About Jesus   Steve Sweetman


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ch, 10:1-8    ch. 10:9-23    ch. 10:23-48

Cornelius Calls For Peter  (ch. 10:1 - 8)


Acts 10 is definitely a turning point in church history.  This chapter tells the story of Cornelius, a Gentile and his conversion to Jesus. The events of this chapter open the gospel to the Gentiles which in turn changed the face of the church.  What once was a Jewish church will later on become more Gentile than Jewish.  This fulfills the Biblical principle, "to the Jew first and then to the Gentile".   Paul uses this phrase in his writings. (Romans 1:16)  The Jews had the gospel first preached to them, now it is the Gentiles turn.  God's plan of salvation was always for all people, not just the Jews.  The salvation message is first alluded to in Genesis 3 when God says the head of the serpent would be bruised.  This tells me that any children born after Adam and Eve are candidates for salvation. 


Acts 10 tells us of what most Bible teachers would say is the conversion of the first Gentile.  I don't believe we can say this for sure, but what we can say is that it is the first recorded event of Gentiles being saved.  I find it interesting that the first Gentile conversion took place in a Roman capital city.  Caesarea was the designated Roman capital of the Roman province of Judea .  I also find it interesting that Cornelius, the main man in the story, was an important man in the Roman army.  God chose to introduce Jesus and the Holy Spirit not to an ordinary person in an obscure town. He went straight to the capital city and one of its prominent families.  The Lord must have been making a real statement here. As we will see in the remaining chapters of Acts, the gospel spread from this Roman capital city right to Rome itself, and, right to Caesar.  The Lord is clearly interested in capital cities and government officials.  He is directly involved in the affairs of both men and nations, as I believe Acts 10 portrays.


We see the city of Caesarea mentioned in verse 1.  It is an important coastal city on the Mediterranean Sea. Caesarea was the capital of the Roman province of Judea .  Herod the Great ruled Judea from 37 B C to 4 B C.  During his rule he built the city of Caesarea .  He also built the temple in Jerusalem .          


Also in verse 1 we see Cornelius mentioned.  Luke says that he was an Italian soldier stationed in Caesarea.  He was an officer of at least one hundred men because he was a centurion.  He was also a man who feared God.  He may have been influenced by Jewish thinking because we see him praying at around three o’clock in the afternoon, one of the times of prayer for Jewish people.  


Historians tell us that there were probably about three thousand army troops in Caesarea .  Most of them weren't true Romans.  They were men who grew up in Palestine . Because there were probably only three thousand soldiers in Caesarea Cornelius was only one of thirty or less army officials.  If each centurion had one hundred soldiers under him then there would only be thirty centurions.  If some centurions had more than one hundred men, then there would be less than thirty centurions in Caesarea .  We do know that a centurion had to have had a minimum of one hundred men under him.  I say all of this to simply say that Cornelius was in a very exclusive group of special men.        


There appears to be two types of God fearing Gentiles.  One was a Jewish convert.  The other was somewhat of a convert, not necessarily a full convert, but leaned heavily towards Judaism. These people would still be classified as Gentile by the Jews. The first group would be classified as Jews, although not by birth. Cornelius probably belonged to the second group.


One thing that some point out concerning Cornelius being one who fears God is this.  Because he is a lover of the Jewish God, and therefore a lover of the Jews, he and his family and friends were blessed by God to receive the Holy Spirit and salvation.  It's all about the Abrahamic Covenant that states, he who blesses  Israel will be blessed.  Cornelius was one who blessed Israel, and for that reason, he was blessed.   


The story is about Peter being called by the Lord to bring the gospel to this man’s household and his friends.  Why Peter, you might ask?  That is a good question that we can’t answer for sure.  Why not call Paul to this task, since he became the apostle to the Gentiles, and Cornelius was a Gentile.  Paul might not yet have been ready at this point.  Remember, Paul spent three years in the desert and ten more years in local ministry before beginning his ministry.  If Paul gave his life to Jesus in 34 or 35 A D as many suggest, he might still have been in the desert at this time.   This event most likely took place around 37 or 38 A D.  On the other hand, as some say that it was around this time that Paul left Jerusalem and returned to Tarsus , his home.  He actually went through Caesarea as we noted earlier.  At around the same time, the Lord called Peter to go and speak to Cornelius.  Peter and Paul’s paths might have come close to crossing.  Still God called Peter.


