THE BOOK OF ACTS  |  CHAPTER 10

OUTLINE AND COMMENTARY - MARK DUNAGAN


I. OUTLINE OF CHAPTER 10:

I. God's message to Cornelius: 10:1-8

II. God's message to Peter: 10:9-20

III. The journey and meeting: 10:21-33

IV. Peter's sermon: 10:34-43

V. Outpouring of the Spirit: 10:44-48

"The range of the apostolic message has been steadily broadening, and now the time has come for it to cross the barrier which separated Jews from Gentiles" (Bruce p. 214). We remember that Jesus had given Peter the keys to the kingdom of God (Matthew 16:19), and as he had opened the door for the Jews on the Day of Pentecost, he will now open the door for Gentiles to become Christians.

Acts 10:1 "Now {there was} a certain man in Caesarea, Cornelius by name, a centurion of the band called the Italian band"

"Caesarea" "A garrison city named after Augustus Caesar, the administrative capital of the province of Judea, boasting a splendid harbor built by Herod the Great" (Stott pp. 184-185). "Caesarea was the usual residence for the Roman governor of Judea and consequently a garrison of troops was regularly found there" (Reese p. 379). The city was predominately a city occupied by Gentiles, housed some 3000 troops, and was located some 30 miles N of Joppa and 65 miles from Jerusalem. "Cornelius" "Cornelius was a specially common name in Rome ever since Publius Cornelius Sulla in 82 B.C. liberated 10,000 slaves" (Bruce p. 214). "Centurion" "In the Roman military set-up there was first of all the legion. It was a force of six thousand men. In every legion there were ten cohorts. A cohort therefore had six hundred men in it. The cohort was divided into centuries and over each century there was a centurion" (Barclay p. 82). Thus a centurion was over 100 men. "So a centurion corresponded approx. to a captain or company commander in our day" (Stott p. 185). "Centurions were the backbone of the Roman army. Polybuis (History vi. 24) sums up their necessary qualifications thus: 'Centurions are required not to be bold and adventurous so much as good leaders, of steady and prudent mind, not prone to take the offensive or start fighting wantonly, but able when overwhelmed and hard-pressed to stand fast and die at their post'" (Bruce p. 215). We need to be impressed with the precise detail found in the biblical text. Cornelius is placed where we would expect to find him, that is in the garrison town of Caesarea. "The Italian Cohort" "A regular cohort, the tenth part of a legion, had a paper strength of 600 men. We have inscriptional evidence of the presence in Syria c. A.D. 69 of the auxiliary, 'second Italian cohort of Roman citizens'" (Bruce p. 215). "Italian" "Probably because consisting of Roman soldiers, and not of natives of the country" (Vincent p. 496). "The whole cohort was made up a soldiers from Italy (some cohorts were composed of soldiers born and conscripted in the provinces). This cohort was one of the best Rome had; and, since the soldiers were all Italians whose loyalty was above question, perhaps they were the governor's bodyguard" (Reese p. 379).

Acts 10:2 "a devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, who gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always"

"Devout" Meaning reverent and pious. "One that feared God" "The usual term for the Gentile seekers after God (Acts 17:4), who had come into the worship of the synagogue without circumcision, and were not strictly proselytes" (Robertson pp. 133-134). "Many Gentiles in those days, while not prepared to enter this Jewish community as full proselytes. Some of them attended synagogue and were tolerably conversant with the prayers and Scripture lessons, some observed with more or less scrupulosity such distinctive Jewish practices as Sabbath observance and abstinence from certain kinds of food. Cornelius's attachment to the Jewish religion appeared particularly in his regular prayer to the God of Israel and acts of charity to the people of Israel" (Bruce p. 216). We should be impressed that people do tire of sin and the shallow ways of the world. In the first century a number of Gentiles had become dissatisfied with the immorality and idolatry of the times, therefore we need to realize that the world will always contain people who are looking for the truth. Non-Christians with the character of Cornelius do exist in our own times. Despite his religious ways, Cornelius still remained a Gentile, an outsider in the Jewish community that spoke highly of him (10:22,28; 11:3). Yet note his attitude. Here is a man who wants God, even though at the present, it appears that despite all his efforts, he remains a second-class citizen--in eyes of the God of Israel.

