Setting

Saul, after his conversion, preached the name of Jesus Christ in Damascus and Jerusalem. Because of the plots of the Hellenists to kill Saul, the brethren in Jerusalem sent him to Tarsus. Luke now shifts his focus to Peter, who traveled throughout the country to visit the believers. While in Joppa, Peter received a revelation from the Lord, who miraculously opened the door for the gospel and sent Peter to preach to the Gentiles.

Key Verse

(10:15)

Did You Know...?

1. Lydda (9:32) was called Lod in the Old Testament (1Chr 8:12). It lay about 9 miles east of Joppa, on the road from Joppa to Jerusalem. After it had been burned by the Romans, it was rebuilt and was known by the name of Diospolis. Its modern name is Ludd. [ref]
2. Sharon (9:35) is a stretch of coastal plain lying between the cities of Joppa and Caesarea. Lilies and roses bloomed in this fertile land (Songs 2:1; Is 35:2).
3. Tabitha/Dorcas (9:36) means gazelle.
4. Joppa (9:36) was “a town in the portion of Dan (Joshua 19:46; A.V., ‘Japho’), on a sandy promontory between Caesarea and Gaza, and at a distance of 30 miles north-west from Jerusalem. It is one of the oldest towns in Asia. It was and still is the chief seaport of Judea. It was never wrested from the Phoenicians. It became a Jewish town only in the second century B.C. It was from this port that Jonah ‘took ship to flee from the presence of the Lord’ (Jonah 1:3). To this place also the wood cut in Lebanon by Hiram’s men for Solomon was brought in floats (2Chronicles 2:16); and here the material for the building of the second temple was also landed (Ezra 3:7).” [ref]
5. Tanner (9:43): The Jews regarded this trade as half unclean and disreputable because it required contact with dead animals and blood. Therefore, tanning was usually carried on at some distance from towns. This was why Simon’s house was “by the seaside” (Acts 10:6). The fact that Peter stayed with Simon shows that Peter had to some extent broken away from Jewish prejudice. [ref]
6. Caesarea (10:1): “a city on the shore of the Mediterranean, on the great road from Tyre to Egypt, about 70 miles northwest of Jerusalem, at the northern extremity of the plain of Sharon. It was built by Herod the Great (B.C. 10), who named it after Caesar Augustus, hence called Caesarea Sebaste (Gr. Sebastos = ‘Augustus’), on the site of an old town called ‘Strato’s Tower.’ It was the capital of the Roman province of Judaea, the seat of the governors or procurators, and the headquarters of the Roman troops. It was the great Gentile city of Palestine, with a spacious artificial harbour.” [ref]
7. Centurion (10:1) a non-commissioned officer in the Roman army, commanding 100 men.
8. Italian Regiment (10:1): A regiment was a cohort that consisted of about 600 men. While many of the conquered races served in the Roman armies, this regiment was made up of Italians. At his residence, the Roman procurator would place a body of troops on which he could rely. [ref]
9. The ninth hour of the day (10:3): 3:00 pm.

Outline

  • Ministry in Lydda
    (9:32-35)
  • Ministry in Joppa
    (9:36-43)
  • Cornelius’ Vision
    (10:1-8)
  • Peter’s Vision
    (10:9-16)
  • Peter Commanded by the Holy Spirit to Go to Cornelius
    (10:17-23a)

Segment Analysis

  • 9:32-35

    1a.

    What did Peter do in Lydda?

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    He healed a paralytic by the name of Aeneas, who had been bedridden for eight years.

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  • 1b.

    What impact did this event have?

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    The miracle led everyone in Lydda and Sharon to turn to the Lord. This was a 100 percent conversion rate.

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  • 9:36-43

    2.

    What were the virtues of Tabitha?

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    She was full of good works and charitable deeds (36). She helped many widows by making tunics and garments for them (39).

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  • 3.

    What lessons can we learn from this story about love and charity?

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    1. Tabitha abounded in works of love (36). Loving o hers should not be something we do only occasionally. We need to do good all the time and be generous in our love for others.
    2. What Tabitha did for the widows was very practical and useful. She made use of her skills to care for those who tended to be neglected. In one way or another, we all have certain talents or skills that we can use to offer practical help to the needy. Let us not love in speech only, but with action and truth (1Jn 3:18).
    3. Works done out of love have a profound and lasting influence on others. Just picture how the disciples sent men to implore Peter not to delay in coming to them (38), how the widows held on to the tunics and garments Tabitha had made for them, and how they stood and wept for Tabitha (39). They were grieving for this woman of love and could not bear the thought of losing her. Today, our seemingly small deeds of love can also have a profound impact on the needy. Through our works of love, people can experience the love of Christ through us and come to know Christ (Jn 13:34,35).