God might have called Peter first since it appears that it was God's will for Peter to first preach the gospel to the Jews, and so it might be fitting that he first preaches to the Gentiles as well.  This is only true if those Christians who were scattered away from Jerusalem because of persecution didn't beat Peter to preaching to the Gentiles.  It's a known fact that many of these early Christians who fled northward, did preach to Gentiles.  


You might want to ask another question.  Why call Peter, and not Philip?  We learned earlier that Philip lived in Caesarea.  Why not call Philip who lived in the same city as Cornelius?  These are just some interesting questions with no sure answers.


Verse 2 clearly shows us that Cornelius was a god fearing man.  He was a real supporter of the Jews and their religion.      


In verse 3 we read that Cornelius had a vision.  Luke says that he "distinctly saw an angel of God".  The use of the word "distinctly" tells us that he really did see an angel of God, even though he was a Gentile. This angel called out Cornelius’ name.  


Luke calls this encounter with the angel a vision.  This tells us that a vision is more than a dream type thing that happens when you're awake.  This was a real encounter with and angel.  I could be wrong, but I'm not convinced that Cornelius was in a dream state.


I need to comment on the time of this vision.  It was three o'clock in the afternoon.  The Jews had three times during the day when they would pray.  They were, nine in the morning, twelve noon, and three in the afternoon.  Obviously, Cornelius was following a Jewish ritual.


Verse 4 tells us that Cornelius was afraid, and who wouldn't fear in this situation.  Cornelius answers by asking, "What is it, Lord”?  Notice that Cornelius’ and Paul’s response are very similar.  Paul asks, "Who are you, Lord"?  Cornelius asks, "What is it, Lord"?  In both instances the comma is before the word "Lord".  You might remember what I said about that from chapter 9.  The comma and the question mark suggest, at least to me, that Cornelius was in fact asking two questions here.  One question was, "What is it"?  The other question was "Lord"?  Another way to ask this question would be, "what is it, and, are you the Lord?"  In my thinking, like Paul in chapter 9, Cornelius needed a bit of confirmation that this angel represented Yahweh or else was Yahweh in angelic form. 


I do need to point out here, as I did in chapter 9 with Paul, that the Greek word translated as "Lord" could also be translated as "sir".  So, Cornelius might well have addressed this angel as sir, as some suggest Paul did in chapter 9.   


The angel replies by telling Cornelius that his prayers and good works had come up to Heaven as an offering, and as a result God was going to bless him.  Note the word "prayers".  Cornelius had prayed many prayers before his prayers were answered.  Even though all of the prayers reached heaven, they weren't answered immediately, something we should think seriously about when we pray. 


Note also that Cornelius' prayers were accompanied by good works.  This tells me that his prayers weren't all selfish prayers as is often the case with many of us today.  If he was a selfish man, he'd most likely be selfish when he prayed.  He wasn't selfish because he did many good works.


Note also that his prayers were seen as an offering before the Lord.  The word "offering" is an Old Testament word.  We should see New Testament prayers as replacing Old Testament offerings.       


In verse 5 the angel tells Cornelius to send men to Joppa to one named Peter who will come to see him and his family.  Cornelius did as he was told.  He sent two of his servants and a devout soldier that was within his ranks to get Peter.


In verse 6 we see Peter staying in Joppa with a man named Simon.  Simon was a tanner.  He worked with dead animals.  This is significant, especially for Peter.  We're beginning to see hints of Peter's thinking concerning matters of the Law of Moses changing.  A good Jew would not stay with a man who worked with dead animals.  This would be very offensive, but Peter did just that.  So, even before Peter had the vision in the next section, we see hints of Peter's progression in New Testament thinking.


In verses 7 and 8 we note that Cornelius does send the men to Joppa after explaining what he had just seen and with from the angel.  I imagine that Cornelius must have been beside himself at this point.  It is not every day that he would have an angel visit him with specific instructions.  The men that Cornelius passed these things onto might well have been quite astonished as well.  Since Cornelius was in charge of at least one hundred soldiers I doubt if he was the type of guy who would be overly mystical.