"With all his house" "Cornelius had instructed and influenced his family and servants. Not satisfied with having found a higher truth for himself, he sought to share it with those most under his influence" (Reese p. 379). Those convicted of God's truth must share it with others (Jeremiah 20:9; Acts 8:4; 4:20). "Who gave much alms to the people" The phrase "the people" refers to the Jewish people (10:22). "To find an occupational soldier who was liberal in his charity toward the occupied peoples must have been a striking contrast to the usual practice of the Roman soldiers" (Reese p. 380) (Luke 3:14). I think it is hard for us to appreciate the meaning of the above statement. Cornelius was very liberal to the Jewish race, even though he would always be considered an outsider by them. Hatred between Jews and Romans was extremely deep, and around A.D. 70 in the city of Caesarea, some 20,000 Jews would be massacred. "Prayed to God always" He may have observed the traditional Jewish times of prayer.

Acts 10:3 "He saw in a vision openly, as it were about the ninth hour of the day, an angel of God coming in unto him, and saying to him, Cornelius" He distinctly saw what appeared in the vision, and this took place around three in the afternoon, which was also one of the Jewish times for prayer (Acts 3:1).

Acts 10:4 "And he, fastening his eyes upon him, and being affrighted, said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are gone up for a memorial before God"

"Being affrighted" Remember Cornelius was a centurion, he would not have frightened easily. The appearance of an angel must be an impressive and awesome sight. "Thy prayers" God had heard the prayers of this unsaved man. Therefore passages such as John 9:31 "We know that God heareth not sinners", must be limited to a certain type of sinner, that is the person who has no serious intentions about changing their life (1 Peter 3:12). Observe what the angel does not say: "The angel does not bring him word that his sins are forgiven. Instead of this, he is told to send for a man who will tell him what he must do to be saved" (Reese p. 380) (See Acts 11:13-14). This is the second time in this book that prayer where we learn that prayer alone cannot save the sinner (Acts 9:11). In view of these facts we must reject those who contend that to be saved, one simply needs to pray the sinner's prayer.

Acts 10:5 "And now send men to Joppa, and fetch one Simon, who is surnamed Peter" Joppa was located about thirty-two miles along the coast to the south. The purpose of this is so that Peter can preach to them (Acts 11:13-14). "The doctrine of the direct operation of the Holy Spirit on the alien sinner's heart to save him is surely suspect in the light of what was done in Cornelius' case. In his case, instead of direct operation, we see human agency involved. Someone must bring the Word so the sinner has something to believe" (Reese p. 382) (Romans 10:17; 1:16). This example of conversion seriously undermines the popular theory that people are born in sin, hell-bound, and opposed to all that is good, and that the direct-operation of the Holy Spirit upon the heart of the sinner is necessary to make the sinner receptive to God's truth or even able to believe it. In contrast, Cornelius is very receptive to the truth--long before the Holy Spirit ever comes upon him (10:22,33). McGarvey makes an excellent point when he observes: "At first glance it might appear strange that a man whose character is thus described should need conversion. There are many men in the present day, in whose favor not so much can be said, who flatter themselves that their prospects for final salvation are good. They are honest in their dealings, good husbands and fathers, generous to their neighbors, and benevolent to the poor; what have they to fear at the hands of a just and merciful God? But Cornelius was all this, and beyond yet it was necessary for even him to hear words whereby he might be saved. They forget that while they are discharging in a creditable manner their obligations to their fellow men, they are neglecting the much higher obligation to render service to God" (p. 198). We should be impressed that the conversions recently mentioned, such as the eunuch and Saul of Tarsus, both involved godly men, and religious men, yet like Cornelius, their morality alone couldn't save them. The above examples prove that one is not saved by sincerity alone. To the contrary, Jesus Christ is the ultimate test of one's sincerity. When the gospel message is presented to good moral men, the truly sincere will obey Christ (Luke 8:15)

Acts 10:6 "he lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the seaside" "The process of tanning hides requires a considerable amount of water to convey away the filth produced in the operation of dressing the hides, so they were often located by rivers or other large bodies of water" (Reese p. 383).

