We sometimes think people are accepting the Lord because of our plan to preach to them. The Lord though, is dealing directly with people as happened here with Cornelius. Cornelius was praying and the Lord answered sending an angel to tell him what to do. And then the Lord gave Peter a vision, telling him that he was needed and to go. This trip to Caesarea wasn’t in Peter’s plan. Preaching the gospel to Cornelius, a gentile, a Roman soldier, wasn’t in Peter’s plan. But because Cornelius prayed, God answered and because Peter prayed, he was able to put aside his religious thinking and respond. God confirmed salvation for Cornelius and his house because in Acts 10:44 “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all those who were listening to the message”.
A Memorial Offering Before God
Look at what it says about this man in
Acts 10:1 “in Caesarea … a centurion of what was called the Italian Cohort”
This city, “Caesarea (8:40; 9:30), (was) a ‘new town’ built by Herod the Great which had become the centre of government for the Roman administration of Judea”.1
And there was often friction between the Jews and the Roman so this “cohort of Italians, as distinguished from native soldiers, quartered at Caesarea, probably as a bodyguard to the Roman procurator who resided there”.2
We can learn how the Roman government operated as Paul was taken from Jerusalem to Caesarea in Acts 23:23-35. What is more interesting though, is what it says about this man in
Acts 10:2 “devout and fearing God together with all his household, doing many charitable deeds for the people and praying to God continually”.
Cornelius wasn’t a Jewish proselyte because he wasn’t circumcised. However, he seemed to be a “God fearing” follower, “Proselytes usually embraced Judaism gradually because much needed to be learned, such as the proper observance of the Sabbath and the careful following of the dietary rules, before one could win acceptance into the Jewish community. Persons attracted to Judaism and keeping the Sabbath and food laws were termed fearers or worshipers of God. These terms appear in the NT where Cornelius (Acts 10:1–2) and Lydia (Acts 16:14) are so described (John 12:20; Acts 17:4; 18:7)”.3
Even so, from Peter’s perspective, he was a gentile and “Association with Gentiles was a cause of defilement in Jewish tradition (cf. Jub. 22:16; Test. Jos. 7:1), rather than being strictly defined as such by the law of Moses. It was ‘unlawful’ (athemitos) in the more general sense of being against their custom. This was especially so because Gentiles did not observe the biblical rules about food”.4
What God Has Cleansed
Get up, Go Down, and Go With Them
Your Prayer Has Been Heard
Peter arrives in Caesarea and asks Cornelius in
Acts 10:29 “without raising any objection—I came when I was sent for. So I ask for what reason you sent for me.”
This seems a little odd, because Peter had a vision telling him to go “not hesitating” in Acts 10:20 and when these men found Peter in Joppa, they had already told him that “Cornelius … was directed by a holy angel to summon you to his house and to hear words from you.” in Acts 10:22. Now though, Cornelius recites his angelic visitation in
Acts 10:30–32 “Four days ago … I was praying in my house. And behold, a man in shining clothing stood before me 31 and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your charitable deeds have been remembered before God. 32 Therefore send to Joppa and summon Simon who is also called Peter”
Cornelius was praying at the hour of prayer. The angel said, “your prayer has been heard … therefore … summon Simon”. What the Lord said to Simon was in
Acts 10:15 “The things which God has made clean, you must not consider unclean!”
From God’s perspective, this work was already finished for Cornelius and his household and as Peter speaks, the Lord confirms by pouring out his spirit on them.
God is Not One Who Shows Partiality
Peter understands what the Lord is about to do in
Acts 10:34 So Peter opened his mouth and said, “In truth I understand that God is not one who shows partiality”
Jesus had told them, the apostles in
Mark 16:15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”
And he said in
Matthew 24:14 “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed in the whole inhabited earth for a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.”
And Jesus had also said in
Luke 24:47 “and repentance and the forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem”.
But it is only now, that Peter is understanding this in
Acts 10:35 “but in every nation the one who fears him and who does what is right is acceptable to him”.
The Holy Spirit Fell
- Acts 10:1-8 A Memorial Offering Before God
- Acts 10:25-34 Your Prayer Has Been Heard
- Acts 10:34-43 God is Not One Who Shows Partiality
- Acts 10:1-43
- 1. Marshall, I. H. (1980). Acts: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 5, p. 194). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- 2. Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 185). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
- 3. Songer, H. S. (2003). Proselytes. In C. Brand, C. Draper, A. England, S. Bond, E. R. Clendenen, & T. C. Butler (Eds.), Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (p. 1336). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
- 4. Peterson, D. G. (2009). The Acts of the Apostles (p. 333). Grand Rapids, MI; Nottingham, England: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.