November 6, 2022 – Acts 10:1 – 11:18
Lesson Date: November 6, 2022
Focal Scripture Passage: Acts 10:1 – 11:18
AIM: To lead students to recognize that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is available to everyone regardless of their racial, social, religious, or ethnic background, and to confess any sins of prejudice and be willing to invite anyone and everyone to come to Christ.
Before class: Read the notes on Acts 10:1 – 11:18 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book. Write the word “Prejudice” on the marker board or chalkboard.
INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Direct the students’ attention to the word “Prejudice” written on the board. Ask them to suggest definitions for the word (it literally means to pre-judge or have a bias or preconceived opinion of someone based on their appearance, ethnicity, or nationality).
Tell the class that one example of prejudice would be to reject, think badly of, or dislike someone purely based on the color of their skin. Explain that while there are certainly prejudiced people in America today, the media and many in government want us to believe that all white people hate all black people, and vice versa.
Ask: “Are there different ways for people to be saved, based on their ethnicity or nationality?” (no, there is only one way to be saved: faith in Jesus Christ). Stress the fact that Russians must come to Christ the exact same way as Americans, Asians get saved the exact same way as Europeans, and people with light skin must trust Jesus for salvation, just like people with dark skin. Tell the students that underneath our skin color, nationality, or language, we are all sinners who need a Savior. The title of today’s lesson from Acts 10 and 11 is Christ For All Nations.
HEART OF THE LESSON (Bible Study):
- Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (Jesus changes lives).
- Ask if any volunteer would recite last week’s memory verses (Acts 9:4-5).
- Ask a volunteer to find and read Acts 1:8.
- Remind the class that just before His ascension, Jesus instructed His followers to take the Gospel to Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria.
- Ask: “Is that as far as He told them to witness?” (no, He also told them to spread the Gospel to “the uttermost part of the earth.”
- Tell the students that through the first nine chapters of Acts we have seen the Gospel reach people in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria.
- Explain that with the exception of the Ethiopian eunuch, everyone who was saved in those first nine chapters was Jewish.
- Tell them in today’s lesson we will see the Gospel touch and change the lives of some people who were not Jewish (people who were Gentiles).
- A Gentile and a Jew.
- Read Acts 10:1-2.
- Ask: “Who was Cornelius?” (a Roman centurion in Caesarea who feared God; locate Caesarea on the Map).
- Explain that Cornelius was a God-fearer, someone who had forsaken paganism to follow Judaism, but had not entered fully into Judaism through circumcision.
- Read Acts 10:3-8.
- Ask: “What did Cornelius see in his vision?” (an angel who told him to send for Peter; locate Joppa on the Map).
- Tell the class that Cornelius sent two men to Joppa to get Peter.
- Ask a volunteer to read Acts 10:9-16.
- Ask: “What did Peter see in his vision?” (a sheet tied up at the corners coming down to earth; the sheet contained all sorts of clean and unclean animals).
- Ask: “What did the voice tell Peter in verse 13?” (to kill and eat the animals).
- Ask: “Why did Peter protest this in verse 14?” (as a faithful Jew, he had never eaten any unclean animals).
- Ask: “What did the voice from heaven tell Peter in verse 15?” (don’t call that which God has cleansed unclean).
- Explain the following:
- Peter was puzzled by the meaning of this vision (v. 17).
- Cornelius’ messengers arrived and asked Peter to go with them to Cornelius (v. 17-22).
- Peter and some other Jewish believers went to Cornelius’ house in Caesarea (v. 23).
- Peter found that Cornelius had gathered his family and friends to hear him (v. 24).
- Read Acts 10:28.
- Ask: “What did Peter say it was unlawful for a Jew to do?” (associate with Gentiles).
- Ask: “What had God taught Peter?” (that he should not consider anyone unclean).
- Tell the students that Cornelius then told Peter all about his vision.
- Ask a volunteer to read Acts 10:33.
- Ask: “What did Cornelius say they wanted to hear?” (all that God told Peter to say).
- Summarize: Cornelius, a Gentile, sent for Peter, a Jew, to come preach to him and his family. Peter learned that he was not to be prejudiced against Gentiles.
- Peter’s Sermon to the Gentiles.
- Tell the class that Peter’s sermon is recorded for us in verses 34-43.
- Read the following verses and identify the points of Peter’s sermon:
- Acts 10:34-35 – God is not prejudiced; His truth is available to everyone.
- Acts 10:36 – Jesus Christ is Lord of all (everybody).
- Acts 10:37-38 – Jesus’ ministry included doing good and freeing those held captive by the devil.
- Acts 10:39 – Jesus was crucified.