Acts 10:7-8 "And when the angel that spake unto him was departed, he called two of his household-servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually; and having rehearsed all things unto them, he sent them to Joppa"

"He called" Note the prompt obedience of Cornelius, and that he is not offended that the angel has revealed the fact that he is presently in a lost condition (Acts 11:13-14). At this point the sincerity of many "good moral people" departs. But Cornelius is determined to have a relationship with the true God and nothing will stop him, not even a temporary blow to his ego. "A devout soldier" Possibly a soldier that he had influenced. Cornelius, who was accustomed to giving orders, now promptly obeys the command given by the angel, and he takes every precaution to insure that these messengers are unhindered in their quest to find Peter. "He sent them to Joppa" Even though it was three in the afternoon, Cornelius is eager to hear the message that Peter will preach. The trip was a full day's journey and these men probably even traveled during the night or early morning hours.


MEANWHILE IN JOPPA

Acts 10:9 "Now on the morrow, as they were on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour"

"Upon the housetop" Homes in Eastern culture had a flat roof that was used as additional living space, and it served the same purpose as porches or patios do in our culture. The housetop was usually surrounded by a parapet (a low wall or screened railing) for privacy and safety, and here Peter could find privacy and quiet. "The sixth hour" Noon.

Acts 10:10 "and he became hungry, and desired to eat: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance"

"Became hungry" Intensely hungry or very hungry. The people in the first century world generally ate two meals a day. "The first of these was taken about 10 or 11 o'clock in the morning, and consisted of fruit, milk, and cheese. The principal meal was then eaten about 6 or 7 in the evening" (Reese p. 384). Thus "lunch" is about 2 hours late and Peter is extremely hungry. "While they made ready" While lunch was being prepared downstairs. "He fell into a trance" We should observe that this trace was not artificially induced. Peter had not tried to get into such a state, but rather, such a state supernaturally came upon him.

Acts 10:11-12 "and he beholdeth the heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending, as it were a great sheet, let down by four corners upon the earth"

This was not a sheet, but appeared to be like a sheet. "Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts and creeping things of the earth and birds of the heaven" Creeping things would include such things as small animals and reptiles.

Acts 10:13 "And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill and eat"

"Arise Peter; kill and eat" It is clear that God approves of "hunting" and whatever tools are needed to accomplish that task, such as bows, guns, or knives. We should also note that God approves and endorses the eating of meat (1 Timothy 4:1-4). Thus, we can never advocate that not eating meat is more spiritual than eating meat, because such would be false doctrine (1 Corinthians 8:8).

Acts 10:14 "But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common and unclean"

"Not so, Lord" "By no means" (NASV). "Peter is always a man quick to act and quick to speak. Although he was in a trance, he still had his sense of right and wrong about him" (Reese p. 386). "I have never eaten" The animals found in the above sheet like object included unclean animals. "Evidently a mixture of clean and unclean creatures calculated to disgust any orthodox Jew" (Stott p. 187). "Peter had been reared from childhood to make the distinction between clean and unclean food and this new proposal even from the Lord runs against all his previous training" (Robertson p. 137). For laws concerning what were clean and unclean animals see Leviticus chapter 11 and Deuteronomy 14. "It is rather a striking testimony to Peter's religious character as a Jew before his call to the apostolate, that, poor Galilean fisherman as he was, unlearned and ignorant, he had yet always conscientiously obeyed the Law of Moses in regard to things clean and unclean" (P.P. Comm. p. 333). This example also illustrates that an ordinary person can observe God's commandments, even the commandments that were given in the Old Testament.

