"THE BOOK OF ACTS" Peter Defends His Actions (11:1-18) INTRODUCTION 1. The news of Cornelius' conversion quickly spread... a. Those in Jerusalem heard of the Gentiles' reception of the Word - Ac 11:1 b. But Peter's actions were soon criticized by some Jewish Christians - Ac 11:2-3 2. As noted previously, there are two accounts of Cornelius' conversion... a. There is Luke's description, given as it occurred - Ac 10:1-48 b. There is Peter's description, when he is called to defend his actions - Ac 11:1-18 [In this lesson, we will focus our attention to Peter's description of the events as they occurred...] I. PETER'S ACCOUNT OF THIS CONVERSION A. PETER HAS A VISION... 1. While praying in Joppa, in a trance, Peter has a vision - Ac 11:4-9 a. A sheet descends from heaven, containing all sorts of creatures b. A voice tells him "Rise, Peter; kill and eat" c. Peter objects, for he has never eaten anything common or unclean d. The voice tells him, "What God has cleansed you must not call common." 2. The vision is repeated three times - Ac 11:10 B. THE SPIRIT INSTRUCTS PETER... 1. Three men from Caesarea arrive as Peter contemplates the vision - Ac 11:11 2. The Spirit tells Peter to go with them, doubting nothing - Ac 11:12 3. Six brethren from Joppa went with him (now with Peter in Jerusalem) - Ac 11:12 4. They entered the man's house - Ac 11:12 C. CORNELIUS EXPLAINS WHY HE SENT FOR PETER... 1. He had seen an angel standing in his house - Ac 11:13 2. Who told him to send to Joppa and ask for Peter - Ac 11:13 3. "who will tell you words by which you and all your household will be saved" - Ac 11:14 D. THE SPIRIT FALLS ON THE GENTILES... 1. "As I began to speak...as upon us at the beginning." - Ac 11:15; cf. Ac 2:1-4 2. Reminded Peter of the Lord's promise to the apostles concerning being baptized with the Holy Spirit - Ac 11:16; cf. Ac 1:5 3. Convinced him that if God gave Gentiles the same gift as given to the apostles when they believed on the Lord, who was he to withstand God? - Ac 11:17 E. THE IMPACT ON THOSE AT JERUSALEM... 1. They were silenced, then glorified God - Ac 11:18 2. Saying, "Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life." - ibid. [Peter's account silenced the objectors, and led to the Gentiles considered acceptable recipients of the gospel of Christ. His account also adds a few details of which we should take careful note...] II. OBSERVATIONS REGARDING THIS CONVERSION A. THE ORDER IN WHICH EVENTS OCCURRED... 1. Peter explained the events "in order from the beginning" -
Ac 11:4; cf. Lk 1:3 2. If there is any question as to the sequence of events, Peter's account takes precedence B. THE MOMENT WHEN CORNELIUS WAS SAVED... 1. Remember that Cornelius was told to send for Peter, who would tell him... a. "what you must do." - Ac 10:6 b. "words by which you...shall be saved." - Ac 11:14 2. From this, and from what we see in other conversions... a. Cornelius was not saved until he heard the "words" (i.e., after the sermon) b. Cornelius was not saved until he obeyed what he was told to do 3. What were the words he and his household were told to do? a. They were told to believe, as implied in Ac 10:43 b. They were told to be baptized, as commanded in Ac 10:48 4. Thus Cornelius and his household were not saved until they believed and were baptized! - cf. Mk 16:16; Ac 8:12,13 C. THE PURPOSE OF THE SPIRIT FALLING ON THEM... 1. Some presume that the purpose was to save Cornelius and his family a. That therefore they were saved before obeying the command to be baptized b. But the Spirit came upon them as Peter "began to speak", before they could hear words by which they could be saved! - Ac 11:14-15 2. The purpose of the Spirit can be gleaned from the following... a. The effect it had on the Jewish brethren who were present, and Peter's response - Ac 10:45-47 b. The reaction of those in Jerusalem when Peter explained what happened - Ac 11:17-18 c. Peter's explanation at the council held later in Jerusalem - Ac 15:7-11 3. The purpose of the Spirit falling on Gentiles was therefore to show Jewish brethren... a. That God was no respecter of persons - Ac 10:34-35 b. That God was willing to grant Gentiles opportunity to repent and have life - Ac 11:18 c. That Gentiles could be saved in the same way as Jews... -
Ac 15:9,11; cf. Ac 2:38; 10:48 CONCLUSION 1. Peter's defense of his actions silenced those who accused him of impropriety... a. For socializing with Gentiles b. For sharing the gospel with them 2. But the issue of Gentiles in the church was not over... a. It will come up again later in Acts - cf. Ac 15:1-2 b. It was a major issue addressed in several epistles (Romans, Galatians, etc.) But we who are Gentiles today can be thankful that God in His grace has made it clear: He is no respecter of persons, and that all can be saved by the grace extended through His Son Jesus Christ...!