Peter’s Vision  (ch. 10:9 - 23)



The day after the angel spoke with Cornelius, and as the 3 men were nearing Joppa to find Peter, Peter went up on top of the roof to pray.  It was around 12 noon, once again, a Jewish time of prayer.  Remember prayer times were every 3 hours, 9 AM , 12 noon, 3 and 6 P M.  Peter was obviously still very much a practicing Jew.   This you can see by the time he prays and by his response to the Lord.


Concerning the top of the roof.  Houses in those days had flat roofs with steps going up the side of the house to the roof.  People often used the roof as we would use a porch or a patio today.  


Verse 10 tells us that Peter was getting hungry while praying and so someone was preparing a meal for him.  During this time he falls into a trance.  In this state of trance Peter saw a big sheet come down from the sky, with all sorts of animals, both clean and unclean, as described in the Law of Moses.  A voice told Peter to “get up, kill and eat”.


Now Peter being a good Jew said, “Surely not Lord,  I have never eaten anything impure or unclean”. (ch. 10:14)  Once again, you see Peter’s strict adherence  to the Law of Moses.  This issue would be dealt with later by Paul when he teaches on the Law of Moses. We know Paul’s stand on the subject.  We see Peter’s present position which is in the process of being challenged by the Lord.


This might actually be the reason why the Lord chose Peter for this job.  We know that Paul would have no difficulty preaching to Gentiles and seeing them saved.  We do know that Peter did have trouble preaching to Gentiles, and most likely the rest of the apostles did too.  The Lord had to prepare Peter and the rest for the ministry of Paul.  Paul’s ministry of leading Gentiles to  the Lord would be more easily accepted by the 12 if one of them actually participated in an event where Gentiles were saved.  If Peter had not experienced this, Paul would have had a much harder time than it did with the 12.  Peter, in Paul’s defense of his Gentile ministry refers back to this occasion.  So we know that Peter did get the message the Lord is teaching him here.  So concerning the question I raised earlier, "why did Jesus choose Peter and not Paul for this particular task"?   It might well be that Peter needed this experience for the health of the church and also to help defend Paul in Acts 15. 


Verse 15 is the reply to what Peter said.  It says, “the voice said to him a second time, ’do not call anything impure that God has made clean’”.  Verse 16 says that this happened 3 times.  It was quite clear that the Lord was trying to tell Peter something.  It is plain to us what this all meant, but it wasn’t plain to Peter.


While Peter was wondering about the vision, the men that were sent from Cornelius found him. 


Peter saw that certain animals were unclean as defined by the Law of Moses.  Yet our Lord was in the process of showing Peter what the New Covenant was all about.  It is clear that these animals that were once unclean, were now clean, something that would come to Paul’s understanding, and get in much trouble over.  This begins the change, or at the least begins the new understanding of the Law of Moses.  If one part of the Law had undergone a change, then all the Law had undergone a change, which it did.  Romans 10:4 says that Christ is the end of the Law.   The Law has a totally different meaning to New Testament Christians than it had to Old Testament Jews.


The voice says that Peter should not make unclean “what God has made clean”.  When did God make these once unclean animals clean?  It was when the ultimate sacrifice was made by Jesus on the cross.  The Law, at that moment of time had been fulfilled.  As Paul so clearly puts it in Rom. 10:4, “Christ is the end of the Law”.  The Law of Moses was for a specific time period only, and its end came at the cross.  The 12 apostles had not understood this point as  yet.  For the first time, one of the 12 was being taught a new lesson in the New Covenant.  The changing of unclean animals to clean animals tells us something of the purpose of the Law of Moses.  We often think that the Law is simply a bunch of rules, but it is more than that.  Since the Law was fulfilled in Jesus, that tells us that the Law was just as much a document of prophecy as it was a list of rules.  So, once the prophecy was fulfilled, the Law would change in its significance.


Peter was struggling over this new concept.  Yet the vision had another meaning as well.  Yes, God now views all animals clean, but now He views all people clean.  Gentiles, who were once unclean could now be clean.  This is another issue that Peter did not yet understand, but was being taught to him at this moment.


