Conversion of Cornelius (Acts 10 & 11)
Welcome to Lesson 11 in your Bible Study of Acts.
In this lesson we’ll be taking a look at the conversion of Cornelius, the Roman centurion in Acts 10 and 11.
This conversion is important for the book of Acts as a whole. This is because it represents the movement of the gospel to the Gentile populations of the Greco-Roman world, a major theme in the Acts of the Apostles.
The Importance of Cornelius’ conversion
Luke demonstrates the importance of Cornelius’ conversion based on the fact that he dedicates two whole chapters (10 and 11) to relate it. In addition, Luke refers to the Cornelius episode in the Jerusalem council deliberations (15:7-11).
Read Acts 10:1-6, 10:9-16 and 10:28
- Describe the type of man that Cornelius was.
- How does God manifest himself to Cornelius in this story and how does Cornelius respond?
- In the vision that Peter saw, God commanded him to eat food that a Jewish person was not allowed to eat (see Leviticus 11).
- What was God revealing or telling Peter by this vision? (See 10:28) (Hint: How do clean and uncleans foods relate to the relationship between Jews and Gentiles in the New Testament?)
Peter Responds to Cornelius’ Invitation
After his vision, Peter received Cornelius’ men and instructions from the Lord that he should accompany them to Cornelius’ house. Upon arriving at Cornelius’ house, Peter found a great many people assembled there. Cornelius then relayed the story of the angel and the circumstances which lead to inviting Peter to visit him.
Read Acts 10:34-48
Peter makes the following affirmations in his message to Cornelius:
- God does not show partiality but rather accepts all who fear him and do what is right
- God anointed Jesus with power and he went about healing and doing good
- Jesus was crucified but resurrected on the third day
- Jesus has been appointed to judge the living and the dead
- The prophets bear witness to him
- Everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sin
- Spend some time thinking about and elaborating on each of these statements. Is there one in particular that you need to hear today or that is impactful? Explain.
- What is the significance of the Holy Spirit and tongues appearing here in the Cornelius episode the same way as in Acts 2? (Remember, there it was mostly Jews who were in Jerusalem.)
- What does it mean that a Jew and a Gentile are now united in one Spirit, one faith one baptism and one church?
- Are you someone who shows partiality to people or who makes a distinction between groups of people when it comes to the Christian faith?