Acts 10 Commentary


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Chart from Jensen's Survey of the NT - used by permission

THE EXPANDING WITNESS OF THE SPIRIT-EMPOWERED CHURCH


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Acts 10:1 Now there was a man at Caesarea named Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian cohort,

KJV Acts 10:1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band,

  • Cir A.M. 4045. A.D. 41. in.
  • Acts 8:40; 21:8; 23:23,33; 25:1,13
  • a centurion Acts 22:25; 27:1,31,43; Mt 8:5-13; 27:54; Luke 7:2
  • of what was called the Italian cohort Acts 27:1

This chapter describes God's flinging open the door of His Church to Gentile believers and thus marking a key transition point in the spread of the Gospel in the Book of Acts. As noted in Acts 9, it is clear that God's Spirit was moving Peter step by step (from Lydda to Joppa to Caesarea) toward fulfillment of Acts 1:8 and the taking of the Gospel to the Gentiles. So in Acts 8 we see the conversion an Ethiopian eunuch, a son of Ham, in Acts 9, the conversion of Saul, a son of Shem, and, in Acts 10, Cornelius, a son of Japheth. These represent the three divisions of humanity after the flood (cf Genesis 6:10).

Stanley Gundry This passage divides into a vision seen by a centurion named Cornelius (Acts 10:1–8); a complementary vision seen by Peter (Acts 10:9–16); Cornelius’s invitation to Peter (Acts 10:17–23a); their meeting each other (Acts 10:23b–26); Peter’s explanation of why he came (Acts 10:27–33); his presentation of the gospel (Acts 10:34–43); and the conversion of his Gentile audience (Acts 10:44–48). The dovetailing of the two visions that make this episode possible displays God as inaugurating his plan to bring Gentiles en masse into his kingdom. (Commentary on the New Testament: Verse-by-Verse Explanations with a Literal Translation)

Chuck Swindoll has a telling opening title for Acts 10:1-23 - "Facing the Prejudice Sin-Drome!" Swindoll follows by saying "For all our many differences, such as race, creed, culture, gender, and nationality, people all over the world have at least one thing in common: prejudice. It’s a stubborn, thorny weed that grows in every heart and draws nourishment from the rotting compost of our fallen, sinful nature. Cut it to the ground, poison its leaves, or pull it out by the roots . . . and it’ll be back before you know it. The creeping infestation of prejudice can happen so gradually it goes unnoticed. And it takes hold in unexpected ways. We’re familiar with the most common variety, racial prejudice. Some nurture a secret bigotry against people with certain colors of skin, specific nationalities, different cultures, or even particular accents. Other types of prejudice take more subtle forms: political affiliation, economic stratum, marital status, religious background, the presence of tattoos, style of clothes or hair, or even the use of cosmetics. It’s a universal problem. Your prejudice might not be my prejudice, but some form of it tries to grow in every heart. Even so, some people do a better job of weeding than others. Peter, the hero of the Jerusalem congregation and arguably the most courageous Christian in the first two decades of the church, struggled with prejudice. Fortunately for Peter and the church, the Lord would not let that sinful attitude remain; He would soon uproot it." (Acts - Swindoll's Living Insights Commentary)

Stanley Toussaint rightly points out that "The importance of this event is seen in the fact that Luke recounts it three times—here in Acts 10, again in chapter 11, and finally in Acts 15:6–9.  The geographic extension of the gospel in Acts is an initial fulfillment of Jesus’ words in Matthew 8:11: “Many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places … in the kingdom of heaven.”" (Bible Knowledge Commentary)

Pohill - Acts 10:1–11:18 is the longest single narrative in all of Acts. This in itself witnesses to the great importance Luke placed on the incident. (

Luke does not give us specific dates, but an old resource, the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge (TSK), has a note at the beginning of Acts 10 of circa AD 41. (Lenski says Summer of AD 38). The previous TSK note is at Acts 5:1 corresponding to the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira around AD 34. And so the events in Acts 10 would suggest the Church is about 6-7 years old. On the other hand, some like Kistemaker think Acts 10 takes place as much as 10 years after the inception of the Church ("In the closing years of its first decade"). Others like Swindoll think it is more like 5-6 years old. In any event, the time clearly had arrived to obey Jesus' commission to "Go therefore and make disciples (learners) of all the nations (INCLUDING GENTILES), baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit (cf Acts 10:47, 48), 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Mt 28:19-20)

Now there was a man at Caesarea named Cornelius - He was a Gentile and a Roman commander of a cohort. "The name Cornelius was common in the Roman world from 82 B.C. onwards, when Cornelius Sulla liberated ten thousand slaves, all of whom took their patron’s name as they established themselves in Roman society." (Longenecker - Expositor's Bible Commentary)

Caesarea - Aka as "Caesarea by the Sea" "Caesarea Maritima" (see map showing Caesarea on coast in relation to Joppa), was located in Samaria, south of Mt Carmel and north of Joppa. It should be distinguished from Caesarea Philippi (north of Sea of Galilee, at base of Mt Hermon, only archaeological remains). Caesarea Maritima was largely Gentile and was a center of Roman administrative power (capital of Roman province of Judea) and the location of many of Herod the Great's building projects (Herod built an aqueduct [pix] to bring in fresh water and an amphitheater [pix]. Herod constructed a safe harbor for ships, something not true in Joppa - see description Josephus, Ant. 15.9.6 [Note: Caesarea Maritima had previously been known as Strato’s Tower and was a second-class harbor because of a shallow entrance and exposure to the strong southern winds]). Peter would travel roughly 40-45 miles from Joppa to Caesarea Maritima (via the road through inland Antipatris) 

While Joppa was an ancient city, Caesarea Maritima was more recent, having been built by Herod the Great to honor Caesar Augustus. He began in 25BC and it took him 12 years to complete the building program. Caesarea became like a small New York City. All of the streets led to the harbor. The Herodian kings and Roman procurators had their official residences here. At one time the population was up to 200,000, and consisted of a mixture of Jews and Gentiles. In 1961 a stone was excavated at the amphitheater with the names Tiberias Caesar and Pontius Pilatus, the only known inscription of this infamous name. 

Caesarea Maritima in NT  Acts 8:40; Acts 9:30; Acts 10:1; Acts 10:24; Acts 11:11; Acts 12:19; Acts 18:22; Acts 21:8; Acts 21:16; Acts 23:23; Acts 23:33; Acts 25:1; Acts 25:4; Acts 25:6; Acts 25:13

Caesarea Maritima was the scene of several very significant and interesting New Testament events:

  • Baptism by Peter of Cornelius, et al, the first Gentile converts (Acts 10:47,48). This marks the beginning of the Gospel to the Gentiles (and as most of us are Gentiles, Caesarea Maritima has a very special significance in our hearts!)
  • Headquarters of Pontius Pilate. From here the Roman procurator set out for the Passover festival in Jerusalem, where he sentenced Jesus to death.
  • In order to escape from the Jews in Jerusalem who wanted to kill Saul, he was sent to Taursus from Caesarea (Acts 9:30). The Scripture is silent on this part of Saul's life in Taursus, and the length of time he was there from 8-10 years. It will be fascinating some day to speak with him and ask him what transpired during this time. How sad that about all that remains of Christianity is St Paul's Church.
  • After Peter escaped imprisonment by King Herod, he went down from Judea to Caesarea to spend time (Acts 12:19).
  • Paul sailed from Ephesus to Caesarea and went on to greet the church at Jerusalem and then went down to Antioch (Acts 18:22) just before he began his third missionary journey in Acts 18:23.
  • After completing his third missionary journey, he sailed back to Caesarea and stayed in the house of Philip the evangelist (wouldn't you have wanted to be a fly on the wall!). (Acts 21:8) At Philip’s home, a prophet named Agabus bound Paul’s hands and feet with his belt, foretelling how the apostle would be handed over to the Romans (Acts 21:10-11). Paul's arrival at Jerusalem marked the end of his third missionary journey (Acts 21:17).
  • After Paul was taken into Roman custody in Acts 23:10, the Jews hatched a plot to ambush him, but the son of Paul's sister overheard the plot and told the Roman commander (Acts 23:16, 21, another ambush was planned 2 years later! Acts 25:3), he ordered Paul taken by night to Caesarea (Acts 23:23) with an explanatory letter to Felix (Acts 23:33).
  • Paul was imprisoned for more than two years at Caesarea Maritima (Acts 24:27), at which time Felix was succeeded by Porcius Fesus (Acts 24:27).
  • Festus traveled from Jerusalem to Caesarea and on the day after he arrived he took his seat on the tribunal (judgment seat, bema) and ordered that Paul be brought to him (Acts 25:6)
  • King Agrippa II, son of Agrippa I (Acts 12:1) who ruled Palestine from AD 53 until his death (AD 92/93) arrived at Caesarea with his sister Bernice with whom he carried on an incestuous relationship (cf Josephus 20.7.3). And so here at Caesarea Paul made his famous defense before King Agrippa (and Festus) (Acts 25:23-27, Acts 26:1-23, Festus accused him of being crazy - Acts 26:24, Paul's response in Acts 26:25-27, which led to Agrippa's famous response "In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian" (Acts 26:28) to which Paul replied “I would wish to God, that whether in a short or long time, not only you, but also all who hear me this day, might become such as I am, except for these chains.” (Acts 26:29)
  • In AD 66 difficulty between the Jews and Romans at Caesarea sparked the Jewish revolt which ended in the destruction of Jerusalem by the armies of Titus in AD 70.
  • After Jerusalem was destroyed in AD 70, Caesarea Maritima became the center of Christianity in Palestine. A Church council held at Caesarea in AD 195 determined that Easter should be celebrated on a Sunday.

A centurion of what was called the Italian cohort (the Cohores II Miliaria Italica Civium Romanorum) - Cornelius was a non-commissioned officer, but most importantly, he was a Gentile who feared God. "The Italian Cohort has been identified as cohors II Italica which is known to have been stationed in Syria in A.D. 88." (NET Note) Lenski adds that "thirty-two such Italian cohorts were stationed in the different provinces of the empire. They were made up of Italian volunteers and were considered the most loyal Roman troops."

Centurion (1543)(Hekatontarches from hekaton = one hundred + archo = to command) means a commander of a hundred soldiers, a centurion, and would be our equivalent of an army captain or company commander. Centurion is from Latin centurio an officer in charge of a hundred soldiers (the Latin equivalent being used by Mk 15:39-45). "The favourable references to centurions in the New Testament suggest that they may have been carefully chosen because of their quality of character. Some even became believers in Jesus Christ (Matthew 8:5-13; Matthew 27:54; Acts 10:1-2; Acts 23:17-18; Acts 27:43)." (Bridgeway) Centurions received double the salary of ordinary soldiers. It usually took fifteen years or more of military service to work one's way to the rank of centurion. 