One thing I'd like to point out is that Jesus died for people, not animals, but animals, as well as the rest of creation is, and will be affected by the death and resurrection of Jesus.  As seen in Romans 8 where Paul says that all creation is groaning, waiting for the day the believers in Jesus will be liberated from sin and their decayed bodies.  The reason why creation is now groaning, and waiting eagerly for that day, is that they will be liberated too.  Therefore, the creation's liberation, which includes animals was made possible by the cross of Christ.  


As these men approached Peter to come to preach to them and Cornelius, Gentiles, Peter would then realize the secondary meaning of the vision.  To this date the 12 apostles only thought in terms of preaching the gospel to Jews.  We do know from chapter 9 that Paul was told this from the very beginning.  Our Lord made it perfectly clear to Paul that he would be preaching to the Gentile world.  Paul did not seem to have any problem with this, that is as far as we know.  Maybe he did have some problems at first that we know nothing about.  Also, Jesus told His followers back in Acts 1:8 that they would preach the good news to the ends of the earth.  This should have clued Peter in on the fact that the gospel would go out to the Gentiles, but it didn't.


Verse 19 and 20 tells us that the Holy Spirit spoke to Peter, “Simon, three men are looking for you.  So get up and go downstairs.  Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them”. 


Peter did not question the voice this time but went right down the stairs, met the 3 men and asked why they had come to see him.  The men answered by telling Peter that a angel had spoken to Cornelius and told him to have Peter come to them and speak with them.


Here we learn that Cornelius was “a God-fearing man” who was “well respected by the Jews”.  Cornelius believed in a God, but Peter would come and clarify things for him and show him what God he was really believing in.  Cornelius was a Gentile, probably not even a Jewish proselyte, even though the Jews respected him.


It is important in our day, a day when many people speak in terms of God as being a generic god, that we do as Peter did here.  We should clarify to the world that the Christian God is the God of the Bible, and He is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.   Our God is not the god that people of the world speak so freely of today.  I think in the recent past Christians have failed to make this clear.


Once the 3 men had explained to Peter the situation, Peter invited them in to a house that was not his own to be his guests for the night.  


Peter At Cornelius’ House  (ch. 10:23 - 48)


In verse 23 we see that the next day Peter took other men with him to Cornelius' house.  Acts 11:12 tells us that Peter took six others with him.  This was a new venture for Peter.  He might well have felt that he needed some support, or even witnesses; those who might come to his defense for going to the house of a Gentile.  The trip took a day as we see in verse 24.  


You see in verse 25 how excited Cornelius was to see Peter.   He calls his family and friends together for Peter’s arrival and when Peter does finally get there, he falls at Peter’s feet.  In verse 26 Peter tells him to stand up since he is only a man. 


You can understand Cornelius’ feelings here.  He had a vision from the Lord which was pretty dramatic.  He most likely had heard of Peter’s reputation as being a powerful man of God, being used even in the raising of people from the dead.  So, it is quite understandable why he would fall at Peter’s feet.


We need to note here that Cornelius had invited a large number of Gentile friends and family.  I don't know how many people Peter was expecting to see.  He might have only thought that he would be speaking with Cornelius, but not so.  Peter's old Jewish friends would have been astounded that he was in the midst of so many Gentiles.  It was not what good Jews should be doing.   


Verse 27 says that after Peter talked with Cornelius at the door of his home, he went inside and found a gathering room full of Gentiles.   Cornelius did not call this meeting after Peter’s arrival, but before. The room was filled with people waiting to hear what Peter had to say.


In verse 28 we see that the first thing Peter told these people was the fact that it was against Jewish Law for him to even be there with them.  Again, you can see how ingrained the Mosaic Law was in Peter’s life.  His explanation for disobeying the Law was that God Himself had told Peter not to "call any man unclean".  This tells us that the Lord Jesus is indeed the Lord, even over the Mosaic Law, which in fact had been replaced by Jesus Himself.  I am not sure that Peter still totally understood this as yet, but that would soon change.


We should note that even though the vision Peter had concerned animals coming down from heaven on a sheet, the meaning of the vision concerned people and not animals.  Those Christians today who maintain that Christians must still obey the Law of Moses the best they can will point this out.  They say the vision concerns people and not animals, so, the laws concerning clean and unclean animals are still in effect.  I don't see this being the case.  Even though the meaning of the vision concerned people, the voice from heaven made it clear that there was no such thing any more as clean and unclean animals.  The Newt Testament is full of passages similar to this that shows us the Law of Moses is not what it once was.    


