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“NO LONGER COMMON”

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PRAYER

“Gracious Lord; we, gentiles, we're not worthy to be cleaned and taken in by You; yet that's what You have done. You have made us clean by the blood of Jesus. You have also taken our “common,” ordinary experiences and sanctified them through faith. You have cleansed, redeemed, and renewed everything through the empty tomb. Thank You, Lord! Grant us, now, to share and live that Good News in every way, whether common or uncommon. In Jesus' name do we pray, Amen!”

BREAKING THE ICE

What are the marks of a Christian? Who are some who do not show those marks? What is our attitude toward them? What is God calling me to do to reach them for Jesus? What would it take to celebrate them instead of despising (or, at least, tolerating them)?
What does your “daily routine” look like? What do each part of your day mean for the Kingdom of God? How can you look at the “unclean” and “common” in your life as things redeemed by Jesus? How can your passion (or lack, thereof) and outlook on the “common” and “unclean” be altered to see God’s redemption of those things?
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READING:

(1)Now the apostles and the brothers who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. (2)So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party criticized him, saying, (3)“You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.” (4)But Peter began and explained it to them in order: (5)“I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision, something like a great sheet descending, being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to me. (6)Looking at it closely, I observed animals and beasts of prey and reptiles and birds of the air. (7)And I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’ (8)But I said, ‘By no means, Lord; for nothing common or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ (9)But the voice answered a second time from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, do not call common.’ (10)This happened three times, and all was drawn up again into heaven. (11)And behold, at that very moment three men arrived at the house in which we were, sent to me from Caesarea. (12)And the Spirit told me to go with them, making no distinction. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house. (13)And he told us how he had seen the angel stand in his house and say, ‘Send to Joppa and bring Simon who is called Peter; (14)he will declare to you a message by which you will be saved, you and all your household.’ (15)As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. (16)And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ (17)If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way? (18)When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”
1Now the apostles and the brothers who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. 2So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party criticized him, saying, 3“You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.” 4But Peter began and explained it to them in order: 5“I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision, something like a great sheet descending, being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to me. 6Looking at it closely, I observed animals and beasts of prey and reptiles and birds of the air. 7And I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’ 8But I said, ‘By no means, Lord; for nothing common or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ 9But the voice answered a second time from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, do not call common.’ 10This happened three times, and all was drawn up again into heaven. 11And behold, at that very moment three men arrived at the house in which we were, sent to me from Caesarea. 12And the Spirit told me to go with them, making no distinction. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house. 13And he told us how he had seen the angel stand in his house and say, ‘Send to Joppa and bring Simon who is called Peter; 14he will declare to you a message by which you will be saved, you and all your household.’ 15As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. 16And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” 18When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”

