God’s Guiding Word: Discipleship
Acts 11:1–18: As we saw in the readings from the last two days, chapter 10 in the book of Acts recounts Peter’s meeting with Cornelius, a Gentile, and how the Gentiles received the Holy Spirit and were baptized. In today’s reading, Peter is criticized by Jewish Christians for meeting with Gentiles, and he defends his actions.
1 The apostles and the other believers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. 2 When Peter went to Jerusalem, those who were in favor of circumcising Gentiles criticized him, saying, 3 “You were a guest in the home of uncircumcised Gentiles, and you even ate with them!” 4 So Peter gave them a complete account of what had happened from the very beginning:
5 “While I was praying in the city of Joppa, I had a vision. I saw something coming down that looked like a large sheet being lowered by its four corners from heaven, and it stopped next to me. 6 I looked closely inside and saw domesticated and wild animals, reptiles, and wild birds. 7 Then I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat!’ 8 But I said, ‘Certainly not, Lord! No ritually unclean or defiled food has ever entered my mouth.’ 9 The voice spoke again from heaven, ‘Do not consider anything unclean that God has declared clean.’ 10 This happened three times, and finally the whole thing was drawn back up into heaven. 11 At that very moment three men who had been sent to me from Caesarea arrived at the house where I was staying. 12 The Spirit told me to go with them without hesitation. These six fellow believers from Joppa accompanied me to Caesarea, and we all went into the house of Cornelius. 13 He told us how he had seen an angel standing in his house, who said to him, ‘Send someone to Joppa for a man whose full name is Simon Peter. 14 He will speak words to you by which you and all your family will be saved.’ 15 And when I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came down on them just as on us at the beginning. 16 Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 It is clear that God gave those Gentiles the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ; who was I, then, to try to stop God!”
18 When they heard this, they stopped their criticism and praised God, saying, “Then God has given to the Gentiles also the opportunity to repent and live!”
Today’s Key Verse: Acts 11:15
[Peter said:] “When I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came down on them just as on us at the beginning.”
Why was Peter criticized (verse 3)? What did the Jewish Christians seek to impose on the Gentile Christians (verse 2)? How did Peter respond (verses 5–17)? How did the church leaders react to Peter’s speech (verse 18)? In what ways does your community of faith invite and welcome those who wish to become members?
Holy God, empower me by your Spirit to proclaim boldly the Good News of Jesus Christ and to reach out to others with your message of repentance, forgiveness, love, and salvation. In your name I pray. Amen.
And now, join us praying for Bibles for the people of Sierra Leone. Lord God, in Sierra Leone, more than 1,000 audio Bible listening groups serve over 90,000 people. Those who attend include people living in slums, children from area orphanages, the Blind, disabled children, the elderly, vulnerable adults, and others who have suffered debilitating trauma. After hearing the Gospel, many have come to a saving faith in Jesus. Reports have been received that Muslims are using audio Bibles in their mosques. We thank you, Lord God, for Bible-A-Month Partners who are responding to this need so that many can receive Bibles of their own to continue growing in their Christian faith. Amen.
Acts 11:19–30: The Good News spreads.