As you read these stories, notice how important the Twelve are in that work. Why do you think that they didn’t delegate more of the missionary work? Is there any connection between the extreme dependence of the early Church on the Twelve and the later apostasy?
Notice also that the members of the Church come into greater conflict with traditional Judaism because of this missionary work. For most of the first century and perhaps even into the second, Christians did not think of themselves as a different religion from Judaism. Why did missionary work eventually change that? Does that perhaps suggest something about our relation to contemporary Christianity?
To try to keep these materials to a reasonable length, I will concentrate on chapters 10 and 15.
Verses 1-8: Where was Caesarea and what was its importance to Palestine? “Italian” was the name of the infantry cohort to which Cornelius belonged.
The phrase translated “feared God” is a technical phrase which tells us that Cornelius was a person who believed in the God of Israel and attended services in the synagogue, but did not keep the whole Law of Moses and was probably not circumcised. Another term used to describe such people (and there seem to have been many of them) was “proselyte of the gate,” in other words, people who had been converted but had not come all the way in.