Acts - Lesson 9
First Conversion of Gentiles
- The student can tell of the conversion of the first Gentiles to demonstrate the further spread of the gospel.
- The student can relate the process God used to get Peter to preach to Cornelius.
- The student can explain the part the Holy Spirit played in this conversion.
- The student can explain the necessity for people of high morals to have a savior.
- Be ready to distribute the Written Review.
- Be ready to distribute the Notes/Review sheet.
- Bibles and pens for all.
The conversion of Cornelius, a Gentile, marks another significant step in the spread of the gospel as God makes it clear that it is time to bring Gentiles into the church.
Lesson Plan for Conducting the Class
Introduction: (about 10 minutes)
- Check roll, welcome visitors, make announcements.
- Prayer and songs as desired: We Have Heard the Joyful Sound, Our God is an Awesome God, How Great Thou Art.
Learning Experiences: (about 25 minutes)
- Background for the Lesson.
- Q: As we begin chapter 10, about how long since Pentecost? (About 9 years. These events probably took place in 39 or 40 AD).
- Q: So far, where has the gospel been spread? (Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to Jews living in other places who traveled from Jerusalem.
- Q: What major segment of the world's population so far has not been evangelized?
- Q: Why is reaching spreading to this new segment an important step?
- Q: Why would it be a difficult step for some?
- Preparation of Cornelius and Peter.
- Q: Describe Cornelius as the story begins. (Lived in Caesarea, centurian, devout, God-fearing, caring and generous, prayerful, respected by all the Jews—vss. 1, 2, 22)
- Q: Does a person like this have any other spiritual need? (A savior to forgive his sins. Even people of good moral character need a savior.)
- Q: Who speaks to Cornelius and what message does he give him? Q: What does Cornelius now do? (sends men to Joppa for Peter)
- Q: Where is Peter and what happens to him? (On the housetop of Simon the tanner in Joppa. As he is praying, he sees a vision of a sheet with all kinds of animals. He is told to rise, kill, and eat, but he responds that he has never eaten anything unclean.
- Q: What is the message of the vision? (God has made Gentile people too and the should have the gospel as well as Jews.)
- Q: As Peter is pondering the meaning, what message does the Spirit give him? (Men are here I have sent; go with them.) Q: When Peter meets the men, how does he respond?
- Q: When Peter arrives at the house of Cornelius, what does Cornelius do? Q: How does Peter respond?
- Peter's Message.
- Q: How does Peter explain why he and the six Jews with him are willing to come into the house of a Gentile? Q: What does this demonstrate about Christians and the Law of Moses at this point? (They are still observing much of the Law and Jewish traditions even though they believe the Messiah to which the Law pointed has come. God allowed a transition period of a few years for Christian Jews to make a transition away from the Law.)
- Q: After Cornelius tells that he obeyed the angel, what admission does Peter make? (God accepts men from every nation.)
- Q: How does Peter establish with them that Jesus is the Christ? (He reminds them that they have known much about Jesus because they have been there. They know that God anointed him and that He did good and healed. Peter says he was a witness to these things. He then proclaims to have been a witness to the resurrection as were many others. He also says (v. 43) that all the prophets testified that those who believe in him can have forgiveness of sins through his name.
- Q: What does Peter say Jesus commanded his apostles to do? (To preach and to testify that Jesus will judge the living and the dead.
- Q: What similarity is there between this sermon and the one on Pentecost? (Jesus did miracles, Jesus was raised from the dead, Jesus fulfilled prophecies.)
- The Coming of the Holy Spirit.
- Q: What happened as Peter was speaking? (Holy Spirit came on these Gentiles and they could speak in tongues.)
- Q: According to Acts 11:15-16, what term should we use to describe this coming of the Holy Spirit? (Baptism of the Holy Spirit.) Q: Who else had experienced this type of event? (The apostles at the beginning, on Pentecost. Supplementary lesson 9 will go into much more detail about this.)
- Q: What does Peter now command the Gentiles to do? (Be baptized in water.)
- Q: In what ways has the Holy Spirit worked in this conversion story?
- Q: What did the Holy Spirit not do? (Did not reveal to Cornelius what to do. That is always explained by some other person. Seeing an angel did not save Cornelius. He had to hear the message about Jesus, believe in him and be baptized like anyone else. Speaking in tongues did not save Cornelius. God could have empowered him to do that without Peter's coming. While the speaking in tongues helped Peter and those Jews with him to know they were to accept Cornelius as a candidate for baptism, Peter knew that he still had to be baptized just like anyone else.)
Application: (about 5 minutes)
- Q: What does this lesson show us about Savior, Salvation, Spread, Spirit, and Saved?
- Q: What practical lessons can we learn from this story? (Cross barriers to take the gospel. What barriers are we reluctant to cross? We must adapt to the situation but we never change the basic message of salvation.)
- Be prepared for the written review at the next class meeting.
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