Polybius says "that the centurions were chosen by merit, and so were men remarkable not so much for their daring courage as for their deliberation, constancy, and strength of mind." Another translation says “They wish centurions not so much to be venturesome and daredevil as natural leaders, of a steady and sedate spirit. They do not desire them so much to be men who will initiate attacks and open the battle, but men who will hold their ground when worsted and hard pressed and be ready to die at their posts” (Histories 6.24.9). Barclay translates it this way "Centurions are desired not to be overbold and reckless so much as good leaders, of steady and prudent mind, not prone to take the offensive to start fighting wantonly, but able when overwhelmed and hard-pressed to stand fast and die at their posts." 

NET Note -  A centurion was a noncommissioned officer (ED: who had worked his way up through the ranks) in the Roman army or one of the auxiliary territorial armies, commanding a centuria of (nominally) 100 men. The responsibilities of centurions were broadly similar to modern junior officers, but there was a wide gap in social status between them and officers, and relatively few were promoted beyond the rank of senior centurion. The Roman troops stationed in Judea were auxiliaries, who would normally be rewarded with Roman citizenship after 25 years of service. Some of the centurions may have served originally in the Roman legions (regular army) and thus gained their citizenship at enlistment. Others may have inherited it, like Paul.

Fausset Bible Dictionary - It is a propriety in the New Testament that centurions are so often favorably noticed. Good conduct was generally the cause of their promotion to the command of a century (properly 100 men). Truthful straightforwardness would make them open to conviction. For instance, the one whose faith Jesus so commends in Matthew 8; Cornelius, whom Peter was by vision sent to, and who is described as "devout, fearing God with all his house, giving much alms to the people, and praying to God always" (Acts 10); Julius, the centurion of Augustus' band, who entreated Paul courteously and saved his life when threatened by the soldiers (Acts 27:1; Acts 27:3-42; Acts 27:43). In Acts 24:23 translate "the centurion," namely, the commander of the horse who had conveyed Paul to Caesarea after the other of the two centurions had come back with the infantry (compare Acts 23:23; Acts 23:32). The centurion at the Lord's crucifixion uttered the testimony so remarkable from a Gentile: "certainly this was a righteous man"; Luke's explanation (Luke 23:47) of what a Gentile would mean by saying, "Truly this was the Son of God" (Matthew 27:54).

What was a Roman centurion? - During the New Testament era, a Roman centurion was a professional military officer commanding a platoon of troops called a “century.” This could be anywhere from nearly one hundred to several hundred men. Each Roman legion was composed of nearly 5,000 men, divided into multiple cohorts, each cohort composed of multiple centuries. As a result, a legion could contain as many as sixty centurions. Their importance was based on seniority, with the senior centurion in a legion being in a position of great prestige. Some historians have compared the top-level centurions to medieval knights. Roman centurions represented the bridge between enlisted troops and commissioned officers, in much the same way as warrant officers do in the modern U.S. military. Soldiers were appointed as centurions by virtue of their bravery, loyalty, character, and prowess in battle. Centurions were held to high standards of conduct and were expected to fight on the front lines with their men. In fact, the centurion’s designated place in formation was at the end of the very front row. As a result, Roman centurions were well paid and held in high esteem, and they experienced high rates of injury and death during war. The combination of wealth, power, and prestige made them influential in society.

Zodhiates - Ending in –ēs, hekatontárchēs (Acts 10:1, 22; 24:23; 27:1, 31). Ending in –os, hekatóntarchos (Matt. 8:5, 8, 13; 27:54; Luke 7:2, 6; 23:47; Acts 21:32; 22:25, 26; 23:17, 23; 27:6, 11, 43; 28:16)(Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament) 

Hekatontarches - 20x in 20v -  centurion(16), centurion's(1), centurions(3). Two uses in Septuagint - 2 Ki 11:10, 15 = "captains of hundreds"

Matt. 8:5; Matt. 8:8; Matt. 8:13; Matt. 27:54; Lk. 7:2; Lk. 7:6; Lk. 23:47; Acts 10:1; Acts 10:22; Acts 21:32; Acts 22:25; Acts 22:26; Acts 23:17; Acts 23:23; Acts 24:23; Acts 27:1; Acts 27:6; Acts 27:11; Acts 27:31; Acts 27:43

Bob Utley on Italian cohort - Usually a Roman cohort is made up of 600 men. This particular one was made up of a thousand Roman volunteers who were stationed in Syria. We know from historical evidence that they were called an auxiliary cohort

John Phillips on Italian cohort - The Italian cohort would have been a cohort levied (caused to enlist) in Italy. (

Cohort (4686)(speira) was a Roman military technical term for the tenth part of a legion, normally containing 600 troops (Acts 10.1). Speira also could refer to a detachment of soldiers as in a troop, band or company (Jn 18.3)

Larkin - A cohort had ten centuries and was the equivalent of a modern military battalion. This battalion was an auxiliary unit, not part of a regular Roman legion. Such a battalion of archers was first made up of Roman soldiers and then filled out in the provinces. (IVP NT Commentary - Acts)

Wikipedia - A cohort (from the Latin cohors, plural cohortes) was a standard tactical military unit of a Roman legion, though the standard changed with time and situation, and was composed of between 360-800 soldiers. A cohort is considered to be the equivalent of a modern military battalion.

Gilbrant - In its earliest occurrences in classical Greek speira described anything “twisted or wound around or together” (Liddell-Scott). Thus it could be used of a “band” of men, a tactical unit of soldiers. In classical usage it can also denote the coils of a serpent, a mode of hairdressing, a knot in wood, etc. However, a “cohort” is its only meaning in the New Testament, a translation of the Latin cohors. (In other Greek literature speira also represents manipulus, one-third of a cohort.) The “cohort” in the regular Roman legions typically had 600 men but could number as many as 1,000 in the auxiliary forces (all New Testament references, apparently; see Bruce, New International Commentary on the New Testament, Acts, p.202). One “cohort” was stationed in Jerusalem while Judea was a Roman province. This cohort was active in the arrest of Jesus (John 18:3,12), in His crucifixion (Matthew 27:27; Mark 15:16), and in the arrest of Paul (Acts 21:31). Two other “cohorts” are mentioned by name: one originally made up of volunteers recruited in Italy (Acts 10:1), the other (Acts 27:1) wearing the name of Emperor Augustus, “a title of honor bestowed on select cohorts of auxiliary troops” (ibid., p.477). (Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary)

Zodhiates adds speira was "Spoken of a band from the guards of the temple (John 18:3, 12). These were Levites who filled the menial offices of the temple and kept watch by night (Sept.: Ps. 134:1 [cf. 2 Kings 12:9; 25:18; see especially 1 Chr. 9:17, 27ff.]). They were under the command of officers called stratēgós <G4755>, temple wardens (Luke 22:52), or chilíarchos <G5506>, colonels or chief captains, commanders of one thousand soldiers." (Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament.

Speira - 7x in 7v - Matt. 27:27; Mk. 15:16; Jn. 18:3; Jn. 18:12; Acts 10:1; Acts 21:31; Acts 27:1. No uses in the Septuagint.

Related Resources:


Jack Andrews records Some Facts about how the Jews felt about Gentiles:

• Strict Jews would have nothing to do with Gentiles. 
• They would not be a guest in a Gentiles home or would not invite a Gentile to be their guest. 
• Dirt from a Gentile country was considered defiled. 
• They would shake the dust off their feet before they entered into Israel. 
• They would not eat food prepared by the hands of Gentiles. 
• If they purchased cooking utensils from Gentiles they had to be purified before being used. 
• Gentiles were considered unclean and defiled. (Expository Sermons

Acts 10:2 a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, and gave many alms to the Jewish people and prayed to God continually.

KJV Acts 10:2 A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.

  • devout Acts 10:7,22; 2:5; 8:2; 13:50; 16:14; 22:12; Luke 2:25
  • one Acts 10:35; 9:31; 13:16,26; 1 Kings 8:43; 2 Chr 6:33; Job 1:1; Ps 102:15; Eccl 7:18; Isaiah 59:19; Daniel 6:26; Rev 15:4
  • with Acts 10:7; 16:15; 18:8; Genesis 18:19; Joshua 24:15; Job 1:5; Ps 101:6-8
  • gave many alms Acts 10:4,22,31; 9:36; Ps 41:1; Isaiah 58:7,8; Luke 7:4,5; Ro 15:26,27; 2 Cor 9:8-15
  • and prayed Acts 9:11; Ps 25:5,8,9; 55:17; 86:3; *marg:; Ps 88:1; 119:2; Pr 2:3-5; Daniel 6:10,16,20; Mt 7:7,8; Luke 18:1; Col 4:2; 1 Th 5:17; James 1:5

CORNELIUS A 
DEVOUT GOD-FEARER

A devout man and one who feared God with all his household (cf Acts 10:2235) - These are wonderful traits but none can save a man's soul from Hell. Tragically, there will be many "devout" men and women in Hell because they failed to believe in Jesus Christ. Faith alone saves, not devotion, no matter how sincere. In the case of Cornelius these traits represent the soil of a man's heart that had been plowed and prepared by the Holy Spirit for the seed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When a man accepts the light he receives, God will give him the light he needs to be saved.  Cornelius reminds us of the Ethiopian eunuch regarding whom John MacArthur wrote "The eunuch is a classic example of one who lived up to the light he had. God then gave him the full revelation of Jesus Christ through Philip’s ministry." (Acts Commentary) In Acts 10 God gives visions to a saved Jew and an unsaved Gentile in order to reach the Gentile man through the Jewish man!

THOUGHT -  You might enjoy an incredible book by Don Richardson entitled "Eternity in their Hearts" which addresses the question "Has the God Who prepared the Gospel for all people groups also prepared all people groups for the Gospel?" (cf Eccl 3:11, Acts 17:27). It is truly fascinating (read some reviews).

The question might be asked if genuine seekers after God are saved even if they have never heard the Gospel? The answer from this story of the seeker Cornelius is "no," they must still hear and respond to the Gospel (cf Acts 11:13,14). But this story also demonstrates that the omniscient, omnipotent God is able to use His power to make sure they hear the Gospel as did Cornelius. See Stedman's in depth answer below.

