Acts 10

1 At Caesare'a there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort,
2 a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms liberally to the people, and prayed constantly to God.
3 About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying 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 Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the seaside."
7 When the angel who spoke to him had departed, he called two of his servants and a devout soldier from among those that waited on him,
8 and having related everything to them, he sent them to Joppa.
9 The next day, as they were on their journey and coming near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour.
10 And he became hungry and desired something to eat; but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance
11 and saw the heaven opened, and something descending, like a great sheet, let down by four corners upon the earth.
12 In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air.
13 And there came a voice to him, "Rise, Peter; kill and eat."
14 But Peter said, "No, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean."
15 And the voice came to him again a second time, "What God has cleansed, you must not call common."
16 This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven.
17 Now while Peter was inwardly perplexed as to what the vision which he had seen might mean, behold, the men that were sent by Cornelius, having made inquiry for Simon's house, stood before the gate
18 and called out to ask whether Simon who was called Peter was lodging there.
19 And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, "Behold, three men are looking for you.
20 Rise and go down, and accompany them without hesitation; for I have sent them."
21 And Peter went down to the men and said, "I am the one you are looking for; what is the reason for your coming?"
22 And they said, "Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house, and to hear what you have to say."
23 So he called them in to be his guests. The next day he rose and went off with them, and some of the brethren from Joppa accompanied him.
24 And on the following day they entered Caesare'a. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his kinsmen and close friends.
25 When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him.
26 But Peter lifted him up, saying, "Stand up; I too am a man."
27 And as he talked with him, he went in and found many persons gathered;
28 and he said to them, "You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit any one of another nation; but God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.
29 So when I was sent for, I came without objection. I ask then why you sent for me."
30 And Cornelius said, "Four days ago, about this hour, I was keeping the ninth hour of prayer in my house; and behold, a man stood before me in bright apparel,
31 saying, 'Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God.
32 Send therefore to Joppa and ask for Simon who is called Peter; he is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the seaside.'
33 So I sent to you at once, and you have been kind enough to come. Now therefore we are all here present in the sight of God, to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord."
34 And Peter opened his mouth and said: "Truly I perceive that God shows no partiality,
35 but in every nation any one who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.
36 You know the word which he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace by Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all),
37 the word which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism which John preached:
38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.
39 And we are witnesses to all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree;
40 but God raised him on the third day and made him manifest;
41 not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.
42 And he commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that he is the one ordained by God to be judge of the living and the dead.
43 To him all the prophets bear witness that every one who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."
44 While Peter was still saying this, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word.
45 And the believers from among the circumcised who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles.
46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared,
47 "Can any one forbid water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?"
48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some 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.

Acts 10 Commentaries