Acts 10: 24-48

Written by kathleen on Jun 07, 2015 in - No Comments

Acts 10:24-48   

A New Place – Same Word

Peter defends his faith!  It wasn’t going to be easy!

How do you begin each day? A Jewish man would begin every day with a prayer thanking God that he was not a slave, a Gentile, or a woman.

A basic part of the Jewish religion in the days of the early church was an oath that promised that one would never help a Gentile under any circumstances, such as giving directions if they were asked. But it went even as far as refusing to help a Gentile woman at the time of her most need – when she was giving birth – because the result would only be bringing another Gentile into the world.

If a Jew married a Gentile, the Jewish community would have a funeral for the Jew and consider them dead. It was thought that to even enter the house of a Gentile made a Jew unclean before God.

But the Gentiles could give it as good as they got from the Jews. Gentiles despised Jews as much and considered them weird and believed that they were evil plotters who worshipped pigs. Their reasoning was; After all, Jews refused to eat pork, so they must worship pigs!  All of this changed with the spread of the gospel. Christianity was the first religion to disregard racial, cultural and national limitations as well as bringing women’s rights into focus. Gal 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

 Continuing with the introduction of the gospel to the gentiles;

24 And the following day they entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting for them, and had called together his relatives and close friends.

25 As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. 26 But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I myself am also a man.”

Cornelius sends servants to get a man he has never met; knowing that the man is a Jew and by tradition would have nothing to do with a Gentile like Cornelius. Despite all that, Cornelius was waiting for them in faith!

Cornelius didn’t know Peter, but must have thought him to be a special man of God, so he fell down at his feet as to worship him. This reaction was understandable, but wrong!

Do you know people still do that in Rome today? In St. Peter’s Basilica, they line up in front of Michelangelo’s statue to kiss the feet of Peter. Over the centuries, the statue has been kissed so many times that the big toe on Peter’s right foot is missing. Besides it being wrong. It’s not healthy. People can get “toe-mane” poisoning! Then they have to call a “toe” truck!

Why is it we worship people? Recognizing them for accomplishments is one thing; but so many times we elevate and idolize people and it really should not happen. Peter instinctively knew this. He knew his frailties, he knew his weaknesses, and he knew only One is worthy of worship; his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ  Peter knew he didn’t need this type of reverence so he corrected Cornelius by saying, “Stand up; I myself am also a man.”.

27 And as he talked with him, he went in and found many who had come together. (1st home Bible study) 28 Then he said to them, “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean. 29 Therefore I came without objection as soon as I was sent for. I ask, then, for what reason have you sent for me?

Entering Cornelius’ house, Peter explains why he came.

He went in is one of the shortest, yet most important passages of this section. Peter is actually entering the house of a Gentile something   that Jewish customs and traditions strictly prohibited. By entering a Gentile’s home, Peter is showing that his heart and mind have changed, and that he has learned the lesson of the vision of the great sheet.

Peter feels he must explain why he, a Jew (who was also a Christian) entered a Gentile’s house. So, he explains the message he received in the vision, realizing that God wasn’t only (or even primarily) talking about food in the vision. In saying “I should not call any man common or unclean,” Peter understood that the vision was about people, not food.

But the principle can still relate to food. As believers we are not under any obligation to keep a kosher diet. How we eat may be better or worse from a health perspective, but it doesn’t make us any more right with God. (Many teach this today)

Jesus spoke of this principle: Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not enter his heart, but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods? (Mark 7:19).

Paul knew this principle: I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself (Romans 14:14).

30 So Cornelius said,  “Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, 31 and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your alms are remembered in the sight of God.

Have you ever heard people say God doesn’t hear the prayers of unbelievers? This passage says otherwise, for although Cornelius was not yet a believer, an angel appeared to him saying God had heard his prayers.

32 Send therefore to Joppa and call Simon here, whose surname is Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea. When he comes, he will speak to you.’ 33 So I sent to you immediately, and you have done well to come. Now therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God.”

Peter walked in and Cornelius said, “We’re ready to hear!

34 Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. 35 But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. 36 The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ that He is Lord of all 37 that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached:

3 things to understand from this bible study:

1st God is not a respecter of persons. He doesn’t care if you are intellectually brilliant or if you flunked kindergarten four times, if you spend eight hours in prayer or if you haven’t prayed in eight months. God is not a respecter of people. He’s a lover of people. This is the foundation for Peter’s understanding that the gospel should go forth to Gentiles. This statement goes completely against the prevailing Jewish thought that God certainly did show partiality, towards the Jews and against the Gentiles.