In verse 29 Peter asks, "May I ask why you have sent for me"?  In verse 30 Cornelius proceeded to explain to Peter that four days earlier at three in the afternoon God spoke to him in answer to his prayers and good works.  God told him to call for Peter to come.


So we have two men here that the Lord spoke to.  There was Peter and there was Cornelius.  Cornelius only knew that he had to invite Peter into his house.  He did not know why, or what he needed to hear from Peter.  Then we have Peter, who God told to go to Cornelius’ house.  Peter didn’t know why he was to be there, and that is why he asked Cornelius why he had called for him.  There is clearly a matter of trusting the voice of the Lord here.  There were two pieces of the puzzle and each man had one piece.  It wasn't until the two men got together that the two pieces of the puzzle were put together. 


From verse 30 through 33 Cornelius explains the events leading up to Peter's arrival.  He told Peter how he saw a man in while telling him to invited Peter to his house. 


Verse 30 tells us what hour of the day Peter's arrival took place.  Cornelius says that he was praying at "this hour".  The words "this hour" tell us what time it was at that moment of time.  Acts 10:3 tells us that "this hour" means three in the afternoon, one of the Jewish times of prayer.  In my thinking this is interesting because what we will see is that coming of the Holy Spirit to the Gentile world took place at a Jewish time of prayer.  Remember, the coming of the Holy Spirit to the Jews took place a 9 in the morning as seen in Acts 2:15.    This is another Jewish time of prayer.  It was also on a special day, that being, the Day of Pentecost.  These are just two of many events that fit into a specific pattern.  God does things at specific moments for specific reasons that fit into His prophetic time clock and calendar of events.  Many of these events are specifically linked to the Law of Moses being fulfilled.  Many of these events are linked to what we call types and shadows found in the Old Testament.  In other words, these times of prayer are in themselves prophetic.          


After hearing Cornelius’ response, in verses 34 and 35, something seems to dawn on Peter.  He says, "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism, but accepts men from every nation who fear Him and do what is right".  It now appears that what the Lord showed Peter in the vision was beginning to sink into his understanding, and that is, God is not the God of the Jew only. It was if another light bulb went off in Peter's spirit.  We know that after pondering the vision of the clean and unclean animals Peter began to understand the true nature of Gentiles and their relationship with God, but here, Peter knows this more than ever.  It's like this knew understanding comes in progressive revelation to him.  When he sees that the Holy Spirit was given these Gentiles as it was the Jews in Acts 2, he understands this truth even more.  


We must note here that God hears the heart of men and women who really want to seek for Him.  Cornelius knew nothing of the Gospel of Christ, but even in his lack of understanding, he was seeking out the true God of the universe, and that God was now rewarding him.  We need to know that whoever seeks for God, the Father of Jesus, will certainly find him.  You can count on that 


Peter says in verse 36,"you know the message God sent to the people of Israel , telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is the Lord of all".  This comment by Peter tells us that even though the gospel message of Jesus wasn't clearly understood by all, it had been well circulated around these parts. 


The gospel message included that peace with God was found in only in Jesus.  It also included the fact that "Jesus was Lord of all".  From the very first words of Peter's message, we see him speaking about Jesus being both Christ and Lord. 


It's important to note that Cornelius was a high official in the Roman army.  He had at least one hundred men under his authority.  When Cornelius accepted the fact that Jesus was Lord over all, he was in fact committing treason.  Only Caesar was considered to be Lord over all.  We don't know what became of Cornelius, but he could have easily lost his job over the proclamation that Jesus was Lord over all.  He could have easily lost his life for this proclamation.       


The Jewish people understood that the God of Abraham was the Lord of all things, but now the gospel has defined this in more clarity by saying that Jesus is the Lord of all things.  In fact, Jesus is Yahweh in human form, now in glorified human form.  The gospel is all about Jesus and finding peace with God through Jesus.  The Jews would have understood peace with God through the Law of Moses and the sacrifices they were to make, but this had all changed.  


