NEW TESTAMENT - LESSON 30
Acts 10-14; 15:1-35
- Peter learns in a vision that the gospel should be preached to the
- Peter is miraculously freed from prison.
- Saul (Paul) and Barnabas preach the gospel to the Gentiles.
- The Apostles determine that Gentiles do not need to keep the law of
A study of this lesson should help us further recognize that the gospel
is for all people and that the Church is guided by continuing revelation.
Chapters 10 & 11
- TO WHOM DID JESUS TAKE THE GOSPEL DURING HIS EARTHLY MINISTRY?
READ ACTS 10:1-8. Cornelius, a Gentile, receives
- Matthew 15:24: "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the
house of Israel."
- TO WHOM DID JESUS COMMAND HIS DISCIPLES TO TAKE THE GOSPEL AFTER HIS
- Acts 1:8: "...and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem,
and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth."
- Mark 16:15: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel
to every creature."
- Up to this point in the history of the Christian church, the gospel
had been taught only among the Jewish congregations.
- WHY DO YOU SUPPOSE THE GOSPEL WAS TAUGHT ONLY AMONG THE JEWS IN LIGHT
OF THE COMMISSION GIVEN TO THE CHURCH LEADERSHIP?
- It would seem probable that these early Brethren did not fully comprehend
the full extent of this commission.
- Certainly their hands were full in administering to the needs of the
early Church and in preaching to the Jewish neighbors. Their capacity was
limited. In the early days of the Restoration, the gospel was carried to
those areas near Palmyra, Fayette, and Colesville. The work slowly expanded
to other areas of the northeast . The gospel was not taken overseas until
the late 1830s when the Church had grown to several thousand members. So
it must have been with the early Church. The early Church was able to expand
as more people joined and additional priesthood bearers were ordained and
trained in the ministry.
READ ACTS 10:9-17. Peter's vision.
- WHO WAS CORNELIUS?
- As a Roman centurion, Cornelius commanded from 50 to 100 soldiers.
He was the equivalent of a modern sergeant or non-commissioned officer.
- Verse 2 says that Cornelius was, "A devout man, and one that
feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and
prayed to God alway."
- Being a Roman soldier, it seems unlikely that Cornelius was showing
his devotion to the God of the Jews and even less likely that he knew anything
of the new Christian faith.
- Still, he must have been a man of pure heart, for he was devoted to
his faith as demonstrated by prayer and the free donation of alms.
- WHY DO YOU SUPPOSE CORNELIUS RECEIVED THIS REVELATION?
- Here was a Gentile, pure of heart, that would be the means for opening
the door to the preaching of the gospel to all men.
- WHAT OTHER STORIES DO YOU KNOW OF WORTHY PEOPLE BEING LED TO THE GOSPEL
- Cornelius was obedient to the angel and sent two of his servants and
a soldier to Joppa in search of Peter.
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?
- HOW DID PETER FIRST RESPOND TO THIS VISION?
- Within the context of the vision, Peter resisted the will of the Lord.
- "Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common
or unclean" (v14).
- As the vision concluded, there was doubt and wonder as to what it meant?
Acts 10:34-35: "Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a
truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation
he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him."
- V19-20: "While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said
unto him, Behold, three men seek thee. Arise therefore, and get thee down,
and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them."
- Peter was moved by the Spirit to follow these three men.
- Peter accompanied these men to Caesarea to meet Cornelius.
- After arriving, Peter said, "Ye know how that it is an unlawful
thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another
nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or
unclean. Therefore came I unto you without gainsaying, as soon as I was
sent for: I ask therefore for what intent ye have sent for me?"
- Cornelius then relates his vision.
READ ACTS 11:1-4. The reaction of the church to
this new policy.
- WHAT DID PETER'S DREAM MEAN? WHAT HAD PETER LEARNED?
- "The Jews thought the Gentiles were spiritually unworthy or
unclean, like the animals that the law of Moses forbade Jews to eat. By
saying that the animals in the dream were now 'cleansed,' the Lord was
telling Peter that the gospel should now be preached to all people."
(Teacher's Manual, p126)
- Bruce R. McConkie: "It is not Israel only, to the exclusion
of the Gentile nations; it is not the Latter-day Saints only, leaving the
sectarians without hope; it is not one people or race or nation, selected
out of all others, upon whom the blessings of God are showered. All souls
in all ages are precious in the sight of a loving Father. Blessings received
flow from obedience." (DNTC, p101)
- It is interesting to not that the understanding of this principle,
of taking the gospel to all nations, came into being through a number of
- The commission was given by our Lord shortly after his resurrection,
"Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature"
- The time had come for this principle to be invoked, so Cornelius was
given a revelation to seek for Peter.
- Peter, as the presiding officer of the Church, was the only on authorized
to make changes within the Church. Thus, while Cornelius is sending for
Peter, the Lord prepares Peter by opening up a vision and then instructed
to go with Cornelius' servants.
