Acts 10

1 Now a Captain of the Italian Regiment, named Cornelius, was quartered at Caesarea.
2 He was religious and God-fearing--and so was every member of his household. He was also liberal in his charities to the people, and continually offered prayer to God.
3 About three o'clock one afternoon he had a vision, and distinctly saw an angel of God enter his house, who called him by name, saying, "Cornelius!"
4 Looking steadily at him, and being much alarmed, he said, "What do you want, Sir?" "Your prayers and charities," he replied, "have gone up and have been recorded before God.
5 And now send to Jaffa and fetch Simon, surnamed Peter.
6 He is staying as a guest with Simon, a tanner, who has a house close to the sea."
7 So when the angel who had been speaking to him was gone, Cornelius called two of his servants and a God-fearing soldier who was in constant attendance on him,
8 and, after telling them everything, he sent them to Jaffa.
9 The next day, while they were still on their journey and were getting near the town, about noon Peter went up on the house-top to pray.
10 He had become unusually hungry and wished for food; but, while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance.
11 The sky had opened to his view, and what seemed to be an enormous sail was descending, being let down to the earth by ropes at the four corners.
12 In it were all kinds of quadrupeds, reptiles and birds,
13 and a voice came to him which said, "Rise, Peter, kill and eat."
14 "On no account, Lord," he replied; "for I have never yet eaten anything unholy and impure."
15 Again a second time a voice was heard which said, "What God has purified, you must not regard as unholy."
16 This was said three times, and immediately the sail was drawn up out of sight.
17 While Peter was greatly perplexed as to the meaning of the vision which he had seen, just then the men sent by Cornelius, having by inquiry found out Simon's house,
18 had come to the door and had called the servant, and were asking, "Is Simon, surnamed Peter, staying here?"
19 And Peter was still earnestly thinking over the vision, when the Spirit said to him, "Three men are now inquiring for you.
20 Rise, go down, and go with them without any misgivings; for it is I who have sent them to you."
21 So Peter went down and said to the men, "I am the Simon you are inquiring for. What is the reason of your coming?"
22 Their reply was, "Cornelius, a Captain, an upright and God-fearing man, of whom the whole Jewish nation speaks well, has been divinely instructed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and listen to what you have to say."
23 Upon hearing this, Peter invited them in, and gave them a lodging. The next day he set out with them, some of the brethren from Jaffa going with him,
24 and the day after that they reached Caesarea. There Cornelius was awaiting their arrival, and had invited all his relatives and intimate friends to be present.
25 When Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him, and threw himself at his feet to do him homage.
26 But Peter lifted him up. "Stand up," he said; "I myself also am but a man."
27 So Peter went in and conversed with him, and found a large company assembled.
28 He said to them, "You know better than most that a Jew is strictly forbidden to associate with a Gentile or visit him; but God has taught me to call no one unholy or unclean.
29 So for this reason, when sent for, I came without raising any objection. I therefore ask why you sent for me."
30 "Just at this hour, three days ago," replied Cornelius, "I was offering afternoon prayer in my house, when suddenly a man in shining raiment stood in front of me,
31 who said, "`Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your charities have been put on record before God.
32 Send therefore to Jaffa, and invite Simon, surnamed Peter, to come here. He is staying as a guest in the house of Simon, a tanner, close to the sea.'
33 "Immediately, therefore, I sent to you, and I thank you heartily for having come. That is why all of us are now assembled here in God's presence, to listen to what the Lord has commanded you to say."
34 Then Peter began to speak. "I clearly see," he said, "that God makes no distinctions between one man and another;
35 but that in every nation those who fear Him and live good lives are acceptable to Him.
36 The Message which He sent to the descendants of Israel, when He announced the Good News of peace through Jesus Christ--He is Lord of all--that Message you cannot but know;
37 the story, I mean, which has spread through the length and breadth of Judaea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism which John proclaimed.
38 It tells how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, so that He went about everywhere doing acts of kindness, and curing all who were being continually oppressed by the Devil--for God was with Jesus.
39 "And we are witnesses as to all that He did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. But they even put Him to death, by crucifixion.
40 That same Jesus God raised to life on the third day, and permitted Him to appear unmistakably,
41 not to all the people, but to witnesses--men previously chosen by God--namely, to us, who ate and drank with Him after He rose from the dead.
42 And He has commanded us to preach to the people and solemnly declare that this is He who has been appointed by God to be the Judge of the living and the dead.
43 To Him all the Prophets bear witness, and testify that through His name all who believe in Him receive the forgiveness of their sins."
44 While Peter was speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all who were listening to the Message.
45 And all the Jewish believers who had come with Peter were astonished that on the Gentiles also the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out.
46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling the majesty of God. Then Peter said,
47 "Can any one forbid the use of water, and object to these persons being baptized--men who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did?"
48 And he directed that they should be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they begged him to remain with them for a time.

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