Jack Arnold - An unsaved man has the promise that “blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied (filled)” (Matt. 5:6) and “you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jer 29:13). If the unsaved man seeks truth honestly, he will find the truth in Christ. You remember when Gus Marwieh was with us at our last Missions Conference. He told us how, as an idol worshiper in the jungles of Liberia, Africa, he began to seek for the true God. He hungered, he sought, he wanted to know God. Through a series of circumstances he walked out of the jungle and came into contact with some Christians. He was gloriously saved. He sought more light and God made sure he would come into contact with someone who could give him the gospel of Christ. (Acts 10:1-23a The Seeking Sinner and the Bigoted Believer)

Ray Stedman adds "you will notice that the Holy Spirit very clearly is underlining for us a very important fact. Here is a man who is religious, devout, sincere, earnest, and prayerful, but he is not regenerate. He is not yet saved. There are many people today who think that all you need to do to be acceptable in God's sight is to be religious, to be sincere, to be generous, to live a good, clean, moral life. Here is a man exactly like that, but he is not yet born again. You see, those characteristics are not eternal life; they are the prelude to eternal life. They indicate a heart that is hungry, open, and ready, but which has not yet received Christ. There are many people like this today, earnest people, sincere people, perhaps many here this morning, who are moral, upright, and generous, but who are not yet born again. All the morality and generosity will come to no avail until it leads you to the gift of God which is eternal life in Jesus Christ. That is what you need. That is what this man needs, and God is moving to answer the need. This answers the great question about the Bible which I am asked more frequently than any other, especially by non-Christians. I hear it again and again. "What about the man who has never heard of Jesus Christ? What about the man who lives up to the light he has, and is faithful to what he knows, but has never heard of Jesus Christ? What happens to him?" Here is a story of what happens to a man like that. When he is obedient to the light that he has, God will take it upon himself to give him more light and to lead him to the place where he can come to know Jesus Christ. This is in line with what you read in the epistle to the Hebrews Chapter 11, Verse 6, where it says, "Without faith it is impossible to please God." It goes on to say, "For whoever would draw near to God..." must have two qualifications, just two. He must believe: That God exists and that he rewards those who seek him, i.e., that he will meet someone who is seeking after him, and give him more light along the way. That is what you find very clearly here in the case of Cornelius, is it not?" (Acts 9:32-10:23 The Cure For Death) (Related Resource: What happens to those who have never heard about Jesus?)

J Vernon McGee - In America today he would pass for a Christian, a Christian of the highest degree, an outstanding man. But he actually was not a Christian. He had not even heard the gospel.

Warren Wiersbe - He was devout, honest, generous, and sincere; but he was not a saved man. It is possible to be very religious but still be lost! Were it not for the fact that God in His grace spoke to Cornelius, he would never have become a believer. We see here a fulfillment of Christ’s promise in John 7:17, “If any man is willing to do His will, he shall know the truth.” (Wiersbe's Expository Outlines on the NT)

It is instructive to look at some of the synonyms for devout to get a real sense of the heart of this battle-hardened Roman Centurion - adoring, ardent, faithful, fervent, passionate, pious, religious, sincere, zealous, earnest, fervid, genuine, godly, heart-and-soul, heartfelt, holy, intense, orthodox, prayerful, reverent, revering, serious, venerating, worshiping. 

Devout (2152)(eusebes from eu = well + sebomai = reverence <> Sebomai is from root "seb" = sacred awe) describes one who is has an attitude of reverence exhibited in one's actions. In secular Greek use eusebos described practical piety towards one's parents. Eusebes is found only 3x in the NT - The first two uses refer to Cornelius who was not yet a believer in Jesus - Acts 10:2; Acts 10:7; 2 Pet. 2:9 refers to believers - "the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation."  It follows that eusebes can refer to unbelievers characterized by piety but not spiritual enlightenment, or to believers characterized by a holy life.  The Greek root was also commonly used in the Greco-Roman world of Paul to describe respect for the pagan gods (e.g., Roman "gods" like Jupiter, Augustus, Mars, Venus, etc.) For example in one ancient text we read "Can there be any better or more reverent (godly) way to honor the gods than by doing what they command?" In summary, eusebos means reverence or awe that is well directed - living lives that are pleasing to God. It is not talking "godly" but living "godly".

In the case of Cornelius devout was an apt description for he was a man who looked both Godward (prayers) and manward (alms)! A devout man does not "keep it to himself" but his devout life spills over like a refreshing spring of living waters onto those around him. What about us?

THOUGHT - GOD-FEARERS VERSUS PROSELYTES - Luke uses the description those who fear God (or God fearers) several times in Acts to describe Gentiles who were in some way seeking the one true God - See Acts 10:5, Acts 10:35, Acts 13:16, Acts 13:26, Acts 17:4, 17:17. Some include Acts 13:43 but the phrase there is "God-fearing proselytes" which would describe a Gentile who had fully converted to Judaism even receiving circumcision (which we know Cornelius had not done - Acts 11:3). The God-fearers like Cornelius had not fully converted to Judaism and were referred to as "proselytes of the gate." 

Bob Utley notes that "To be a full convert one had to (1)  be circumcised if a male, (2) baptize himself in the presence of witnesses and (3) if possible, offer a sacrifice in the Temple. These requirements prevented many interested Gentiles from becoming full proselytes. (Acts 10)

Stanley Toussaint says Cornelius although not circumcised "did worship Yahweh. Evidently he attended the synagogue and to the best of his knowledge and ability followed the Old Testament Scriptures. Nevertheless, he had not entered into New Testament salvation (cf. Acts 11:14)."

NET Note - The description of Cornelius as a devout, God-fearing man probably means that he belonged to the category called “God-fearers,” Gentiles who worshiped the God of Israel and in many cases kept the Mosaic law, but did not take the final step of circumcision necessary to become a proselyte to Judaism.

John Phillips - God-fearer was one of the many Gentiles who were greatly attracted to the moral, ethical, and spiritual aspects of Judaism. Many of them attended the synagogue and were instructed in the Scriptures and even observed the Sabbath and, to some extent, the Jewish dietary laws. They drew the line, however, at becoming full proselytes by circumcision, baptism, and sacrifice. (Exploring Acts)

Wikipedia - There are two kinds of proselytes in Rabbinic Judaismger tzedek (righteous proselytes, proselytes of righteousness, religious proselyte, devout proselyte) and ger toshav (resident proselyte, proselytes of the gate, limited proselyte, half-proselyte) A "righteous proselyte" is a gentile who has converted to Judaism, is bound to all the doctrines and precepts of the Jewish religion, and is considered a full member of the Jewish people. The proselyte is circumcised as an adult (milah l'shem giur), if male, and immerses in a mikvah to formally effect the conversion. A "gate proselyte" is a resident alien who lives in the Land of Israel and follows some of the customs. They are not required to be circumcised nor to comply with the whole of the Torah. They are bound only to conform to the Seven Laws of Noah (do not worship idols, do not blaspheme God's name, do not murder, do not commit fornication (immoral sexual acts), do not steal, do not tear the limb from a living animal, and do not fail to establish rule of law) to be assured of a place in the world to come. (ED: THIS LATTER OF COURSE IS A FALSE TEACHING - FOR ONLY FAITH IN CHRIST ASSURES ONE OF A PLACE IN THE WORLD TO COME!)

Homer Kent agrees with much of Wikipedia's analysis noting that "adherents to Judaism to a limited extent (i.e. “proselytes of the gate”). They attended synagogue worship, acknowledged the God of Israel, and complied with some Jewish customs. They were not circumcised, however, and thus were regarded by Jews as not full “proselytes of righteousness.”" (Jerusalem to Rome: Studies in Acts)

Notice how Luke in effect gives us a descriptive definition of "devout" as (1) one who feared God, (2) gave many alms and (3) prayed regularly. In Acts 10:22 Luke adds to Cornelius laudable description referring to him as "a righteous (dikaios - yet he is not yet justified by faith. Cf Simeon in Lk 2:25+) and God-fearing man well spoken of by the entire nation of the Jews." 

Longenecker - In sum, Cornelius was a noble and spiritually sensitive Roman army officer, who seems to fit Virgil’s picture of the Gentile world as one that “stretched out its hands in longing for the other shore” (Aeneid 6.314). (Expositor's Bible Commentary - 1981)

Barclay - Cornelius was a God-fearer. In New Testament times this had become almost a technical term for Gentiles who, weary of the gods and the immoralities and the frustration of their ancestral faiths, had attached themselves to the Jewish religion. They did not accept circumcision and the Law; but they attended the synagogue and they believed in one God and in the pure ethic of Jewish religion. Cornelius then was a man who was seeking after God, and as he sought God, God found him.

Larkin - Luke does not quite use “God-fearer” (hos phoboumenos or hos seboumenos) as a technical term (Acts 10:2, 22, 35; 13:16, 26, 43, 50; 16:14; 17:4, 17; 18:7). But it does point to that class of monotheistic Gentiles who worshiped the God of the Old Testament, kept the Old Testament ethical code, attended synagogue, observed the sabbath and practiced the main requirements of Jewish piety (Levinskaya 1990). Because they refused to become proselytes, Jews still regarded them as ritually unclean Gentiles. (Ibid)

The fear that Cornelius had of Yahweh reminds us of Solomon's descriptions that "fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge" (Pr 1:7) and "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." (Pr 9:10). Cornelius' fear of God was about to lead to full knowledge of the Holy One and His way of salvation! 

Feared God with all his household - What is the Holy Spirit teaching us? It is a testimony to the winsome, winning character of Cornelius (THOUGHT: O, to be such a holy aroma to our family and friends! cf 2 Cor 2:14-16) He led them by example. His trust in Yahweh along with this integrity (his talk matched his walk), led his family (including his household slaves) to follow, so they too became "fearers" of the living God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Keep in mind, much like modern day America (with its manifold, variegated "gods and goddesses"), his children would have had a plethora of pagan gods and goddesses to choose from (cf List of Roman "deities"), but they chose Yahweh. And notice Cornelius "evangelistic" act in Acts 10:24 where he "called together his relatives and close friends" to hear what Peter had to say. I have frequently read (and heard from various pulpits) a common, cute saying "Go into the world and preach the Gospel. If necessary use words." Yes, our lives are to "make room" for our lips. Our good actions are to make room for the good news. But Cornelius presents us with the proper pattern - a good man is to be a gospeling man. Of course, in this case Cornelius did not yet know the Gospel, but he clearly knew Peter had some sort of news and he wanted all to hear. And so I say Cornelius gives us a good pattern to pursue. This ancient Roman Centurion "throws down the gauntlet"! Brothers and sisters, will we accept his challenge and be bold "gospeling" men and women for the glory and honor of our King?

As R C H Lenski says "This was more than just family religion; this man’s faith reached out all around him." 

Jack Andrews on all his household - Men: Our families will not by chance come to God! It is our responsibility to lead them to the Lord. Take the initiative and stay with it and be consistent. (Expository Sermons)

Fear (5399)(phobeo from phobos = fear; English = phobia) means to be in an apprehensive state that can range from mild uneasiness to stark terror as when one is frightened, terrified or alarmed. However, in the NT and in the case of Cornelius the idea is that of reverential awe rather than cringing fright. This type of fear is expressed by one who senses that they are in the presence of an infinitely superior Being. This attitude of reverential fear is what motivated the early church to seek to faithfully serve the Lord (Acts 9:31). 

