After Jesus Christ was resurrected, He left the care of His church to His Apostles. Peter was the chief Apostle, or President of the Church. At this time, there were only Jews as members, and no gentiles (non-Jews). *
Then a Roman centurion (a man who commanded a hundred soldiers) named Cornelius had a vision in which an angel told him that his prayers had been answered. The angel also told him to send for Peter to come and teach him.
While Cornelius’s servants were coming to get Peter, he, too, had a vision. He saw a “vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners and let down to earth:
“Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts … , and creeping things, and fowls of the air.”
Now, the Jews had been taught to not mingle with gentiles and that certain animals were “unclean” and were not to be eaten. So when a voice came to Peter, telling him to eat the animals that were in the vessel, he protested, “Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.”
But the voice told him, “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.”
Then Peter, upon going to the house of Cornelius and hearing of his vision, understood that the gospel was to be taken to the gentiles—that is, to all people, everywhere—that God considered them worthy to be taught the gospel. So Peter taught Cornelius and all his household. As the chief Apostle, or prophet, taught them, the Holy Ghost testified to them that what he said was true. Peter told them that they must be baptized so that they might receive the blessing of the gift of the Holy Ghost.
The Jews who followed Christ heard about Peter teaching these gentiles, and they asked Peter about it. When he told them about his and Cornelius’s visions and how the Holy Ghost had testified to them of Jesus Christ and His gospel, the Jews accepted them into the Church, another blessing for Cornelius and his household. †
Cornelius, believed to be the first non-Jew who was taught the gospel, teaches us the importance of—and the blessings that come from—seeking the truth by following the counsel of the prophet.
Poster Article Activity: Retell the Story of Cornelius and Peter
Instructions: Remove pages 42–43 from the magazine and mount on lightweight cardboard. Cut out the picture strips and glue them together in numbered order. Cut out the house and cut two slits inside it along the broken lines. With the house facing you, push the strip from the back through the right slit of the frame and back out through the left slit. Look at each picture and retell the story of Cornelius and Peter (see page 42).
Illustrated by Dilleen Marsh