The Question of Gentiles

Intro to the Early Church

Week 3

  • Acts 9:32 – 12:24

As the church continues to grow, so does the question; "Is Christianity a Jewish, religion?" The natural extension of that question is whether or not non-Jews can be Christians. In this week's reading, we see God giving a clear answer and example.

People & Places

  • Cornelius
    A commander of a Roman military unit of about 80 men. He lived in Caesarea, which was Rome's capital city of the area at that time.

  • Herod
    Not to be confused with king Herod the Great or Herod Antipas, who ruled during the time of Jesus. Herod Agrippa was friends with Emperor Caligula, yet he ruled only briefly until 44 AD when he died suddenly. The odd circumstances of his death recorded here are corroborated by the Roman historian Josephus.

  • Joppa
    This ancient city is sometimes translated from the Greek as “Jaffa” or from the Hebrew as “Yafo”. However, its modern-day name is Tel-Aviv, and it is the second largest city in Israel after Jerusalem, with almost a half-million people.

  • Caesarea
    This city was almost 40 miles north of Joppa. The Romans made it their capital for the Judean province.

  • Antioch
    About the same latitude as Tulsa, Oklahoma, Antioch was located in the southernmost parts of what is now Turkey. At the time it was probably the third most important city in the Roman empire after Alexandria and Rome itself.

Modern-day Joppa -- Tel-Aviv, Israel

Historical Context

Around the years AD 40 - 47:

  • The church in Corinth is established.

  • Emperor Caligula is assassinated and Claudius becomes Emperor.

  • Earliest references to the term 'Christians' being used to describe followers of Jesus.

  • Roman conquest of Britain begins.