Bible Study for Home Church – November 28, 2021
We would like to encourage you to take some time to read and look at the following scriptures and study points with your group during your time together.
Though we are intentionally meeting in separate homes, we are one in Christ; looking into His Word together, fellowshipping together, and lifting one another up in prayer.
HOUSE CHURCH BIBLE STUDY – Acts 10:1-23a
Read the passage together, discussing among yourselves the following teaching points either as you read the scripture, or following the reading of the scripture. These points are offered to assist in starting conversation amongst yourselves; use them however you choose to. If you desire more, please continue with Acts 10:23b-48.
CONVERSATION STARTER STUDY POINTS
Point: Cornelius; Roman Centurion in Caesarea Maritima. Italian Regiment.
Question: What do these facts alone tell us about who Cornelius was?
- Cornelius is a Latin Name.
- Caesarea Maritima (Palistinea) was a coastal city in Judea rebuilt by King Herod the Great and named in honour of Caesar Augustus.
- Italian Regiment, like most Roman ‘Centuries’ (military units of 80 legionnaire plus support staff), the Italian Regiment would have been made up of primarily volunteer soldiers.
Point: Cornelius and his family were devout and God-fearing, yet the Holy Spirit arranged it so Peter would come to them and speak about Jesus.
Question: What does this tell us about the nature of Cornelius’ understanding of faith?
Point: It is interesting that the angel begins with an almost unrelated message, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God.”
Question: Why do you think God wanted Cornelius to hear that, before He gave him instruction to seek out Peter at Simon the Tanner’s house?
Point: An informative piece of the angel’s instruction is for Cornelius to send men to Joppa, instead of Cornelius going himself.
Question: This lends itself to showing us that God is well aware of our situation, and often works within its boundaries. What about Cornelius’ situation would have made it difficult for him to go himself?
Point: God’s timing is wonderous. As the three men from Cornelius were approaching the city, Peter has the vision from the Lord.
Question: What examples do you have of how God’s timing was as miraculous as the event or encounter itself?
Point: It is notable that Acts records that Peter was hungry before he has a vision about eating. Many times, Jesus used what was around him to teach a lesson.
Question: Do you find this to be an effective way of presenting a message? And, can you give an example of how either God taught you something in this manner, or how you taught someone else in this manner?
Point: Try to understand how monumentous this moment is for Peter. All his life, Peter had grown up with the belief that eating impure or unclean foods was wrong (even the Law of Moses taught this). Now, here, three times (v.16) he argues and is then corrected with, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”
To add to his bewilderment, it appears that Peter recognizes who it is that is giving him a message through the angel, as he responds, “Surely not, Lord!”
Question: Talk for a moment on how you think Peter must have been feeling at this point. Can you compare it to any longstanding belief that you might have had in which Jesus had to confront in you?
Point: Some scholars point to this scripture in attempts to validate a theological standpoint that God was foreshadowing that the Law was about to be replaced by grace.
Question: Do you believe that this was the intention here ?
Point: Three times God admonishes Peter to not call anything unclean which he has made clean. Then, three Gentiles show up on his doorstep.
Question: Do you think that might have been intentional?
Point: “Then Peter invited the men into the house to be his guests.”
This is a pivotal point in the history of the church.
One of the most interesting phrases in this passage is verse 11, where Peter sees “Heaven opened…” Prior to this, you could say heaven was ‘not open’; rather it was ‘exclusive’, first to the Jew (or those who made themselves Jewish through ceremony), and then to the Samaritans (Acts 8).
But now, heaven was being made ‘open’ to the Gentiles. This ‘reality’ was later confirmed by the events of verses 44-48, where the Holy Spirit fell on these Gentiles, affirming to Peter that, “God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right (vs.34-35).”
Question: Would you admit that you have had some pre-conceived notions about who God would accept? Consider how difficult, and courageous it must have been for Peter to set aside his long-standing beliefs and prejudices in order to both accept and embrace this truth God was showing him, even at cost to himself and his reputation. Who is God speaking to you about right now that you find difficult to believe that God could, or even would, call to Himself?
Recognize that this passage involves an angel of God, a vision from God, and the Spirit of God. We can have the same courage as Peter, and ability to see others as God sees them, THROUGH the presence and involvement of God in our lives. We will struggle to do it in our own strength.
PRAYER POINT: Lord, do not let my limited understanding of you and your ways, or my prejudices, blind me from what grand plans you have for the world. Let me be obedient to your instruction at whatever cost to me or my reputation.
GOD BLESS your households as we take these last Sundays of each month to learn new ways of worshipping, fellowshipping, and creating opportunities to reach those who either cannot, or will not attend a regular church service.