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Lesson Prep

Background Scripture (read 2-3 times during the week)

Acts 10-11:18

Story Summary

The Book of Acts begins with the story of the resurrected Christ giving final instructions to his disciples, culminating with this promise: "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." (Acts 1:8 ESV)

We have followed along as this promise was fulfilled with the disciples. They received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Peter and the rest of the disciples were witnesses of his resurrection in Jerusalem - even getting thrown in jail, beaten, and killed for it - and as a result they were scattered throughout the region in Judea and Samaria. Philip was sent to Samaria and ministered there and then reached a man from Ethiopia (the ends of the earth). Paul was converted and began ministering in Jerusalem and Judea to the Jews.

In the story of Peter and Cornelius, we continue to learn about how the Gospel is meant for everyone - Jews and Gentiles alike. Two men had visions from God that caused them to cross paths. Cornelius, a Roman soldier who was a follower of God, had a vision in which an angel tells him to send some men to Joppa to fetch a man named Simon Peter, who was staying with a man named Simon the Tanner. 

Peter had a strange vision of a white sheet being lowered down from the skies with all sorts of animals on the sheet. A voice told him to eat the animals that were on the sheet. Peter protested, though. Some of the animals on that sheet were deemed unclean by the Law given to Moses. But the voice replied: "Do not say anything is not pure that God has made ‘clean,’" (Acts 10:15). This vision was repeated three times. Peter was confused and was unsure about what it meant.

Just then, the men that Cornelius sent to get Peter arrived. The Holy Spirit told Peter that these men were sent by God and that he should go with him. So he did. And they went back to Caesarea to meet with Cornelius. When they met for the first time, Cornelius fell down and worshipped Peter, apparently thinking he was an angel or a god. But Peter quickly told him to get up - that he was just a man like Cornelius. They compared dreams and Peter was sure what it meant. God was making it clear that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is for everyone from all nations, not just for the Jews. While Peter was there, many people believed in Christ, were baptized, and received the gift of the Holy Spirit, just like the apostles did on the day of Pentecost! 

However, the believers from Judea (Jewish-background Christians) were not happy that Peter was associating with people who weren't Jewish. They didn't think he should be breaking the Jewish rules about not eating with Gentiles. But when they heard Peter's story, they were convinced just like he was that everyone was to be accepted, no matter what country they were from.

In this story, it is important to teach the children the meaning of the word "Gentile". It simply means, "one who is not Jewish". 

What You Will Need

Snack Suggestion
animal crackers

Resource Sheet

Peter & Cornelius Coloring Sheet

This coloring sheet depicts Cornelius worshiping Peter as if he were a God, which is what he did when he first met Peter

Lesson

1. Warm Up

get your kids talking and engaged

What is the strangest dream you've ever had?

In today's Bible story, two men had a dream, or a vision, that caused them to meet each other.

2. Teach the Story

teach a holistic story

Read story from a Children's storybook Bible for younger children.

For older children, read the story from an age-appropriate Children's storybook Bible or read directly from the Bible.

3. Bible Mastery

give them basic Bible skills

Scripture for Kids to Read Aloud: Acts 10:1-22; Acts 10:34-35

4. Comprehension Questions

make sure they understand the story

First, ask the children if they have any questions about the story. What to do if you don't know the answer?

  • What were the names of the two men who had visions from God? (Peter and Cornelius)
  • What nationality was Cornelius? (he was a Roman)
  • What vision did Cornelius see? (an angel told him to send men to a man named Peter who was staying in Joppa)
  • What vision did Peter see? (a sheet coming down from heaven with all sorts of animals in it, and a voice told him to kill the animals and eat them)
  • Why did Peter not want to do what the voice told him? (some of the animals were unclean, and Peter was a devout Jew)
  • How many times did he see the vision? (3 times)
  • What happened while Peter was trying to figure out what the vision meant? (the men Cornelius sent showed up)
  • What did Cornelius do when he first met Peter? (he fell down to worship him, thinking he was an angel or a god)
  • After going to Ceasarea with Cornelius and comparing visions, what did Peter determine was the meaning of the vision? (that God was calling all men, regardless of whether they were Jewish or not)
  • Why were the Jewish background Christians upset with Peter? (he broke some of their rules - not eating with Gentiles)
  • What is a "gentile"? (someone who is not a Jew)

5. Faith Questions

help them apply the story to their lives and open up a conversation about faith and the gospel; close with prayer
  • In this story, Peter learned from God that he accepts people from any country, and so he went and told Cornelius and others about Jesus.
  • Who do you know that needs to be told about God?