In verses 37 and 38 Peter speaks of John the Baptist.  It was through John’s baptism that "Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit and power".  The word anoint is a word that was seen in Old Testament times.  When one was anointed with oil for instance, the oil was poured on his head, or placed on his forehead.  The oil then would flow down his face.  The anointing of oil was seen as an inauguration into ministry.


Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit when He was water baptized by John.  In John 1:3, John tells the story of Jesus’ baptism.  He said that he saw the Spirit come down from Heaven as a dove and remained on Jesus.  Jesus was not anointed with oil in this instance, but with the Holy Spirit.  One thing I'd like to point out is that Jesus was "anointed" with the Holy Spirit.  He did not receive the Holy Spirit at His water baptism as some suggest.   He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and being God from birth means that He always had the Holy Spirit in Him.  In fact, in one sense of the word, He was the Holy Spirit in human form.  A number of times in the New Testament the Holy Spirit is referred to as the "Sprit of Christ". 


We should know that the Holy Spirit is omnipresent.  That means He is not isolated to being in one place at a time.  He is in all places at all times.  For this reason, the Holy Spirit could come upon Jesus at His baptism and be in Him at the same time.  The same thing is true for the believer post Pentecost.  We see this all the way through the book of Acts.  The Holy Spirit comes to live within the believers, than at many and various times He comes on the believers for a specific purpose.   

Those who hold to the experience called the Baptism in the Holy Spirit as being a second work of grace say Jesus experienced this baptism.  They say that Jesus was baptized in the Spirit, and if He needed this experience, so do we.  I just don't see things that way.  The Holy Spirit came on Jesus at His water baptism, as He probably did in other instances, as was the case with the believers in the book of Acts.  Jesus had the Holy Spirit from birth.  When believers hand their lives over to Jesus, at that point, or soon after, they receive the Holy Spirit into their lives.   Subsequent to that, both Jesus and the believers in Acts had the Holy Spirit come on them many times.  They were anointed by the Spirit for specific reasons at specific times. 

This anointing of Jesus was an anointing into His ministry.  Jesus was filled with the Spirit on the occasion of His baptism.  Many in both the Old and New Testament have been filled with the Spirit, that is, the Spirit comes on them.  Whether they actually have the Spirit within is a different issue, but when this happens, it is for ministry sake.  There is only one reason why anyone is filled with the Spirit, and that is to do something for Jesus.  

In verse 38 Peter goes on to say that because of this anointing, and because God was with Him, Jesus went about doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil.  In western culture we don't always view people under the power of the devil, but to one degree or another mankind is under the power of the devil.  Non Christians should be viewed as being under satan's power.  That sure doesn't sound culturally correct today, but it is Biblically correct.

In verse 39 Peter says that he and others were a witness.  Once again, this confirms Jesus’ prophecy of Acts 1:8 that stated the disciples would be witnesses of Jesus.  Notice that Peter witnessed everything Jesus did "in the country of the Jews".  You might remember in John 1:1 through 6, John speaks of Jesus coming to His own people.  The main earthly ministry of Jesus was to the Jews, not to the Gentiles, although as was the case, He did not refuse to speak to or heal a Gentile.

Note that Peter pointed out the fact that it was the Jews who hung Jesus.  In reality, it was the Romans who actually did the crucifying, but it was the Jews who pressured the Romans into doing so.  Every time we see Peter preaching the gospel so far in the book of Acts he has pointed out that it was the Jews who killed Jesus.  Of course, this drove the Jews crazy.    

In verse 40 Peter states that even though Jews killed Jesus, God raised Him from the dead.  Peter never fails to neglect this truth in his messages.  The resurrection is one of the fundamental truths of the Christian gospel.  If Jesus didn't rise from the dead, then our faith, work, and all that is done in His name is futile.   

In verse 41 Peter continues by saying that not everyone saw Jesus after He rose from the dead; only those who "God had already chosen to be witnesses".  This is interesting.  You might ask, "Why did Jesus not show Himself to the whole known world at the time, or to as many people as possible in order for more people to believe in Him"?  This is a very good question.  The answer can be seen in what Peter says here.

