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The Scriptorium

What's in a Name? (8)

Cornelius represents a huge next step.

Acts (9)

And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. Luke 24.27

Be sure to view the video introducing our study of Acts 10 (Lesson 9) by clicking here.

Read and meditate on Acts 10.1-8.
The name game continues (last one, I promise). A powerful drama begins. In Luke’s day, if your name was “Cornelius” it probably indicated you were a public servant of the Roman government. Just like today, if someone is nicknamed “Sarge” or “Cap’n” we pretty much know their occupation. For whatever reason, the name “Cornelius” seems to have been synonymous with “Roman government.” As Richard Dreyfus might say (Close Encounters of the Third Kind), “This means something!”

For reflection
1. The Oxford Classical Dictionary lists 48 entries with the name Cornelius from this period, all government officials. Luke continues selecting stories that will create anticipation in his readers concerning what the Lord is doing in His ongoing work, and what lies ahead. Is the Gospel powerful to effect even people in government? How can that be?

2.  We can see that God was at work in this Centurion, preparing his heart for the Gospel. He was what was called a “God-fearer,” a Gentile believer in the God of Israel. He is described as devout, generous, and pious. How do you suppose his association with the Jewish religion had prepared his heart for the Gospel? Does God still prepare people for the ongoing work of Christ? In what ways?

3.  God sent an angel to further prepare Cornelius for something really big, and he immediately complied with the angel’s instructions, sending three people to Joppa in order to fetch Peter. Cornelius did not know why he was doing this. It’s not necessary fully or perfectly to understand God’s reasons for what He commands. If we understand what He commandsus, that’s enough. As Bonhoeffer explained in Cost of Discipleship, faith grows from obedience. By hearing and obeying God, Cornelius was further preparing his soul for the Good News of Christ and eternal life. In what ways is Cornelius a model for believers today?

4.  Do we find it hard to believe that God is already at work in the world, beyond the pale of the Church, preparing men and women to hear the Gospel? Do you think God is doing this with any people in your Personal Mission Field? Could He be using you to help prepare them for the ongoing work of Christ? Explain.

5.  Luke uses the story of Cornelius to prepare us for the spreading of the Good News all the way into Caesar’s own household! God’s preparation of Cornelius should encourage us to believe that God is preparing people for the Gospel still today. It should also lead us to plead with God’s Spirit to strive with people (Gen. 6.3), and to God the Father to allow His glory to break through in unguarded moments, reminding the lost that He exists (Rom. 1.19-21; Rom. 2.14, 15). God is at work ahead of us, so that we need have no fear or hesitation in taking up the ongoing work of Christ in our own Personal Mission Fields. For whom can you pray today that God would strive with them and ready their hearts to hear the Gospel?

God is at work in the world in various ways, striving with people and preparing their hearts to hear the Good News. This should encourage us in our daily calling to the ongoing work of Christ. God used certain faithful Jews in Cornelius’ case. How might He want to use you today?

Closing Prayer
O my God, make them like the whirling dust,
Like the chaff before the wind!
As the fire burns the woods,
And as the flame sets the mountains on fire,
So pursue them with Your tempest,
And frighten them with Your storm.
Fill their faces with shame,
That they may seek Your name, O LORD.
Let them be confounded and dismayed forever;
Yes, let them be put to shame and perish,
That they may know that You, whose name alone is the LORD,
Are the Most High over all the earth.

Psalm 83.13-18

T. M. Moore

Each week’s studies in Acts are bound together into a free PDF that you can download for personal or group use (click here). Each week also features a video related to the studies of the week, which you may find helpful as you work through our studies in Acts.

Acts is the record of Christ’s ongoing work as King and Lord. This is the work of bringing the Kingdom of God to earth as it is in heaven. Read more about the implications of this work in our new book,
The Kingdom Turn (click here).

Please prayerfully consider supporting The Fellowship of Ailbe by sending a gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 19 Tyler Drive, Essex Junction, VT 05452. Or, you can click here to donate online through credit card or PayPal.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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