6. Memory Verse

hide God's Word in their heart
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8 (ESV)

Reinforcement Activities

Animal Throw

Scripture He saw heaven open up. There he saw something that looked like a large sheet. It was being let down to earth by its four corners. It had all kinds of four-footed animals in it. It also had reptiles of the earth and birds of the air. Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.” Acts 10:11-13

Supplies large sheet, stuffed animals, birds and reptiles

  • Place animals on the sheet.
  • Ask each student to hold on to a part of the sheet.
  • Lift sheet up and down.
  • Try to keep the animals on the sheet.

Clean and Unclean #2

Scripture Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.” “No, Lord! I will not!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything that is not pure and ‘clean.’” The voice spoke to him a second time. “Do not say anything is not pure that God has made ‘clean,’” it said. Acts 10:13-15

Supplies stuffed animals

  • Read Leviticus 11.
  • Separate stuffed animals into clean and unclean.
  • Explain that they could not eat any animals that were unclean.

Clean and Unclean #1

Scripture Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.” “No, Lord! I will not!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything that is not pure and ‘clean.’” The voice spoke to him a second time. “Do not say anything is not pure that God has made ‘clean,’” it said. Acts 10:13-15

Supplies Bibles, paper

  • Read Leviticus 11
  • Ask the students to list what animals were clean or unclean.
  • Read Genesis 7:2-3
  • Noah was asked to bring 7 of every clean animal and 2 of every unclean.

Separated

Heads up! Before class, tape pieces of paper to bottom of chairs

Scripture He said to them, “You know that it is against our law for a Jew to have anything to do with those who aren’t Jews. But God has shown me that I should not say anyone is not pure and ‘clean.’ Acts 10:28

Supplies chairs, paper, tape, snack

  • Cut up small pieces of paper, enough for your class.
  • Write Jew on half of the pieces and Gentile on the other half.
  • Tape the paper to the bottom of chairs, so your students cannot see them.
  • At the beginning of class, ask the student to look under their chair to see if they are a Jew or a Gentile.
  • (Jew- Direct descendant from the tribe of Judah. Remaining Israelites.
  • Gentile- Descending from people groups other than Israelites)
  • Prior to the lesson, your students must separate into Jews and Gentiles. They are not allowed to interact or sit next to one another.
  • At the end of the lesson, allow the Jews and Gentiles to sit together and share a snack together.

Baptism Reinforcement Activities

Scripture Then I remembered the Lord’s words. ‘John baptized with water,’ he had said. ‘But you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 God gave them the same gift he gave those of us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ. So who was I to think that I could oppose God?” Acts 11:16-17

  • Repeat activities from the John Baptizing Jesus lesson.
  • Repeating past activities is a good way to connect previous lessons and review what they had previously learned.

Following Directions Activity

Scripture He said to them, “You know that it is against our law for a Jew to have anything to do with those who aren’t Jews. But God has shown me that I should not say anyone is not pure and ‘clean.’ So when you sent for me, I came without asking any questions. May I ask why you sent for me?” Acts 10:28-29 He said, ‘Cornelius, God has heard your prayer. He has remembered your gifts to poor people. Send someone to Joppa to get Simon Peter. He is a guest in the home of another Simon, who works with leather. He lives by the sea.’ So I sent for you right away. It was good of you to come. Now we are all here. And God is here with us. We are ready to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us.” Acts 10:31-33

Supplies varies depending on direction activity you choose

  • Peter and Cornelius both listened to God and followed his directions.
  • The directions God gave Cornelius and Peter were unusual to them. Jews and Gentiles did not spend time together during this time (per Jewish laws, not God's laws)
  • Have your students practice following directions:
  • Students can draw a picture at the direction of the teacher. Give instructions to draw a house or scenery picure, but make the instructions unusual. (Tell them to place the door on the roof or a tree upside down.)
  • Play Hullabaloo.
  • Create something with legos or sticks at the direction of the teacher.
  • Remember to connect the activity back to the example of Peter and Cornelius following God's directions.

Who tells others about God?

Scripture So I sent for you right away. It was good of you to come. Now we are all here. And God is here with us. We are ready to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us. Acts 10:33

Supplies missionary, pastor, youth

  • Invite people that share God's story with others.
  • A missionary can talk about the people they have ministered to and taught about Jesus.
  • A pastor can talk about when God called them to ministry.
  • A youth or fellow student can tell about how they tell others in their school, community or family about others.
  • It is good to have a variety of people, so the children can understand that God calls all of us to teach others about God.