|Acts Chapter 10|
Translation by William E. Paul
by Charles Dailey
(Black underlined words match words in the Bible text.)
The good Doctor Luke has described the beginning of the church, the kingdom, in Jerusalem where Peter first used his keys. We have seen it growing there and because of persecution, begin spreading to adjoining areas including Galilee, Samaria and the Coast. In all of these areas, those responding are, at least loosely, connected with Judaism.
Jesus had promised the message would be to all of the nations and that was stated clearly just before he ascended. Luke 24:47. The Lord had prepared Saul, his specialist for the Gentiles, and described the coming task - to take the Gospel to them.
God has now positioned Peter, the man with the Kingdom keys (Matthew 16:19), at Joppa, a short distance from Caesarea, the Roman capital of the area. Beginning at this point, Luke devotes more words to the opening of the Kingdom for the Gentiles than he did when Peter opened the door for the Jews.
|1) Now there was a certain man in Caesarea named Cornelius. He was [a military man] in charge of one hundred soldiers and belonged to the "battalion of Italy."||– Cornelius is now introduced to the reader. He had a Latin name, and his troops were Latin and very loyal to the Roman government. They compare to the U.S. Marines. Many regular Roman troops were from the conquered areas.|
|2) He was very devoted [to his religious principles] and had great respect for God, along with the members of his household. He gave [money] liberally to poor people and prayed to God regularly.|| – Cornelius' religious principles included regular prayer time, regular giving to the poor and regular instruction for his household.
- God regards those who care for the needy. Proverbs 14:31.
|3) About three o'clock one afternoon [ Note: This is based on Jewish time calculations; if Roman time were employed, it would have been 9 AM ], while he was wide awake, he had a vision in which an angel of God came to him [and spoke his name] "Cornelius."||
– Cornelius kept the Jewish time of prayer.
- The details are so vivid that it seems Luke talked to Cornelius. Luke later spent time in Caesarea while Paul was in prison there. Acts 24:1.
- The angel is called a man in verse 30.
|4) As he stared at [the angel] in fright, he asked, "What is it, Lord?" [ Note: The word "Lord" here could also be translated "Sir," and its correct rendering depends on whether or not Cornelius understood the angel to be from God. ] And the angel replied, "Your [continual] prayers and [generous] gifts to poor people have not gone unnoticed before God.|| – God heard this unsaved man's prayers. Acts 11:13.
- When the report is repeated in 11:13, the statement is added, "Send to Joppa for Simon Peter and bring him so he can speak words to you that will bring salvation to you and your household." The good works of Cornelius had gained God's attention, but he was not saved by them.
|5) And now send men to Joppa to get Simon Peter;||– Philip the evangelist lived right in Caesarea, but Peter was to open the door for the Gentiles and the coming dissension about them would need the authority of an apostle. God had moved his man Peter close to Caesarea.|
|6) he is staying with Simon, a tanner [of animal hides], whose house is close to the [Mediterranean] sea."||– A small, flat-roofed house near the beach is still shown to tourists at Joppa.|
|7) When the angel who spoke with him had left, Cornelius called two of his house servants and a soldier who was devoted [to God], men who worked for him regularly,||– These God-fearing men could relate to the importance of the journey.|
|8) and after explaining the whole situation to them, he sent them on to Joppa.||– Cornelius was very open about this communication from God through the angel. He was not embarrassed.|
|9) As they were traveling the next day, and were coming close to the city [of Joppa], Peter went up about noontime [Note: Or 6 AM if calculating by Roman time], to the top of the house to pray [Note: The roofs of houses were flat areas, often used for resting, meals, prayer, etc.].|| – The messengers left promptly and traveled into the night hours to cover the 30 miles by noon.
- The impeccable timing of God!
- The housetop would afford some privacy. The rooftop was flat with a short wall at the edge for safety. Deuteronomy 22:8. It would be like an elevated patio.
|10) He became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while lunch was being prepared he was overcome by a "trance" [i.e., a semi-conscious, vision-like state]||– The Lord used hunger to get Peter focused on the subject of food and then gave him a vision about it. We see the Lord's timing for this important revelation.|
|11) and could see the sky open up and a huge sheet-like container being lowered to the ground by its four corners.|| – |
|12) It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, crawling [reptiles] and birds.||– While Peter was hungry, he had a vision of abundant food!|
|13) A voice then directed Peter with the words, "Get up; kill and eat [one of] them."||– Peter is invited to a smorgasbord of non-kosher meats.|
|14) But Peter answered, "No, Lord, I cannot. I have never eaten any such ordinary or [ceremonially] unfit creatures."||– "I only eat Kosher food." He was disagreeing with the Lord again! He was experienced at disputing with him. Matthew 16:22; Luke 22:33.|
|15) So, the voice spoke again, saying, "What God has made [ceremonially] acceptable, you must not consider ordinary [and therefore defiled]."|| – The categories of acceptable and ordinary, clean and unclean, are defined in Leviticus 11:1 and Deuteronomy 14:3 and following.
