Acts 10 Study Notes


10:1 Philip had preached in Caesarea (8:40), so there would have been knowledge of Christianity there before this incident with Cornelius. Centurions were essential parts of the Roman army who were distinguished by their abilities to lead men. The Italian Regiment was probably an auxiliary force of local soldiers (not Italians or Romans), although the original group may have consisted of Italian soldiers. Roman soldiers did not have a great reputation since they were often involved in extortion and brutalization of the local population.

10:2 God-fearers respected Jewish beliefs and customs (including food laws and special days). They often associated with the Jews, but they were unwilling to become full-fledged proselytes since this required that they be circumcised and observe other Jewish rituals.


Greek pronunciation [EHK stah sihss]
CSB translation trance
Uses in Acts 4
Uses in the NT 7
Focus passage Acts 10:10

The English words ecstasy and ecstatic come from the Greek noun ekstasis. The term refers to a situation in which a person experiences a kind of displacement from reality. Such feelings of displacement are of two kinds in the NT. The term is used four times to describe the astonishment of a crowd that witnessed a miracle: Jesus forgiving and healing a paralytic (Lk 5:26); Jesus raising Jairus’s daughter from the dead (Mk 5:42); Jesus’s resurrection (Mk 16:8); and Peter healing a lame man (Ac 3:10). The other three uses of ekstasis refer to a revelatory trance. Through a trance, God showed Peter that there is to be no distinction between the clean and the unclean, between Jew and Gentile (Ac 10:10; 11:5). In this same way, Jesus showed Paul that he should leave Jerusalem because of the Jews’ unbelief (Ac 22:17-18).

10:3-4 Fear and bewilderment are common reactions to God’s voice or appearance in biblical accounts (9:4). Cornelius’s prayers and acts of charity prompted God’s further revelation to him through Peter (vv. 5-6).

10:5-8 Cornelius must have considered this a very important assignment, for he sent his most trusted servants after Peter.

10:9-10 Meanwhile, Peter was still in Joppa. It was common to pray on the roof. By going at about noon (lit “the sixth hour”), Peter was in the heat of the day. But the series of interconnected events in both Peter and Cornelius’s lives show that Peter’s trance was far more than a hunger-induced, natural experience. It was a message from God.

10:11-16 Peter’s lifelong adherence to the Jewish food laws collided with the Lord’s command to kill and eat unclean animals (see Lv 11). Peter had this vision three times; the repetition served to confirm the shocking message and emphasize its significance.

10:17-21 Whereas an angel had communicated with Cornelius, it was the Holy Spirit who spoke to Peter after the Lord had granted him the vision. Alternation between the Spirit and an angel as communicative agents occurs elsewhere (8:26,29).

10:22-23 That Peter gave them lodging shows that he had begun to understand the meaning of the vision he had received.

10:24 When God moves powerfully in a person’s life, one natural response is to call relatives and close friends together and share the experience with them. In this case, it helped to multiply the impact of Peter’s radical message of hope.

10:25-26 When Cornelius met Peter, fell at his feet, and worshiped him, Peter protested that he too was merely a man. The apostles always sought to glorify God, not themselves.

10:27-28 The vision God gave Peter taught him that cleanliness standards barring Jews from associating with Gentiles had become obsolete. It is hard to overestimate the seismic change this represented for Peter’s worldview.

10:29-32 This is the third time Cornelius’s vision has been recounted. Peter may not have known why he was there, but he was sure he was in the right place.

10:33 By saying they had all gathered in the presence of God, to hear everything God commanded Peter to say or do, Cornelius showed the childlike openness Jesus asked of his disciples (Lk 18:15-17).

10:34-35 Due to the vision, Peter now understood that God doesn’t show favoritism (see Rm 2:11; Gl 2:6). This does not mean God accepts all people no matter their response to him or that people who fear him are acceptable to him and do not need Christ. Rather, it means that God does not restrict any nation or ethnicity from the offer of salvation.

10:36 Although God sent the gospel first to the Jews, he is Lord of all, suggesting that the gospel is intended for all.

10:37-41 You know the events indicates that the basic biography of Jesus was widely known by now. It was still necessary, however, that witnesses to Jesus’s life come and fill in any knowledge gaps and call unbelievers to saving faith.

10:42-43 Jesus himself told the apostles that he is the one appointed by God to judge all humans. Backing this claim is the testimony of all the prophets (Lk 24:44).

10:44-46 Faith, the coming of the Holy Spirit, and believer’s baptism are again all components of conversion, although again in a different order. Since the Gentile converts spoke in other tongues and declared the greatness of God just as the Jewish believers had done at Pentecost (2:4-11), the circumcised believers who were with Peter were amazed.

10:47-48 Again we see prompt baptism in response to new faith (8:36-39).