Painting of an angel visiting the soldier Cornelius
Cornelius doesn’t look here like someone you couldn’t go get a cup of coffee with … too much

Questions on the Uniform Series text for Sunday, August 27, that we might be able to consider in class:

Although Cornelius is a Gentile, the text goes out of its way to make sure we know he is a very good person and reveres the God of Israel. How important is this common commitment to the possibility of this Gentile and his household being embraced by Peter and his community? That is – how important was this common love to creating the possibility for communication, despite their definite differences? How would it have been different if Cornelius had not known the God of Israel, and was unfamiliar with the Jewish community, but had revered “God”?

Peter and his group make a long trip from Joppa to Caesarea to meet Cornelius and his people. What might be the significance of the two-day trip of Peter, Jewish believers from Joppa, and the people sent from Cornelius, from Joppa to Caesarea? What challenges would this group have faced, internally and externally? If a similar event were to be happening today, what would people talk about on the trip, and what would happen on the trip? How would those experiences prepare the participants to behave when they arrive at Caesarea? How would the situation have been different if the trip had just been to a location “across town”?

Peter’s preparatory vision includes animals that are considered “unclean,” and an instruction to “kill and eat.” His missionary instruction, however, has to do with meeting and speaking with people he would ordinarily avoid. What, do you think, is the connection between these two things? How would this vision of animals prepare Peter to recognize Cornelius as “clean”? Would a vision of people, or of Cornelius himself, have been better? Why or why not?

Peter is called to overcome an apparently life-long practice of avoidance to come to Cornelius’ home; he invites others from his community to participate as well. What situations in our world might be similar? What call would create a similar challenge for a contemporary Christian? For us? Why? What would we have to overcome to answer the Spirit’s call in such a situation?