- Much food on our shelves has been marked as Kosher. Look on packages and jars for the marks. A K stands for Kosher and the U surrounded by a circle designates approval by the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations.
|16) And after this was done three times, the huge sheet-like container was lifted back up into the sky.||– Three times is significant for Peter. He denied Jesus three times and was questioned by Jesus three times following that. John 21:17.|
|17) Now while Peter was much perplexed over the meaning of this vision, the men sent by Cornelius, having learned where Simon [the tanner] lived, arrived at the gate [of his house],|| – This command to "kill and eat" contradicted his upbringing as well as the Old Testament.
- Just as the vision concluded, three Gentiles arrived at the gate and inquired for Peter. The lesson from God had this little test attached.
|18) and asked if Simon Peter were staying there.|
|19) While Peter was thinking about [the meaning of] the vision, the Holy Spirit said to him, "Look, there are three men [here] looking for you.||– While the messengers were knocking downstairs, Peter was being told how to respond. He had no idea they were Gentiles. Just how the Spirit communicated to Peter, we are not told.|
|20) Go downstairs and [then] leave with them. Do not worry about anything because I have sent them [to you]."|| – For all Peter knew, the men had come to take him deep-sea fishing.
- The important point is "I have sent them," so go with them. When he found out who the messengers were, he certainly had to exercise his faith in God.
|21) So, Peter went down to the men and said, "I am the one you are looking for. Why have you come here?"||– One man at the gate is a Roman soldier! Luke is writing to a Roman official.|
|22) They said, "Cornelius, a [military] man in charge of one hundred soldiers, [and] a man who does what is right, [and] who respects God and who has a good reputation among all the Jews [who know him], was urged by God through a holy angel to have you come to his house so he could hear you speak [about salvation, See 11:14]."|| – Their boss had a good reputation among the Jewish people.
- These men also feared God.
- The message of God is embedded in human words. God does not communicate the message of salvation directly to men's minds.
|23) So, Peter invited them to stay [for the night].||– The test has begun. Gentiles are lodging at a Jewish home (albeit a marginal one because of the tannery.)|
|The next day Peter got up and went with the men, [who were] accompanied by certain [Christian] brothers from Joppa.|| – Traveling with Gentiles was also against Jewish practice.
- Peter was now "cashing in" on the credibility he had built at Joppa. These six (11:12) Jewish brothers had enough confidence to travel with Peter and the Gentile messengers.
|24) The following day they arrived at Caesarea where they found Cornelius, gathered with his relatives and close friends, waiting for them.||– Cornelius had extensive influence with his relatives and friends.|
|25) When Peter entered [the house] Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet [and attempted] to worship him.|| – Entering a Gentile's home was also against Jewish practice.
- Though a military leader, yet Cornelius was humble.
|26) But Peter lifted him up, saying, "I am just a man, myself."||– Only God is to be worshiped.|
|27) As they talked, Peter went into the house and found many people gathered together [there].|| |
|28) And he said to them, "You people know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with, or even go near a person from another [i.e., non-Jewish] country, and yet God showed me that I should not consider any person ordinary or [ceremonially] unacceptable.|| – Peter explains this historic event in the light of his earlier vision. He understands the message of the sheet-like container.
- God had intervened to adjust Peter's practices. Now he will associate with non-Jews, but God has more steps for Peter.
|29) So, I came [here] when I was sent for, without objecting. [Now,] why have you sent for me?"|| – But Peter had objected to the request to eat non-kosher meat.
- Peter asked Cornelius to spell out his request.
|30) Cornelius [then] said, "Four days ago, when I was at home, praying at the appointed hour (i.e., three o'clock in the afternoon) [See verse 3], suddenly a man in bright clothing appeared in front of me.|| – Parts of four days had passed. We would say three days ago. This same rule applies to Christ being in the grave three days. Verse 40. He was there parts of three days.
- An angel appeared to Cornelius while it was the Holy Spirit who spoke to Peter. Acts 10:19.
|31) He said to me, 'Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and God has taken account of your giving money to poor people.||– God hears the prayer of the unsaved, particularly those searching for the Truth and living by the light they have.|
|32) Therefore, send [men] to Joppa and ask for Simon Peter to come to you. He is staying at the house of Simon, a tanner [of animal hides] who lives close to the [Mediterranean] sea.'|| |
|33) So, I proceeded to send [my men] for you and you have done the right thing in coming [here]. Now, therefore, we are all assembled here before God, to hear everything you were commanded by the Lord [to tell us]."|| – Cornelius recognized that God was present in a special way.