Acts 10:15 "And a voice {came} unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, make not thou common"

"What God hath cleansed" "What God has pronounced pure you must not call defiled" (TCNT).

In His earthly ministry Jesus had already indicated that the various foods laws found in the O.T. would be removed (Mark 7:19 "Thus He declared all foods clean"). "Many things certainly must have begun to go through Peter's mind. If the distinction between clean and unclean meats is now abolished, how much more of the Law is abolished?" (Reese p. 386) (Galatians 3:24-25). In this vision, God says nothing about "unclean" people, that is Gentiles. With the events that follow, Peter will necessarily infer that God was not just talking about "food" (10:28). Unfortunately, various modern religious groups that claim to be "Christian", still insist upon observing the food laws found in the O.T. In doing so they find themselves contradicting what God has said in this chapter and others (1 Tim. 4:1-4), and they also identify themselves as part of a religious apostasy. The people of God always need to be careful about adding laws to the will of God or insisting upon adhering to a religion that goes beyond the will of God. Salvation is not found in being more strict than anyone else, rather adding rules to the will of God is just as much an evidence of unbelief as in deleting God's commandments (Revelation 22:18-19; Galatians 5:1-4).

Acts 10:16 "And this was done thrice: and straightway the vessel was received up into heaven" "This happened three times so that there could be no possible mistake or dodging of the lesson" (Barclay p. 84). Notice how God makes every effort to help us understand His will.

Acts 10:17 "Now while Peter was much perplexed in himself what the vision which he had seen might mean, behold, the men that were sent by Cornelius, having made inquiry for Simon's house, stood before the gate"

"Was much perplexed" "Was still puzzling over the meaning of the vision he had seen" (TCNT). "Behold"Even though something that God has said in His word may initially perplex us (2 Peter 3:16), we can be assured that it was not designed to confuse us for the rest of our lives (Psalm 19:7). In coming into Joppa they had to ask for directions to Simon's house.

Acts 10:18-20 "and called and asked whether Simon, who was surnamed Peter, were lodging there. And while Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee. "Was earnestly pondering" (Vincent p. 500). But arise, and get thee down, and go with them, nothing doubting: for I have sent them"

"Nothing doubting" Now things will start "clicking" in Peter's mind. He has just experienced this vision, God has specifically said, "What God has cleansed, make not thou common". Messengers now are at the door, the Holy Spirit has said go with them without any misgivings, for He had sent them. "He's just been shown that things that used to be 'unholy' are not longer unholy. Accompanying Gentiles on a journey won't contaminate you" (Reese p. 388). "Do not hesitate to go with them" (TCNT). "And have no hesitation about accompanying them" (Mof).

Acts 10:21-22 "And Peter went down to the men, and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come? And they said, Cornelius a centurion, a righteous man and one that feareth God, and well reported of by all the nation of the Jews, was warned {of God} by a holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words from thee"

"Well reported of by all the nation of the Jews" There was a centurion like this that Jesus had encountered (Luke 7:2-5). "This may have been said to help encourage Peter to make the visit, for Cornelius is the kind of man that even devout Jews will find respected" (Reese p. 389). "Hear words from thee" Words by which he would be saved (Acts 11:13-14).

Acts 10:23 "So he called them in and lodged them. And on the morrow he arose and went forth with them, and certain of the brethren from Joppa accompanied him" "The messengers have traveled almost round the clock. After part of a day's and full night's rest, they will be ready to make the return trip" (Reese p. 389). "In view of the novelty of his mission, he acted wisely in taking some Christians of Joppa with him--six in number, as he himself reports in Ch. 11:12" (Bruce pp. 221-222). "Knowing the animosity that strict Jews have about such close association with Gentiles, Peter figures it would be a good thing to take some witnesses along" (Reese p. 390).

