Acts 10 For God So Loved --- The Gentiles
The Jewish harvest has gone well. Many thousands of Jewish people, including a great many of their half- brothers, the Samaritans, and also including a number of priests, have received Jesus as Messiah of Israel. The time has come for the door of covenant to be opened to the Gentiles. In this study we will deal with the entire 10th chapter of Acts.
This is Acts024 - Acts 10 For God So Loved --- The Gentiles.
Vss1,2: "Now there was a man at Caesarea named Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian cohort, a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, and gave many alms to the Jewish people and prayed to God continually."
.... Caesarea is on the coast, north of Joppa where Peter is staying. Cornelius was part of the Roman occupational forces in Israel. Both he and his 100 soldiers were all Romans.
.... "A devout man and one who feared God with all his household." Cornelius had forsaken the gods of the Romans. He is an example of a righteous Gentile during his time. However, he was not a Jewish proselyte, or Peter would not have hesitated to enter his home.
.... "Gave many alms to the Jewish people and prayed to God continually." Cornelius recognized the truth of the Jewish religion. His heart was compassionate to their needs. It wasn't uncommon to find some of the Romans helping build synagogues, etc.
Vss3-6: "About the ninth hour of the day he clearly saw in a vision an angel of God who had just come in and said to him, 'Cornelius!' And fixing his gaze on him and being much alarmed, he said, 'What is it, Lord?' And he said to him, 'Your prayers and alms have ascended as a memorial before God. Now dispatch some men to Joppa and send for a man named Simon, who is also called Peter; he is staying with a tanner named Simon, whose house is by the sea.'
.... The angel appears to Cornelius while he is praying. A godly fear comes over him. But when the angel speaks his name, a sense of holiness prevails. Cornelius responds, "What is it was, Lord?" (Lord or 'Kurios', can also be translated 'Master'. It is a title of deep respect. Lord Jesus Christ is 'Kurios Iesous Christos'.)
.... "Your prayers and alms have ascended as a memorial before God." The word for memorial is applied to but one other person in the New Testament writings. Jesus said of the lady who washed His bathed His feet in her tears, "Wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory* of her." (Cf. Mark14:9; Matt26:13) [*mnemosunon: Something done to arouse the memory of another: UBS Lexicon.]
.... "Dispatch some men to Joppa and send for a man named Simon." In the new covenant, angels are not given the role of communicating the gospel. It has to be done through redeemed men. In this case Peter must be summoned. He has been given the keys to open kingdom doors for the nations.
Vss7,8: "When the angel who was speaking to him had left, he summoned two of his servants and a devout soldier of those who were his personal attendants, and after he had explained everything to them, he sent them to Joppa."
.... "A devout soldier." This soldier was deeply affected by Cornelius. He himself was a god fearing man, and could be trusted to relay Cornelius' experience to Peter as only a godly person could do.
Vss9: "On the next day, as they were on their way and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray."
.... "As they were on their way." This is one of the great principles to learn about the work of the Lord. God always works on both ends. Peter is being prepared for a venture that will be beyond his imagination.
.... The sixth hour was a set time of prayer for the Jews. The early Jewish church continued with many of their ancient traditions. Peter was very much a Jew.
Vss10-16: "But he became hungry and was desiring to eat; but while they were making preparations, he fell into a trance; and he saw the sky opened up, and an object like a great sheet coming down, lowered by four corners to the ground, and there were in it all kinds of four- footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air. A voice came to him, 'Get up, Peter, kill and eat!' But Peter said, 'By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean.' Again a voice came to him a second time, 'What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.' This happened three times, and immediately the object was taken up into the sky."
.... Peter's vision was two-fold in purpose. Its primary emphasis was to prepare Peter for the entrance of the Gentiles into the new covenant. But it had a second purpose and that was to make Peter understand that the new covenant is not simply the covenant of Moses refurbished. It is a distinct covenant unto itself. Thus we have Gentiles admitted to the covenant, but we also see where former kosher laws have no place in the new covenant.
According to early Church writers, Mark served as Peter's scribe. As I explained earlier, if this is the case then the gospel of Mark is Peter's gospel. Listen carefully to a portion of Mark's gospel and you will hear a parenthetical statement probably made by Peter. (It would fit Peter's vision):
"When He had left the crowd and entered the house, His disciples questioned Him about the parable. And He said to them, 'Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?' (Thus He declared all foods clean.)" (Mark 7:17-19)
The statement, 'Thus He declared all foods clean,' is parenthetical. Peter would be commenting to Mark a truth that the Lord was teaching at the time, but that Peter didn't catch until later on.
