewitnesses, but also because of the "sure word of prophecy." Why was fulfilled prophecy indisputable evidence and a foundation for faith.

    3.  It is important to note that Peter said the prophets taught that "through his name" (the name of Jesus) "whosoever" (meaning Jew or Gentile) "believeth in him" (Jesus) "shall" (future tense) "receive remission" (forgiveness) "of sins."

 

Notice that forgiveness comes "through the name of Jesus." That expression was first associated with remission of sins in Acts 2:38 where Peter commanded repentance and baptism in the name of Jesus Christ. Its interesting that those same words are connected again with baptism in this chapter at the close of Peter's lesson. (Cf. Acts 10:48.) No one should question the importance of faith in obtaining remission of sins but it is the obedient and active faith that saves. 

III. What the Jews needed to know : Vs.44-46
   1. Cornelius was not the only one being taught that day, so too were the six Jewish witnesses that came with Peter. We should keep in mind that a powerful series of events were unfolding that would convince Peter, the rest of the apostles, and the entire brotherhood that God is not a respecter of persons when it comes to who can enjoy the benefits of the cross.

    2. What "astonished" those who came with Peter? (Vs. 45.) The supernatural ability to speak in tongues was convincing proof of the miracle. This however was not the norm usually associated with preaching the gospel. In fact, it was highly abnormal. Later in Acts 11:15, when Peter tells others what had happened, the only thing he could compare it to was what had occurred "at the beginning" (of the church) in Acts 2. The apostles were the only other ones who had received anything like this. 

    3. So what was the purpose of this special miracle? It was not to save Cornelius because Acts 11:14 says that the "words of Peter" were the vehicle God would use to save him." Even Cornelius understood that it was what was commanded of Peter that would result in salvation (Cf., Acts 10:33.) This unique outpouring of the Holy Spirit was not to save Cornelius but to convince the Jews that the Gentiles were worthy of the gospel. (Cf., Acts 11:17.) Do we ever read of anything like this happening to others in the scriptures? This was evidently a "one of a kind" event for the purpose of teaching and convincing brethren that the Gentiles could also be saved and share in the blessings of Christ.

IV. What the Gentiles needed to know : Vs.47-48
   1. Peter looked at his companions and asked who could forbid water that these should not be baptized. There was no logical reason to withhold the information that they needed and which Peter closed his lesson with. With the same apostolic authority that had first told the Jews on Pentecost to repent and be baptized, he commanded that the Gentiles also be baptized. It is what Christ had told them to do in the great commission (Mark 16:15-16) and it was what was commanded of all those we have studied about who had come to have faith in Jesus.

wrap up

   1.  We began by asking, What would you preach, where would you begin and with what information would you end if you were teaching someone the gospel? Peter began with what they already knew about Jesus and convinced them that it was true. He placed emphasis upon faith, stating that "through his name, whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins." He closed by sharing how remission of sins can be gained by the believer "through his name." With apostolic authority he command baptism "in the name of the Lord." Now that's preaching the gospel!

Assignment

  Please read Acts 11:1-18 for next week    copyright 2001