Acts 10

Cornelius Calls for Peter

1 At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment.
2 He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly.
3 One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, “Cornelius!”
4 Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked. The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God.
5 Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter.
6 He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea.”
7 When the angel who spoke to him had gone, Cornelius called two of his servants and a devout soldier who was one of his attendants.
8 He told them everything that had happened and sent them to Joppa.

Peter’s Vision

9 About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray.
10 He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance.
11 He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners.
12 It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds.
13 Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”
14 “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”
15 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”
16 This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.
17 While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simon’s house was and stopped at the gate.
18 They called out, asking if Simon who was known as Peter was staying there.
19 While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three[a] men are looking for you.
20 So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.”
21 Peter went down and said to the men, “I’m the one you’re looking for. Why have you come?”
22 The men replied, “We have come from Cornelius the centurion. He is a righteous and God-fearing man, who is respected by all the Jewish people. A holy angel told him to ask you to come to his house so that he could hear what you have to say.”
Then Peter invited the men into the house to be his guests.

Peter at Cornelius’s House

23 The next day Peter started out with them, and some of the believers from Joppa went along.
24 The following day he arrived in Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends.
25 As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence.
26 But Peter made him get up. “Stand up,” he said, “I am only a man myself.”
27 While talking with him, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people.
28 He said to them: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean.
29 So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection. May I ask why you sent for me?”
30 Cornelius answered: “Three days ago I was in my house praying at this hour, at three in the afternoon. Suddenly a man in shining clothes stood before me
31 and said, ‘Cornelius, God has heard your prayer and remembered your gifts to the poor.
32 Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. He is a guest in the home of Simon the tanner, who lives by the sea.’
33 So I sent for you immediately, and it was good of you to come. Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us.”
34 Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism
35 but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.
36 You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.
37 You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached—
38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
39 “We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a cross,
40 but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen.
41 He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.
42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead.
43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message.
45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles.
46 For they heard them speaking in tongues[b] and praising God. Then Peter said,
47 “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.”
48 So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.

Acts 10 Commentary

Chapter 10

Cornelius directed to send for Peter. (1-8) Peter's vision. (9-18) He goes to Cornelius. (19-33) His discourse to Cornelius. (34-43) The gifts of the Holy Spirit poured out. (44-48)

Verses 1-8 Hitherto none had been baptized into the Christian church but Jews, Samaritans, and those converts who had been circumcised and observed the ceremonial law; but now the Gentiles were to be called to partake all the privileges of God's people, without first becoming Jews. Pure and undefiled religion is sometimes found where we least expect it. Wherever the fear of God rules in the heart, it will appear both in works of charity and of piety, neither will excuse from the other. Doubtless Cornelius had true faith in God's word, as far as he understood it, though not as yet clear faith in Christ. This was the work of the Spirit of God, through the mediation of Jesus, even before Cornelius knew him, as is the case with us all when we, who before were dead in sin, are made alive. Through Christ also his prayers and alms were accepted, which otherwise would have been rejected. Without dispute or delay Cornelius was obedient to the heavenly vision. In the affairs of our souls, let us not lose time.

Verses 9-18 The prejudices of Peter against the Gentiles, would have prevented his going to Cornelius, unless the Lord had prepared him for this service. To tell a Jew that God had directed those animals to be reckoned clean which were hitherto deemed unclean, was in effect saying, that the law of Moses was done away. Peter was soon made to know the meaning of it. God knows what services are before us, and how to prepare us; and we know the meaning of what he has taught us, when we find what occasion we have to make use of it.

Verses 19-33 When we see our call clear to any service, we should not be perplexed with doubts and scruples arising from prejudices or former ideas. Cornelius had called together his friends, to partake with him of the heavenly wisdom he expected from Peter. We should not covet to eat our spiritual morsels alone. It ought to be both given and taken as kindness and respect to our kindred and friends, to invite them to join us in religious exercises. Cornelius declared the direction God gave him to send for Peter. We are right in our aims in attending a gospel ministry, when we do it with regard to the Divine appointment requiring us to make use of that ordinance. How seldom ministers are called to speak to such companies, however small, in which it may be said that they are all present in the sight of God, to hear all things that are commanded of God! But these were ready to hear what Peter was commanded of God to say.

