This is a quick hitter.
1. Who was the first Gentile convert to Christianity?
2. Who was the first Jewish convert to Christianity?
ANSWER: Many Jews were converted to Christianity before even the first Gentile. We know this, in part, because of the instruction Jesus gave to the Apostles: “These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt 10: 5-7) The first Jewish convert was, of course, Mary. She believed what the Angel Gabriel told her in the Annunciation – that the child that would be born to her would be the Son of God: “....the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, “Hail! Full of grace. The Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” “Then the angel said to her, “.... you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” “....also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. And Mary believed Gabriel...... Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:26-38) What about the first Gentile convert? That was a devout man who feared God named Cornelius – a centurion from Caesarea. The short story is that he was given a vision to send for a man named Peter who was staying in Joppa. He was told to bring Peter back to Cornelius’ house. Meanwhile, Peter was also given a vision that he should eat food considered unclean according to Hebrew law. As he was wrestling with what this meant, Cornelius’ men got to Peter and told him about the vision and instruction Cornelius had received from the angel. They traveled the next day to Cornelius’ home. To us, not a big deal to travel to one’s home who invites you. But to a devout Jew like Peter, in the first century, it was forbidden to even enter the home of a Gentile, let alone eat a meal of ‘unclean’ food. But all that changed with the vision Peter received from God about how things would be in the New Covenant. With all of Cornelius’ family and servants gathered, Cornelius greeted Peter and said: “Now therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God.” Peter preached the Gospel to them and the Holy Spirit fell upon them which was a surprise to Peter and he baptized all that were there. The full story is recorded in Acts 10.
Wow! That’s really cool the vision he had and then it actually became a thing… what God calls you to may not be what you always thought was “right”.
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