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Chapter 10

A Praying and Giving man - Cornelius


10:1 Now there was a man in Caesarea named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort.


Cornelius was a Roman, therefore a Gentile, he was an officer in charge of an hundred men that was part of the Italian Regiment.   He was therefore a part of the hated conquering army as far as the Jews were concerned.   He came from and was brought up in a nation of idol worshippers who served whatever god they thought would give them the most.  '


10:2 He was a devout, God-fearing man, as was all his household; he did many acts of charity for the people and prayed to God regularly.


Somewhere along the way he had come to the realisation that there is only one true God, the one who had revealed Himself to the Jewish nation and he had made Him his God.   We are told four things about him concerning his faith: he was 'a devout man" - that is  moral, upright and just (James 1:27); he 'feared God" -  had a reverential fear, an awe of Him (Math. 10: 28); he 'gave much alms" -  gave generously to the needy  (Acts 20: 35, Luke 6: 38) and he prayed always and only to God (1 Thes. 5:17).   For all this he still needed to hear the way of salvation.


10:3 About three o'clock one afternoon he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God who came in and said to him, "Cornelius."


The ninth hour, 3.00 p.m. was the hour of prayer (Acts 3:1) to the Jews and Cornelius kept to this.   It was during this time that he saw in a vision an angel who called to him by name.  


10:4 Staring at him and becoming greatly afraid, Cornelius replied, "What is it, Lord?" The angel said to him, "Your prayers and your acts of charity have gone up as a memorial before God.


When he realised that it was an angel of the Lord he became frightened and asked the reason for this visitation.   He was told that his prayers and his giving had been received by God as a 'memorial" - that is, something that the Lord will always remember.   That they had come up before God as an acceptable sacrifice.   'How much we can miss out on if we neglect our prayer life and of giving as we are enabled (2 Cor. 9: 6; 2 Cor. 8: 12)."   '


10:5-6 Now send men to Joppa and summon a man named Simon, who is called Peter. This man is staying as a guest with a man named Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea."


The Lord knew that Cornelius was a man who was seeking after the truth and therefore the angel directs him to the man who would be able to show him who is '""'the Way, the Truth, and the Life"" (John 14: 6).


10:7-8 'When the angel who had spoken to him departed, Cornelius called two of his personal servants and a devout soldier from among those who served him, and when he had explained everything to them, he sent them to Joppa.


After the angel left he immediately calls for two of his servants and a soldier who was as devout a man as he was. He tells them what he had seen and heard and sends them to find Peter in Joppa.



An Enlightened Man - Peter

10:9 About noon the next day, while they were on their way and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray.


As these men were journeying to find Peter the Lord was preparing him for their visit and his response to Cornelius invitation.   Remember for it is important, that Peter was a Jew and Cornelius was a Gentile.   The flat roofs of houses was the customary place for people to go to relax and have some privacy and it was here that Peter went (Math. 6: 6) at another hour of prayer, the sixth hour (noon).  '


10:10 He became hungry and wanted to eat, but while they were preparing the meal, a trance came over him.


He became very hungry and while he was waited for the meal to be prepared he fell into a trance - that is, he became insensible to all around him even to his hunger pains, and was lifted up into the spiritual realms to receive instructions from God.   '


10:11-12 He saw heaven opened and an object something like a large sheet descending, being let down to earth by its four corners. In it were all kinds of four-footed animals and reptiles of the earth and wild birds.


In his trance heaven was opened up and what appeared to be something like a great sheet tied at the corners as if being let down by invisible cords.   It descending towards him until it reach the earth.   In it was all kinds of creatures that were unclean which the Jews were forbidden to eat under the law (Lev. 11: 1 - 47).   There were three things a Jew had to observe in order to remain a true Jew: keep the Sabbath holy; circumcision and eat only the food allowed by the law.


10:13-16 Then a voice said to him, "Get up, Peter; slaughter and eat!" But Peter said, "Certainly not, Lord, for I have never eaten anything defiled and ritually unclean!" The voice spoke to him again, a second time, "What God has made clean, you must not consider ritually unclean!" This happened three times, and immediately the object was taken up into heaven.


Three times Peter heard a voice speaking commanding him to '"kill and eat"" and each time Peter refused on the excuse that he had never eaten anything common or unclean.   At the second refusal the voice gentle rebuked and revealed to Peter an important truth concerning the gospel - what God has made clean cannot be common or unclean (1 John 1: 7).   Peter did not realise it but by saying what he did he was defiling and profaning what God had made clean.   The purpose of this vision was to prepare Peter to receive the messengers from Cornelius and to accompany them, otherwise he would have probably not gone.



God works out His purposes

10:17-18 Now while Peter was puzzling over what the vision he had seen could signify, the men sent by Cornelius had learned where Simon's house was and approached the gate. They called out to ask if Simon, known as Peter, was staying there as a guest.


While Peter was still trying to figure out the meaning of the vision the men from Cornelius arrived and enquired after him.   '


10:19-20 While Peter was still thinking seriously about the vision, the Spirit said to him, "Look! Three men are looking for you. But get up, go down, and accompany them without hesitation, because I have sent them."


As Peter was still thinking about what he had seen the Holy Spirit takes a hand in things and tells him to get moving and to meet the men and go with them and have no doubts that it is what the Lord wants him to do.   '


10:21-23 So Peter went down to the men and said, "Here I am, the person you're looking for. Why have you come?" They said, "Cornelius the centurion, a righteous and God-fearing man, well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to summon you to his house and to hear a message from you." So Peter invited them in and entertained them as guests. On the next day he got up and set out with them, and some of the brothers from Joppa accompanied him.


