Bible Talk - Acts 10
This chapter is concerned exclusively with the conversion of Cornelius, the same event also being under consideration in . Luke's devoting so much space to the narrative of a single conversion indicates the importance of it. It was in the conversion of this Roman centurion that the issue of receiving Gentiles into Christ was finally decided, and before their very eyes they would see the promise to Abraham being fulfilled as his seed brought blessing to all of the nations of the earth, just as Peter himself spoke of earlier in 3.25.
1001 We are introduced to a centurion named Cornelius who was probably over about 100 soldiers. What is different about this man from everyone else that has been mentioned in the book of acts so far? He’s a gentile!
1002 We are told some amazing things about Cornelius. He wasn’t like all of the gentiles that were completely in idolatry, but he was a God-fearing man that did many charitable deeds for the Jewish people, which is probably what led them to speak well of Cornelius (v22). Cornelius is described as being "devout," "one that feared God with all his house," one "who gave much alms to the people," and one who "prayed to God always" It seems that he worshiped God with all earnestness and devotion, and taught his house to do the same; he was liberal in that the Jewish people among whom he was stationed needed help and he gave of his means to help them; he continued praying to God and seemed to be anxious for greater knowledge of God's way.
1003 Luke shows us that the bringing in of the Gentiles to the church started with the Lord. The Lord started the process and sent the angel to Cornelius.
1004 It seems like Cornelius understood that this was from God. A memorial before God? God saw and heard…accepted what was offered and answered in some way.
1005 Specific directions are given which Cornelius must fulfill if he is to take advantage of God’s favorable offer. The soldier is given marching orders to follow: send men to Joppa.
The big question that appears here, however, is, "Why did not the angel himself tell Cornelius what to do to be saved?" The sole purpose of Cornelius' sending for Peter was to speak words "whereby thou shalt be saved" (); and the thought inevitably surfaces as to why the angel himself did not speak those words.
Jesus committed this task to man and does not intend to relieve him of it. An angel sent Philip to the Ethiopian; but it was the man Philip that told him what to do to be saved. Also, Jesus himself appeared to Saul; but it was Ananias who was commissioned to tell Saul what to do to be saved; and this same pattern is here. Not the angel, but Peter would tell Cornelius what to do to be saved.
An angel wasn’t going to go to every gentile and preach to them. The apostles and the church needed to see that the Lord indeed approved of the gentile’s inclusion into the kingdom.
1006 It is not said what God had in store for Cornelius or why Peter should be sent for. This of course keeps the reader in suspense, but, what is more important, also shows that both Peter and Cornelius act in obedience to God, not knowing the particulars. (Isaiah; ch6)
1007-8 Cornelius called 2 of his servants and a devout soldier when the angel departed and gave them instructions and sent them to Joppa.
1009 The message to Peter came while he was engaged in private prayer. God spoke to Cornelius also when he was in prayer (30).
1010 He was up on the roof of Simon the tanners house, and became hungry. And just like me when I get hungry, he desired something to eat. But while they were preparing food for him, he received this vision.
1011 The heavens open, and a sheet descended from the sky
1012 There were all kinds of animals on this sheet.
1013 Peter is given the command to kill them and to eat. He was hungry, would he do it?
1014 Peter refused to ease his hunger by violating the law by which he had been governed as a Jew; he had never "eaten anything that is common and unclean." Peter showed his usual abrupt determination by the answer that he gave; he is polite but firm in his refusal; he gives his reason for his firm decision. He had never violated this law and he firmly declares that he will not do so now. He just could not consciously do it. This was one of the distinctions which separated the Jews from the Gentiles; but Peter is to learn that there will not be any distinction in the future between Jew and Gentile.
1015 The voice speaks to Peter a second time saying "What God has made clean, do not call common."
1016 Happened 3 times? The whole vision, or just Peter’s refusals?
1017 Peter had no clue at first what this vision was about. He thought very deeply about it, but before he could figure it out, the men sent from Cornelius come.
1018 The men called out asking if Simon Peter was there.
1019 So still while Peter was pondering the meaning of the vision, the Spirit said to Peter that there were 3 men looking for him.
