Bible Topics In The Christian Library
 
ACTS CHAPTER 10

VERSES 1-6 "There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, {2}A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway. {3}He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. {4}And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. {5}And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter: He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do."
 
 
 
 

BEGINNING NOTES: This is one of the pivitol chapters in the book of Acts. Up to this point the gospel has gone only to the Jews. Jewish brethren had probably not even thought of taking the gospel to the Gentiles. The Bible had promised that the Gentiles would be part of the New Covenant (See Isaiah 62:1-2). 

Luke records Jesusí healing the servant of a centurion in Luke 7:1-10. It is possible that this was the same officer. They both certainly had similar characters. 
 
 

A. "There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band..."
1. Caesarea - The capitol seat of the Procurator of Judea in apostolic times. It was divided between Jews and Gentiles with a majority of Gentiles. It had itís beginning in Greek times as a fortified harbor. It was approximately 35 miles from Joppa. 

2. Cornelius - A captian in command of a Century (between 600 and 1,000 men). This was an elite unit of soldier, being made up of Italians whose loyalty would have been above question. Perhaps the Roman Procuratorís personal bodyguard. 

3. His spiritual character. 

a. It is obvious from the description that: 
1. He was very spiritual, more than nearly all of the gentiles of his day. 

2. That he had been influenced greatly by living around Jews.

b. He was devout - reverent, pious.

c. "One that feared God with all his house" - He was not only reverent but had influenced his family to share in his reverence for the one true God. 

d. "which gave much alms to the people" - He had bee very charitable to those in need. 

e. "Prayed to God alway" - He was a man of prayer. He prayed regularily.

B. "He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God..." 
1. The ninth hours was one of the times of prayer in the Jewish system. Cornelius, as per his description, was deep in prayer. 

2. When he saw the angel he was naturally frightened. 

3. Notice that he was so devout that his prayers and alms giving had taken special notice by God. 

4. Her was the answer of a prayer by a man who was not a Christian, but it was quite a different answer to what most think. It was not a answer extending forgiveness, but one that would make a way for Cornelius to contact the message of salvation. The angel did not come to Cornelius to grant him salvation. 

5. The instructions that the angel gave to Cornelius was to send to Joppa for a man named Peter. 

a. We learn later that the angel told him to send for Peter so that he might tell him words whereby he and his house might be saved (11:13-14). 
VERSES 7-9a - "And when the angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually; {8}And when he had declared all these things unto them, he sent them to Joppa. {9}On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city,"
 
 
A. "And when the angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants..." 
1. Cornelius could not entrust such an important task to any other than ones he could trust completely. 

2. Two of his private servants, along with his personal aide were briefed concerning the angelís appearance and their mission.

B. "And when he had declared all these things unto them, he sent them to Joppa..." 
1. Cornelius was so intent of following the instructions of the angelic visitor that he commanded his servants to set out at once to fetch Peter. Verse 3 tells us that the pray and visitation was approximately 3:00 p.m. Being about 30 miles from Joppa the servants would have to travel all night on foot to arrive the next day at about noon. 
VERSES 9b-16 "Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, {11}And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: {12}Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. {13}And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. {14}But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. {15}And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. {16}This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven."
 
 
A. "Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour..." 
1. The Jews prayed at 9:00 a.m., 12 and 3:00 p.m. 

2. It was also the practice of the Jews to eat two meals. They would eat a morning meal at about 10:00 a.m. and about 6 or 7:00 p.m for an evening meal. 

3. Peter had evidently missed the morning meal before prayer and was very hungry. 

4. The trance was not self induced but was brought on by God.

B. "And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him..." 
1. While in this trance Peter saw heaven open and a large sheet lowered that contained numerous unclean animals. A voice from Heaven commanded Peter to rise up and eat the unclean animals. 

2. Peter replied that he had never eaten anything that was unclean. But the voice replied that if God had made them clean, he should not call them unclean. 

3. This was repeated three times and then the unclean animals were withdrawn back into Heaven. 
 
 
 
 

VERSES 17-23 "Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon's house, and stood before the gate, {18}And called, and asked whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were lodged there. {19}While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee. {20}Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them. {21}Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come? {22}And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee. {23}Then called he them in, and lodged them. And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him."
 
 
A. "Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean..." 
1. Peter did not understand why he had received the vision. It was puzzling, without the application. 

2. As Peter was pondering the meaning of the vision the servants of Cornelius appeared at the door of Simon the tannerís house. When they arrived in Joppa they had asked direction to Simon the tannerís house.

B. "While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee...." 
1. The Holy Spirit intervened with Peter, explaining that there were three men seeking him that they were coming with the approval of the Holy Spirit himself. 

2. It was necessary that the Holy Spirit tell Peter this because he almost certainly have turned the men away from the home simply because they were Gentiles.

C. "Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come?" 
1. The men gave Peter the information concerning Cornelius seeing an angel and the command to send for him. 

2. Peter must have surely begun to see the significance of their visit in light of the vision that he had just received. Peter immediately broke with Jewish tradition and invited the men in to the house for a meal and lodging for the night. 

3. The next day he set out with the men to Caesarea. But Peter was prudent. He took along several Jewish brethren (11:12 sets the number at six) with him as witnesses of what was going to transpire. 
 
 
 
 

VERSES 24-26 "And the morrow after they entered into Caesarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends. {25}And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. {26}But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man."
 
 
A. "And the morrow after they entered into Caesarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends." 
1. The journey had taken the biggest part of they day. Likely Peter and the other Jews had lodged with some of the brethren. One wonders if Peter divulged any of his mission to the brethren at Caesarea? It is also likely that Peter did not yet have a complete understanding of all the implications of the vision he had received or of his receiving the messangers from Cornelius. 