Puritan Charles Bridges defines fear of God as "that affectionate reverence by which the child of God bends himself humbly and carefully to his Father's law. His wrath is so bitter, and His love so sweet; that hence springs an earnest desire to please Him, and—because of the danger of coming short from his own weakness and temptations—a holy watchfulness and fear, 'that he might not sin against Him." (ED: cf Joseph's attitude in Ge 39:9)

It is notable that in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus addressed almsgiving and prayer two of the cardinal teachings of the Jews (fasting being the third - Mt 6:1-18) correcting their misunderstanding that these practices in any way gained them righteous standing before God. And so here a Gentile is practicing these disciplines from a sincere heart and not in an attempt to merit righteousness before God.

Notice his faith (God fearer), his family (followed his lead), and his fervor (alms, prayers). 

John Phillips writes ""Faith without works is dead" (James 2:26+), says James. This man exhibited his faith Godward by his works manward." (Exploring Acts)

And gave many alms to the Jewish people (cf Acts 10:22) - This act did not merit salvation but in context is another piece of the evidence that substantiates the fact that Cornelius was sincerely pursuing God. Gave...alms is the very phrase used by Jesus in Mt 6:2 describing the right and the wrong way to give alms! Luke could have said Cornelius gave many alms, but what is more striking is that this Gentile Roman officer gave his alms to Jews! We need more "race blind," "color blind" men like Cornelius! 

Cornelius' actions toward the Jews remind us of Jesus' words of commendation when He returns as King of kings to rule and reign for one thousand years (cf Mt 25:31, 32  note word "nations" - see comment or here)...

“The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine (THE JEWS), even the least of them, you did it to Me.’  (Mt 25:40)

Alms (charity) (1654)(eleemosune) refers to sympathy, compassion and in the NT refers to the "exercise of benevolent goodwill" (BDAG), the benevolent activity toward the poor in the form of donations, almsgiving, charitable giving. See more detailed discussion of almsgiving in discussion of Dorcas' charity (alms - same Greek word eleemosune). Luke has 10 of the 11 NT uses of alms - Lk. 11:41; Lk. 12:33; Acts 3:2; Acts 3:3; Acts 3:10; Acts 9:36; Acts 10:2; Acts 10:4; Acts 10:31; Acts 24:17. 

And prayed to God continually A T Robertson says "Begging of God." This is an amazing statement, but we know that even believers go to God's throne of grace through our Great High Priest. And yet here Luke states Cornelius prayed to God continually. I know believers (some I know very well) who do not pray without ceasing! (Gulp!) God seems to clearly have heard his prayers. Although, he was unlikely to have been praying for a vision, God gave him a divine vision. God knows the heart and He saw this man's sincere seeking. This is made clear in Acts 10:4 when he heard in the vision "Your prayers and alms have ascended as a memorial before God."  Gentiles who were pagans prayed to false gods, but Luke specifically says Cornelius prayed to the true and living God. He responded to the light and truth that had been revealed to him about God, and as the next verse shows, God gave him more light, more truth. This is an immutable principle and truth about God.

Larkin on prayed...continually (aka regular prayer) - the Jewish practice was three times a day: m. Berakot 4:1; compare Dan 6:10. 

Prayed (beseech, request) (1189)(deomai from deo = to bind) means to ask for something with the sense of pleading, beseeching or begging, even asking for with a sense of urgency and a sense of need. When used in the context of prayer deomai means to make petition, to plead, to ask in prayer, to implore (pray for earnestly) and emphasizes the existence of a need. Deomai is a strong way to ask for something - a leper imploring Jesus to heal him (Lk 5:12), a father's desperate plea to Jesus to cast a demon out of his son (Lk 9:38). The related word deesis, means prayer for a particular need (supplication). What was Cornelius' greatest need? Of course, his greatest need was the same as that of every man born in Adam (Ro 5:12+) and that was the need to be reborn by the Spirit and to be transferred from in Adam to in Christ (1 Cor 15:22, Jn 3:3-6). 

One other note of interest is that Luke uses deomai and not proseuchomai, which carries with it a notion of worship whereas deomai emphasizes the intensity of the request. 

Continually is interesting in that it is two Greek words, the prepositoin dia (through) and pantos (all), which literally means "through all" and the idea is not so much praying constantly as praying regularly and so that Cornelius was making prayer his way of life. Prayer for Cornelius was not "hit or miss," but more "hit" than "miss." Dennis Hamm writes "In at least four places in the NT (Luke 24:53; Acts 10:2; Heb 9:6; Heb 13:15), the phrase dia pantos seems to reflect a cultic background like that assumed in the Septuagint uses of the term. For that reason, in these contexts dia pantos should be translated as “regularly” rather than the more common translations of “constantly” or “without ceasing.”" (Expository Times, 2004, Vol 116, pp 50-54). 

Bruce Barton - GOD SEEKS Cornelius’s story demonstrates God’s willingness to use extraordinary means to reach those who desire to know him. God does not play favorites and does not hide from those who want to find him. God sent his Son “to seek and save those … who are lost” (Luke 19:10NLT) because he loves the whole world—and that includes Peter, Cornelius, and you. Even at this very moment, the Father is drawing men and women, boys, and girls to himself (John 6:44). Watch for signs today of God at work in the heart of someone who is spiritually hungry. (Life Application Commentary)

John Stott: It is difficult for us to grasp the impassable gulf which yawned in those days between the Jews on the one hand and the Gentiles (including even the “god-fearers”) on the other. Not that the Old Testament itself countenanced such a divide. On the contrary, alongside its oracles against the hostile nations, it affirmed that God had a purpose for them. By choosing and blessing one family, he intended to bless all the families of the earth. . . The tragedy was that Israel twisted the doctrine of election into one of favoritism, became filled with racial pride and hatred, despised Gentiles as “dogs”, and developed traditions which kept them apart. No orthodox Jew would never enter the home of a Gentile, even a God-fearer, or invite such into his home.

Jack Andrew writes that "Jack Taylor said prayerlessness is “that state in which a person prays less than he ought, less than the Father desires, and less than that one himself knows he should.”" (Expository Sermons)

PRAYER IN ACTS

  1. Acts 1:13-14 -11 apostles and others - content not specified - answer not specified
  2. Acts 1:24-25 -120 disciples -Discerning God's will for Judas' replacement - Matthias chosen
  3. Acts 4:24-31 -12 apostles - Praise - Room shakes, filling with Spirit, empowered for bold witness
  4. Acts 7:59-60 - Stephen - Final words before execution - Eternal reward
  5. Acts 8:14-17 - Peter and John - For Samaritans to receive the Spirit - Samaritans received the Spirit
  6. Acts 9:11 - Paul - Not specified - Saul's blindness healed and filled with the Spirit
  7. Acts 9:40 - Peter - For Tabitha to raise from the dead - Tabitha is raised from the dead
  8. Acts 10:1-8 - Cornelius - content not specified - Vision
  9. Acts 10:9-16 - Peter - Ritual midday prayers - Vision
  10. Acts 12:5, 12 - The Jerusalem Church - Peter's imprisonment - Peter supernaturally rescued
  11. Acts 13:3 - The Antioch Church leadership - content not specified - Saul and Barnabas commissioned for 1st missionary journey
  12. Acts 14:23 - Paul and Barnabas - Commendation of church elders - Not specified
  13. Acts 16:25 - Paul and Silas - Their imprisonment - Supernatural rescue, salvation of jailer
  14. Acts 20:36 - Paul and Ephesian elders - Paul's farewell - content not specified
  15. Acts 28:8 - Paul - Publius' father - Publius' father healed

Acts 10:3 About the ninth hour of the day he clearly saw in a vision an angel of God who had just come in and said to him, "Cornelius!"

KJV Acts 10:3 He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius.

  • saw Job 4:15,16; Daniel 9:20,21
  • about Acts 10:30; 3:1; Mt 27:46; Luke 23:44-46
  • an angel of God Acts 5:19; 11:13; 12:7-11; 27:23; Luke 1:11; 2:10,11,13; Heb 1:4,14
  • Cornelius Acts 9:4; Ex 33:17; Isaiah 45:4

A DIVINE VISION BRINGS
AN ANGELIC VISITATION

About the ninth hour of the day - This is about 3 PM in the afternoon, not necessarily a strange time for a vision, for it was (for Jews and one like Cornelius who likely followed their custom of regular prayer) the time for afternoon prayer. (cf  Ex 29:39, 41; 1 Ki. 18:29; Ps. 5:11; Da 6:10). In Acts 3:1+ Luke recorded that "Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer." This substantiates the premise that Cornelius had incorporated some of the practices of the Jews. He was praying in his own house (Acts 10:30).

The OT describes another angelic visitation at a similar time Daniel recording that "while I was still speaking in prayer, then the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision previously, came to me in my extreme weariness about the time of the evening offering." (Da 9:21)

Luke alludes to the ninth hour in describing Jesus' crucifixion...

It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour, because the sun was obscured; and the veil of the temple was torn in two. And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, “Father, INTO YOUR HANDS I COMMIT MY SPIRIT.” Having said this, He breathed His last. (Lk 23:44-46+)

Kistemaker - Two worlds meet in the encounter of the angel and Cornelius: the sinless world in which the angel moves and the sinful world to which Cornelius belongs.

James Rosscup explains God's hearing the prayer of an unsaved person - Even a person who is not actually saved, but highly interested, can pray. Many do, and they have their varying beliefs and reasons. The passage is not a plug for the effectiveness of such prayer. Yet it does reflect God’s gracious working in a case where He wills to draw a person to come to faith (cf. Jn. 6:44, 65). God is sensitive to such prayer and can use even it as part of His means for ushering a person on to Him, as Acts 10:31 and the context illustrate....If God took note of prayer from a man who had not yet believed (Acts 10:43; 11:14), how precious must be the memorial of the saved who are tenacious in prayer (Lk. 2:36–38)!(An Exposition of Prayer in the Bible)

He clearly saw in a vision - Plainly. Manifestly. This vision was not an illusion, not a distortion of his senses, distorting his perception of reality (we all have had those!). In broad daylight and wide awake God gave Cornelius this vision and thus there was no ambiguity about what he saw, because God is not a God of confusion (1 Cor 14:33)! Luke gives special attention to the visions to Cornelius and Peter repeating the account of this vision to Cornelius (Acts  10:3, 10:30; 11:13) and the vision to Peter (Acts 10:1–16, 28; 11:5). Cornelius gives us more detail that this angel was "a man (in the Bible angels are always depicted as masculine) stood before me in shining garments (WHICH EXPLAINS WHY HE BECAME MUCH ALARMED - Acts 10:4)." (Acts 10:30)

It is interesting to notice the two "double vision" parallels: (1) Saul (Acts 9:11-16) and Ananias (Acts 9:12) (2) Visions of Cornelius (Acts 10:3) and Peter (Acts 10:10-16). 