- He also acknowledged Peter's inspiration and authority.
Notice the involvement of God:
|34) Then Peter began to speak. He said, "I perceive that God truly does not show favoritism toward anyone,|| – The great revelation through these events: Gentiles can be Christians, too.
|35) but that whoever respects Him and does what is right, whatever country he may be from, is acceptable to Him.||– This new-for-Peter truth gives meaning to Acts 2:39.|
|36) He sent His message [first] to the Israelites; [it involved] preaching the good news through Jesus Christ (who is Lord of all).|| – "To the Jew first . . . "
- He is Lord of all, not of Jews only.
|37) You yourselves know [all this, and] how this message was proclaimed throughout Judea, having begun from Galilee after the preaching of the immersion [taught and practiced] by John.|| – The message must have spread orally, as none of the four gospels had been written by this time.
- Jesus' ministry began in Galilee. Matthew 4:12-17.
- John's immersion was for a different purpose. It is not the same as Christian baptism.
|38) This message was about Jesus from Nazareth and how God specially chose Him [and signified it] by giving Him the Holy Spirit and power. He traveled all over doing good [for people] and healing everyone who was [being] oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.|| – Jesus had the Spirit without limitations. John 3:34.
- Power over the devil was one of Jesus' credentials.
|39) And we [apostles] are witnesses of all that He did, both in the region where Jews lived and in Jerusalem [as well]. But they killed Him by hanging Him on a tree [i.e., the cross].|| – This witness role stems from Acts 1:8.
- The city of Jerusalem is a key to Luke's Gospel. See notes below Acts 1:14.
- Peter does not excuse the Jewish leaders.
|40) However, God raised Him up the third day and made it possible for Him to appear [following His resurrection],||– The central fact of the faith is the resurrection.|
|41) not to everyone, but to us [apostles] who were specially chosen by God to be witnesses [of His resurrected body], and to eat and drink with Him after He arose from the dead.|| – Jesus appeared to those who knew him best.
- Jesus was not an apparition. The Apostles had eaten with him.
|42) And He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that He [i.e., Jesus] is the One whom God ordained to be the Judge of people who are [now] alive and those who have [already] died.|| – Cornelius could relate when he heard the word commanded.
- Cornelius may be stationed in Caesarea to protect the Roman judge. He understands the finality of judgments.
- We will be judged, dead or alive.
|43) All the prophets have testified [in their writings], that it is through the name of Jesus that every person who believes in Him will receive the forgiveness of sins."|| – Jewish sacred literature told of his coming and bringing forgiveness of sins. Jeremiah 31:34. This group must have known and believed the Jewish prophets.
- Faith, not birth, is the key to right standing with God.
- This is like Acts 2:38.
|44) While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit descended upon all those who were listening to this message [i.e., Cornelius and his household].||
– The heavenly verification of Peter's words came immediately.
- On other occasions the Apostles conferred the gifts such as tongues, but the point here was to convince the Jewish brethren of God's will, so the gift came directly from God.
|45) And the believers of Jewish descent, who had come with Peter, were amazed [when they saw] that the gift of the Holy Spirit had [now] been poured out on the Gentiles also.||– The prime purpose of the gifts was accomplished: the Jewish brethren were amazed. This was the lynchpin evidence that Peter would need to defend his actions before his brethren back at Jerusalem.|
|46) For [as evidence of it] they heard them speaking in [other] languages [supernaturally] and lifting up God [in praise].||– Perhaps this group of Italians (verse 1) were speaking Coptic, a language of Egypt that everyone present would know they could not speak. Or perhaps they were speaking Aramaic, the language of the Jewish brethren. The evidence of God's hand was irrefutable.|
|Peter then said, 47) "Who can keep these people [i.e., Cornelius' household] from being immersed in water now that they have received the Holy Spirit just like we [apostles] have?" [See 2:4].||– The evidence had been presented directly from heaven that Gentiles were acceptable to God. The next logical step is they can be immersed for the forgiveness of sins. Verse 43.|
|48) So, Peter commanded them to be immersed in the name of Jesus Christ. Then Cornelius and his household asked Peter to stay on for a number of days.|| – It appears that Peter commanded the Jewish brethren to immerse them. They were actually participating in this momentous event.
- The Jews staying with Cornelius and eating soon caused trouble among the brethren at Jerusalem. Acts 11:2ff.
- Peter no doubt stayed to teach more about Christ.