- Acts 10:40-41 – Jesus arose from the dead and was seen alive by many witnesses.
- Acts 10:42 – Jesus commanded His followers to spread the Good News and warn of coming judgment.
- Ask a volunteer to read Acts 10:43.
- Ask: “Who can be forgiven and saved by believing in Jesus?” (“whosoever,” in other words, anybody – including Jews and Gentiles; see Acts 2:21; Rom. 10:13).
- Stress the fact that the word “whosoever’ includes both Jews and Gentiles.
- Summarize: Peter preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ to Cornelius and his Gentile family and friends, telling them that salvation is available to anyone who believes.
- Gentiles Were Saved and Baptized.
- Read Acts 10:44-46.
- Ask: “What happened?” (the Holy Spirit fell upon Cornelius and the other Gentiles; in other words, they were saved).
- Ask: “How did the Jewish believers react to this?” (they were astonished that Gentiles could be saved and receive the indwelling Holy Spirit, just like the Jews could).
- Explain the following:
- Verse 46 says these new Gentile believers spoke in other languages and glorified God.
- That is exactly what happened in Acts 2 when Jews first received the Holy Spirit.
- This miraculous event marked the beginning of a new era: the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ outside of Judaism to the Gentiles.
- It was important that Peter and other Jewish Christians witness this so they would understand that in terms of salvation, there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile.
- These Jewish believers were learning that the Gospel of Jesus Christ “is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek [Gentile]” (Rom. 1:16).
- Ask a volunteer to read Acts 10:47-48.
- Ask: “What did Peter do to show that these new Gentile Christians were as much a part of the church as the Jewish believers?” (he commanded them to be baptized).
- Summarize: The Gentiles in Cornelius’ house received Christ and were indwelt by the Holy Spirit, just like the Jews. They were welcomed into the church through baptism.
- Gentiles Accepted Into the Church.
- Read Acts 11:1-3.
- Ask: “What happened when the Apostles and other Jewish believers in Jerusalem heard that Gentiles had been saved through Peter’s preaching?” (they were upset that Peter had gone into the home of a Gentile and eaten with Gentiles).
- Explain the following:
- Long-held prejudices can be hard to overcome.
- The Jews were so accustomed to avoiding and hating Gentiles, that even the Christians were upset about Peter’s behavior.
- In verses 4-17, Peter told the church leaders all that had taken place.
- Ask a volunteer to read Acts 11:18.
- Ask: “How did the Jewish Christians react to Peter’s explanation?” (they glorified God).
- Ask: “What did they say?” (God has opened the door of repentance, salvation, and eternal life to the Gentiles, as well as the Jews).
- Tell the students that this was a very important event: from this point onward, the church was open to anyone who truly repents and believes in Jesus, regardless of religious, ethnic, or national background (Eph. 2:11-22).
- Summarize: The apostles and other Jewish leaders of the church in Jerusalem accepted the fact that God saves Gentiles just like He does Jews. In Christ, Jew and Gentile are one.
PERSONAL APPLICATION: Direct the students’ attention once again to the word “Prejudice” written on the board. Tell them that prejudice can be a very hurtful and harmful thing. People who are prejudiced against another ethnic group or nationality might avoid them, say ugly things to them, pass over them when hiring or promoting, or in extreme cases, might even do them bodily harm. Prejudice is bad.
Ask: “Are there ever any prejudices in the church? Are certain groups of people avoided, shunned, or denied membership?” (unfortunately, things like that do happen in churches).
Tell the students that Evangelist Billy Graham was a strong voice against prejudice in the church. He insisted that his crusades be open to black and white without distinction or segregated seating. Billy Graham even preached against prejudice in segregated South Africa, proclaiming that, “Christ belongs to all people.”
Ask: “Based on what we’ve learned today, are there different ways for people to be saved, based on their ethnicity or nationality?” (no, there is only one way to be saved: faith in Jesus Christ).
Remind the students that the theme of today’s lesson is Christ For All Nations. Tell them the Gospel of Jesus Christ is available to everyone regardless of their racial, social, religious, economic, or ethnic background; but we, as flawed and sinful human beings, sometimes hold onto ungodly prejudices. We must lay down our prejudices.
Encourage the students to honestly examine their hearts, confess any sins of prejudice, and be willing to invite anyone and everyone to come to Christ and to His church. Voice a closing prayer of confession and commitment.
CONCLUSION: Ask everyone to memorize Romans 1:16. Tell them to thank God that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not limited to certain ethnic groups, because if it had been, we might have been left out! Encourage them to invite their friends and associates, regardless of nationality or ethnicity, to come with them to church.
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