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Acts of the Apostles
Lesson 5
The Ministry of Peter

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Reading assignment for this lesson: Acts 9:32 – 11:18

After the dramatic story of Saul's conversion, the narrative in Acts now turns back to Peter. It was a time of peace for the Church, due at least in part to Saul's conversion. Peter traveled around Judea (now southern Israel) and ministered to the Jewish Christians living in those areas. He encouraged and supported the believers, and his ministry added many more to their numbers.

Up until this time, the dramatic growth of the Church had been exclusively among Jews. However, a vision convinced Peter that Gentiles were also part of God's plan of salvation. This was a turning point for the Church; before long, Gentile Christians would outnumber their Jewish brethren. However, some groups of Jewish Christians, known as Judaizers, spoke against allowing Gentiles to become Christians. They claimed that all Christians must observe all the details of Jewish Law, including circumcision, dietary restrictions, Sabbath observance, etc. This conflict, and the way Christian leaders responded to it, forms the background for many New Testament writings. Although the idea of accepting Gentiles into the Church was horrifying to many Jewish Christians, Jesus had already laid the foundation by reaching out to Gentiles during His own ministry and teachings (Matthew 8:11, Mark 5:1-20, Luke 7:1-10, John 4:39-42, 10:16).

1. a) How did the healings of Aeneas and the raising of Dorcas impact the Christian communities at Lydda and Joppa? (See Acts 9:32-42.)
b) In what ways can you see God working in the world today?

2. What brought Peter and Cornelius together? (See Acts 10:1-7, 17-20.)

3. What did Peter's vision mean? (See Acts 10:9-16, 10:28, Leviticus 11:1-23.)

4. Why was the vision needed to get Peter to go to the house of Cornelius? (See Ezra 9:10-14, Acts 10:28, 11:2-3.)

5. a) What does Peter mean by his statement, "I truly understand that God shows no partiality (or favoritism)?" (See Acts 10:34, Galatians 3:28-29.)
b) Can you think of examples of partiality in your church or in the ways you treat other people?

6. What was the evidence that the Holy Spirit fell upon Cornelius and his household? (See Acts 10:44-48.)

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