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  • 4.

    What effect did the miracle of raising Tabitha to life have? What can we learn here?

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    Many of the people in Joppa came to believe in the Lord because of Tabitha. Miracles are a powerful way to draw people to Christ. God often delivers people from sufferings and tragedies to manifest His grace, mercy and power and to lead people to believe in Him.

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  • 5.

    Peter stayed with Simon the tanner. Why is this remarkable, and what can we learn from this?

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    No strict Jew would associate with tanners. Workers of leather were considered ceremonially unclean because of their constant contact with the skin of dead animals. Peter, however, following the example of Jesus, was willing to be with a social outcast (Recall how Jesus touched the lepers, ate with tax collectors and sinners, and let a sinful woman come near him).
    We, likewise, should learn to break through various forms of discrimination and reach out to the the social outcasts. We ought to be willing to accept them and touch them with the love of Christ.

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  • 10:1-8

    6.

    Who was Cornelius?

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    A centurion of the Italian Regiment in Caesarea.

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  • 7a.

    What kind of a person was Cornelius?

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    He was a devout man and one who feared God with all his household. He gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always.

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  • 7b.

    Observe Cornelius’ influence on those around him. What can we learn from him?

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    Cornelius was not only himself God fearing, all his household and even the soldier he sent were devout. It is evident that Cornelius had a godly way of life, thereby passing his piety to those around him.
    People, especially those close to us, can observe our lifestyles and conduct clearly. What we do in our daily lives can affect whether they also share our devotion to God (cf. 1Pet 3:1).
    We also should not neglect leading our family members to the Lord and set good examples for them. While we need to build up our personal faith and zeal, it is our responsibility to build up the faith of our families and to preach to our relatives and friends as Cornelius had done.

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  • 8.

    Considering that Cornelius was a centurion of the Roman army occupying Palestine, what was unusual about him?

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    Cornelius was a man of authority. While it was common for Roman soldiers to intimidate and extort the people (Lk 3:14), Cornelius did not abuse his power and oppress the Jews despite his great authority. On the contrary, his godliness and charity earned him the respect of the Jews (Acts 10:22).

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  • 9.

    What prompted God to send an angel to Cornelius?

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    Cornelius’ prayers and alms had reached God. Therefore, the Lord responded and sent an angel to him to instruct him to seek the way of salvation (4-5, 31-32).

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  • 10.

    What did the angel in the vision tell Cornelius to do?

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    He told Cornelius to send men to Joppa and send for Simon Peter, who would come and tell him what to do.

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  • 10:9-16

    11a.

    What did Peter see in the vision?

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    He saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth. In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air (i.e. all the ceremonially unclean animals of the Mosaic law)(11-12).

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  • 11b.

    What did God tell Peter in the vision?

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    God then told him to kill and eat. When Peter objected because he had never eaten any unclean animals, God told him that what God has cleansed he must not call common.

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  • 11c.

    Why do you think God showed Peter the vision three times?

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    It is very difficult to break away from traditions and long-held beliefs. By repeating the vision three times, the Lord wanted to impress deeply upon Peter an important truth and help Peter overcome his reservations and doubts in obeying the Lord’s command.

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  • 11d.

    Why do you think God showed Peter the vision instead of just telling Peter to go with Cornelius’ men? What was the significance of the vision?

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    God used the vision to reveal an important truth about cleanliness. For Peter to associate with Gentiles was as unthinkable as eating unclean animals because the Jews considered the Gentiles as impure. But through the analogy of the unclean animals, God taught Peter that it is God, not man, who determines what is clean and unclean. What God considers clean is truly clean, despite what men may think. It had always been God’s will to save the Gentiles and He had considered them clean. Peter must not let his prejudices and traditions stop him from obeying the will of God and from preaching the gospel of salvation to the Gentiles.
    Peter kept the teachings of this vision to heart. Later on, he defended his evangelizing the Gentiles with the revelation that he had received in this vision (Acts 11:5-10; 15:9).

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  • 11e.

    What lessons can we learn from Peter’s vision?

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    As difficult as it is to break away from deep-seated traditions and values, God’s will must come first. Often times, God’s ways are directly contrary to men’s values (Lk 16:15). So we cannot hold tenaciously to our traditions without examining whether they conform to God’s will.
    Another lesson we can learn is that we should remove any racial or social prejudices that we might have against certain individuals or groups of people. These prejudices may prevent us from preaching the gospel to them, either because we simply do not associate with them or because we feel that they are unlikely to accept the gospel. Peter’s vision teaches us that God’s will to offer salvation to all must prevail over our personal biases.

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  • 10:17-23a

    12.

    What did the Holy Spirit instruct Peter to do?

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    The Holy Spirit told Peter, “Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them” (20).

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