Vss17-23: "Now while Peter was greatly perplexed in mind as to what the vision which he had seen might be, behold, the men who had been sent by Cornelius, having asked directions for Simon's house, appeared at the gate; and calling out, they were asking whether Simon, who was also called Peter, was staying there. While Peter was reflecting on the vision, the Spirit said to him, 'Behold, three men are looking for you. But get up, go downstairs and accompany them without misgivings, for I have sent them Myself.'"
.... Notice how everything comes together. Peter is coming out of the vision and it has him perplexed. The men sent by Cornelius arrive and are inquiring for Peter. The Spirit of the Lord speaks directly to Peter, telling him to accompany the men "without misgivings."
"Without misgivings" is 'medeis diakrino.' Peter is to make no judgment calls. He is go with them and carry no doubts as to whether this was of the Lord.
Vss21-23: "Peter went down to the men and said, 'Behold, I am the one you are looking for; what is the reason for which you have come?' They said, 'Cornelius, a centurion, a righteous and God-fearing man well spoken of by the entire nation of the Jews, was divinely directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and hear a message from you.' So he invited them in and gave them lodging. And on the next day he got up and went away with them, and some of the brethren from Joppa accompanied him."
.... Once the men give their testimony about Cornelius, Peter does was any good Torah-observant Jew would do. He gets a handful of witnesses. (This belongs to the 'two or three witnesses' that is laid out in Scripture.)
I will simply highly the remainder of this chapter. Much is repetitive of the events that lead up to this point.
Vss25-29: Peter arrives and Cornelius falls at his feet in an attitude of worship. Peter raises him up, "Stand up! I too am just a man." When Peter enters the house, he finds a great many people assembled.
.... Peter's first statement allows us to see that Cornelius was not a Jewish proselyte, but rather a Roman Gentile. He says, "You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him; and yet God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean." (The vision is working on Peter's mind and heart.) The apostle then asks why he was sent for.
Vss30-33: In this portion Cornelius relates the visitation of the angel and his instructions to hear from Peter. He then says, "Now then, we are all here present before God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord."
.... Can you imagine the emotions running through that room, on both sides, that is, with the whole household of Cornelius, and with Peter and his group. They are in uncharted water. What does God have in mind? Now its Peter's turn.
Vss34-43: Peter opens his mouth and begins to preach Jesus. Here is a summary:
.... "I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality." Peter is the first apostle to realize that the new covenant is not for Jewish ownership. Although it began with the Jews, God's intention was to include all peoples of all the nations.
.... "You yourselves know the thing which took place throughout all Judea, starting from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed."
.... "You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him."
.... "He is Lord of all."
.... "They also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross."
.... "God raised Him up on the third day."
.... "This is the one who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead."
.... "All the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins."
Vss44-46: "While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God..."
.... Keep in mind that this is seven years after Pentecost. This is the second time we read of people speaking in other languages. According to the testimony it was exactly the same as had happened at Pentecost. It is interesting that of the 35+ years of recorded early church history, only three times is there a record of people speaking in other languages, and each time is a group setting.
.... The circumcised (Jewish) believers "were amazed." Why the amazement? They were amazed because no distinction was made between the Jews on the day of Pentecost and the Gentiles at the house of Cornelius.
.... But why the speaking in other languages? It was as though the Lord was placing the house of Cornelius on the day of Pentecost, and accounting to the Gentiles full and equal heir rights in the new covenant. Peter will later explain this to the Jewish believers.
.... Once again we see where an apostle had to be present to open the kingdom door for a different peoples. Peter later calls attention to him having been given the authority to open the door for the Gentiles. (Cf. Acts 15:7-9)
.... This is also why we hear Paul write, "For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's descendants, heirs according to promise." (Gal3:27 -29)
Vss46-48: "...Then Peter answered, 'Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?' And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay on for a few days."
.... The early believers put a high premium on being fully immersed in water. Peter writes, "Baptism now saves you -- not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience -- through the resurrection of Jesus Christ." (1Pet3:21) Water baptism was considered the rite of covenant.
This study was originally part of a series on the book of Acts given to members of Hebraic Foundations from July 10, 2002 through January 19, 2003. They were written by Pastor Buddy Martin, a former United Pentecostal Church minister, who founded Christian Challenge International. Writings are the copyright of Buddy Martin and reprinted on this site by permission.
Page added October 22, 2004
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