God Shows No Partiality
- If you were a Jew, you would not have liked Cornelius. He represented everything you hated.
- Cornelius was an uncircumcised gentile, and he made his living in the military occupation of your homeland.
- Cornelius was an outsider who lived on the fringe of your community.
- First Peter has to be convinced.
- Then he has to convince the church leaders of the legitimacy of what he is doing.
- Eventually the church (Acts 15) would have to convene to discuss this question.
God at work!
- God was clearly at work bringing Peter and Cornelius together.
- Both of them had strange dreams.
- Both of them had personal contexts that would have kept them apart.
- Like Mary, "I am the handmaid of the Lord."
- Or Isaiah, "Here am I, send me."
- The rescue of Israel was linked to Jesus' coming.
- Jesus' death and resurrection was the grand event that delivered the salvation.
- Bringing Cornelius and Peter together insured the spread of that message across the globe.
Who gets converted?
- An interesting question that this event raises is "Who gets converted?" On the one hand the obvious answer seems to be Cornelius. But then again, maybe it is Peter.
- Contacts between Jew and Gentile created domestic, household, and tabletime problems.
- Conversion to Christ becomes a matter of "Who shall eat at our table?" It's a relevent question.
- Jesus was criticized for the company he kept. So now Peter.
- Would the church be able to believe that "there is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous persons who need no repentance," Luke 15:7.
- The real hero of this story is what Willimon calls "the prodding One who makes bold promises and keeps them."
- Acts is a book of contrasts.
- A crowd of scoffers is turned to believers.
- An exotic Ethiopian becomes an enlightened believer.
- A raging enemy of Christ becomes a courageous brother.
- A gentile soldier is adopted by the church.
- We live in a very individualized age. This greatly affects the way we look at the text.
- In Acts conversion is adoption into a family, immigration into a new kingdom: a social corporate, political phenomenon.
- But conversion is also more than a moment; it is a process. At each turn we see the people of Acts becoming converted in new ways.
- Conversion is also not accommodation or adjustment of the Gospel to fit the culture. It is conversion. Change and turning are part of the Christian lifestyle.
- Acts is not a text book on how to convert people. It is rather a story of how God acted to bring the gospel to all of us.