Acts 10:4

4 And he stared at him in terror and said, "What is it, Lord?" And he said to him, "Your prayers and your alms 1have ascended 2as a memorial before God.

Acts 10:4 Meaning and Commentary

Acts 10:4

And when he looked on him, he was afraid
What with the brightness of his clothing, ( Acts 10:30 ) and the lustre of his countenance, and the majestic form in which he appeared, he perceived there was something uncommon and divine in this vision, and therefore was filled with awe and reverence, yea, with something of a panic fear; as it was usual, even with good persons, as the patriarchs and prophets of the Old Testament, Zacharias, the Virgin Mary, and others; from a sense of the greatness of the divine majesty, which they supposed to be near, or this to be an emblem of it, and from a notion that, at the sight of God, they should die.

And said, what is it, Lord
what is the matter? what is to be said or done? What is the reason of this unusual appearance? Some of the Latin copies, and the Ethiopic version, read, "who art thou, Lord?" but by the angel's answer, not this, but the former was the question: for it follows,

and he said unto him, thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a
memorial before God;
that is, the prayers which he had put up in faith, for himself and family, and the charitable actions he had performed from a principle of love, were like sacrifices upon the altar, which ascended to God with acceptance; so these sacrifices of prayer and beneficence came up with acceptance from off that altar which sanctities the gift, or were acceptable to God, through Jesus Christ; these were taken notice of, approved by God, and remembered by him, and the fruits and effects he was shortly to enjoy; for that Cornelius was a believer, need not be questioned; since he was not only a devout and religious person, but one that feared God, which includes the whole of religion, internal and external; and so faith in Christ, without which he could not pray aright: there is no doubt of it, but he had read the prophecies of the Old Testament, attended the synagogues of the Jews, and believed in the Messiah to come, though he did not know that he was come, and that Jesus of Nazareth was he; so that his faith was of the same kind with that of the saints before the coming of Christ; and in this faith he did all the good works he did, which became acceptable to God through Christ, and without which it is impossible to please him.

Acts 10:4 In-Context

2 a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God.
3 About the ninth hour of the dayhe saw clearly in a vision an angel of God come in and say to him, "Cornelius."
4 And he stared at him in terror and said, "What is it, Lord?" And he said to him, "Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God.
5 And now send men to Joppa and bring one Simon who is called Peter.
6 He is lodging with one Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea."

Cross References 2

  • 1. Revelation 8:4; [Psalms 141:2; Daniel 10:12]
  • 2. Matthew 26:13; Mark 14:9; [ver. 31; Hebrews 6:10]
The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.