Acts 11: The First Jewish-Gentile Church
Luke set up the stories of Peter and Cornelius and Ananias with amazing symmetry. The Holy Spirit simultaneously prepared the heart of Ananias and of Saul—as he simultaneously prepared those of Peter and Cornelius. Peter questioned and hesitated, as did Ananias. Peter doubted whether he could be friends with the Gentiles, Ananias whether he could approach the enemy of the church. Both obey without hesitation when God makes his divine will known. These stories come together in today's study. Peter defends his ministry to Cornelius to the church at Jerusalem. He convinces them of God's work in the Gentiles. It is also here that Saul, the one-time enemy of the church, reappears as a minister to the church in Antioch, a church filled with both Jew and Gentile Christians.
Warming Up to God
In the face of change, how do you handle the need for a new perspective? Resistance? Excitement? Uncertainty? Do you face a change now? Take time to put your response, whatever it is, in God's hands.
Discovering the Word
- What kind of reception was awaiting Peter when he went back up to Jerusalem (vv. 1-3)?
- What seemed to be the final and most convincing proof to Peter of God's working in the Gentiles (vv. 15-17)? Why?
- In the meantime the gospel is spreading to Gentiles at a tremendous rate in Antioch. What kind of care is provided for new believers (vv. 22-30)?
- What was the reason for, and what were the results of, Barnabas's trip to Antioch (vv. 22-30)?
Applying the Word
- What can we learn from the way Peter responded to his critics?
- How does our care for new believers compare and contrast to the care given here?
- How do you see in this passage the true meaning of "Christian" being more fully discovered and lived out in a multicultural church?
Responding in Prayer
Ask God to help you be more open and flexible to the changes that he desires to bring about in your life.