Acts 10:24 "And on the morrow they entered into Caesarea. And Cornelius was waiting for them, having called together his kinsmen and his near friends"

"Was waiting for them" He knew approx. how long it would take for them to return. Cornelius had been busy while the messengers were gone. He had been rounding up an audience to hear the gospel message. This group included Gentiles, who like Cornelius were looking for something better than what society was offering. Consider the ease, confidence, boldness, and lack of embarrassment on the part of Cornelius. No one would have ever accused Cornelius of not being a "real man". Cornelius is a prime example of the bumper sticker that reads, "Real men love Jesus".

Acts 10:25 "And when it came to pass that Peter entered, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him" "Picture the commander of 100 men, in full dress uniform, bowing down to Peter" (Reese p. 390). Here we find the humility and receptive nature of Cornelius. Various writers argue that Cornelius is not really "worshipping" Peter, but only showing respect, but the actions of Peter in the next verse speak to the contrary.

Acts 10:26 "But Peter raised him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man" The intentions of Cornelius were sincere, but his knowledge was imperfect. Notice that Peter did not believe that sincerity makes up for a lack of truth. From the fact that Jesus never told the people that worshipped Him to get up, we may conclude that Jesus accepted such worship, because He is God (Matthew 4:10; 15:25). Even angels refuse to be worshipped by human beings (Revelation 22:8-9). Notice the humility of Peter. He was an apostle, and yet he clearly understood that he was not an object of worship. He did not deserve the reverence that only God deserves. The actions of Peter and the actions of the Pope are quite different. What Peter (an apostle) refused, the Pope actually accepts. We should also note that various religious leaders have assumed the title of "Reverend", yet this title is only used of God in the Scriptures (Psalm 111:9).

Acts 10:27-28 "And as he talked with him, he went in, and findeth many come together: and he said unto them, Ye yourselves know how it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to join himself or come unto one of another nation; and {yet} unto me hath God showed that I should not call any man common or unclean"

"Ye yourselves know" The people assembled knew well the awkwardness of the situation at hand. In Palestine, such mingling of Jews and Gentiles was taboo. "It was largely because of their carelessness in food matters that Gentiles were ritually unsafe people for a pious Jew to meet socially" (Bruce p. 222). "God showed"

What a relief and breath of fresh air to those Gentiles that heard this statement. Let us remember again that Peter had come to this conclusion on the basis of a necessary inference. God had not specifically said anything about "people", but from all the evidence presented by God and the events that followed, Peter necessarily inferred that God was teaching him the above truth. Consider the wonderful attitude displayed by Peter. He would do whatever God commanded, even though it might not make complete sense at the time. He was willing to change-when God changed, even if that change demanded that he discard centuries of ingrained ancestral traditions, and even if that change required him to believe and act contrary to the beliefs of his friends, family, or neighbors (Luke 14:26).

Stott notes, "Peter had just now repudiated both extreme and opposite attitudes which human beings have sometimes adopted towards one another. Peter refused both to be treated by Cornelius as if he were a god, and to treat Cornelius as if he were a dog" (p. 189). We can read the above passages without really understanding the full "impact" of a man from the Jewish race to be in the home of a Gentile. Edersheim notes the extreme lengths to which this ethnic division was pushed: "So terrible was the intolerance, that a Jewess was actually forbidden to give help to her heathen neighbor, when about to become a mother. If a heathen was invited to a Jewish house, he might not be left alone in the room, else every article of food or drink on the table was henceforth to be regarded as unclean" 1

Acts 10:29-30 "wherefore also I came without gainsaying, when I was sent for. I ask therefore with what intent ye sent for me" Peter had already been given some information by the messengers (10:22), he now asks Cornelius to give him a more detailed account of what the angel had said. Acts 10:30 "And Cornelius said, Four days ago, until this hour, I was keeping the ninth hour of prayer in my house; and behold, a man stood before me in bright apparel"

"Four days ago': On the first day the messengers had been dispatched. The second day they have arrived in Joppa, the third day they traveled back, and on the fourth day they had arrived in Caesarea. "This hour" That is, to this hour, it was now some four days later the same exact time of day at which Cornelius had seen the angel on the first day (10:3).