- Peter went down to Caesarea where he met with Cornelius and his associates.
It was while there, that Peter came to understand his vision, and made
a change in Church practice and policy: the gospel would now be preached
to all mankind regardless of nationality, religion, or race.Acts 1 - Peter's
vision & Cornelius revelation - subsequent events.
- WHAT VISIONS AND REVELATIONS HAVE BECOME CLEARER IN OUR DAY AS THE
LORD AS PROVIDED SUBSEQUENT REVELATION?
- In 1838, by revelation to Joseph Smith at Far West, Missouri, the Lord
handed down the modern law of tithing.
- This principle was not fully understood or practiced by the membership
of the Church for many years.
- After the years of difficulty with the federal government over plural
marriage, the Church was left destitute and nearly bankrupt.
- This burden fell upon President Lorenzo Snow and did not know how to
guide the Church through this crisis. President Snow had the revelation
in Section 119, but like Peter's knowledge of the Lord's commission, he
seemed to not fully comprehend this instruction.
- At this same time, southern Utah was suffering through a terrible drought
and the crops were in jeopardy. After hearing of their plight, President
Snow felt impressed to visit the Saints in St. George.
- Peter went down to Caesarea, and President Snow went down to St. George.
While preaching to the Saints in St. George in May of 1899, President Snow
felt impressed to re-emphasize the principle of tithing. He taught the
people and promised them that the windows of heaven would be opened in
their behalf if they faithfully practiced this principle.
- This principle was then re-emphasized throughout all the stakes. The
people of St. George were blessed with rain and the modern Church has been
blessed because of those who are faithfully living this principle. The
Church now has the capacity to build hundreds of meetinghouses each year
and currently has dozens of temples under construction.
- Practice of the principle of tithing is essential to the modern Church.
Of course the Lord knew that he had to prepare the Church for the demands
that would impact it decades later by revealing the importance of tithing
to President Snow.
- Many important principles and doctrines have been clarified over time
in these latter days:
- The Word of Wisdom has received increasing emphasis during the modern
era. Temple work and the sealing ordinances have been clarified over time,
particularly under the administration of Wilford Woodruff.
- Both Peter's understanding of the importance of preaching the gospel
to all people and President Snow's understanding of the law of tithing
are wonderful examples of how the Lord sometimes delivers his will. These
principles are often delivered and invoked progressively as the need arises.
Peter then explained to the church member present his vision and the
experience with Cornelius (see Acts 11:5-17) concluding, "Forasmuch
then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on
the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?"
- HOW DID THE CHURCH MEMBERS REACT WHEN THEY HEARD THAT PETER HAD BEEN
TEACHING THE GENTILES?
- WHY WERE THESE CHURCH MEMBERS UPSET?
READ ACTS 11:19-21. The beginning of the work
amongst the Gentiles.
- AFTER LISTENING TO PETER RELATE HIS EXPERIENCE, HOW DID THE CHURCH
MEMBERS THEN REACT?
- "When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified
God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto
life" (Acts 11:18).
- WHAT SHOULD WE DO WHEN WE RECEIVE NEW INSTRUCTIONS FROM OUR CHURCH
LEADERS, EVEN IF WE INITIALLY DISLIKE THE INSTRUCTIONS OR FIND THEM DIFFICULT
- John 7:17: "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the
doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself."
- 2 Nephi 28:30: "For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will
give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here
a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my
precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom;
for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall
say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they
- When such instructions are given, we do not have the full vision of
what this principle may mean. The re-emphasis on tithing may have looked
like a means for getting the Church out of debt, but the Lord knew the
Church needed a sound financial system to support the incredible growth
that would occur in the second half of this century. Clearly, we must accept
much on faith.
- READ ACTS 12:1-4. James martyred & Peter inprisoned.
READ ACTS 12:6-11. Peter's miraculous escape from
- HOW DID CHURCH MEMBERS RESPOND TO THIS CRISIS?
- Acts 12:5: "Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer
was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him."
- HOW CAN OUR PRAYERS HELP THE PROPHET AND CHURCH LEADERS TODAY?
- D&C 107:22 says that the First Presidency is "upheld by
the confidence, faith, and prayer of the church."
- Joseph F. Smith: "There should never be a day pass but all
of the people composing the Church should lift up their voices in prayer
to the Lord to sustain his servants." (Gospel Doctrine, p223)
READ ACTS 12:21-23. Herod smote down by the angel
of the Lord.
In contrast to the demise of Herod, consider what happened to the Church.
- This is the Lord's work and he will sustain his servants until they
have completed their earthly mission. The scriptures provide numerous examples.
The history of the latter day church is full of examples. There were many
times when intervention was made in behalf of Joseph Smith. One of the
more noteworthy examples was at the time of the arrest of the Prophet in
Far West. He was to be executed, but one man had the courage to stand up
for right, Alexander Doniphan.
- "But the word of God grew and multiplied" (Acts 12:24).
