The Good News is for Everyone! Sunday School Lesson and Activities for Kids based on the Bible Story of Peter and Cornelius in Acts 10:1-33
Bible Lesson Summary: This lesson focuses on Peter’s revelation that the Gospel was meant for all people, not just the Jews. In this day and age, of course, kids might not encounter “unclean meat” or questions about Jewish tradition. But this story provides a great way to emphasize the Gospel. We are not saved by what we do or who we were born to, but by the blood of Jesus. The story of Peter and Cornelius also reminds us that God wants us to share the love of Jesus with others, no matter who they are.
Scripture Passage: Acts 10:1-33
Target Audience: Kindergarten-6th grade (children age 6 to 12 years old)
Materials and Teaching Supplies Needed: M&Ms, stuffed animals, blankets, hankies, animal toys, pictures of people from various nations, pictures of various foods, Bibles.
More Bible Teaching Activities on Peter and Cornelius
- Compare another Acts 10 Sunday School Lesson on Cornelius Conversion to Christ
- Compare the Peter and Cornelius Bible lesson from Ministry-To-Children
- Compare Sunday School lesson on Cornelius receiving the Holy Spirit
- Compare God’s Love is for Everyone Children’s Sermon on Acts 11
- Download the Acts coloring page and Book of Acts Worksheet
*Adaptations noted for younger students. Most activities can work for all age groups.
Peter and Cornelius Bible Story Video
Game Ideas and Activities to Introduce Peter and Cornelius Lesson
Lesson Introduction Activities: The lesson focuses on how all people are the same in God’s eyes, and everyone needs love and the good news of the Gospel. Start off with a fun opening activity or two that get kids energized and thinking. You might also incorporate one or two of these within the context of sharing the story, depending on how you read or tell it.
- The same on the inside: Give each student a few M&Ms of varied colors. Ask kids which one tastes the best, and invite them to sample a few of each color. Obviously, they all taste the same, because they have the same thing inside. Explain that this is how people are. We look different, but we are all people and all have similar needs.
- Look at some pictures of missionaries helping people, or of people in other countries. Talk about the differences of other cultures, and emphasize how God wants all people to know Him. Some people get to travel around the world and tell others about Jesus!
- “Clean or unclean”? Kids know that certain foods might be better for us than others to eat. Look at several pictures (or actual examples) of different foods, some healthy and others more in the “junk” category. Have students identify which are which. Explain that, unless you have allergies, no food is inherently “bad”, even though we should try to make healthful choices. In the days Jesus was alive, there were certain foods Jews weren’t supposed to eat at all, for reasons God gave them. In this story, God told someone that all foods were okay to eat, which also meant that all people needed to hear about Jesus (not just Jews).
- (Good for younger students in particular) Animals on parade: lift a blanket up, full of stuffed animals or small animal toys. This works especially well if you have a raised platform or chair you can safely stand on. Let the animal toys spill out of the blanket, tossing them gently or letting them fall. Have students try to catch the animals. Alternately, have two groups of students, each with a blanket. Toss animal toys between blankets for groups to catch and throw back.
Describe the background of the story a little. This takes place in the book of Acts, which details how the first Christians told other people about Jesus and spread the church mission to other countries. These people faced a lot of tough challenges, but God was with them and the Holy Spirit directed their ways.
One of the first leaders in the church was Peter (the same disciple who denied Jesus three times and was later restored). In this story, Peter learned that God wanted everyone to hear the good news of the Gospel. Before that, people thought the message was only for Jews, but because of Christ’s life and death, ALL people are chosen.
*Note: it is helpful to explain what the term “Gentile” means (someone who is not a Jew). Since we aren’t Jewish, we are all Gentiles, so this story is for us!
Ask: What are some challenges that you might face? Why do you think God lets us face challenges?
Sunday School Lesson (Acts 10:1-33) The Apostle Peter Shares the Gospel with Cornelius the Centurion
Kids Bible Lesson: The passage from Acts consists of a few parts, and might be long for younger students. Older kids can take turns reading or can listen while the verses are read. This is also a fun story to act out, or at least to involve interactive elements (as when the sheet of animals is seen). If students are interested, assign parts for them to act in a sense, and feed them lines.