Clearly (5320)(phaneros from phanerós = apparent, manifest) is an adverb which has two meanings in the NT. Here in Acts 10:3, the sense is plainly, distinctly, in contrast to what is indistinct. This angelic vision was very clear to Cornelius. The other sense is publicly which is in contrast to what is done in secret. There are no uses in the Septuagint. 

Here are the other 2 uses of phaneros in the NT...

Mark 1:45   But he (healed leper - Mk 1:40-44) went out and began to proclaim it freely and to spread the news around, to such an extent that Jesus could no longer publicly enter a city, but stayed out in unpopulated areas; and they were coming to Him from everywhere.

John 7:10  But when His brothers had gone up to the feast, then He Himself also went up, not publicly, but as if, in secret (BECAUSE OF HIS ENEMIES).

Vision (3705)(horama  from horáō = to see, behold; English - panorama) describes literally that which is seen, as opposed to a figment of one's imagination (Mt 17:9; Ac 7:31; 10:3, 17, 19; 18:9). It is something that is viewed with one’s eye. It describes a supernatural vision used to give divine communication and is distinct from a dream. 

Larkin makes a good point regarding the four episodes of visions in Acts noting that "Each time they function to give divine guidance for the advance of God’s mission, especially in the face of human resistance or uncertainty (Ananias and Paul, Acts 9:10, 12; Gentile Cornelius and Jewish apostle Peter, Acts 10:3, 17, 19; 11:5; Paul and the European mission, Acts 16:9–10; Paul and the evangelization of Corinth, Acts 18:9; compare Acts 5:19–20; 8:26). (Acts 10:1-8 Cornelius's Vision)

An angel of God who had just come in - Note that this is not "THE Angel of the LORD," as described in the OT but is "AN" angel of God, former being a Christophany or pre-incarnate appearance of Christ in the OT, the latter being one of the angelic hosts created by Christ. Note also that God does not send an angel to preach the Gospel to Cornelius, for that is not their commission (but see possible exception in Rev 14:6,7+). 

Angel (32)(aggelos/angelos possibly from ago = to bring) literally means a messenger (one who bears a message - Lk 1:11, 2:9, etc or does an errand). Most of the NT uses refer to heavenly angels (messengers) who are supernatural, transcendent beings with power to carry out various tasks.

Cornelius' angelic assistance is a good example of the writer of Hebrews' description...

"Are they (ANGELS) not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation? (CORNELIUS WOULD SOON "INHERIT SALVATION)" (Hebrews 1:14+)

Angels occur 21 times in Acts - Acts 5:19; Acts 6:15; Acts 7:30; Acts 7:35; Acts 7:38; Acts 7:53; Acts 8:26; Acts 10:3; Acts 10:7; Acts 10:22; Acts 11:13; Acts 12:7; Acts 12:8; Acts 12:9; Acts 12:10; Acts 12:11; Acts 12:15; Acts 12:23; Acts 23:8; Acts 23:9; Acts 27:23

And said to him, "Cornelius! - God's messenger knew Cornelius' name. God knows your name.

Malcolm Muggeridge said that "All happenings, great and small, are parables whereby God speaks....The art of life is to get the message."

J Vernon McGee - (Cornelius) is an example of a man who lived up to the light which he had. John 1:9 says this of Jesus: “That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” This centurion had not met Jesus Christ nor come into His presence, but he was living up to the light that he had. Paul is referring to those who do not live by the light they have in Romans 1:19–20: “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.” This is God’s answer to that oft-repeated question, “What about the poor pagan, that ‘good’ heathen, who wants to know God but never had a chance? Is he lost?The answer is that God will get light to such a person. God will enable him to hear the Gospel. Now how will God get the Gospel to Cornelius? The barriers seem insurmountable. The church at this time—and for the first eight years—was exclusively Jewish. These Christian Jews were still going to the temple and observing many Jewish customs. They could do that under grace because they were trusting Christ. Then the Gospel broke over into Samaria. The Jews in Jerusalem were surprised, but they recognized the hand of God in this. Now how is God going to open the door of the Gospel to the Gentiles? Paul is to be the great missionary to the Gentiles, but God has Paul out in the desert in Arabia, training him there. It is Simon Peter who must open the door to the Gentiles. God used perhaps the most prejudiced and religious bigot, the greatest extremist of the day. Obviously, the Holy Spirit directed every move in getting the Gospel to the Gentiles. My friend, all genuine Christian work is directed by the Holy Spirit. No other work amounts to anything. The Holy Spirit had to work in the heart of the Gentile; the Holy Spirit had to work in the heart of the Jew. The Holy Spirit directed the bringing of the gospel to the gentile world. (Through the Bible)

Related Resources:


GETTING OUR ATTENTION - Cornelius had a vision featuring a heavenly messenger. God spoke to other Bible characters through a variety of means—the burning bush of Moses (Exodus 3:1-4); the talking donkey of Balaam (Numbers 22:21-30); the gentle whisper heard by Elijah (1 Kings 19:11-14); the strange object lessons of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 13:1-11). Simply put, God speaks to His people in remarkably different ways—through the written Scriptures, through the words of others, through circumstances and events. It is up to us to listen, to be perceptive, to be alert. What is God trying to say to you today? (Life Application Commentary)

THOUGHT - May God grant to each of us who read this story a heart to respond even as did young Samuel when he finally realized it was the LORD speaking to him. In Jesus' Name. Amen 

"Then the LORD came and stood and called as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for Your servant (Lxx =  doulos) is listening (Lxx = present tense).” (1 Sa 3:10)

Acts 10:4 And fixing his gaze on him and being much alarmed, he said, "What is it, Lord?" And he said to him, "Your prayers and alms have ascended as a memorial before God.

KJV Acts 10:4 And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.

  • fixing his gaze on him Daniel 10:11; Luke 1:12,29; 24:5
  • What Acts 9:5,6; 22:10; 1 Samuel 3:10
  • Your prayers Acts 10:31; 2 Chr 6:33; 32:24; Ps 141:2; Isaiah 43:26; Mal 3:16; Luke 1:13; Php 4:6
  • and alms Isaiah 45:19; Php 4:18; Heb 6:10; 13:16

HIS PRAYERS ASCENDED TO THE THRONE
LIKE AN AROMA OF INCENSE

And fixing his gaze on him and being much alarmed - In short, his eyes were riveted by the revelation and he was much afraid, which is saying something for a veteran Roman soldier who had clearly worked his way up through the ranks and must have been battle hardened!

Lenski points out that "This is quite regularly the effect produced when sinful men come into visible contact with the other world."

Compare Zacharias' simiar reaction in Lk 1:11-12+ "And an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense. Zacharias was troubled when he saw the angel, and fear gripped him."

Fixing his gaze (816)(atenizo from from atenes = strained from a = intensifies + teino = to stretch, extend or strain) means to look intently, to fix one's gaze on something, to stare at something, to gaze earnestly, to look straight at something, to fasten one's eyes upon.

Luke has the majority of the NT uses of atenizo

Lk. 4:20; Lk. 22:56; Acts 1:10; Acts 3:4; Acts 3:12; Acts 6:15; Acts 7:55; Acts 10:4; Acts 11:6; Acts 13:9; Acts 14:9; Acts 23:1; 2 Co. 3:7; 2 Co. 3:13

Much alarmed (terrified) (1719)(emphobos from en = in + phobos = fear) literally means "in fear" and then alarmed, startled, terrified, thrown into fear, very afraid. All five uses are associated in some way with supernatural manifestations. Used in 5 verses - Of the women who found Jesus' tomb empty and were confronted by 2 angels (Lk 24:5) Of the 11 disciples who were frightened when Jesus suddenly stood in the room as the 2 on the road to Emmaus were relating what had occurred (Lk 24:33-36). Of Cornelius reaction to the angel. Of the reaction of Felix fearful reaction as Paul "was discussing righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come." (Acts 24:25). Finally of those in Jerusalem who were not killed in the great earthquake, their terror causing them to give "glory to the God of heaven." (Rev 11:13). There are no uses in the Septuagint. 

He said, "What is it, Lord?" - "What is it, sir?" (Act 10:4NLT)

Lord (2962)(kurios) in this context is used as a respectful designation used in addressing persons of varying social or political rank, and equivalent to our sir (See Mt 27:63; Jn 12:21; Acts 16:30).  Kurios in the Gospels is often in the sense of someone addressing a person as a superior.

Robertson - His prayers and his alms proved his sincerity and won the ear of God.

And he said to him, "Your prayers and alms have ascended as a memorial before God - cf Acts 10:31 "‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God." At first reading this sounds as if the angel is saying that Cornelius' alms and prayers merited something from God. Of course that is not the nature of the grace of God which cannot be earned. However Jeremiah 29:13 (in a promise given to Judah but applicable to any seeking heart) says " ‘You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart." Proverbs 15:3 says "The eyes of the LORD are in every place, Watching the evil and the good." In 2 Chr 16:9 we read "the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His." In short the omniscient God saw the heart of the Gentile Cornelius. 

Bengel has an interesting note on prayers and alms noting that prayers "precede: the alms follow, though in respect to men they are the more conspicuous of the two and therefore are put first in Acts 10:2....O how many things fall upon the earth, not ascend!—as a memorial We should pray and do good, even though we do not immediately feel (perceive) the effect.

Kistemaker - Since Cornelius was a God-fearer and not a Jewish convert, he was barred from presenting offerings to God in the Jerusalem temple. But his prayers and his acts of generosity to his fellow man had been accepted by God.

Jack Arnold adds "God was merely taking note of a hungry heart, a searching soul, for the Bible does say, “He who seeks finds” (Matt. 7:8). God never says, “Seek Me in vain!” No, if a man will follow the light he does have, he will receive more light until he finds Christ and then his search for salvation will end." (Acts 10:1-23a The Seeking Sinner and the Bigoted Believer)

Larkin - What we see emerging to this point is the basic outline of the “more light” principle of God’s redemptive mercy (compare Lk 8:18+ = "take care how you listen; for whoever has, to him more shall be given"; Lk 19:26+ = "to everyone who has, more shall be given"). Cornelius has responded in faith and obedience to the “light” he has received, as evidenced by his piety. He fears the one true God, prays to him regularly and acts in love to the needy among God’s people. Such obedience is not a “works righteousness” that earns salvation. This we can see by God’s response. He does not declare Cornelius saved. Rather, he grants him “more light” by which he and his household may be saved (Acts 11:14). God’s response is embodied in a command to send for the messenger who carries the gospel, the essential “more light” (Acts 4:12). What have we done with the light we have received? (Acts 10:1-8 Cornelius's Vision)

A T Robertson adds that Cornelius' "prayers and his alms proved his sincerity and won the ear of God."

