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STUDIES IN ACTS      Studies in Acts

11. CORNELIUS - a converted soldier

"Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment" (Acts 10:1).

Acts 10:1-48 gives a full account of the way Peter, the Jew, was prompted to share the gospel in a Gentile home. Luke tells the story well, describing how God moved in two lives.

Consider the person
Cornelius is significant as the first named Gentile convert to the Christian faith. He was a centurion, a non-commissioned officer commanding at least 100 soldiers, stationed at the importance seaport of Caesarea. Cornelius attached himself to the Jewish religion as a God-fearer. As such he would attend the Jewish synagogue and be devoted to prayer and the reading of Scripture (Acts 10:2). (The monotheism (belief in one God) and morality of the religion attracted many Gentiles. Proselytes went further in their commitment to the faith by being circumcised. See Acts 2:10; 13:43, RAV).

Study the Scriptures
Consider the providence of God in Acts 10 - the way God worked in everyday events. First, Cornelius is visited by an angel of the Lord, who tells him to call for Peter, who is staying at Joppa 36 miles away (vv.1-8). Secondly, the next day God visited Peter on the roof of his residence to teach him what he cleanses he must not call impure (vv.9-16). The significance of the vision was made obvious as a deputation from Cornelius knocked on his door at the right time (vv.17-22). The third part of the story concerns the preaching of Peter, and the witness of his party of Jewish friends to the salvation of the Gentiles (vv.23-45). The centurion and his household believed the word and received the gift of the Holy Spirit. They were baptised in water (vv.44-48).

Ask questions

1. How does the story of Cornelius and the events of Acts 10 illustrate Acts 2:38,39?

2. What does Acts 10 teach about God-directed evangelism? See also Acts 18:9-11.

3. Does Acts define spiritual warfare as preaching and sharing the gospel? (There is no mention of territorial spirits - and prayer is always directed Godward.)

4. God recognised a man's good works (Acts 10:4). Can we hinder people seeking God by criticising their lifestyle?

5. Can a Christian make a career in the Armed Forces? Jesus commended a centurion for his faith (Lk.7:1-10). Consider the advice of John the Baptist (Lk.3:14).

Apply some thoughts

1. How do we see God at work in Acts 10? Think around the words hearing, believing, receiving, obeying and confessing.

2. Pray for divine interruptions in your services!

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Copyright 2008 Vernon Ralphs

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