Peter is obedient to the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8: 14) and goes down and hears what the visitors have to say to him.   They give a good report of their master and the reason why he wants Peter to go to him - "to hear the word of God from him".   Peter takes some of the brethren from Joppa with him who would later be a witness for him as he is brought to account by the Jews in Jerusalem (Acts 11: 1 - 3).


10:24 The following day he entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting anxiously for them and had called together his relatives and close friends.


Cornelius was waiting in expectancy and did not miss the opportunity to invite his relatives and friends to hear the gospel message also.  


10:25-26 So when Peter came in, Cornelius met him, fell at his feet, and worshiped him. But Peter helped him up, saying, "Stand up. I too am a mere mortal."


Cornelius falls down and worships Peter and is corrected by him; for while we are to give honour where honour is due (Rom. 13: 7) we are not to worship anyone except the triune God.  Peter continued talking with him as he went in, and he found many people gathered together.


10:27-29 He said to them, "You know that it is unlawful for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile, yet God has shown me that I should call no person defiled or ritually unclean. Therefore when you sent for me, I came without any objection. Now may I ask why you sent for me?"


First of all Peter shares his vision with them the meaning of it, the lesson that he had learned and the reason why he, a Jew, who should not come near or speak to Gentiles, had come to them.  


10:30-33 Cornelius replied, "Four days ago at this very hour, at three o'clock in the afternoon, I was praying in my house, and suddenly a man in shining clothing stood before me and said, 'Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your acts of charity have been remembered before God. Therefore send to Joppa and summon Simon, who is called Peter. This man is staying as a guest in the house of Simon the tanner, by the sea.' Therefore I sent for you at once, and you were kind enough to come. So now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to say to us."


In response Cornelius shares with Peter and the company he had called together the heavenly visitation that he had received while fasting and praying and his obedience in sending for Peter, who had done a good thing in following the guidance of the Holy Spirit.   'What would have happened if Peter had not obeyed ?   Would Cornelius and all that were with him never had the opportunity of hearing the gospel message and receiving Jesus as their Saviour ?   I think not, God would have used someone else !"   Notice they were not gathered together before Peter but in the presence of God and for the sole purpose of hearing what God had to say through his servant.


The Gospel Preached

10:34-35 "Then Peter started speaking: "I now truly understand that God does not show favoritism in dealing with people, but in every nation the person who fears him and does what is right is welcomed before him.


By the vision he had received and the fact that God had sent him to give the gospel message to the Gentiles Peter realises that God is not only the God of the Jews but of the Gentiles also.  That God has no "'partiality"', that is, shows no favouritism, does no discriminate or treat one person better than another.   That God's grace is available to all and that He wants everyone no matter what race or colour to hear the gospel and believe.  That He accepts whoever believes that He is (Heb. 11: 6) and has a reverential fear of Him.    "'


10:36 You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, proclaiming the good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all) —


The Word that God sent to His chosen people, Israel, is Jesus Christ (John 1: 1,14) and He came preaching peace by the reconciliation that He accomplished by dying on the cross (Eph. 2: 14 - 16) - He is indeed Lord of All (1 Cor. 15: 27).


10:37 you know what happened throughout Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John announced:


Here he refers to the ministry of the Lord which began after His baptism in the river Jordan by John the Baptist and after His temptations in the desert (Luke 4: 14).   "'V38"'   This same Jesus was the anointed One of God upon whom the Holy Spirit descended and remained (Luke 3: 22).   He was given power and fulfilled what the scriptures said of Him, healing and delivering all who were oppressed by the power of the devil because God was with Him (Isaiah 61: 1 - 3).  In saying this Peter was showing Cornelius and his household that Jesus is the Son of God.   The acceptance of this is essential for being saved.


10:39-40 We are witnesses of all the things he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him up on the third day and caused him to be seen,


The disciples who were with Jesus during His earthly ministry, which included Peter witnessed the many things He did and taught also His crucifixion and resurrection.


Here are two more essential things necessary for being saved - believing that He died for our sins and was raised for our justification (1 Cor. 15: 3 - 4; Rom. 4: 25; Rom. 10: 9)  


10:41 not by all the people, but by us, the witnesses God had already chosen, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.


It was only to those whom God had chosen that Jesus showed Himself after His resurrection (1 Cor. 15: 5 7).   "


10:42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to warn them that he is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead.


Peter was in fact fulfilling this verse that refers to the commission Jesus had given in Mark 16: 15 by preaching the gospel message to Cornelius.   "'


10:43 About him all the prophets testify, that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."


He ends his gospel message by stating that all the prophets bore witness and pointed to Jesus Christ and that it is only by calling upon and believing on His name can forgiveness of sins be obtained (Acts 4: 12).  


The Gospel Received


10:44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all those who heard the message.


Before Peter finished his sermon all those who were present accepted Jesus Christ as their Saviour and the Holy Spirit fell upon them and they were all filled.   "'


10:45-46 The circumcised believers who had accompanied Peter were greatly astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, for they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said,


The Jews who had come with Peter from Joppa could not get over the fact that Gentiles were being filled with the Holy Ghost.   How did they know that they were ?   Because they heard them speaking in tongues which was the sign on the Day of Pentecost that the Holy Spirit had taken up His abode within the believers.  "'


10:47 No one can withhold the water for these people to be baptized, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?"


On witnessing this Peter was convinced that these Gentiles were saved and therefore asks the Jews that were with him if they could give any justifiable reason why they should not be baptised in water as they had experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit just the same (Acts 2: 4).   "'


10:48 So he gave orders to have them baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay for several days.


So they were all baptised in water in the Name of the One who had saved them


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