J Vernon McGee - Now I do want you to notice that there are certain things that do count before God. These are things which can in no way merit salvation, but they are things which God notes. The prayers of Cornelius and his alms had come up for a memorial before God, and God brought the gospel to him. Wherever there is a man who seeks after God as Cornelius did, that man is going to hear the gospel of the grace of God. God will see that he gets it.

Rackham comments - The Jews had rightly perceived that the real punishment to be dreaded was to be forgotten or forsaken of God (Cp. Mt 27:46); and their constant prayer was ‘Remember me, O God,’ their anxious desire to find something to serve for a memorial of them before God. In particular this name of memorial had been given to that part of the meal offering—the handful of flour with oil and incense—which the priest burnt upon the altar and which ascended unto the Lord as a sweet savour. The fragrance of the incense called Israel to remembrance before JEHOVAH, as the sweet smell of Noah’s sacrifice reminded him of Noah (Ge 8:21,22). This offering then accompanied the daily sacrifice and putting the Lord in remembrance made the sacrifice acceptable to him. It is evident that this was a foreshadowing of the ‘perpetual memory’ of the sacrifice of Christ which, to use human speech, by reminding the FATHER of the oblation upon the cross makes the Christian prayer and sacrifice acceptable and efficacious. One of the Psalmists however had seen that prayer itself was a sweet savour, when he said (Ps 141:2) ‘"May my prayer be counted as incense before You; The lifting up of my hands as the evening offering (ED: Which would have been at the ninth hour here with Cornelius). So in the case of Cornelius, who as a Gentile had no share in the daily offering in the Temple, his prayers and alms went up to God and served as a memorial before him. God then remembered Cornelius, but the revelation for which he prayed was not to be given directly but like Saul he must be told by the church. (Acts 10 Commentary)

Alms (charity) (1654) see discussion of eleemosune

Prayers (4335)(proseuche from pros = toward or immediately before + euchomai = to pray or vow) is the more general word for prayer and is used only of prayer to God. The prefix proswould convey the sense of being immediately before Him and hence the ideas of adoration, devotion, and worship. The basic idea is to bring something, and in prayer this pertains to bringing up prayer requests. In early Greek culture an offering was brought with a prayer that it be accepted. Later the idea was changed slightly, so that the thing brought to God was a prayer. In later Greek, prayers appealed to God for His presence. Proseuche is used 37 times in the NT (see below). Note the concentration of prayer in the early church! (Acts 1:14; Acts 2:42; Acts 3:1; Acts 6:4; Acts 10:4; Acts 10:31; Acts 12:5; Acts 16:13; Acts 16:16). 

Gilbert on alms have ascended - What was given to men was regarded by God as a sacrifice to Him. (compare with Php 4:18+ = Paul, a Jewish believer,  is commending the predominantly Gentile believers at Philippi for their generous support of his ministry and comparing their "offering" to the OT sweet-aroma offerings as in Lev. 1:9+).

Ascended (305)(anabaino from ana = upwards, up, as a pref. denotes up, again, back + basis = a foot) means to go up, to ascend,  cause to ascend from a lower to a higher place. A T Robertson adds ascended or "Gone up like the smoke of incense in sacrifices."

Both these words ascended and memorial recall the language of sacrifices. For example, in Leviticus 2:2+ Moses writes

"He shall then bring it to Aaron’s sons the priests; and shall take from it his handful of its fine flour and of its oil with all of its frankincense. And the priest shall offer it up in smoke as its memorial (Lxx = mnemosunon) portion on the altar, an offering by fire of a soothing aroma to the LORD."

Swindoll adds that "The angel assured the soldier that his actions had been received by God with the same regard as the sacrifices of Hebrew worshipers; the image created by “ascended” hints at smoke rising from an altar (Acts 10:4; cf. Ge 8:21; Ex 29:18, 25; Lev. 8:28)." (Acts - Swindoll's Living Insights NT Commentary)

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia says that "Memorial is a sacrificial term, that which brings the offerer into remembrance before God (ED: cf Cornelius), or brings God into favorable remembrance with the offerer (ED: cf "in remembrance of Me" in 1 Cor 11:24, 25); it is used of the burning of a portion of the cereal offering, on the altar (Lev 2:2, Lev 2:9, 16; 5:12, Nu 5:26)....“Memorial” occurs in the NT as the tr of mnemosunon, “a token of remembrance” (Mt 26:13; Mk 14:9; Acts 10:4, “Thy prayers and thine alms are gone up for a memorial before God,” which suggests the sense in which “memorial” was used in the sacrificial ritual, and also the “better sacrifices” of the new dispensation)." (cf Php 4:18+)

Whereas the pagan Romans and Greeks were offering up sacrifices to their so-called gods and goddesses, this Roman was "offering up sacrifices" with his lips (cf Heb 13:15) to the true and living God and God acknowledged the prayers of his heart. 

Memorial (3422)(mnemosunon from  mnaomai = remember) is something that causes or preserves the remembrance of a person or thing. A memorial is “a memorial that which keeps alive the memory of someone or something. In the Septuagint mnemosunon is used to describe a variety of memorials - God's "Memorial Name" (Ex 3:15), Passover (Ex 12:14 = "this day will be a memorial to you"), to mark Israel's crossing the Jordan River (Josh 4:7 = "So these stones shall become a memorial [Lxx = mnemosunon] to the sons of Israel forever”). In Malachi 3:16+ we see "a book of remembrance (Lxx = mnemosunon) was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who esteem His name." In Ps 112:6 we read "The righteous will be remembered (Lxx = mnemosunon) forever."

THOUGHT - Have you ever thought of your prayers as a "memorial before God?" They are! John alludes to this in Rev 5:8+ writing that in Heaven there are "golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints." And again in Rev 8:3+ John describes "the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne." This is surely where the prayers of Cornelius were deposited. If we really believed the truth (and it is true) that God in some way remembers our prayers and they are before Him in Heaven, would that not motivate us to pray over everything and at all times? (cf 1 Th 5:17+). I am convicted as I write this note! See related discussion about how to store up for yourself treasure in heaven - Praying for People from Every Tribe, Tongue, People and Nation

There are only 2 other NT uses and both describe the woman who anointed Jesus prior to His crucifixion...

Matthew 26:13 “Truly I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done (Mt 26:12) will also be spoken of in memory of her.”

Mark 14:9  “Truly I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her.” 

Mnemosunon - 43 verses in Septuagint

Exod. 3:15; Exod. 12:14; Exod. 13:9; Exod. 17:14; Exod. 28:12; Exod. 28:23; Exod. 30:16; Exod. 39:7; Lev. 2:2; Lev. 2:9; Lev. 2:16; Lev. 5:12; Lev. 6:15; Lev. 23:24; Num. 5:15; Num. 5:18; Num. 5:26; Num. 16:40; Num. 31:54; Deut. 32:26; Jos. 4:7; Neh. 2:20; Est. 1:1; Est. 2:23; Est. 8:12; Est. 9:27; Est. 9:28; Est. 9:32; Est. 10:2; Job 2:9; Job 18:17; Ps. 9:6; Ps. 34:16; Ps. 102:12; Ps. 109:15; Ps. 112:6; Ps. 135:13; Isa. 23:18; Isa. 57:8; Isa. 66:3; Hos. 12:5; Hos. 14:7; Mal. 3:16

Bruce Barton comments that "The angel painted Cornelius's actions as offerings to God. That is a beautiful picture of what our properly motivated acts of faith are like—they ascend to God like the smoke of the sacrifice. This is the language of the Levitical sacrifice (see Leviticus 2:2), commonly applied to our prayers and good deeds done in Christ's name (see Philippians 4:18; Hebrews 13:15-16)." (Life Application Commentary)


Jack Arnold gives his testimony - My own quest for salvation was something like that of Cornelius's search. I was born in a pagan, non-Christian home, but from my youth I knew there was a God. In my youth I attended the Mormon Church, the Seventh-day Adventist Church and the Christian Science Church. At one point in high school, I said the Lord's Prayer every night. I went to a liberal church occasionally and attended a youth group regularly, but I never heard the Gospel. I even did a few good deeds. In college I was still searching and I heard about Christ my freshman year. At that time I made some kind of superficial, external profession of Christ, but I was not saved. I even gave my testimony and people were blessed, but I was not converted. Finally, in my junior year at college, Christ came into my life and I took Him as my Lord and Savior. From that time, I stopped searching for a personal relationship with God because I had found it through Christ.  (Acts 10:1-23a The Seeking Sinner and the Bigoted Believer)


A GIFT TO GOD - Cornelius was generous in helping the poor. Here are eight common excuses for not helping the poor and needy:

   (1) They don't deserve help. They got themselves into poverty; let them get themselves out.
   (2) God's call to help the poor applies to another time.
   (3) I don't know any people like this.
   (4) I have my own needs.
   (5) Any money I give will be wasted, stolen, or spent. The poor will never see it.
   (6) I may become a victim myself.
   (7) I don't know where to start, and I don't have time.
   (8) My little bit won't make any difference.

Instead of making excuses, ask what can be done to help. Does your church have programs to help the needy? Could you volunteer to work with a community group that fights poverty? As one individual, you may not be able to accomplish much, but join up with similarly motivated people, and watch mountains begin to move. (Life Application Commentary)

Acts 10:5 "Now dispatch some men to Joppa and send for a man named Simon, who is also called Peter;

KJV Acts 10:5 And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter:

  • dispatch Acts 10:32; 9:38; 15:7; 16:9
  • who is also called Peter Mark 3:16; John 1:42

TWO SIMONS 
DISTINGUISHED

Now dispatch some men to Joppa and send for - The angel like a military commander issues 2 quick orders to Cornelius. The verb dispatch (pempo) means "dispatch someone, whether human or transcendent being, usually for purposes of communication." Both dispatch and send for are in the aorist imperative, a command to do this with a sense of urgency. Do not delay! 

Send for (3343)(metapempo from metá = after + pémpō =  to send, dispatch) means to send after or for, to summon to oneself. Summon means to ask to come and so to invite to come. Five of the 8 NT uses refer to Cornelius sending for Peter (Acts 10:5; Acts 10:22; Acts 10:29; Acts 11:13) Only 2 uses in the Septuagint - Ge 27:45 ("Then I will send and get you from there"), Nu 23:7 (Balaam says "Balak, the king of Moab, brought me from Aram"). Felix "used to send for him  (Paul) quite often." (Acts 24:26)

Metapempo - 8x in 8v -  brought(1), brought here(1), send(3), sent(4).  Acts 10:5; Acts 10:22; Acts 10:29; Acts 11:13; Acts 20:1; Acts 24:24; Acts 24:26; Acts 25:3

A man named Simon, who is also called Peter - Note this small detail. The angel specifies that he is so send not for Simon the tanner, but for Simon Peter. What a difference there would have been if he had sent for the former! Our omniscient God knows how to send the right person, with the right message, at the right time!