2nd Peter’s point in saying but in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him is not to imply that men like Cornelius were already right with God and don’t need to become Christians. Instead, the point is that a person need not feel excluded from God because of their national background; economic status; or ethnic group; God only sees the heart!

3rd.  “The word which was proclaimed” was the Word that became flesh Jesus Christ! (John 1)

38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. 39 And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree.

40 Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, 41 not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. 42 And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead.                             

43 To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.”

Why did Peter use the phrase, “Hanged on a tree”? Why didn’t he just say, “Who they killed”? The Jewish method of execution was by stoning. It was the Romans or the Gentiles who used crucifixion. So by using this phrase, Peter was saying, “There’s no room for anti-Semitism. All men are guilty—Jew and Gentile alike!

Peter finishes with giving an understanding of the broadness of God’s promise of salvation: Whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins. Note it carefully: Whoever believes! Jew or Gentile! Black or white, Man or woman, Rich or poor! This is why Jesus would say in John 3:16-17 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. 45 And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.

NOTICE: When did the Spirit move? When Peter spoke the Word! There was no mumbo-jumbo. There was no seminar entitled, “How to Speak in Tongues.” It was simply when Peter taught the Word that the Spirit began to move.

There are people who say about our church, “Your church spends too much time teaching and not enough time moving in the Spirit.”  My answer to them is that the biblical pattern is that of the Spirit moving through the teaching of the Word.

This message had great preparation. Peter was prepared by the Holy Spirit, and those at Cornelius’ house were prepared to hear the message Peter brought; there was anticipation of what was to come!

The same way your blessing is greatly increased when you prepare yourself to hear the word of God. (how?) Practically  Colossians 3 says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord. Wives submit to your husbands. Husbands love your wives. Children obey your parents. Employees obey your employers.”  Ephesians 5 says; “Be not drunk with wine but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to each other with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord. In everything giving thanks.

The results of Colossians 3 “letting the Word of Christ dwell in you richly” are exactly the same as being “filled with the Spirit” in Ephesians 5. Therefore, it follows that the Word and the Spirit are intimately linked together. If you want to live in the Spirit, keep in the Word. Become totally saturated with the Scriptures, and you’ll find yourself overflowing with the Spirit.

The Jewish Christians that were present were amazed as they understood that God was now “starting” to love the Gentiles, but who would have thought God would fill Gentiles with the Holy Spirit in the same manner and degree as the Jews?

This was a filling with the Holy Spirit in two senses. First; in the sense that He indwells and abides in every believer.

Second; in the sense of a special empowering from the Holy Spirit accompanied by the demonstration of spiritual gifts.

46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.

Without exception, in every biblical reference, tongues are directed to God to give praise and adoration and exaltation to Him. They are never directed to man, never a message for man. Tongues are always used to praise God.

Then Peter answered, 47 “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?”

Peter makes the point clearly that the gentiles have received the Holy Spirit just as they the Jews have. It wasn’t just that God was loving or blessing the Gentiles that astonished them. It was that God was loving and blessing the Gentiles just as He loved and blessed the Jews, and He did it while they were still Gentiles!

Then just like the Ethiopian eunuch in chapter 8, these believers were eager to be baptized, eager to demonstrate their acceptance of God’s amazing grace that was great enough to embrace even Gentiles

48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days. The baptism in water did not save them. Instead, their baptism recognized the salvation they had already received.

This entrance of Gentiles into the church was not a “new” plan, but something promised long before and now a fulfillment of prophesy!

The people of The Old Testament looked for the day when a light would shine in the darkness of the Gentile world: Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the LORD will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. (Isaiah 60:1-3)                    

God promised Abraham, and his descendants, that the blessing that came through him would extend to all nations (Genesis 12:1-4). Here, we see Jesus – the greatest blessing from Abraham – reaching out to all the nations.

Remember Jesus’ promise in John 10:16.   I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.  15 As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.  16 And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.

Or when Jesus healed that centurion’s servant, Matthew 8:5-13 He declared that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven .

You see Gods plan for mankind is not new and that none should perish but come to him in repentance

Specifically in this text we have seen that Cornelius was an undoubtedly good man; yet he, his family and close friends needed Jesus.

You see even good people, who are respectful towards God, still need to come to Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and put all their trust in who Jesus is and what He has done for them.

Simply ask him for forgiveness and the invite him into your heart to be your savior!