God chose certain people to be witnesses to the resurrection and it was up to these people to bare witness of this event to the world.  This is what Acts 1:8 is all about.  Those who witnessed Jesus, in life, death, resurrection, and ascension, were the ones God chose.  It is God’s choice to have man preach the gospel, not Jesus.  As we have seen in Acts 9, Jesus did not preach the gospel to Saul, Annanias did. Why God would leave such a responsibility on frail human beings is hard to understand at times.

When Jesus rose from the dead, it was not His job to win the world over for Himself.  His job was to be the sacrificial lamb.  It is our job to be witnesses to the world to this fact. We all have our parts to play in the Kingdom of God .  The Father has His.  Jesus has His.  The Holy Spirit has His, and, we have our part to play. is, and this is one such case.  

The witnesses that God had already chosen as seen in verse 41, were those disciples that Jesus chose to follow Him prior to His death.

In verse 42 Peter clearly states, "He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that He is the one whom God has appointed Judge of the living and the dead".  Peter says that Jesus commanded him and the others to preach.  Once again, it was not Jesus’ job to preach and prove His resurrection.  We should also note that this is a command from Jesus.  It's not a suggestion.

In our day Christians are told to keep their faith to themselves.  We cannot do that.  Our faith dictates that we speak it to others.  Jesus has not suggested we preach the gospel.  He has commanded us to preach the gospel.  

Part of the gospel that we are to preach is what Peter says in this verse.  God has appointed Jesus to be the "Judge of both the living and the dead".  This part of the gospel is what is culturally incorrect these days.  Our world does not tolerate us saying that Jesus is their judge.  Nevertheless, we can't concern ourselves what culture says.  We must preach the gospel and leave no part out.   

Prior to Peter's coming, Cornelius was told that Peter would tell him what he needed to do next.  What that was, Cornelius didn't know, but, here in verse 42 he finds out.  He needed to know about the Lord Jesus Christ and that he must believe in Him.  Of course, believing means handing your life over to Jesus, who is Lord over all. 

In verse 43 Peter continues by saying that the Old Testament prophets spoke of Jesus.  They said that those who believe in Jesus will find forgiveness of sins.  This is a departure from what Peter would have learned while growing up as a Jew.  Forgiveness would have only been found in the sacrifices of the Law of Moses, but that has all changed.  Jesus became the ultimate sacrifice.  He and He alone can forgive sins.  His sacrifice, and no other sacrifice, forms the basis of forgiveness.

Peter mentions eating and drinking with Jesus after He rose from the dead.  This appears to be important to him.  Often, if not all of the time, when Jesus revealed Himself to His followers after His resurrection He ate with those He revealed Himself to.  For example, the two men who walked to Emmaus with Jesus, walked a long way with Jesus and did not recognize that it was indeed Jesus until they sat down to eat with Him.  I am not sure if there is some type of mystical importance to this or not.  It just seems interesting to note this.  

In verse 44 we se that "while Peter was speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message".  Peter did not even get to finish what he was saying.  Why this is so we don't really know.  Maybe these people were so anxious and ready to take the next step with Jesus that the Holy Spirit simply came to them without further explanation. 

Note the words "the Holy Spirit came on them".  This is yet one of a number of similar phrases used when someone receives the Holy Spirit.  It is clear that these Gentiles did not have the Holy Spirit prior to this, so, when the Holy Spirit cam on them, He also came into them to live.  Other such terms found in the book of Acts are, "the Holy Spirit filled them" and "the Holy Spirit was poured out on them". 

This is now the fourth time in the book of Acts where the Holy Spirit has come to live in people.  The first is in Acts 2.  There the one hundred and twenty received the Holy Spirit while waiting and praying.  In Acts 8 the Samaritans received the Holy Spirit after they believed and were baptized by Philip.  It took Peter and John coming from Jerusalem for them to receive the Holy Spirit.  In Acts 9 Paul received the Holy Spirit when Ananias laid hands on him.  Here, the Gentiles received the Holy Spirit in the midst of a sermon.  I say all of this to point out that there is no formula to receiving the Holy Spirit.  I also say this to point out that you cannot build a doctrine from the experiences found in the book of Acts because they're all different, but we as Pentecostals have done just that.     

