Thinking Biblically about Race and Class from the book of Acts

My church has been studying the book of Acts verse-by-verse for months now. We finally wrapped up Acts 11 today, and I was extremely grateful that my pastor has been pointing out how both Acts 10 and 11 condemn racism and elitism of any kind. In Acts 10, a gentile (non-Jewish) man named Cornelius was seeking the true God and God sent the Apostle Peter to explain the gospel to him and Cornelius was saved. 

Again, in Acts 11 it becomes obvious that what would become known as Christianity was not meant to be a sect of Judaism, nor was the gospel meant to be preached only to Jewish people. Rather God, was breaking down prejudices gradually between the groups of people (Jewish, Samaritans, Romans, other gentiles, etc), proving that the gospel was for any of them who believed and making them a united church in spite of their differences.

In Acts 11:15, Peter recounts Cornelius’ conversion saying, “As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit feel on them just as on us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God saying, ‘Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.'” (Emphasis added)

While some of this ground was covered in Acts 8, Acts 10 (especially vs. 34-35) and 11 solidifies the fact that the gospel is open to people of any race, tribe, class, or status. In the letter to the Galatians, this was emphasized again in 3:28 which states, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

It’s pretty obvious from these passages that racism, elitism and favoritism are antithetical to true Christianity and should have no part of the way we as Christians think or live. I would encourage churches that want to figure out how to talk about race and racial reconciliation in their congregations seriously study the book of Acts.


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