So far, we have looked at Peter, who being the one who determined who would be accepted in God's kingdom, was clearly willing that the Jews believe in Jesus (Matt. 16:18-19; Acts 2:1-41). Next, we looked as how the Church sent Peter to see what the Lord had been doing among the Samaritans, and how the Spirit did not fill them until Peter could be there to verify it (Acts 8:1-19). Remember, the preaching of the Gospel was to progress from the Jews, to the Samaritans, and then to the Gentiles (Acts 1:8).
The Samaritans (Hebrew: שומרונים Shomronim), were the adherents to Samaritanism, an Abrahamic religion closely related to Judaism. Based on the Samaritan Torah, Samaritans claimed their worship was the true religion of the ancient Israelites, preserved by those who remained in the Land of Israel. They believed that Judaism was a related, but altered and amended religion brought back by those returning from exile. Ancestrally, they claimed to be descents of the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh (the two sons of Joseph) as well as some descendants from the priestly tribe of Levi. The Samaritans derive their name from the Hebrew term שַמֶרִים (Shamerim), "Keepers of the Law." They were mentioned eight times in the Gospels (Matt. 10:5; Lk. 9:52; 10:33; 17:16; Jn. 4:9, 39-40; 8:48).
Unlike the Samaritans, whom Peter apparently had little problem accepting into the Church because they were technically Jews, the Gentiles were another story. When Jesus told them to go "unto the uttermost part of the earth" (Acts 1:8), Peter must have though He meant to the Jews all over the world. The Lord went to a lot of trouble to correct Peter, and He showed great patience with Peter's prejudice against the Gentiles. In Acts 10:1-48, God leads Cornelius, a Roman centurion, to send for Peter (v. 1-8). In verses 9-29, Peter sees a vision, which the Lord explained to him, and he went to meet Cornelius. After they discussed how God had brought them together, Peter preached the Gospel message, Cornelius believed and was saved, the Holy Ghost was manifested in the speaking of tongues, and Peter had him baptized.
In Acts 11:1-18, Peter convinced the Apostles in Jerusalem that the Gentiles had received Jesus Christ as Lord, were filled with the Holy Ghost, had spoken in tongues, and he had had them baptized. Peter had opened the "door/gate to heaven" for Jews, Samaritans, and Gentiles. The Church recognized the "keys" had opened the door to "whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved." To say they were a little slow would be an understatement; Peter had preached those very words in Acts 2:21! It took until the Apostle Paul came to Jerusalem to debate them over their insisting converts become Jews (be circumcised) before they could be saved (Acts 15:1-29). And just in case some might think Peter was in charge (the first Pope), notice who it is that makes the decision concerning the matter: James (v. 13-21)!
To be continued, if it be God's will.