Jack Arnold - Notice how God gets the gospel to Cornelius. He did not do it through an angel. Why didn't God just have the angel tell Cornelius about Christ? Because God has commissioned men, not angels, to preach the good news of Christ to this world. God sent an angel to Cornelius but he tells him where he can find a man who can tell him about true salvation in Christ. God has ordained, beloved, that the gospel should be preached by men like you and me. What a humbling thought and what a high responsibility.  (Acts 10:1-23a The Seeking Sinner and the Bigoted Believer)

John Phillips adds that "World evangelism may be slower that way, but it is sweeter. The testimony of a believer has special weight. "I was once lost like you, but one day Jesus saved me." No angel can talk like that. If a man had a choice to go and hear one of God's saints preach or go and hear an angel preach, Cornelius could tell them what to do. "Go and hear the man," he would say. "I heard an angel, and he told me to send for Peter." (Exploring Acts)

Acts 10:6 he is staying with a tanner named Simon, whose house is by the sea."

KJV Acts 10:6 He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do. (BOLD ONLY IN KJV)

"FOLLOW
YOUR NOSE"

He is staying with a tanner named Simon, whose house is by the sea (cf Acts 9:43) - Tanners required a good supply of water. Tanners are also located outside the main city because of the smell associated with tanning. Regarding this, McGee quips that "The angel tells him where to find Peter. He doesn’t need more of an address. The odor of those hides down in that vat will lead them to the right place!"

Ray Stedman has a similar comment -  If you are looking for a man who is living with a tanner he is not very hard to find. Just follow your nose and you will find him. Tanners are those who tan hides, and it is a smelly occupation. To find Peter they merely need to follow their noses when they get to Joppa. (Acts 9:32-10:23 The Cure For Death)

It is interesting that after being used by God to raise Tabitha from the dead, Peter did not return to Jerusalem or continue his itinerant ministry in Samaria but in fact "stayed many days in Joppa with a tanner named Simon." (Acts 9:43) And keep in mind the "many days" is at an odoriferous home from which you would think Peter would want to leave quickly! Surely this is part of God's providential hand orchestrating events in Joppa and Caesarea by the Sea (The Spirit was leading these events Acts 10:19,20) to assure the door for the Gospel would be flung open to the Gentles!

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! (Ro 11:33+)

Staying (3579) (xenizo from xenos = a stranger as a guest; Eng - Xenophobia) means to entertain a guest. Xenizo is used 4x in this story - Acts 10:6; Acts 10:18; Acts 10:23; Acts 10:32. 

John Phillips - The herald angel was able to give Cornelius exact instructions for finding him. God never forgets a name, never loses an address, never makes a mistake, never has a moment's hesitation in knowing where we are or what we are doing. There is something immensely comforting in that to God's saints. He who tracks the journeyings of a hundred billion stars in each of a hundred million galaxies, who knows the path, the history, and the destiny of every speck of dust in cosmic space, knows all about me! In all my comings and goings by land and sea and air, He knows exactly where to find me any time He wants me. He knows how to send people across my path and into my life to fulfill His own inscrutable purposes. Nothing is more interesting in the book of Acts than to see how God keeps track of men. Does He need a man to meet an Ethiopian traveling at high speed away from Jerusalem with a great longing in his soul? He knows where Philip lives. Does He need a man to find blind Saul of Tarsus on the street called Straight? He knows where Ananias lives. Does He need a man to give the gospel to a good but still unregenerate Roman centurion? He knows Peter's present, temporary address. (Exploring Acts)

Larkin adds that "God deals with Cornelius this way to demonstrate that salvation comes to all people in the same divinely commanded and enabled way: through human messengers who proclaim the gospel (Lk 24:47). We need to constantly remind ourselves of this, whether we are considering the claims of the gospel and are tempted to wait for some extraordinary experience, or whether having received it and become a witness to it we are tempted to become lax in evangelism, thinking that there may be other ways God will save people.

THOUGHT - Let me ask you (under grace, not with any legalistic intent) when was the last time you shared the Gospel with another human being who will one day spend eternity in either heavenly bliss or endless punishment? I know it can be uncomfortable, for none of us like to be rebuffed. But you may be the "Simon Peter" which the Lord is calling to share with that co-worker, relative, classmate, etc. 

Acts 10:7 When the angel who was speaking to him had left, he summoned two of his servants and a devout soldier of those who were his personal attendants,

KJV Acts 10:7 And when the angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually;

  • two Acts 10:2; Genesis 24:1-10,52; Judges 7:10; 1 Samuel 14:6,7; 1 Ti 6:2; Philemon 1:16
  • and a Acts 10:1; Mt 8:9,10; Luke 3:14

CORNELIUS A MAN OF PRAYER
AND A MAN OF ACTION

When the angel who was speaking to him had left - The angel departed but this verb aperchomai does not signify that he immediately vanished.

THOUGHT - There is a practical application - When we have heard a "Word from the Lord," via His living Word and His Spirit in our morning quiet time or from one of His living servants speaking forth the Word of truth in a Sunday sermon, we are then responsible to act on what we have heard. Cornelius could have sat around and relished the remembrance of his supernatural encounter, but instead he took action based upon his revelation. We need to imitate his pattern! So often we hear a great message, let's say a sermon on guarding our tongue, and even before we are out of the parking lot, our flesh has taken control of our tongue and we are spewing forth harsh, even angry words! Beloved, it ought not to be that way. We always need to receive the Word in humility (humble, bowed hearts devoid of pride, etc), ever mindful that God's Word has the power to save our souls (cf James 1:21+ - Here I am applying James' words to "present tense salvation" or progressive sanctification in dependence on the Holy Spirit - see Three Tenses of Salvation).

He summoned two of his servants and a devout soldier of those who were his personal attendants - Cornelius as a centurion understood the importance of prompt obedience to commands and here he responds immediately. Cornelius reminds us of the centurion in Lk 7:8 who understood that orders were to be carried out promptly. He is a living, convicting example of the wise saying of aged Solomon 

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might; for there is no activity or planning or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol where you are going.  (Eccl 9:10).

THOUGHT - Holy prayer does not make a man passive, but, to the contrary, activates that man's senses to take holy actions. Is that one effect of prayer in your life?

Summoned (5455)(phoneo from phone = voice) means to utter in a loud voice, to cry out or speak loudly. Phoneo also conveys the sense of to speak with emphasis. Jesus cried out in Mt 23:46, an angel in Rev 14:18 while demons shrieked as they were cast out (Mk 1:26). 

Servants (3610)(oiketes from oikos = house) means one who lives in the same house as another and then household slaves or domestic servants not as strongly servile as doulos. Many of these household or domestic slaves were well educated and held responsible positions in the households and their number included doctors, teachers, musicians, actors and stewards over great estates. It is also notable that the oiketes or household slave describes one who generally held a closer relation to the family than other slaves. He is one of the household or like a "member of the family.” Luke's description in Acts 10:2NET says Cornelius was a "devout, God-fearing man, as was all his household (Greek = oikos)." In other words, these two servants were undoubtedly "God fearers" and thus fully deserving of Cornelius entrusting them with such an important mission. 

The soldier is described as devout which is the same word (eusebes from eu = good + sebo = to worship) describing Cornelius in Acts 10:2. In English if a quality that someone has rubs off, it starts to affect another person so that they begin to manifest that quality. Clearly Cornelius' godly character had "rubbed off" on those around him. 

THOUGHT - Does my character "rub off" on others or does it "rub" others the wrong way? 

Acts 10:8 and after he had explained everything to them, he sent them to Joppa.

KJV Acts 10:8 And when he had declared all these things unto them, he sent them to Joppa.

  • he sent Acts 10:33; 26:19; Ps 119:59,60; Eccl 9:10; Gal 1:16

CORNELIUS' UNFLINCHING
OBEDIENCE

Cornelius' response illustrates the words of Psalm 119:60  

I hastened and did not delay to keep Your commandments. 

And after he had explained everything to them - Everything (all things) would have included the details of the dramatic angelic visitor and his commands to send for Simon Peter with the specific address in Joppa (there must have been only one tanner by the sea). Cornelius trusted these men. He "took them fully into his confidence in this matter, showing him tactful as well as devout." (Gilbert) It is worth noting that the angel never tells Cornelius the reason for which Simon Peter was sent. There is a principle - As Jesus said in John 7:17 obedience will lead to greater revelation (in this case the salvation of their souls!). Sometimes God answers our prayers without giving us the full and final answer. But if we are sure that it is God Who has answered, then we need to obediently step out in faith that whatever He has told us so far is all we need to know. Cornelius' response reminds me of Hebrews 11:6 

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

Comment - So while Cornelius' faith although not yet placed in Jesus as His Savior, was still a faith that believed it was God answering his prayers. His seeking faith would soon be replaced by a saving faith!

Explained (made known) (1834)(exegeomai from ek = out or as an intensifier + hegeomai = lead) means literally to lead out, then to unfold, giving a detailed report.  Exegeomai gives us our English exegesis which means an explanation or critical interpretation especially of a Biblical text. 

He sent them to Joppa - Acts 10:33 says he sent for Peter "immediately." Cornelius like a good military man obeyed the order from his Superior and sent those under him to carry out this order. There is a timeless principle here - Obedience brings blessing. The contrasting "corollary" is Delayed obedience is disobedience! Is there some instruction or exhortation from God which you are delaying to obey? (What is good biblical exegesis? What is the difference between exegesis and eisegesis?)

Sent (649)(apostello from apo = from, away from + stello = to withdraw from, avoid) means to send off or send forth as a representative or envoy.  Apostello includes the idea of "to send off on a commission to do something as one’s personal representative, with credentials furnished" (Wuest) To send upon some business (Mt. 2:16; 10:5; 20:2). 

Paul Apple writes that "This is a great message for those like Cornelius that see themselves as outsiders – God cares about you."


THE GREAT CONDUCTOR - The picture in Acts 10 (and really the whole Bible) is of God orchestrating big events and individual lives to bring about his eternal purposes. God has a vast, cosmic plan that He is bringing to pass, and He is using willing, obedient servants to make it happen. Are you in a place and of such a mind to be used by the Great Conductor? Get ready! God may send someone across your path today who needs the benefit of your wisdom or gifts. (Life Application Bible) (Related Resource - The Providence of God)

Acts 10:9 On the next day, as they were on their way and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray.

