Cornelius Receives the Gospel: Acts 10:1-22.
Acts chapter ten records the conversion of Cornelius. This is the longest conversion narrative in the book of Acts. This event took place about ten years after Pentecost. The persecution of the church helped the spread of the gospel to Samaria and to the gentile world. God does all things in his time and according to his eternal plan. Salvation is a divine work of grace. Cornelius was a Roman army officer who lived in Caesarea. It was coastal city 30 miles north of Joppa. He was a devout man who feared God. He gave generously to charity and was a man attended the synagogue. One day Cornelius had a vision of an angel of God. He was instructed to call Peter who was staying with Simon, the leather worker. He immediately obeyed the Lord and sent two of his servants and a devout soldier to Joppa. God was preparing Cornelius and Peter for this event. Peter went up on the housetop to pray. He saw in a vision the sky opened and something like a large sheet coming down from heaven. In the sheet were all sorts of animals, reptiles and birds. Then a voice said to him, “Get up Peter, kill and eat them” (10:11-13). Peter reacted with horror at the idea of eating unclean foods. But when the non Jewish Cornelius sent the servant for him, Peter understood the message. God is able to make all who believes in Christ, clean. The gentiles were considered unclean by Jews. But there is no difference either in condemnation or in salvation when it comes to the gospel (Rom 3:9, 23). The gospel knows no ethnic or religious boundaries. Peter’s visions, reminds us that what God calls clean, we have no right to call unclean (10:15). There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:1). God has made scarlet sins as white as snow.
Peter’s Message: Acts 10:23-43.
Peter went to Caesarea where Cornelius was waiting for him. When Cornelius fell down to worship him, Peter stopped him because only God should be worshiped. He said “Stand up! I am a man just like you”. Cornelius and his family are ready to hear the gospel. Then Peter presented the gospel to a captive audience. A seeking Savior will always find the seeking sinner (Luke 19:10). Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be satisfied (Matt 5:6). Peter summarized the historical facts about the life, death, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He is appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead. Jesus was approved by God and anointed by the Holy Spirit. His teaching was accompanied by signs and wonders (10:38). The disciples are the witnesses of his death and resurrection. Everyone who believes in Jesus receives forgiveness of sins through his name (10:43). God shows no partiality, but freely receives all who believe in Christ. Someone has said "The cross of Christ is the great equalizer, yet at the cross, the offer of forgiveness is made to all without distinction". Peter did not quote any Old Testament passage to this gentile audience. His message remains consistent. God shows no partiality but freely receives all who believe in Christ. At the cross, the offer of forgives is made to all who believe in Christ. Jesus is Lord of all and his gospel is available to all.
The Holy Spirit Falls on the Gentiles: Acts 10:44-48.
While Peter was speaking, the Holy Spirit fell on all those who heard the gospel. The Jewish brothers were amazed that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out upon the gentiles and they were speaking in tongues. They probably thought that gentiles should become Jewish convert first to receive the Holy Spirit. Gentile believers are now on an equal footing with Jewish believers. This does not suggest that every new believer gives evidence of salvation by speaking in tongues. The Holy Spirit came on Jews, came on Samaritans and gentiles to unite them into the body of Christ which is the church (1 Cor 12:13). It was the unique events in the transition period of the early church. There would have been good reason to doubt the salvation of gentile believers if their faith was not accompanied by the baptism of the spirit and speaking in tongues. Peter recognized that these gentiles were saved because they gave evidence of their salvation (10:47). They were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ to show the world that they had been identified with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. They are fellow believers in Christ Jesus. The early church faithfully obeyed the great commission. Pray that God would help us to obey the great commission with joy.