In verse 45 the circumcised men who came with Peter "were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles".   Note here that the Holy Spirit is the gift from God.  The experience that many call the Baptism in the Spirit is not the gift.  Those who claim the Baptism in the Holy Spirit as being a second work of grace often suggest that the Baptism in the Spirit is the gift from God.  That's not so.  

You can't use this event to prove the Baptism in the Holy Spirit to be a second work of grace.  This is not logical.  There is no second work here.  This is actually a first work of grace.  This was these people's moment of salvation.  This was their conversion.  This is when they got saved.  This is when they received the Holy Spirit.  This was not a second work.

Also note the phrase "poured out".  As I've said earlier, this phrase is one of a number of like phrases used for the same event.  So, in this situation, we have one verse saying the Holy Spirit came on these people and we have another verse saying He was poured out on these people.  We have two phrases for the same experience that shows the Holy Spirit coming down from above, from heaven.    

How did Peter and his friends know that the Holy Spirit was being poured out on these people?  Verse 46 says that they knew it because they spoke in tongues and praised God. It is pretty clear that when someone is filled with the Holy Spirit something happens that can be seen.

We will see later, when Peter defends this event to the rest of the apostles that he compares this outpouring on the Gentiles to the outpouring that happened to the Jews in Acts 2.  This event was the Acts 2 event for Gentiles. This is a great moment in church history.  This event turns a new page in the church.  The church has been opened up to the rest of the world.

The Jewish church has now become a Jewish/Gentile church, and the farther in history we go, we see the church being influenced less and less by Jewish culture.

This movement away from Jewish heritage is a point of debate from time to time.  There are Messianic Christian movements today that would like to see the church return to what they call the church's Jewish roots.  That means something different to different people.  I would just caution us all in this regard.  What we cannot do is return to the Law of Moses as some are doing today.  We are called unto Jesus, not Jewish roots.  I do believe that the Jews do have prophetic and historic significance.  By this I mean that God's plans for the Jews as a distinct society has not changed from the days of Abraham when God promised Israelis that they would be a great nation.  They will be great at the end of this age when God brings them back to their homeland and eventually back to Himself.

In verse 47 Peter’s first response to all of this was to get these new converts water baptized.  As we have seen before, Peter always associates water baptism with the new birth.  I don't believe water baptism is necessary for salvation, but I do believe it's necessary in the sense we need to obey Jesus.   

We should note that for those who received the Holy Spirit in Acts 2, they had already been water baptized.  The Samaritans in Acts 8 believed and were water baptized, and then received the Holy Spirit.  Here, these Gentiles received the Holy Spirit and then were water baptized.  Again, there is no consistency in what happens.  So once again, you cannot build a theological doctrine around these experiences.  

Peter makes an interesting remark in verse 47.  He says, "They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have".  Verse 44 told us that the Holy Spirit "came on" those people.  Here in verse 47, Peter calls this "coming on" experience a "reception" of the Spirit into these people’s lives.  That is to say, when the Spirit fell on these people, they received the Spirit for the first time in their lives. Again, this was not a second work of grace.  These people received Holy Spirit for the first time here.  If you call this experience the baptism in the Spirit, then you must realize that it was these people's salvation experience, not a second work of grace.  

Verse 48 says that Peter "ordered" that these people be water baptized since they had received the Holy Spirit into their lives.  So they were baptized in the name of Jesus.  It's important to understand what "in the name of Jesus" means in this instance.  "In the name of Jesus" is not simply words spoken over those being water baptized.  It's also not a formula.  When Peter and the others baptized these people in Jesus' name, this means that they performed the baptism as Jesus' representatives.  Peter and the others represented Jesus in this instance because Jesus was not there in physical form.  So as His representative, or, in Jesus' name, they performed this baptism. 

"In the name of Jesus" is a phrase associated with Christians who represent Jesus on earth.  If you worked for Joe's Auto Service, you'd do all your work in the name of Joe's Auto Service.  This is how it works with Jesus as well.  We work for Jesus and all the work we do for Him is in His name.    

This chapter ends with Peter spending a few days with these Gentiles.  Again, a good Jew would not stay with a Gentile family for a few days, but of course, Peter is more of a good follower of Jesus rather than a good Jew.  The vision Peter had tells the story.  Gentiles were no longer considered unclean.  They could be accepted into the family of God through faith in Jesus just like Jews.   


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