Verses 34-43 Acceptance cannot be obtained on any other ground than that of the covenant of mercy, through the atonement of Christ; but wherever true religion is found, God will accept it without regarding names or sects. The fear of God and works of righteousness are the substance of true religion, the effects of special grace. Though these are not the cause of a man's acceptance, yet they show it; and whatever may be wanting in knowledge or faith, will in due time be given by Him who has begun it. They knew in general the word, that is, the gospel, which God sent to the children of Israel. The purport of this word was, that God by it published the good tidings of peace by Jesus Christ. They knew the several matters of fact relating to the gospel. They knew the baptism of repentance which John preached. Let them know that this Jesus Christ, by whom peace is made between God and man, is Lord of all; not only as over all, God blessed for evermore, but as Mediator. All power, both in heaven and in earth, is put into his hand, and all judgment committed to him. God will go with those whom he anoints; he will be with those to whom he has given his Spirit. Peter then declares Christ's resurrection from the dead, and the proofs of it. Faith has reference to a testimony, and the Christian faith is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, on the testimony given by them. See what must be believed concerning him. That we are all accountable to Christ as our Judge; so every one must seek his favour, and to have him as our Friend. And if we believe in him, we shall all be justified by him as our Righteousness. The remission of sins lays a foundation for all other favours and blessings, by taking that out of the way which hinders the bestowing of them. If sin be pardoned, all is well, and shall end well for ever.

Verses 44-48 The Holy Ghost fell upon others after they were baptized, to confirm them in the faith; but upon these Gentiles before they were baptized, to show that God does not confine himself to outward signs. The Holy Ghost fell upon those who were neither circumcised nor baptized; it is the Spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing. They magnified God, and spake of Christ and the benefits of redemption. Whatever gift we are endued with, we ought to honour God with it. The believing Jews who were present, were astonished that the gift of the Holy Ghost was poured out upon the Gentiles also. By mistaken notions of things, we make difficult for ourselves as to the methods of Divine providence and grace. As they were undeniably baptized with the Holy Ghost, Peter concluded they were not to be refused the baptism of water, and the ordinance was administered. The argument is conclusive; can we deny the sign to those who have received the things signified? Those who have some acquaintance with Christ, cannot but desire more. Even those who have received the Holy Ghost, must see their need of daily learning more of the truth.

Cross References 59

  • 1. S Acts 8:40
  • 2. ver 22,35; Acts 13:16,26
  • 3. Psalms 55:17; Acts 3:1
  • 4. S Acts 9:10
  • 5. S Acts 5:19
  • 6. Psalms 20:3; S Matthew 10:42; Matthew 26:13
  • 7. Revelation 8:4
  • 8. S Acts 9:36
  • 9. Acts 9:43
  • 10. S Acts 9:36
  • 11. S Matthew 24:17
  • 12. Acts 22:17
  • 13. S Matthew 3:16
  • 14. Acts 9:5
  • 15. Lev 11:4-8,13-20; Leviticus 20:25; Deuteronomy 14:3-20; Ezekiel 4:14
  • 16. ver 28; Genesis 9:3; Matthew 15:11; Luke 11:41; Acts 11:9; Ro 14:14,17,20; 1 Corinthians 10:25; 1 Timothy 4:3,4; Titus 1:15
  • 17. S Acts 9:10
  • 18. ver 7,8
  • 19. S Acts 9:10
  • 20. S Acts 8:29
  • 21. Acts 15:7-9
  • 22. ver 2
  • 23. Acts 11:14
  • 24. S Acts 1:16
  • 25. ver 45; Acts 11:12
  • 26. S Acts 8:40
  • 27. Acts 14:15; Revelation 19:10; Revelation 22:8,9
  • 28. ver 24
  • 29. John 4:9; John 18:28; Acts 11:3
  • 30. S ver 14,15; Acts 15:8,9
  • 31. S John 20:12
  • 32. Deuteronomy 10:17; 2 Chronicles 19:7; Job 34:19; Mark 12:14; Romans 2:11; Galatians 2:6; Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 3:25; James 2:1; 1 Peter 1:17
  • 33. Acts 15:9
  • 34. 1 John 1:5
  • 35. S Acts 13:32
  • 36. S Luke 2:14
  • 37. S Matthew 28:18; Romans 10:12
  • 38. S Acts 4:26
  • 39. S Matthew 4:23
  • 40. S John 3:2
  • 41. ver 41; S Luke 24:48
  • 42. S Acts 5:30
  • 43. S Acts 2:24
  • 44. John 14:17,22
  • 45. Luke 24:43; John 21:13; Acts 1:4
  • 46. Matthew 28:19,20
  • 47. S John 5:22; Acts 17:31; Romans 14:9; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 2 Timothy 4:1; 1 Peter 4:5
  • 48. Isaiah 53:11; Acts 26:22
  • 49. Acts 15:9
  • 50. S John 3:15
  • 51. S Luke 24:27
  • 52. Acts 8:15,16; Acts 11:15; Acts 15:8; Acts 19:6; S Luke 1:15
  • 53. ver 23
  • 54. Acts 2:33,38
  • 55. Acts 11:18; Acts 15:8
  • 56. S Mark 16:17
  • 57. Acts 8:36
  • 58. S John 20:22; Acts 11:17
  • 59. S Acts 2:38; Acts 8:16

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. One early manuscript "two" ; other manuscripts do not have the number.
  • [b]. Or "other languages"

Acts 10 Commentaries