Jesus told His Apostles, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). The book of Acts shows the Apostles fulfilling this divine assignment. Foreign Jews and proselytes (gentile converts to Judaism) heard the gospel preached in their own language on the day of Pentecost (see Acts 2:1–12). Nicolas, one of the seven called to care for the widows, was a proselyte from Antioch (see Acts 6:5). Philip baptized many in Samaria and a man from Ethiopia (see Acts 8:6–7, 12, 26–40). Ananias prophesied that Saul would preach Christ “before the Gentiles” (Acts 9:15). The Lord gave Peter a vision showing him that “God is no respecter of persons” but that “he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him” (Acts 10:34–35), regardless of nationality. The Church rejoiced in this revelation, saying, “Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life” (Acts 11:18). These developments launched Paul’s great missionary work among the Gentiles.
As you study Acts 10–12, notice the significance of the conversion of Cornelius, and ponder in what sense God is no respecter of persons.
Prayerfully study Acts 10–12and consider the following principles before preparing your lessons.
The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, 250–55.
Choose from the following ideas, or use some of your own, as you prepare lessons for Acts 10–12.
New Testament Video presentation 11, “Long-Promised Day” (8:52), can be used in teaching Acts 10 (see New Testament Video Guide for teaching suggestions).
Show students a picture of the Savior and a picture of the present prophet. Explain that Jesus directs His Church through revelation today just as He did in the times of the ancient Apostles.
As an example of how the Lord directs His work through revelation to prophets, have students read Matthew 10:5–6, and ask:
What does this scripture say about missionary work?
Can the Lord give different instructions regarding missionary work at different times? Why?
Read Acts 10:44–48. How did missionary work change at this time? (Gentiles were baptized.)
How would this change affect the mission of the Church?
How did the Lord prepare Cornelius, a Gentile, to receive the gospel?
How did the Lord prepare Peter?
What impact did the revelation to Peter have on the Church?
Point out that this revelation can be compared to Official Declaration 2 in the Doctrine and Covenants. Just as Peter’s revelation instructed the early Church to take the gospel to the Gentiles, this modern revelation through President Spencer W. Kimball is allowing the modern Church to expand missionary work and the blessings of the temple throughout the world.
Share the following statement by Elder Harold B. Lee:
“When there is to be anything different from that which the Lord has told us already, he will give it to his prophet. … I have said, ‘Do you suppose that while the Lord has his prophet on the earth he is going to take some round-about means of revealing things to his children? That is what he has a prophet for, and when he has something to give to this Church, he will give it to the President’” (“The Place of the Living Prophet, Seer, and Revelator,“ address to religious educators, 8 July 1964, in Charge to Religious Educators, 2nd ed. , 109).
Ask your students to imagine that it is the end of the term and that you are going to give them their grade. Ask the two tallest students in class to stand, and tell them they get the highest grade. Have the next three tallest students stand and tell them they get the second highest grade. Tell the rest of the class they get an average grade.
Ask: Is this grading system fair or unfair? Why? Point out that in order to be fair, grades need to be related to what they measure, and all students should have a chance to earn a high grade. If only tall students can get the highest grade then we would say that the teacher is partial.
Review with students the story of Cornelius in Acts 10. Ask a student to read aloud Acts 10:34–35. Ask: What does it mean that God is no respecter of persons? Explain that receiving blessings from Heavenly Father does not depend on our race, tribe, culture, or economic status. Everyone can receive blessings from Heavenly Father by obeying His commandments.
Have students read 2 Nephi 26:33 and Doctrine and Covenants 130:20–21, and ask: How do these verses relate to the idea that Heavenly Father is not a partial God? Read John 3:16–17 and testify that Jesus Christ suffered for all, and that all who come to Him in obedience can receive salvation in the kingdom of God.