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Acts: Chapter 10

Categories: ActsTags: 5.5 min read

In this chapter we see how Peter is shown that salvation is not just for the Jews but for all people who believe in God and his purpose with mankind through the life, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Acts 10:1-2 introduces us to a centurion called Cornelius. A centurion was a commander in the Roman army. He would be in charge of 100 men and these particular men were part of an Italian regiment. A regiment usually consisted of about 400-600 men and these were probably men who had been born in Italy. The name Cornelius is a Latin name so Cornelius was probably a Roman who was stationed at Caesarea which was mainly a Roman garrison on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea in Judea. He was a Gentile (non-Jew) and, with his family and servants, was supportive of the Jewish faith believing in the one God.

Acts 10:3-8 Cornelius was praying at about the ninth hour of the day (that is 3pm). This was one of the usual prayer times for the Jews. The vision that Cornelius had was that of an angel, a messenger from God, who told him that all his prayers and good works were acceptable to the God of the Jews and that he should contact Peter who would tell him what he should do. It seems that although Cornelius was aware of the Jewish beliefs he had not yet heard of the teachings of Jesus and needed to be directed to hear about the saving name of Jesus from the apostle Peter. He did not know Peter but he knew that he should do what God told him to do. He acted immediately in sending for Peter.

Acts 10:9-16 The Jews had two set times for prayer, one in the morning and one around 3pm, but the more devout would also pray at midday. The rooftop was a quiet and secluded place to go to pray while Peter waited for a meal to be prepared. God used this moment to give Peter a vision of the important role he must play in teaching all people about Jesus. In the vision he saw all kinds of ‘four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air.’ But many of these animals were forbidden as food under the strict Jewish dietary laws and Peter was surprised when a voice told him to kill and eat any of the creatures presented to him. He had always followed the Jewish laws and never eaten anything that was considered unclean. Although Peter realised that his vision was a message from God he still resisted going against Jewish laws. But he was told that nothing is unclean or impure unless God declares it to be so. The vision was shown to Peter three times to ensure that he realised its importance.

Acts 10:17-23 While Peter was still puzzling over the vision, and wondering what it meant, he was made aware of the arrival of the messengers from Cornelius. Until he met them he did not realise that they were Gentiles (not Jewish). Peter must have wondered why he was told to go with them to see Cornelius, who was a Roman soldier, as the Jews did not usually visit Gentiles. However, when Peter was told that Cornelius was a God-fearing man he knew that he must follow God’s instructions. Peter did not just invite the three men into the house but treated them as guests in the same way as he would have treated Jewish guests. By doing this Peter went against the customs and traditions of Israel, but not against God’s word. So Peter and some other Christian believers went with the three men travelling from Joppa to Caesarea. This would have taken them about 2 – 3 days.

Acts 10:24-29 Cornelius had faith in God and was prepared to listen to a man he had never met because he had been told by the angel that Peter’s teaching was important. Cornelius thought that Peter was a special man of God and ‘fell down at his feet to worship him’ but Peter assured him that he was just an an ordinary man. When he went into the house he found that there was a large gathering of people waiting to listen to his teaching. Peter then explained why he felt able to enter a Gentile household for under Jewish laws it was forbidden. He told the people that God had shown him that no-one should be called impure or unclean if their heart was right with God.

Acts 10:30-33 Cornelius described his vision to Peter and explained that he and all his household were waiting to ‘listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us.’

Acts 10:34-42 Peter began his teaching by telling everyone that he too had learned a lesson. He had been shown that God accepts people from every nation who fear him and do what is right. Peter goes on to tell them about Jesus of Nazareth who came as the Son of God to save people from their sinful human nature. Peter told everyone about the life of Jesus, how he healed the sick and taught the people about God’s purpose with the world. Peter explained that Jesus was crucified and buried in a tomb but on the third day he was raised from the dead by God and is the only person who God has appointed to judge humanity because he overcame human nature.

Acts 10:43-48 Peter emphasised the importance of believing in Jesus as the risen Son of God and in following his teaching. Peter finished his preaching by showing that he understood God’s purpose was with both Jews and Gentiles. ‘Everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.’
While Peter was speaking the Holy Spirit came upon everyone who was listening. During the 1st century believers received the gifts of the spirit to help them with the work they had to do but, as time went by, and the life and teachings of Christ were written down, then these spirit gifts stopped. However, the requirement for baptism, that is full immersion of the body, was necessary as a symbol of dying to the old life and being raised to the new. The Jewish Christians, who had accompanied Peter, were amazed that Gentiles should receive the Holy Spirit. Peter pointed out that if Cornelius and his household had been given the blessing of the Holy Spirit then they should also be baptised into the saving name of Jesus.

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