- HOW HAVE YOU SEEN THE CHURCH FLOURISH DESPITE THE EFFORTS OF OTHERS
TO DESTROY IT?
- Several years ago, when I was living in Oregon, the Church announced
plans to build a meetinghouse in one of the local communities. This announcement
brought all kinds of protests from the local citizens. There were articles
in the town newspaper. This was back in the days when the local members
contributed to the building fund. A resident of the local community, not
a member of the Church, was so bothered by the protests of his fellow citizens
that he made a private donation to the building fund of several thousand
dollars. The building was built and the Church continued to grow and prosper
in that community.
Chapter 13 & 14
- READ ACTS 13:1-4. Barnabas & Saul called on
In Acts 13:9 Luke begins referring to Saul as Paul.
READ ACTS 13:14-16. Paul takes to opportunity
to speak to the Jews in Antioch.
- WHAT DO THE MISSIONARY CALLS OF SAUL AND BARNABAS REVEAL
ABOUT HOW CHURCH MEMBERS ARE CALLED TO GOD'S SERVICE?
- Bruce R. McConkie: "Saul and Barnabas were called by prophecy
and were either ordained or set apart or both by the laying on of hands,
all in accord with the Lord's law 'that a man must be called of God, by
prophecy, and by the laying on of hands, by those who are in authority
to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.' (Fifth
Article of Faith.)" (DNTC, 2:120)
- WHAT EXPERIENCES HAVE HELPED YOU GAIN A TESTIMONY THAT CHURCH CALLINGS
TODAY ARE INSPIRED BY THE SPIRIT?
HOW DID THE GENTILES IN ANTIOCH RESPOND TO THE MISSIONARIES?
- Two Antiochs - this one is in present day Turkey (see Map 18, Bible
- He talks of the history of the Jews.
- Paul tells of a Savior, Jesus, raised up through the seed of David.
- He testifies that Jesus was crucified and resurrected.
- READ ACTS 13:38-41. Paul concludes his sermon
to the Jews at Antioch.
Paul and Barnabas were expelled from the region and "they shook
off the dust of their feet against them" (Acts 13:51).
Paul and Barnabas went on to Iconium preaching the gospel. After stirring
things up in Iconium they "fled" to Lystra and Derbe (also in
In Lystra Paul healed a cripple.
- READ ACTS 13:42-50. Gentiles glorified the word
of the Lord
- Evidence that the day of the Gentiles had come.
Before leaving this region they ordained elders and organized branches
of the church (v23).
- READ ACTS 14:11-17.
- HOW DID THE PEOPLE IN LYSTRA REACT WHEN PAUL HEALED THE CRIPPLED MAN?
- HOW DID PAUL AND BARNABAS RESPOND TO THIS PRAISE AND ATTENTION?
- "...they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying
out, And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things?"
- Rather than take the glory and attention for themselves, as true servants
of the Lord they gave God the glory.
- WHY WAS IT IMPORTANT FOR PAUL AND BARNABAS TO ORGANIZE A BRANCH OF
THE CHURCH WHEREVER THEY WENT?
- HOW DO OUR LOCAL CHURCH UNITS BLESS OUR LIVES?
- How successful would the Church be if we only gathered together when
the General Authorities came around. We need fellowship and regular instruction
to nurture our testimonies and stay strong in the faith.
- This seems to be a natural thing. Years before missionaries arrived
in Ghana and Nigeria to teach the gospel, the people learned of the Church
and organized themselves into groups to worship, pray, and study what information
and scriptures they had collected. When the missionaries arrived, these
congregations only needed baptism, ordination and a little instruction.
- Five days a week, I go out into the world to make a living. I deal
with persons on a daily basis who have much different standards and beliefs
than I possess. At the end of each week, not only am I tired from working,
but I find myself spiritually drained. How refreshing it is to join with
the good brothers and sisters in my ward, to worship, study, and discuss
the gospel. It is like stopping at a cool oasis in the desert before continuing
- READ ACTS 15:1-2. Disputations over circumcision.
- WHY DO YOU THINK SOME OF THE JEWISH CHRISTIANS, INCLUDING CHURCH LEADERS
FROM JERUSALEM, BELIEVED THAT MALE GENTILE CONVERTS SHOULD BE CIRCUMCISED?
- It had been revealed to Abraham that circumcision was a sign of God's
covenant with his people.
- Paul Barnabas return to Jerusalem to get instructions from the Church
- READ ACTS 15:7-11. Peter's response.
- READ ACTS 15:22-31. Letter sent to the Saints.
- This becomes a defining moment in the history of the Church. It is
here that there is really a distinction between the Law and the new Gospel.
The new converts were not becoming Jews, but Christians.
Under the direction of inspiried leadership, the new Church began to
expand. It was revealed to Peter that all persons are invited to partake
of the blessings of the gospel. We are also blessed in our day, to have
leadership led by the Lord to guide the Church as it expands throughout
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