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  The Great Bible Story #122
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The gospel opens to the non Jews

Jacob Ninan
There was a Roman centurion called Cornelius who was a devout man who prayed to God and gave alms to the Jews. One afternoon he saw a vision of an angel saying that God had noted his prayers. The angel told him to send for Peter who was staying at that time at Joppa. Cornelius sent a few of his servants to Joppa to find Peter.

On the next day, Peter was spending some time in prayer when he saw a vision. He saw a sheet being lowered from the sky in which there were all kinds of animals and birds, including those that were forbidden by the Law for the Jews to eat. Peter heard God telling him to kill them and eat. Peter exclaimed in revulsion that he had never eaten any of those unclean things. God told him that what He had declared clean he should not consider as unclean any more. This happened three times, and then the sheet was taken up into the sky.

Peter was perplexed about what this vision could mean, when the people from Cornelius knocked on the door asking for him. The Holy Spirit told him that He had brought the men there and that Peter was to go with them without any doubt.

Peter took with him a couple of other disciples and went to Cornelius. When he reached there Cornelius was waiting to listen to him along with family and friends. Cornelius explained to Peter how an angel had told him to send for Peter, and then Peter told him about the vision and the voice that told him to eat even meat which had been declared unclean earlier. Peter now understood that God really made no difference between the Jews and the others, and that anyone from anywhere who called on Him would be heard.

After this Peter began to declare the gospel of Jesus to the people present there. He told them how God had sent Jesus His Son to Israel and how Jesus had gone around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil. But the rulers put Jesus to death on the cross. After three days God raised Him from the dead and He was seen alive by many people. Peter said that it was by putting their trust in Jesus that people could receive forgiveness for their sins.

As Peter was speaking this, the Holy Spirit came upon the people there and they started speaking in unknown languages just as on the day of Pentecost. The Jews who had come with Peter were surprised that non Jews also could receive the Spirit. Peter said that they could be baptised because it was obvious that God had already accepted them.


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