Acts 10:31-33 "and saith, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God. Send therefore to Joppa, and call unto thee Simon, who is surnamed Peter; he lodgeth in the house of Simon a tanner, by the sea side. Forthwith therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore we are all here present in the sight of God, to hear all things that have been commanded thee of the Lord"

"Well done that thou art come" "Been kind enough to come" (NASV). Cornelius expresses his gratitude for Peter's effort and willingness to come. "To hear all things that have been commanded thee of the Lord" "To listen to what the Lord has commanded you to say" (Wey). "Did ever a preacher of the gospel have a more promising audience than this?" (Bruce p. 223). At this point we must remind ourselves that Cornelius and his friends are manifesting wonderful attitudes and are willing to listen to anything that God says and all this before the Holy Spirit comes upon them. According to Calvinism, Cornelius (a lost man) should not even want the truth, and should not even be able to believe what is preached to him, prior to 10:44. Obviously, the doctrine of Total Hereditary Depravity is not taught in the Scriptures. Let us remember that the Holy Spirit did not come upon Cornelius and his company of friends and relatives to make them receptive to the gospel, because they are very receptive long before 10:44.

Acts 10:34 "And Peter opened his mouth and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons"

"I perceive" "I most certainly understand" (NASV). God is no respecter of persons" Peter had perceived this truth by necessary inference, the conclusion which was demanded from the events that had taken place in the past four days. "He means that God's attitude to people is not determined by any external criteria, such as their appearance, race, nationality, or class" (Stott pp. 189-190). Many of the Jews had been under the mistaken impression that God would save them, simply because they were of the right ethnic race (Matthew 3:7-9). This should also reveal that wealth cannot save you, neither can social status, and neither can the faith of your parents. The doctrine of Predestination finds itself in serious conflict with the above verse, because according to that doctrine, God does demonstrate partiality. See also (Romans 2:6-11).

Acts 10:35 "but in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is acceptable to Him"

"In every nation" Salvation is open to the citizens of all nations and cultures. "He that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness" Notice that there is something that a person must do to find favor with God. Peter does not believe in the doctrine of salvation by faith only, or grace only. Neither does Peter say that acceptance with God can be found by doing whatever comes naturally or simply following the impulses of one's heart. Stott observes, "The emphasis is that Cornelius' Gentile nationality was acceptable so that he had no need to become a Jew, not that his own righteousness was adequate so that he had no need to become a Christian. God is 'not indifferent of religions but indifferent of nations'. As Lenski asks: 'If his honest pagan convictions had been sufficient, why did he seek the synagogue? If the synagogue had been enough, why was Peter here?'" (p. 190). This verse infers that every nation needs the gospel. There is no culture, no matter how advanced, that protects people from becoming sinners. There is no nation or culture that can say, "We have our own religion, we don't need Jesus Christ." There is no cultural or ethnic trait that inherently keeps one from understanding the gospel message, and people from all nations and cultures can understand the Bible alike.

Acts 10:36 "The word which he sent unto the children of Israel, preaching good tidings of peace by Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all)" "Peter is thus saying, 'I'm going to tell you the word (doctrine) that is necessary for you to believe if you want to be saved'" (Reese p. 395)."He is Lord of all" Letting the audience know that Jesus was Lord not only of the Jews, but also of the Gentiles.

Acts 10:37 "that saying ye yourselves know, which was published throughout all Judaea, beginning from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached"

This indicates that Cornelius and his friends were already somewhat acquainted with the information circulating concerning Jesus of Nazareth. As Paul had said, the events surrounding the ministry of Jesus had not been done in a corner (Acts 26:26). "The Italian cohort must have been stationed in Caesarea for some time. It was more than twelve years previous that these things had happened" (Reese pp. 396-397). "Caesarea was in Palestine and all Palestine had learned of Jesus" (Boles p. 171). "Galilee was not far from Caesarea, and so Cornelius has likely heard of what happened there as well as what happened in Judea" (Reese p. 396).

