Opening a New Door


The story of the conversion of Cornelius is the longest narrative in the book of Acts. The length of this story speaks to the significance of the gospel advancing beyond the Jewish population, outward to the Gentiles. As we saw at the beginning of Acts, God’s plan is for the gospel to reach all peoples. This was a big deal for the Jews, not just because the gospel needed to go out to others, but because of the racial and cultural pride that would have to be overcome for more people to receive Jesus. In order for this to happen, God brings the hammer of revelation down upon Peter to get things moving.

  • Has there ever been a person or people group that you were hesitant to share the good news of Jesus with? Who was it? Why?


17Now while Peter was inwardly perplexed as to what the vision that he had seen might mean, behold, the men who were sent by Cornelius, having made inquiry for Simon’s house, stood at the gate 18 and called out to ask whether Simon who was called Peter was lodging there. 19 And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. 20 Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them.” 21 And Peter went down to the men and said, “I am the one you are looking for. What is the reason for your coming?” 22 And they said, “Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and to hear what you have to say.” 23 So he invited them in to be his guests.

The next day he rose and went away with them, and some of the brothers from Joppa accompanied him. 24 And on the following day they entered Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. 25 When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. 26 But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am a man.” 27 And as he talked with him, he went in and found many persons gathered. 28 And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean. 29 So when I was sent for, I came without objection. I ask then why you sent for me.”

30 And Cornelius said, “Four days ago, about this hour, I was praying in my house at the ninth hour, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing 31 and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God. 32 Send therefore to Joppa and ask for Simon who is called Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea.’ 33 So I sent for you at once, and you have been kind enough to come. Now therefore we are all here in the presence of God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord.”

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


  1. In this passage, what racial and cultural prejudices was Peter willing to overcome in order to share the gospel with non-Jews?
  2. What more do we learn about Peter and Cornelius in this passage?
  3. Why did Luke include all of Peter’s travel details?
  4. How would you describe where Cornelius is at in his spiritual journey at this point? Do you think he is a Christian yet?
  5. Has God ever worked around you in miraculous ways to give you an opportunity to help someone else know Jesus? If not, is that something you desire?


God made a promise to Abraham that he would bless all the families of the earth through his descendants. This story is a massive turn of events in the grand narrative of the whole of Scripture. This is the first recorded time a whole household of Gentiles comes to faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins. God is at work. He is blasting people with visions, dreams, and sending angels to pave the way for this event. At the same time, individuals are responding to God’s call and obeying, even though it’s against everything their culture has told them. What are the obstacles in our culture that keep you from initiating a conversation about Jesus?

  • Pray that God would work in and around you, and give you the opportunity to share Jesus with someone who doesn’t know him, even when it’s extremely uncomfortable.