Week 47: The Gospel Spreads to the Gentiles
Weekly memory verse:
Romans 10:12 – “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.”
“How Sweet and Awful Is the Place” (free download)
Where is Christ now?
Christ ascended into heaven and sits at the Father’s right hand.
Day 231: Peter’s Early Ministry
Reading: Acts 9:32–43, Psalm 141
Acts 9, Verse 32. Lydda. A central city situated at the meeting of roads from Egypt to Syria and from Joppa to Jerusalem.
Verse 36. Joppa. A coastal town.
Verse 43. Tanner. Tanners were shunned by Jews since they handled the skins of dead animals.
While Jesus called Paul to be the primary apostle to the Gentiles, Peter, too, had a successful ministry among them as well. Despite future tensions between these two men, both Paul and Peter served the same Lord and committed their life to the same mission of the spreading the good news of forgiveness from sin for those who trust in Christ.
- How were Peter’s miracles similar to miracles Jesus performed?
- Why was it remarkable that Peter stayed in Joppa with Simon, a tanner?
- What should be our prayer when we find ourselves in trouble?
Day 232: Gentiles Are Added to the Church
Reading: Acts 10:1–11:18
Acts 10, Verse 2. Feared God. This indicates that Cornelius had forsaken his pagan religion and converted to worshiping the God of the Jews.
Verse 12. All kinds of animals. These included both clean and unclean animals in terms of Jewish dietary restrictions (cf. Lev 11:25–26).
Verse 44. Holy Spirit fell. Because this was the first public occurrence of significant Gentiles coming to faith and uniting with Christ’s body, the Holy Spirit chose to visibly demonstrate the unity of the church—Jews and Gentiles—by giving them the gift of tongues.
Chapter 11, Verse 2. Circumcision party. Jewish Christians.
The conversion of Cornelius marks the first significant occurrence of Gentiles coming to faith in Christ and being added to the church. God uniquely informed Peter that division between Jews and Gentiles was abolished in the church, and The Holy Spirit visibly demonstrates that God accepts Gentiles, too, by granting them the gift of tongues, just as he had for the apostles and the Samaritans.
- Why did God give Peter the vision of the animals?
- Why was it so significant that the Holy Spirit came upon the Gentile converts?
- Why were the Jewish Christians upset with Peter?
Day 233: The Church in Antioch
Reading: Acts 11:19–30, Psalm 142
Acts 11, Verse 19. Antioch. The third largest city in the Roman empire, located on the northern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The church here becomes the most important Christian church after the church in Jerusalem and is a major missionary hub.
Verse 20. Hellenists. Greek-speaking non-Jews.
Verse 26. Christians. A derisive term meaning “little Christs.”
Verse 28. Agabus. One of the Jerusalem prophets who would later have a significant role in Paul’s ministry (21:10–11).
Verse 30. Elders. This is the first mention of the pastor-overseers of the church.
The influence of the gospel begins to spread outside Jerusalem and Judea to the doorway of the rest of the world. As more Gentiles come to faith in Christ, the church in Antioch forms as a central hub for missionary activity. Followers of Christ there begin to be noticed as having a distinct identity, and they soon come to claim the name, “Christians.”
- Why was the church in Antioch important?
- Why did the followers of Christ welcome the term “Christians”?
- What does the growth and significance of this church reveal about the apostles’ obedience to Christ’s commission to them?
Day 234: James Killed and Peter Imprisoned
Reading: Acts 12:1–25, Ps 143
Acts 12, Verse 1. Herod. This is Herod Agrippa I, grandson of Herod the Great.
Verse 12. Mark. A cousin of Barnabas (Col 4:10) and an acquaintance of Peter in his youth (1 Pet 5:13). This is the same Mark who would later write the Gospel, likely with Peter’s help.
Verse 15. His angel. Jewish superstition taught that each person and his own guardian angel.
Verse 17. James. The brother of Jesus and the head of the Jerusalem church.
Persecution of the church continued to rise, now coming from the government. James becomes the first apostle to be martyred, and Peter is once again imprisoned. Yet God miraculously saves Peter, enabling him to continue in ministry as the primary focus of God’s missionary activity shifts to Paul.
- Why did Herod kill James and imprison Peter?
- Why did God allow James to be killed by freed Peter?
- What did Herod’s death reveal about God’s control of it all?
Day 235: Paul Begins His First Missionary Journey
Reading: Acts 13:1–52
Verse 4. Cyprus. This was Barnabas’s home and only a two-day journey from Antioch.
Verse 5. Salamis. A large commercial port of Cyprus. John. Also known as Mark (cf. 12:12).
Verse 6. Paphos. The capital city of Cyprus.
Verse 51. Shook the dust from their feet. A symbolic act of condemnation.
Paul set out on his first missionary journey, accompanied by Barnabas and his cousin Mark, the latter of which would choose to leave them after a short time. He established the practice of first visiting the Jewish synagogue in any town he visited, but it was quickly apparent that the Jews would continue to reject Jesus as their Messiah, and so Paul shifted his ministry attention to the Gentiles.
- Why did Paul visit Jewish synagogues in each town first?
- Why did most Jews continue to reject Jesus as their Messiah?
- Why did Paul shift his ministry attention to the Gentiles?