Acts 10:38 "{even} Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with Him"

"How God anointed Him" Matthew 3:16-17; Luke 4:18. "Went about doing good" Which included teaching people and healing them of their various diseases (Matthew 4:23-24). "Healing all that were oppressed of the devil" Proving that He was Lord even in the Spiritual realm and that the Prince of darkness was no match for His power (Luke 11:19-22). The truth that the miracles demonstrated was that the Father was with Jesus and approved of His teaching (John 3:2).

Acts 10:39 "And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the country of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom also they slew, hanging Him on a tree" "And are therefore able to give firsthand evidence or testimony" (Stott p. 190) Acts 1:8. It is interesting to note that various so-called religious experts presently claim that the Gospels are falsified accounts of the life of Christ. In doing so they claim to know more about what Jesus actually said, did, and believed, than His own personal followers. Such men find themselves in the ridiculous position of claiming to know more about the facts--than the actual eyewitnesses to those events.

Acts 10:40-41 "Him God raised up the third day, and gave Him to be made manifest" "Granted that He should become visible" (NASV). Not to all the people, but unto witnesses that were chosen before of God, {even} to us, who ate and drank with Him after He rose from the dead" The official witnesses of the resurrection were those who ate and drank with Jesus after He arose, that is the apostles (Luke 24:33-44). Even though Jesus did appear to over 500 individuals (1 Cor. 15:6), many of his appearances were limited to the apostles. "Ate and drank" "Furnished the clearest possible proof that He was truly risen. It was not a phantom or ghost or apparition that the disciples saw" (Reese p. 399). It is clear that the apostles taught a bodily resurrection.

Acts 10:42 "And He charged us to preach unto the people, and to testify that this is He who is ordained of God {to be} the Judge of the living and the dead"

"He charged us" Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15ff. "The Judge of the living and the dead" Acts 17:30-31; 2 Cor. 5:10; John 5:22. It is a judgement that all will face. The above claim infers that Jesus presently has all authority (Matthew 28:18). If that is the case, then Jesus presently rules as King (Daniel 7:13-14)

Acts 10:43 "To Him bear all the prophets witness, that through His name every one that believeth on Him shall receive remission of sins"

"To Him bear all the prophets witness" The writings of the prophets back up the claims that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah (Acts 17:2-3; Luke 24:27; 44-45). "Everyone" Jew or Gentile. No predestination here. "That believeth on Him" Faith in this passage is connected with the remission of sins, and so is repentance (Luke 24:47); and baptism (Acts 2:38). Therefore the faith mentioned in this passage is much more than just an inwardly held conviction (John 12:42-43). The faith mentioned here naturally includes obeying whatever Divinely given conditions must be met to be saved. "Shall receive remission of sins" Jesus is not only the Judge, He is also the Savior.

Acts 10:44 "While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all them that heard the word" Notice how this outpouring of the Holy Spirit greatly differs from what modern denominations teach about the work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit did not fall upon the family of Cornelius to make them receptive to the gospel message, seeing that they are very receptive before this happens (10:33). The Holy Spirit did not fall upon them to produce faith in their heart, because they already believed in God 10:33. The Holy Spirit did not fall upon them to forgive them of their sins, for they still had to be baptized in water after this outpouring, that is, they still had their sins (10:47-48; 22:16; 2:38). It is clear then that the outpouring of the Spirit on this occasion is not for the primary benefit of Cornelius and his family, but rather for the benefit of Peter and the other Christians of a Jewish background (10:47; 11:17-18). It was proof positive that a Gentile could be saved, without first becoming a Jew, that is, submitting to circumcision. Reese notes, "In time Peter will have to explain his 'association' with these Gentiles to the Christians at Jerusalem. And in that defense Peter will base his whole case on God's intervention and clear direction in the whole transaction. Peter's ultimate and conclusive argument is based on the fact that the Holy Spirit came upon Cornelius and his friends" (p. 401).

