Chapter 10: Acts 10: 1-48, Dismantling barriers
Heavenly Father, we pray for insight to understand and apply the teachings from the narratives of the first-century Christian church of Acts, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
In Acts 1, the first Christian church was born in Jerusalem on Pentecost. By Acts 9, the Christian Church expanded to Judea, Samaria, and Caesarea. In Acts 9, Peter took the gospel to the Gentiles in Caesarea through Cornelius’ conversion. Cornelius became the second Gentile Christian convert. The first Gentile Christian convert was the Ethiopian eunuch of Acts 8.
VV 1-2, 1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, 2 a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people and prayed to God always.
The camera angle shifted to Cornelius in Caesarea Maritima, a Roman Mediterranean seaside port named after a Roman emperor called Caesar Augustus. Cornelius was a Roman centurion of the Italian regiment. A centurion was a Roman officer in charge of 100 soldiers. A regiment or company was a Roman battalion of 600 soldiers under the command of 6 centurions.
VV 3-8, 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 when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, “What is it, lord?” So he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God. 5 Now send men to Joppa and send for Simon whose surname is Peter. 6 He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea. He will tell you what you must do.” 7 And when the angel who spoke to him had departed, Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier from among those who waited on him continually. 8 So when he had explained all these things to them, he sent them to Joppa.
9th hour, or 3 pm, was the Jewish evening prayer time. While Cornelius was praying, an angel of God spoke to him in a vision. The angel told him that God had heard his prayer and seen his charitable deeds. The angel instructed Cornelius to send men to Joppa to look for Peter who was with Simon the tanner in Joppa and bring him to Caesarea. Cornelius obeyed and sent two servants and one soldier to Joppa.
VV 9-11, 9 The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour. 10 Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat, but while they made ready, he fell into a trance 11 and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth.
As Cornelius’ men went on their way to Joppa, the camera angle shifted to Peter at Joppa the next day. The 6th hour or noon was the Jewish afternoon prayer time. Jews prayed three times a day, morning, 6 am, afternoon, noon, and evening, 3 pm. While Peter was praying, he went into a trance, saw a vision of an opened heaven, and a great sheet descending upon him.
VV 12-16, 12 In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. 13 And a voice came to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” 14 But Peter said, “Not so, Lord! For, I have never eaten anything common or unclean.” 15 And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.” 16 This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again.
The sheet contained all kinds of unclean animals, wild beasts, creeping things, and unclean birds. The Lord commanded him to kill and eat the animals. Peter said he had never eaten unclean animals. The Lord told him that what He cleansed must not be called unclean. The sheet rose to heaven and the whole vision was repeated three times.
VV 17-18, 17 Now while Peter wondered within himself what this vision which he had seen meant, behold, the men who had been sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon’s house and stood before the gate. 18 And they called and asked whether Simon, whose surname was Peter, was lodging there.
While Peter was recovering from the trance, Cornelius’ men came to Simon the tanner’s house. They stood at the gate and called for Peter.
VV 19-21, 19 While Peter thought about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are seeking you. 20 Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing, for I have sent them.”21 Then Peter went down to the men who had been sent to him from Cornelius, and said, “Yes, I am he whom you seek. For what reason have you come?”
The Holy Spirit instructed Peter to go down and meet the three men who were looking for him. Peter met the men at the gate and introduced himself.
VV 22-23, 22 And they said, “Cornelius the centurion, a just man, one who fears God and has a good reputation among all the nation of the Jews, was divinely instructed by a holy angel to summon you to his house, and to hear words from you.” 23 Then he invited them in and lodged them. On the next day, Peter went away with them, and some brethren from Joppa accompanied him.
Cornelius’ men told Peter that their master was instructed by an angel to find Peter in Joppa and bring him to Caesarea. Peter invited the men to stay with him overnight.
The next day, Peter left Joppa for Caesarea, with six Christian brothers, Acts 11:12.
VV 24-26, 24 And the following day they entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting for them and had called together his relatives and close friends. 25 As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. 26 But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up, I myself am also a man.”
Joppa was 20 miles from Caesarea, 2 days journey by foot. When Peter entered Cornelius’ house, he fell on his knees to worship him, but Peter forbade him, saying that he was only a man.
VV 27-29, 27 And as he talked with him, he went in and found many who had come together. 28Then he said to them, “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean. 29 Therefore I came without objection as soon as I was sent for. I ask, then, for what reason have you sent for me?”
Peter said it was unlawful for a Jew to meet with Gentiles but this meeting was a divine appointment. God divinely instructed Peter and Cornelius to meet In Caesarea. Just as God divinely instructed Saul and Ananias to meet in Damascus. In His divine plan, God appeared to Peter and Cornelius separately through visions.
VV 30-32, 30 So Cornelius said, ”Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, 31 and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your alms are remembered in the sight of God. 32 Send therefore to Joppa and call Simon here, whose surname is Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea. When he comes, he will speak to you.’
Cornelius told Peter that 4 days ago, an angel of God appeared to him, instructing him to find Peter at Joppa and bring him to Caeserea.
VV 33-35, 33 So I sent to you immediately, and you have done well to come. Now, therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God.” 34 Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth, I perceive that God shows no partiality. 35 But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.
Peter connected the dots. He must not consider the Gentiles unclean any longer. He shared the gospel with Cornelius and his household and they believed. God showed no partiality. Salvation is universal, for everyone who believed. John 3:16.
John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
VV 36-43, 36 The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ, He is Lord of all, 37 that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. 39 And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree. 40 Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, 41 not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. 42 And He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. 43 To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.”
Peter preached an evangelistic sermon to Cornelius and his household. Jesus is Lord of all. John the Baptist proclaimed the gospel from Galilee. God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and He went about doing good, healing, and exorcising the demonised. The Jewish leaders in Jerusalem betrayed Jesus, handed Him to the Romans who crucified Him on a tree. God raised Jesus on the third day. Jesus appeared to the apostles and ate with them. The apostles testified Him as Lord and Judge. Whoever believes in Him will receive salvation and forgiveness of sins.
VV 44-48, 44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. 45 And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered, 47 “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days.
Those who heard Peter’s sermon received the Holy Spirit, spoke in tongues, and praised God. The Jewish believers were amazed when they saw the Holy Spirit descending upon the Gentiles as on the day of Pentecost. Peter baptised Cornelius and his household in the name of Jesus and stayed with them for a few more days.
Colossians 3:16, ‘’Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord’’.
Ephesians 5:19, ‘’speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord’’.
God hears your pray and sees your works.
You must not worship except anyone or anything Jesus Christ.
Salvation is universal, to everyone who believe.
Peter preached so well because he was filled with the Holy Spirit, walked with Jesus, and knew scriptures. These are the prerequisites of good biblical preaching.Did you preach the gospel? Did you share the gospel with a non-believer?
Heavenly Father, thank You for breaking down the barrier between the Jews and the Gentiles. Thank You for removing bigotry, favouritism, prejudice, and racism, in Jesus’ name, Amen.