1020 The Spirit is the one who sent the angel to Cornelius and gave him instructions.
1021 Peter questioned why the men had come to get him.
1022 They answer Peter’s vision, telling us more about Cornelius, especially regarding how he was regarded with among the Jewish nation. They also tell Peter that an angel had told them to come to get him so they could hear what he had to say.
1023 He invited them in for the night, and the following day they arose and left for Caesarea. Also some brethren (6; ) from Joppa went with them.
1024-48 Gentiles converted
1024 It took them about a day to get to Caesarea. We see that Cornelius is expecting them, and what did he do? We saw in verse 2 that he led his household in fearing the Lord, but here in verse 24 we see that he for Peter’s arrival had prepared for him by inviting all of his close relatives and friends. The godly life and righteous desires of Cornelius had been shared with all who were in any close proximity of him.
1025 Cornelius came to met Peter and fell down before him, worshipping him.
1026 Peter humbly lifts Cornelius up and tells him that he is only a man, just as Cornelius is. He is not worthy of worship, just as the angel did to John (). Only God is worthy of worship.
1027 Peter sees the crowd that had gathered. Don’t we all wish for opportunities like this when we have the ears of a roomful of people that are lost that are willing to listen (What was going through Peter’s mind? V28)
1028 Is Peter saying that he would not have been there on his own accord? God showed him in the vision that he was not to call any man common or unclean. There would be no distinction between those of different nations that fear and obey the Lord. (vv34-35)
1029 Peter came without objection? At least to the men that Cornelius had sent.
1030-1032 Cornelius gives an account of the vision he had.
1033 Cornelius obeyed the angel and sent for Peter. He wanted to hear God’s message and also wanted everyone else to also! Quite possibly there is a deliberate echo of where the believers await Pentecost. Luke may be suggesting that we are to see this story as the Gentile Pentecost, the catalyst that would send forth a worldwide mission to the Gentiles.
1034 Peter preaches the gospel to the gentiles. God shows No partiality! Surely he knows from Israel’s Scriptures that God is not a respecter of persons; however, this conviction has acquired new dimensions of meaning in the light of recent events.
1035 Those who fear him are acceptable in His sight no matter their nationality (always has been this way?)
1036 You know? Have they heard about the Lord already or have they seen him? The good news of peace was preached to Israel, a peace received through Christ, who is Lord/ Master of all.
1037-1038 Peter gives the account of Jesus’ ministry, making mention of the miracles that He did that proved that God was with Him.
1039 “We are witnesses” There is a double emphasis on the role of witness (10:39,41)—both of Jesus’ ministry (1:21-22) and of Jesus’ resurrection (1:8).
JESUS WAS CRUCIFIED
1040 GOD RAISED HIM UP, and he was seen 8
1041 The proof that Jesus was really alive beyond death was that he even ate and drank with his followers after the resurrection. This was proof that the resurrected Lord Jesus was no bodiless ghost or spirit, and that the disciples weren’t imagining things.
1042 were given the duty to preach that Jesus will be the judge of the living and the dead (cf. )
1043 The prophets said that those who have faith in Christ will receive forgiveness of their sins through Him.
The Spirit falls on the Gentiles
1044 Peter did not get to finish this sermon. Peter was interrupted by God’s Spirit falling on the audience. From Peter’s viewpoint he had only just begun to preach when this happened (cf 11:15).
1045 By calling attention to the Joppa disciples’ circumcised status at this point in the story, the narrator suggests that their shock over the recent conferral of the Spirit is due to the fact that Cornelius and household remain uncircumcised. Those of the circumcision were faithful, loyal to Israel’s basic calling to be holy and separate, eager to maintain its identity markers and boundaries. The fact that even they were convinced of the Spirit’s coming upon the Caesarean Gentiles meant that the fact of the outpoured Spirit was beyond question.
1046 Proof of their receiving the Holy Spirità speaking in tongues exalting God (cf. 2:11à “we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.")
1047 They could not forbid salvation to the Gentiles when God had shown without doubt that the gentiles were accepted by Him also. To do so would be against the counsel of God.
1048 Peter commands them to be baptized in the name of Christ (cf. )