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Lesson 6: The Ministry of Peter *

Introduction: If you read the lessons regularly, you know that I routinely remind you that salvation is by grace alone, our works do not save us. However, that should not cloud the fact that our works generally make a difference in the quality of our life. God favors those who obey Him. At the same time, life is often not fair. Our obligation is to bring glory to God, and not worry about whether we are being treated fairly by the events of life. Our study this week touches on this issue of why some Christians fare better than others. Let's dig into our study of the Bible and learn more!

  1. Aeneas

    1. Read Acts 9:32-35. Why did Peter performed this miracle?

      1. Do you think there were other sick or paralyzed people in the area?

      2. What is the result of this miracle, other than healing Aeneas? (It was the cause for the conversion of "all" who lived in those two cities.)

    2. Read John 9:1-3. Why does Jesus say that this man was born blind? ("So that the work of God might be displayed in his life." I think the healing of Aeneas was not so much about helping him as it was about converting others. This is difficult to understand for those who have yet to realize that living is about giving glory to God, rather than being about us.)

  2. Tabitha

    1. Read Acts 9:36-38. Aside from being dead, rather than paralyzed, what is the difference between Tabitha and Aeneas? (Tabitha is not merely someone who needs help, she is someone whose life has been about doing good.)

      1. Why are we told about her body being "washed?" (This tells us that she really was dead. Jewish custom is to bury the body as soon as possible, and washing the body is the preparation for burial.)

    2. Read Acts 9:39-42. Why do you think Peter performed this miracle? (Once again, we read that many are converted. But, the great emphasis on Tabitha's good works makes it appear that her works are also a part of the reason for her healing.)

  3. Cornelius

    1. Read Acts 10:1-6. Why did Cornelius receive this vision and not other Gentiles? (The angel specifically mentions his "prayers and gifts to the poor.")

      1. What is a "memorial offering?" (There are references in the Old Testament to a memorial offering, but I think this means that God is remembering Cornelius because of these acts of devotion and mercy.)

    2. When you consider these three stories, why do you think the Bible mentions the good acts of the person being helped in two of the three stories? (Life is about giving glory to God. But, God also blesses and gives glory to those who are faithful to Him. This is not righteousness by works, this is a display of the favor of God on those who seek to do His will.)

    3. Read Acts 10:9-14. This happened three times. What should you do when a vision contradicts the Bible? See, Leviticus 11, on the issue of unclean meat.

    4. Read Acts 10:17. What is Peter doing about his vision contradicting the Bible? (He is wondering about how to reconcile the vision with his understanding of the Bible.)

    5. Read Acts 10:28-29. How is the conflict resolved? (Peter realizes that there is no conflict between the Bible and his vision, because the vision was about "unclean" people, not food. Peter would not normally enter the home of a Gentile like Cornelius, but the vision corrected this error.)

    6. Read Acts 10:34-35, and Acts 10:44-48. What new thing has happened in the early church? (The Jewish converts now realize that Gentiles are welcome in the Christian church. Recall that Jesus and His disciples were Jewish. Recall that the Jews believed in a coming Messiah. Thus, they believed (rightly) that Jesus was the culmination of the Jewish faith. That caused them to be "astonished" that uncircumcised Gentiles could be part of their faith. They thought Jesus was merely the latest chapter in Judaism.)

    7. Read Ephesians 2:11-12. How did the Jews view the Gentiles? (They were without hope.)

    8. Read Acts 11:1-3. How did the Jewish Christians react when they heard the story of Cornelius?

    9. Read Ephesians 2:13-15 and Acts 11:18. What has Jesus done for Gentiles? (He has destroyed the dividing wall of hostility. Cornelius, a man who obeyed God, was the beginning of making this clear in the early church.)

  4. James and Peter

    1. Read Acts 12:1-3. Do you recall the story of James' mother coming to Jesus to ask that her sons (James and John) sit at the right hand of Jesus in His kingdom? It is found at Matthew 20:20-23.

      1. Read Matthew 20:22-23. Has James drunk from Jesus' cup? Is this what James' mother had in mind? (This is a perfect illustration of the contradiction of the gospel. Jesus wants us to be blessed. His commandments are intended to help us lead a better life. But, being a follower of Jesus sometimes means that we suffer. Hebrews 11 recounts this disparate treatment, but promises us that all will eventually have what God has promised.)

    2. Read Acts 12:4-5. Is this excessive? Sixteen soldiers to guard one preacher who is in chains in prison?

    3. Read Acts 12:6-10. Is Peter favored by God? (Absolutely!)

      1. Why did James die? Why was he not rescued? (We just have to leave these things in the hands of God knowing that James will receive his reward.)

    4. Let's skip down a few verses and read Acts 12:18-19. Is this fair? Was there anything the guards could have done differently? (No, it is not fair because there was nothing the guards could have done. This is an example of the kind of thing that sometimes happens in life.)

    5. Read Acts 12:12-15. Have you had this happen? You were praying for something and then you could not believe it when God answered your prayers?

  5. Herod

    1. Read Acts 12:20-23. What is the cause of Herod's death? (It is a divine judgment based on Herod accepting the praise due to God alone. But, it is also some sort of disease involving worms eating him.)

      1. Herod had been opposed to the gospel for some time. Recall that he had James killed, and Peter arrested. He undoubtedly intended to kill Peter. Why does Herod get struck down only now? What about the innocent guards who were killed?

      2. Read Genesis 15:12-16. What does it mean that the sin of the Amorites had not yet reached its "full measure?" (This gives us an insight into God's thinking. God delays punishment until our sins, our cup of iniquity, reaches its "full measure." Herod finally reached "full measure" and he died a painful death.)

    2. Read Acts 12:24. Can evil stop the work of God? (No! James died. The jailing of Peter caused great anxiety and prayer. But, God's work rolls on!)

    3. Friend, you do not know your future. You can increase the odds of having a positive future here on earth by being obedient. But, bad things happen for all sorts of reasons. God calls on us to be faithful regardless of what happens. Will you determine today, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to remain faithful?

  6. Next week: Paul's First Missionary Journey.
* Copr. 2018, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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