Acts Chapter 11 Part One, The Gospel Goes to Gentiles

…”We should now go to our unfinished biblical studies of “Exploring the Book of Acts with…Chapter 11..Part One…”The Gospel Goes to Gentiles”…

…”The Gentile challenge”…
“The conversion of Cornelius is a milestone in the church’s history. However, it doen’t settle the troubling issues of the proper relationship of Jews to Gentiles within the body of believers. In fact, the church throu…ghout Judea is soon buzzing with the tale that Peter met with and baptized Cornelius. Luke writes of the controversy: “The apostles and brothers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. So that when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the uncircumcised believers criticized him and said, ‘You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them’”…Acts 11:2-3…

…”Luke makes a distinction between “the apostles and brothers”…Acts 11:1…who hear about what Peter did and “the circumcised believers” who criticize them. This implies that the apostles and leaders of the Jerusalem church, as well as some believers in Judea, don’t have a problem with Peter’s actions in Caesarea. It is other circumcised believers of Jerusalem who think that Peter violated Judaistic regulations pertaining to the separation of Jews from Gentiles. That is not to suggest that there is a formal “circumcision party” in the church at this time, though apparently there will be one later….hummmm…

“The circumcised believers apparently do not criticize Peter for baptizing Cornelius. Rather, Peter is challenged because he enters the house where uncircumcised people are, and eats with them. That he eats there is not directly stated by Luke but is inferred from Peter staying at Cornelius’ home for some days. “The sting in the charge of course, is found in the ancient symbolism of table-fellowship: to eat with someone is to share spiritually with them as well; by implication to eat with Gentiles is to collude in idolatry”…

…”Peter’s opponents are accusing him of abandoning his sacred Jewish heritage by associating with and eating with uncircumcised Gentiles. Some think he is putting the identity of the church community at risk. Thinking in terms of the Jewish paradigm of Israel as God’s holy nation, some emphasize that the church is a holy people. It is to be separate from the pollution of the world, including fraternizing with Gentiles. But now the church is tainted because one of its leaders violated ritual separation…huh?

“There may be another, more practical concern as well. The Hellenistic believers were persecuted and driven out of Jerusalem for their attacks on the foundations of Judaistic piety. Now Peter, a leading apostle, has disregarded the “sacred and traditional laws of separation” in order to associate with a Gentile. This may lead the Sanhedrin to persecute the remaining, and more conservative, Jewish converts in Jerusalem…

…”Peter explains his actions”…Acts 11:4-17…
“Peter needs to explain why he met with Cornelius and baptized him. He goes before the “circumcised believers” of Jerusalem…not the apostles!…and there recounts everything “precisely as it had happened”..Acts 11:4.. That is, he recites the events related to Cornelius’ conversion in sequence, point by point. In giving us a summary of what Peter says, Luke repeats, to a large degree, the material he includes in chapter 10. We need not tell the entire story again, though there are a couple of new pieces of information that should be mentioned…

“Peter refers to the six circumcised disciples who go to Caesarea with him, and who also enter the home of Cornelius..Acts 11:12.. The fact that he brings these six men with him to Jerusalem suggests that he expects to be challenged. These six men are important witnesses to what happened. They are circumcised believers, and hence their credentials as pious Jews as well as Christians should carry weight with the church in Jerusalem…

…”The six saw Cornelius and the other Gentiles receiving the Holy-Spirit..Acts 10:45.. Thus, they are witnesses to the fact that God put his “stamp of approval” on the whole occasion. More than this, the six believers also enter Cornelius’ home, and eat with him. They are more than witnesses for the truth of Peter’s story…..

“These pious and observant Jewish Christians are also implicated in Peter’s actions at the house of Cornelius. Since they are respected members of the circumcision, the fact that they are willing to be “tainted” by being in a Gentile’s presence would help counter the objections being raised…Peter did not act alone…

…”More important, “however”, is that Peter can appeal to God as the One who orchestrated the meeting with Cornelius. Thus, Peter concludes his defense by saying, “If God gave them the Cornelius group..the same gift as he gave us…who was I to think that I could oppose God?”..Acts 11:17.. The important phrase here is “same gift.” The Gentiles experienced something similar in all essentials to that of the original Jewish disciples at Pentecost..Acts 2:1-5.. That being so, they should have an equal membership in the body of Christ…

…”Peter argues that he went to the home of Cornelius, “baptized him”, and then fellowshipped with the group in response to God’s action. He didn’t do this simply on his own initiative or to play fast and loose with tradition. There has been a divine motivation in all this, beginning with his vision on the roof of Simon the tanner’s house.

The Gospel Goes to Gentiles

The Gospel Goes to Gentiles

“For the moment, the Jerusalem disciples are satisfied with Peter’s explanation. “They had no further objections and praised God, saying, ‘So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life’”…Acts 11:18…On the surface, this appears to be the end of any controversy regarding the Gentiles. But that is not the case, as we shall see later in Acts…
Will continue this bible study on Acts tomorrow!!!…Until then…

1 Comment

Filed under Daily Biblical Studies for the Soul Text

One response to “Acts Chapter 11 Part One, The Gospel Goes to Gentiles

  1. Pingback: Daniel’s Disturbing Dream (Daniel 7:1-28) | whatshotn

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