2. Probably the servants of Cornelius had reported to him, thus preparing him for the meeting on the morrow.

B. "And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him." 
1. Cornelius, even though he was a believer in the true God, had an imperfect view of spiritual things. 

2. It may be possible that Cornelius meant this act as a usual act of deep homage to a person of much higher rank. But whatever way he meant it, Peter understood it as worship. He instructed Cornelius to cease his action. He, too, was just a man. 

3. Only God is worthy of worship. See Revelation 22:8-9 
 
 

VERSES 27-29 "And as he talked with him, he went in, and found many that were come together. {28}And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath showed me that I should not call any man common or unclean. {29}Therefore came I unto you without gainsaying, as soon as I was sent for: I ask therefore for what intent ye have sent for me?"
 
 
A. "And as he talked with him, he went in, and found many that were come together" 
1. Peter had been met by Cornelius as he approached the house or was just coming in. 

2. After telling him to stand up, Peter went into the house of Cornelius. Inside he found a number of people waiting to hear what he would say. 
 
 

2. From the context, it is obvious that Paul brought the other Jewish brethren with him into the house.

B. "Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company..." 
1. Nowhere did the law of Moses specifically rule that a Jew couldnít go into a Gentileís house or have any social contact with them. This was a tradition developed on what the law implied. The law did prohibit the eating of certain foods that would be prevelant in Gentile homes, intermarriage with them, or worshipping their gods. This had been so refined as to cause a strict Jew not to want to sit on the same couch that Gentiles had sit upon. 

2. Peter found it necessary to explain his actions to the assembly present, both Jew and Gentile. 

3. Why had he come? He now understood the vision. God had made the Gentiles clean. He had broken down the spiritual barriers between the two groups. 

4. He had come with "gainsaying" Greek - promptly, NASV - without any objection. 

5. Peter was still not completely sure of himself as to his mission there. He asks them why they have sent for him. 
 
 

VERSES 30-33 "And 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, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God. {32}Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter; he is lodged in the house of one Simon a tanner by the sea side: who, when he cometh, shall speak unto thee. {33}Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God."
 
 
A. "And Cornelius said..." 
1. Cornelius proceeded to recount the appearance of the angel to him and his command to Cornelius to send to Joppa for Peter. 

2. Cornelius immediately did exactly what the angel directed.

B. "Now therefore are we all here..." 
1. Cornelius expressed his conviction that what they were doing had the approval of God. They were all present in the presence of God to hear to commands of God. 
PETERíS SERMON
 
 

VERSES 34-43 "Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: {35}But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. {36}The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:) {37}That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; {38}How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of 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 slew and hanged on a tree: {40}Him God raised up the third day, and showed him openly; {41}Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. {42}And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. {43}To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins."
 
 

A. "Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons..."
1. Peter declares that he now knows that God is not a respector of persons.

2. God does not arbitrarily saved based on prejudicial considerations such as race, sex, etc.

a. See Galatians 3:28
B. "But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him." Two qualifications given here for gaining Godís pleasure.
1. "Feareth him"
a. It is essential for a person to have reverence Jehovah God in order to be pleasing to Him.

b. See Philippians 2:12; Hebrews 12:28

2. "Worketh righteousness"
a. This passage, along with a number of other, debunks the old protestant belief that one is saved by faith without any obedience.
3. Both these fit perfectly together. The person who has reverence for God and the word that he gave will search it, and obey it in everything.
C. "The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all..." In Peterís sermon he tells Cornelius-
1. Jesus was sent to the world by God.

2. The good news of Jesus and his ministry was spread throught Judeae and Galilee and that Cornelius had heard about it.

3. Jesus was given the power of the Holy Spirit (at his baptism) and he conducted a ministry of benevolence for those in need.

4. Peter and the other apostles were witnesses of Jesus ministry and death on the cross.

5. Jesus did not appear to everyone, but to those select one whom he desired to be witnesses of his resurrection.

6. It is through faith in Christ and not by the keeping of the law of Moses that a person is justified.
 
 

(Acts 10:44-48) "While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. {45}And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. {46}For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, {47}Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? {48}And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days."
 
 
A. "While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word."
1. Sometime while Peter was speaking Cornelius and those gatherer with him received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. We must not assume that it was at the very point of the conclusion of Peterís sermon. Chapter Eleven tells us that it happened as Peter "began to speak" (verse 15).
a. Concerning the baptism of the Holy Spirit see chapter 11:15.
2. For this reason, as well as what we will now be told, the Spiritís coming on them was not for salvation, but for a very different reason.
a. The evidence is strong that Peter continued preaching after the Spirit came on this company.
B. "And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost."
1. This event had its desired effect. The Jews were deeply shaken by this and turned to Peter for guidance.

2. Notice that they spake with other tongues. Tongue here comes from the greek word glossa, which means "a language." It was understood. The were "magnifying God."

3. The Scriptures had promised the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on both Gentile as well as Jew. See 2:17.

C. "Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?"
1. Here is the reason for this outpouring. It was an indisputable sign from God that He desired the Gentiles to be part of the body of Christ.

2. It is also celar that when Peter says "as we" in this passage he is referring to him and the other apostles. See 11:15.

C. "And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days."
1. Peterís sermon concluded the same way it concluded in chapter two, with a command to be baptized. This should not be surprising, since his purpose in coming there was to teach them what they needed to know to be saved. See 11:14.
2. There can be little doubt that Peter tarried there to teach them further.
 
 

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