DIGGING DEEPER

Verse 1: “Gentiles” = ἔθνος (“ETH-nos”)
We get the word “ethnic” from this.
For Jews it broadly referred to anyone who was not Jewish. Sometimes it was used negatively. It would be equivalent to the modern (and often pejorative) term “goy.”
Verses 1-3:
Verse 1 sounds fantastic: “Gentiles also had received the word of God!” What a great reason to praise the Lord! Yet, the next sentence gives the reality: The “circumcision party” were critical of this happening in general and of Peter’s part in it specifically. Those in this legalistic party felt gentiles could only come to saving faith if they also submitted to the law of Moses, including circumcision. This is blatant works-righteousness. Why is that view of “the circumcision party” wrong Biblically? Do we have any modern-day equivalents?
Why is that view of “the circumcision party” wrong Biblically? Do we have any modern-day equivalents?
Verse 3: The specific issue they had with Peter was not lawful for a Jew like Peter. (See .) What is the answer Peter gives to “justify” this behavior of going to uncircumcised men and eating with them? (See as well as our passage today.)
Peter initially wanted to disobey the Lord in what He was asking of him. ( & ) What do you think of that reaction? Why?
Verse 4: “Peter began and explained it to them in order.” He had to lay out his defense of his behavior.
Verses 5-16: Read through the full event Peter is talking about in . What detail from chapter 10 strikes you that you don’t see in Peter’s telling of the account in chapter 11? What items remain pertinent and the same?
What detail from chapter 10 strikes you that you don’t see in Peter’s telling of the account in chapter 11? What items remain pertinent and the same?
Verses 8-9:
Verse 8:
“common” = “κοινός” (“koi-NOS”)
In usage here, it pertains to being of little value because of being common, ordinary, or profane; specifically, of that which is ceremonially impure.
What is Peter saying by using this word? What is God saying by using it?
How much of what is being said dealing with the foods in the vision? How much is it about the Gentiles?
“unclean” = “ἀκάθαρτος” (“ak-ATH-ar-tos”)
Here it pertains to that which may not be brought into contact with the divinity; impure; unclean.
Again, think on the reason Peter used this word. Although it was from his vision, how did his (initial) actions show what was in his heart toward the Gentiles in the passage?
“By no means, Lord.” What is the “balance” between “testing the Spirits” and “obeying God?”
What is the
Verse 9: “What God has made clean, do not call common.”
“has made clean” = “καθαρίζω” (“ka-tha-RIDZ-o”)
The meaning here is “to purify through ritual cleansing; make clean; declare clean.”
What “ritual cleansing” did God do to make the food in the vision as well as Gentile persons in our passage “declared/made clean?” (See & .)
This is a key phrase in the passage. Why is that?
What is God saying here; not just (or primarily) about food? What does that mean for us? What does it mean for our daily (and often “mundane”) lives? What does it mean for how we should approach all matters of life, existence, and purpose?
Read . How does that shed light on our passage today?
Verses 11ff: We know from the story Peter is retelling in , that this man is “Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort, a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God.”
What significance does this have on our passage today?
What was the relationship like between Jews and Romans? Why might God have chosen Peter, “the Zealot,” to go to a centurions home?
at wwwwwas the the the the the
Verse 12: “the Spirit told me” - We must become proficient in hearing and listening to/for God’s voice/Word/Spirit when He calls and speaks. This is how we “Join Jesus on His mission!”
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
Verse 14: “he will declare to you a message by which you will be saved, you and all your household.”
In we learn that Cornelius “had called together his relatives and close friends.” When one is expecting Good News, they want it shared with those who are important to them. When was the last time you invited your family and close friends to an occasion? What occasion was it? Why did you invite them? What was the result? What would it take to invite them to engage with you on spiritual matters? To church?
Verse 15: “the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning.” Huge implications! What are some of them; for you? For other “Gentiles”? For Jews?
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
Verse 16: See . What happens when one hears the Good News of Jesus?
Verse 17: “who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” What a powerful (and sobering!) phrase! When we hold onto our biases and views over and above God’s, we are, not only opposing Him, but committing idolatry!
Verse 18: I get the feeling they were speechless and then finally resigned themselves to God’s grace upon Gentiles and “praised Him” because they were supposed to. I wonder if their heart was in it, too.
Are there people in “The Church” who we reluctantly and halfheartedly “praise” God for saving, but privately have different feelings? What can help us overcome this sinful and dangerous prejudice?

STORY CHARACTERS

BELIEVERS: Apostles & Brothers; Peter & “6 Brothers” from Joppa; The “Circumcision Party”
Peter & “6 Brothers” from Joppa
“Circumcision Party”
UNBELIEVERS: “Gentiles;” Cornelius (a Centurion of the Italian Cohort); 2 of His Servants; and 1 of His Devout Soldiers
The Holy Spirit
Gentiles

WRAPPING THINGS UP

Post resurrection is awesome! Understanding the victory, forgiveness, freedom, and joy that comes because Jesus rose is the pinnacle of Christianity. It changes everything; except sometimes our sinful hearts.
Sometimes we just can’t get past elevating ourselves over and against that of others. WE may have been redeemed and made holy, but S/HE certainly hasn’t or couldn’t have been.
“What God has made clean, do not call common!”
Or, perhaps we fall into the other camp, believing others and their lives have been redeemed, but not me and my life. My poor, drab, mundane, “common” life. My spiritual, ceremonial, daily, warring, “unclean” life has not and could not be redeemed.
“What God has made clean, do not call common!”
For “to [us] Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.
THAT is our “new norm!” THAT is our redeemed commonality! THAT is our cleansed purpose! THAT is our Godly proved worth!
Everything we do and are, through Jesus, has been cleansed, redeemed, and given eternal worth; as has that of others, who still need to hear the Gospel.
May we see God’s redemption in all areas of our lives and that which we are privileged to share with everyone!

CONTINUING THE DISCUSSION

What “unclean” or “common” places or people is God calling you to serve? How can you look at the person, situation, or place that God has now “redeemed” and “made clean” differently? What objections do you have for serving in this way?
What is driving you to see some people or situations as “unclean” or “common” instead of now “clean?”
What “mundane” tasks do you do and how can you see God’s redemption there?
How will you “praise God” for His redemptive work in your life?
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