ACTS OF THE APOSTLES
Chapter 10:11-19 – Peter and Cornelius
The meaning of the word “Gentiles” is multitudes or people. In our study we will find it means those who are not Jews. Jesus told the disciples that they would be witnesses unto the uttermost part of the earth. That would mean they would witness to Gentiles.
In Acts 9:43 it tells that Peter went to live with a man who was a tanner. That meant he worked with hides of animals. Jews felt that made people unclean to do that. Peter was learning a lot of lessons.
CORNELIUS – Acts 10:1-8. This man was a centurion which means he was a commander of 100 soldiers in the Roman army. He was not a Jew, but apparently he was aware of the Jewish teachings. He was a devout man – one who reverenced God. He even gave money to the poor and prayed to God. He was walking in all the light he had, so the Lord was about to give him more light. This man had a vision at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. An angel appeared to him and said that the Lord knew all about him. Then he was told to send men to Joppa and have Peter come to his house. He said Peter would tell him what he ought to do. Right away, Cornelius called two servants and a soldier close to him, to go and get Peter.
PETER – Acts 10:9-16 – We can see how the Lord worked on “both ends of the line.” The next day, before the men reached the house where Peter was staying, he was on the housetop praying. They had flat-roofed houses. This was at noon. While there he became very hungry. While they were preparing the meal, Peter fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and a sheet knit at 4 corners descending. This came from heaven and was spread out – like a world-wide outreach. On this sheet were all kinds of fourfooted beast of the earth and wild beasts, and creeping things, as well as fowls of the air. The ones the Jews were taught were clean were all mixed up with those which were unclean. A voice came to him saying, “Rise, Peter, kill and eat.” Peter said, “Not so, Lord, for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.” V. 15 is a verse that must have startled Peter – “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.” What do you suppose God was telling Peter? This same sheet was lowered three times.
THE MESSENGERS ARRIVED – Acts 10:17-22. Peter didn’t know what this all meant and while he was thinking about it, those men who had been sent to have Peter come to Caesarea to meet with Cornelius, arrived. V. 19 says Peter thought on the vision. It was then the Holy Spirit told him to go with those men not doubting a thing. They told Peter why they had come. Notice in V. 22 that Cornelius wanted to hear words of him.
PETER WENT WITH THEM TO CAESAREA – Acts 10:23-33. Peter had them spend the night, and so the next day Peter and six brethren (11:12) went with them. Cornelius was all ready for him, in fact he called his relatives in to be there when Peter would arrive. When Cornelius met Peter, he fell at his feet and worshiped him, but Peter didn’t allow that. He said – “Stand up, I myself also am a man.” Peter cleared the air by saying in V. 28 that it was unlawful for a Jew to keep company with those of another nation. Then he said, “But God hath showed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.” How had the Lord showed him? It was by that vision of the sheet which he had seen on the housetop. He asked why Cornelius had sent for him. Peter learned of Cornelius and the vision God had given him and the message to send for Peter.
PETER’S SERMON – Acts 10:34-43. The first thing Peter said, was, “I perceive that God is no respecter of persons.” He preached Jesus to them. V. 37 showed that they must have heard about Jesus, His life, His death, and His resurrection. Peter declared that he among others had seen Jesus after His resurrection. Then in V. 43, he said that through Jesus’ name whosoever (anybody) who believes would have their sins forgiven. The “whosoever” included all those in the house that day, and it includes you and me.
THE RESULT – Acts 10:44-48. These people must have immediately believed Peter’s message, for while he was still speaking to them about Jesus, the Holy Ghost fell on them just like He did on the believers on the Day of Pentecost. Remember that it says in John 14:17 that the Holy Ghost is not given to the unsaved. How did Peter and the 6 brethren know they had received the Holy Ghost? V. 46 says, “For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.” Then they were baptized in water in the name of Jesus. Peter stayed there for awhile after that.
PETER’S EXPLANATION OF THIS EVENT TO THE APOSTLES AND BRETHREN – Acts 11:1-18. This was all new to the Jews, that Gentiles could hear and believe the Word of God without going through Jewish forms and ceremonies. Peter had just preached Jesus at the house of Cornelius, and didn’t say a word about keeping all those forms and ceremonies. He didn’t speak even about the Law of Moses. V. 3 They questioned Peter about why he would eat with those Gentiles. Peter told them all about what had happened, about his vision, and what the Lord had told him. He also told what the men had said about the vision Cornelius had. V. 14 is important. Here we learn that the angel had told Cornelius that Peter would tell words whereby he and all his house should be saved. Then he told about the result of his message. Peter’s conclusion was – V. 17 – that they had received the like gift they had received on the day of Pentecost – so Peter couldn’t withstand God. Since God chose to do this, it was right. They all listened and agreed that God had given salvation to the Gentiles.
CONCLUSION – In order for any one to be saved (Jew or Gentile) they must believe the message of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Cornelius was a good man. He had a good report, but he needed to hear about Jesus and receive the gift of eternal life. Have you done this? Acts 10:43 – gives that grand word “Whosoever.”
Continued in the next issue – September Glorious Gospel