At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort, 2 a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God. 3 About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God come in and say to him, “Cornelius.” 4 And he stared at him in terror and said, “What is it, Lord?” And he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God. 5 And now send men to Joppa and bring one Simon who is called Peter. 6 He is lodging with one Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea.” 7 When the angel who spoke to him had departed, he called two of his servants and a devout soldier from among those who attended him, 8 and having related everything to them, he sent them to Joppa. -Acts 10:1-8
The first scene of this story happens in a place called Caesarea. Explain the significance of who Cornelius was. In those days, Romans and Jews did not get along. Roman soldiers were seen as the enemy and oppressors. This man was in charge of a lot of Roman soldiers, but he also believed in God and wanted to help people. This man received a special vision from an angel, who told him to send for Peter. Keep in mind that Cornelius had no idea who Peter was or why he should send for him, but he obeyed what God told him.
*Note: it might be helpful to display a map for students, showing where Caesarea and Joppa were, and how the journey might have gone.
The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. 10 And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance 11 and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. 12 In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. 13 And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” 14 But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” 15 And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” 16 This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven. -Acts 10:9-16
Ask: What do you do when you get hungry? Do you get impatient when it’s taking a long time for a meal to cook?
In this part of the story, something seemingly strange takes place. Peter went up on the roof to pray, while he was waiting for a meal to be prepared. While he was praying, he had a vision of animals coming down to him. These animals would have been things not normally allowed for Jews to consume. Peter knew he wasn’t supposed to eat such things, but a voice in this vision told him to eat them. Three times in a row Peter had this vision! Maybe he thought he was dreaming, but after the same thing happened three times, he probably realized something important was going on. (*This is a fun part to act out with animals dropping out of a blanket!)
Now while Peter was inwardly perplexed as to what the vision that he had seen might mean, behold, the men who were sent by Cornelius, having made inquiry for Simon’s house, stood at the gate 18 and called out to ask whether Simon who was called Peter was lodging there. 19 And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. 20 Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them.” 21 And Peter went down to the men and said, “I am the one you are looking for. What is the reason for your coming?” 22 And they said, “Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and to hear what you have to say.” 23 So he invited them in to be his guests.
The next day he rose and went away with them, and some of the brothers from Joppa accompanied him. 24 And on the following day they entered Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. 25 When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. 26 But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am a man.” 27 And as he talked with him, he went in and found many persons gathered. 28 And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean. 29 So when I was sent for, I came without objection. I ask then why you sent for me.” -Acts 10:17-29
Ask: What do you think you would do if some strange people appeared on your doorstep asking you to come with them? How did Peter know this was safe?
Be sure to note what God is doing in this. Cornelius wasn’t chosen because he was good or did special things. He did love and fear God, and was thrilled to receive the message of salvation. However, the importance of these events is how God used them to reveal that all people needed to hear the Gospel. It was not just for a few specially chosen people, but for everyone.
And Cornelius said, “Four days ago, about this hour, I was praying in my house at the ninth hour, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing 31 and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God. 32 Send therefore to Joppa and ask for Simon who is called Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea.’ 33 So I sent for you at once, and you have been kind enough to come. Now therefore we are all here in the presence of God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord.” -Acts 10:30-33
After this, Peter explained to Cornelius who Jesus was and what He came to Earth to do. Cornelius and those who were with him believed in this good news, and they were baptized right away. Peter and his friends realized that God wanted everyone to come to faith, and that He wanted to use them to spread Christianity to other people in other places.
Ask: Do you ever have opportunities to tell others about Jesus? How is it sometimes possible to share the Gospel without even using words?
If time allows (for older groups especially), you can continue with the rest of Acts 10, where it becomes very clear that the Holy Spirit came for all people, and that God was spreading Christianity to Gentiles as well as Jews. This was not a popular thing for the Jewish leaders to hear or understand, which led to difficulty for the apostles. But that’s another story…
Activities: Choose a craft or activity connected to the story:
- Review questions about the story (why did Peter have a vision of animals? Who was Cornelius? Where was Peter staying?).
- Animals descending: draw or color animals on paper, or add animal stickers to paper. Fold the paper at the corners, and attach yarn or string to the corners of the paper. Alternately, do the same with large coffee filters to create a more parachute-like illusion.
- Animal parade: Decorate a white cloth or hankie, and place paper animals or small toys or pom poms inside. Attach string to lower the hankie down.
- The whole world in His hands: Add green and blue coloring to a paper plate to create a globe shape. Add a note about how God loves all people throughout the Earth.
Close with prayer, thanking God for using us to spread His good news throughout the world. Ask God for help in sharing His love with all people.
Craft Ideas for Making Disciples and Sharing Christ’s Love. As we take a look at the calling of Christ’s first disciples, it’s important to consider how ultimately we are all called to be part of the family of God, and to expanding that family. These crafts remind students of the importance of sharing things, including and especially the love of Jesus. Read more Bible verses on evangelism.