The reader should note the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is the rare exception in the cases of conversion (Acts 8:12ff; 10:45). The only other case being the outpouring mentioned in Acts 2 upon the apostles (11:15-17). What is not the exception, in fact, what we find in all the cases of conversion is that people were commanded to be baptized in water (Acts 10:47; 2:38; 8:12; 36-38; 22:16).

Acts 10:45 "And they of the circumcision that believed were amazed, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Spirit" It is hard for us to appreciate the amazement caused by this event. Here were Christians from a Jewish background, who had been told all their lives that Gentiles were dogs, fuel for the fires of hell, sub-humans, and now they see that Jews and Gentiles stand before God on an equal basis. "They of the circumcision" The Christians of Jewish background who had come with Peter, that is, the brethren from Joppa (10:23). '"The considerations which caused the amazement were: first, that the Holy Spirit was 'poured out' upon them directly from God, as it had never before been on any but the apostles, and secondly, that this unusual gift was bestowed on Gentiles" (Reese p. 402).

Acts 10:46 "For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter" Along with prophecy (19:6), the visible evidence that the Holy Spirit had come upon them. Again, the tongues are understandable languages (Acts 2:6-11).

Acts 10:47 "Can any man forbid the water, that these should not be baptized, who have received the Holy Spirit as well as we?" "Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized" (NASV). Peter knew that baptizing these Gentiles would be viewed as a very controversial event, but He appeals to the events happening. Peter knew why the Spirit was given, to remove all doubts in the minds of Jewish Christians that Gentiles could be Christians too, without becoming Jews first. It is very popular in many denominational circles to argue that the baptism mentioned in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19), the baptism linked with salvation (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38), is Holy Spirit baptism, not water baptism. The words of Peter completely contradict such an assertion. The baptism commanded of all, Jew or Gentile, the baptism of the Great Commission, is water baptism. This is the one baptism of Ephesians 4:5 to which all men must submit in order to be saved.

Peter recognized that what fell on the household of Cornelius was the same type of thing that fell upon the apostles (11:15-17).

"Some neo-Pentecostal writers in this century have attempted to use this verse to prove that every Christian receives the baptism with the Holy Spirit. The attempt is based on the explanation of the word 'we' as being the six Jewish Christians rather than 'we apostles'" (Reese p. 404). From 11:15-17, is it clear that Peter has the apostles in mind. The Holy Spirit only came upon the apostles at the "beginning", that is on the day of Pentecost (2:14,43). In addition, the Holy Spirit did not fall upon every convert, even in the first century (Acts 8:12ff).

Acts 10:48 "And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days"

"He commanded" The baptism that is commanded is water baptism. As in Saul's conversion, this example of conversion also strongly advocates the necessity of baptism, because these individuals were commanded to be baptized, even after they were miraculously filled with the Holy Spirit, indicating that the outpouring of the Spirit did not forgive their sins, for baptism is for the remission of sins. The baptism "in the name of Jesus Christ", is water baptism. Therefore water baptism is the baptism linked with salvation (Acts 2:38). Notice that they were baptized immediately. "Neither Cornelius, nor Peter, nor any other inspired preacher ever indicated that the immersion of a penitent believer was a non-essential, an optional extra, to their salvation! How different from today's 'faith-only' preacher!" (Reese p. 405). The outpouring of the Holy Spirit was not viewed as a substitute for water baptism. "Then prayed they him to tarry certain days" So that Peter could instruct them concerning their new faith. Notice: People who were truly converted were eager to learn (Acts 2:42). Something is wrong with the person who is baptized, and then must be encouraged to attend services and study their Bible. The fact that Peter and these six accompanying brethren accept the invitation to stay, proves that Peter has fully accepted God's will concerning the Gentiles.



1     Sketches of Jewish Social Life. pp. 27,28.