Thus, we can imagine the surprise of Jesus’ Jewish disciples when he told them three days before his death: “And this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.” His disciples must have wondered how they could ever preach the good news “to all the nations.” How could such a small body of believers ever accomplish such a staggering assignment?—Matthew 24:14; Mark 13:10.
Later, the resurrected Jesus added a command, saying: “All authority has been given me in heaven and on the earth. Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you.” Thus they were commissioned to take their Master’s message to “people of all the nations.”—Matthew 28:18-20.
This came to include preaching to Gentiles, which proved to be a challenge. Peter’s attitude over three years later is proof of that. By means of a vision, Peter was told to eat defiled creatures as food. When God indicated to him that things formerly considered defiled were now to be viewed as clean, Peter was perplexed. Then Peter was directed by God’s spirit to visit the house of the Gentile Cornelius, a Roman centurion. There, he perceived that it was God’s will for him to preach to Cornelius, though he had previously thought contacts with people of other races to be unlawful. As Peter was speaking, holy spirit fell upon that Gentile family, and this indicated, in effect, that the field for Christian missionary activity must now expand to include the non-Jewish world.—Acts 10:9-16, 28, 34, 35, 44.
When Peter explained this development to the elders in Jerusalem, “they acquiesced, and they glorified God, saying: ‘Well, then, God has granted repentance for the purpose of life to people of the nations also.’” (Acts 11:18) Now the Gentile nations could freely receive the good news of Christ and of his Kingdom