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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Acts 11:1-30 (Good News Translation)

God’s Guiding Word

Introduction

Acts 11:1-30: Peter is criticized by Jewish Christians for meeting with Gentiles, and he defends his actions. The remaining half of the chapter (beginning with verse 19) focuses on the expansion of the Gospel beyond Palestine. The church in Jerusalem sends Barnabas to Antioch (in Syria), and Barnabas invites Saul to join him.

Today's Scripture: Acts 11:15

[Peter said]: “When I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came down on them just as on us at the beginning.”

Today's Reading

Peter's Report to the Church at Jerusalem

1The apostles and the other believers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God.2When 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!”4So 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.6I looked closely inside and saw domesticated and wild animals, reptiles, and wild birds.7Then I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat!’8But I said, ‘Certainly not, Lord! No ritually unclean or defiled food has ever entered my mouth.’9The voice spoke again from heaven, ‘Do not consider anything unclean that God has declared clean.’10This happened three times, and finally the whole thing was drawn back up into heaven.11At that very moment three men who had been sent to me from Caesarea arrived at the house where I was staying.12The 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.13He 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.14He will speak words to you by which you and all your family will be saved.’15And 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.’17It 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!”

18When 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!”

The Church at Antioch

19 Some of the believers who were scattered by the persecution which took place when Stephen was killed went as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, telling the message to Jews only.20But other believers, who were from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and proclaimed the message to Gentiles also, telling them the Good News about the Lord Jesus.21The Lord's power was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.

22The news about this reached the church in Jerusalem, so they sent Barnabas to Antioch.23When he arrived and saw how God had blessed the people, he was glad and urged them all to be faithful and true to the Lord with all their hearts.24Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and many people were brought to the Lord.

25Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul.26When he found him, he took him to Antioch, and for a whole year the two met with the people of the church and taught a large group. It was at Antioch that the believers were first called Christians.

27About that time some prophets went from Jerusalem to Antioch.28 One of them, named Agabus, stood up and by the power of the Spirit predicted that a severe famine was about to come over all the earth. (It came when Claudius was emperor.)29The disciples decided that they each would send as much as they could to help their fellow believers who lived in Judea.30They did this, then, and sent the money to the church elders by Barnabas and Saul.

Reflect

Why was Peter criticized? What did the Jewish Christians seek to impose on the Gentile Christians (verse 2)? How did Peter respond? How did the church leaders react to Peter’s speech? In what ways does your community of faith invite and welcome those who wish to become members?

Pray

Holy God, by your Holy Spirit, empower me to proclaim boldly the Good News of Jesus Christ and the message of your love and salvation. Amen.

Prayer Concern

Those seeking to join a community of faith

Tomorrow's Reading

Acts 12:1-25: King Herod persecutes members of the church.

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Acts 10:34-48

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