KJV Acts 10:9 On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour:

  • Peter Acts 10:8; 11:5-10; 1 Samuel 9:25; Zephaniah 1:5; Mt 6:6; Mark 1:35; 6:46; 1 Ti 2:8
  • the sixth Acts 6:4; Ps 55:17; Daniel 6:10; Mt 20:5; 27:45; Eph 6:18

DIVINE 
CHOREOGRAPHY

Choreography "is the art or practice of designing sequences of movements of physical bodies (or their depictions) in which motion, form, or both are specified....The word choreography literally means "dance-writing" from the Greek words  choreia (circular dance) and graphe (writing). It first appeared in the American English dictionary in the 1950's." Indeed, here in Acts 10 we find God writing a "circular dance," for Cornelius' men were sent to Joppa and would  "circle back" with Simon Peter, "divine dance steps" which would mark the beginning of a new and glorious "Act" in God's grand "Play of Redemption," an "Act" which continues to this day, as God's Spirit is still seeking Gentiles in the unreached people groups, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Lk 19:10+) What an awesome God we worship and serve! 

G Campbell Morgan - Two men are thirty miles apart. They must be brought together. In order that they may meet, while Joppa is busy with its trade, and Caesarea with its great shipping interests, and will know nothing of what is going on; God within the shadows keeping watch above His own, sends the angel to Caesarea, and grants the ecstatic trance in Joppa. They were thus brought together.

On the next day - This is the second day after leaving Caesarea (almost 30 miles from Joppa) and on "the next day"  (Acts 10:23) or third day after leaving Caesarea, Peter started back to Joppa with Cornelius' three envoys arriving at Joppa on the fourth day (after they had originally departed Caesarea) they reached their destination ("the following day he entered Caesarea" - Acts 10:24). 

In this passage we see the providence of God at work, for while Cornelius's men were coming to get Peter, God was preparing Peter through a vision. This is beautiful example of the mysterious, comforting truth of divine providence. And so we clearly get a glimpse of the mysterious ways of God by which He "works all things after the counsel of His will" (Eph 1:11+), for in this section He was working simultaneously in the heart of Cornelius and also in the heart of Peter.

As Gotquestions explains 

"Divine providence is the governance of God by which He, with wisdom and love, cares for and directs all things in the universe. The doctrine of divine providence asserts that God is in complete control of all things....Through divine providence God accomplishes His will. To ensure that His purposes are fulfilled, God governs the affairs of men and works through the natural order of things. The laws of nature are nothing more than God’s work in the universe. The laws of nature have no inherent power; rather, they are the principles that God set in place to govern how things normally work. They are only “laws” because God decreed them. How does divine providence relate to human volition? We know that humans have a free will, but we also know that God is sovereign. How those two truths relate to each other is hard for us to understand, but we see examples of both truths in Scripture."

And Acts 10-11 is one of the clearest illustrations of God's providence at work!

Jack Andrews - As they were journeying to Joppa they found that the Lord Jesus went before them to prepare the way for them. The Lord often goes before us to prepare our way for ministry. As the servants of Cornelius drew near the city God was already at work in the city of Joppa and God was already at work on His servant. They came to the place that they were sent to! When we obey God’s simple instructions we find that God will use us, bless us, and bless others through us. We need to be where God wants us at and when God wants us there. God’s got work for us to do on: A dirt road, a desert Road (Phillip), a country lane,  a city street, a neighborhood housing project, a city apartment complex. We need to make sure that we are sensitive to the Holy Spirit of God to know where He wants us and when He wants us there. (Expository Sermons)

As they were on their way and approaching the city - God was sovereignly orchestrating the timing of these separate events as He was preparing Peter for a most unexpected entourage of three Gentile visitors sent on mission by Cornelius. It is worth noting that Luke does not give us these three men's names, but God knows their names and He will reward their faithful service in carrying out Cornelius' instructions. I would posit that we will want to meet these three men when we are in Heaven to personally thank them for their mission, which was one piece of puzzle by which Gentiles (this is most of us reading this note!) were brought into the Kingdom of Heaven! 

THOUGHT - Perhaps you feel unappreciated for you are anonymous to many as were these three in Acts 10. If so, this story should greatly encourage you if you are faithfully fulfilling the mission you know God has given you to accomplish (cf Eph 2:10+). Be fully assured that your faithfulness in time will yield fruitfulness throughout eternity (cf 2 Cor 5:10+, Jn 15:16)! BE ENCOURAGED!

Note that ANY TIME is a good time to pray (Cornelius at 3PM, Peter at noon). Rosscup adds that "we see all-night prayer (Lk. 6:12+), pre-dawn prayer (Mk. 1:35), all evening (Mt 14:23), and other times, indeed any time (cf. Php 4:6+, 1 Th 5:17+)." Regarding the timing of prayer, see Paul's exhortation to the saints at Ephesus (in the context of spiritual warfare (Eph 6:10-17+) -- "With ALL prayer and petition pray at ALL times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with ALL perseverance and petition for ALL the saints." (Eph 6:18+). 

Thomas Page on flat roofs - The flat roofs of Oriental houses were used for many purposes, e.g. drying corn, hanging up linen, as places of recreation in the evening and as sleeping places at night (1 Sam. 9:25, 9:26; 2 Sam. 11:2, 16:22; Prov. 21:9); as places of devotion and even idolatrous worship (2 Kings 23:12 = for idolatrous worship; Jer. 32:29 = "offered incense to Baal on their roofs"). (Commentary)

Peter went up on the housetop - Near Eastern houses Peter's day usually had flat roofs which could be accessed by outside stairs or a ladder. Remember that Simon the tanner's house was near the sea, so Simon the Stone (meaning of petros = Peter) would have had a great view of the Mediterranean Sea. The rooftop would also be cooler and provide a peaceful place to pray,  free of distractions and allow Peter to focus on God. And the prevalent sea breezes coming off of the Mediterranean sea would waft away any offensive odors that were commonly associated with the tanning process!

THOUGHT - When I seek God, do I seek a location that will be free of distractions so that I can fully focus on God? Do I let my mind drift when I am praying?

KJV Bible Commentary - The quietest and most retiring spot in an Eastern house is the housetop (cf. 1 Sa 9:25,26). 

PETER A
MAN OF PRAYER

About the sixth hour would be about noon, "midday prayers." The psalmist says "Evening and morning and at noon, I will complain and murmur, and He will hear my voice." (Ps. 55:17, cf Daniel 6:10+ = he continued kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God)

Bob Utley on the sixth hour - Although rabbinical Judaism had set aside 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. to pray (the times of the daily sacrifices in the Temple), the Pharisees had added noon as another appropriate time.

To pray (4336)(proseuchomai from pros = toward, facing, before [i.e., Coram Deo before the face of God] + euchomai = originally to speak out, express a wish, then to pray or to vow - A Greek technical term for invoking a deity) in the NT is always used of prayer addressed to God (to Him as the object of faith and the One who will answer one’s prayer) and means to speak consciously (with or without vocalization) to Him, with a definite aim (See study of noun proseuche). Wuest adds that the prefixed preposition pros "gives it the idea of definiteness and directness in prayer, with the consciousness on the part of the one praying that he is talking face to face with God...(thus proseuchomai) speaks also of the consciousness on the part of the one who prays, of the fact of God’s presence and His listening ear (ED: But see Ps 66:18)."

John G. Butler said, “Those who pray are much more likely to learn about the will and way of God than those who do not pray.” Peter prayed and God revealed His will and way to His servant.

Acts 10:10  But he became hungry and was desiring to eat; but while they were making preparations, he fell into a trance;

KJV Acts 10:10 And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance,

  • he became Mt 4:2; 12:1-3; 21:18
  • he fell Acts 22:17; Numbers 24:4,16; Ezekiel 8:1-3; 11:24; 40:2; 2 Cor 12:2-4; Rev 1:10; 4:2,3

But he became hungry and was desiring to eat - The smells from the kitchen below likely wafted upward and Peter's stomach began to "growl." It is 12 noon so his hunger is expected and provided a perfect preparation for God's "food" vision. Our God is a God of infinite details!

Hungry (4361)(prospeinos from pros = to, toward, intensifies meaning of peina = hunger, famine) probably means very hungry (others say it just means hungry). This is the only use and it is even rare in secular Greek (possibly one use). The fact that Peter was actually desiring (thelo - imperfect tense - again and again) would support the idea that he was very hungry. 

Guzik comments on the fact that Peter became hungry writing that "This often happens during prayer; distractions in our body come as we try to direct ourselves to God. However, God used these very distractions to speak to Peter, as he fell into a trance."

Pastor Jack Andrews quips that "When you and I are hungry we seek to eat! It is often when we are engaged in spiritual activity that we often get physically hungry. We see that often on Sunday mornings. When God is at work and moving in a service people often think about lunch. “When is the preacher going to get through?” “I can’t take much more!” “Where are we going to go for lunch?” Many people have that attitude!" He then adds..."While the food was simmering in the pot Peter was seeing in prayer." (Expository Sermons)

John Phillips rightly reminds us that "It is a constant battle to keep the mind on prayer. The body and its clamorous demands intrudes itself on even so glorious and thrilling a privilege as communing directly with the Lord of glory....It is interesting to observe how "all things work together" (Rom. 8:28). Peter was thinking about food. God used food as the basis for the vision that now fell upon him. Far from being put out by Peter's wandering thoughts He used them as the basis for the revelation now to be made to him." (Exploring Acts).

But while they were making preparations - The cooks were in the kitchen but the food was not yet ready. Think of God's orchestration of even these smallest of details. Peter sensed a gnawing hunger and had they rang the dinner bell, he may have left the roof top.

He fell into a trance - Vincent says "Literally, an ecstasy fell upon him." The same thing happened to Paul in Acts 22:17. Sadly some of us fall into a deep sleep in prayer! 

George Gilbert on trance - A state of transport, in which one is not conscious of the body (see 2 Cor. 12:2), and in which the mind is peculiarly open to heavenly communications. The opposite of falling into a trance appears to be characterized in Acts 12:11 as ‘coming to one’s self.’ (Acts, the Second Volume of Luke's Work on the Beginnings of Christianity, 1908)

Trance (1611)(ekstasis [English - ecstasy] from existemi = "be out of one's sense") literally means either a change of place or put out of place. Clearly it is figurative in this passage and describes a partially suspended state of consciousness. Luke alone employs ekstasis with the sense of ecstasy or trance.

Thomas Page adds that ekstasis "represents a state in which a man, to a greater or less extent, ceases to be under the control of conscious reason and intelligence: he ‘passes out of himself’ (existemi) and needs ‘to come to himself’ again (cf. Acts 12:11). It may describe the effect of awe and amazement (cf. Acts 3:10, Acts 8:9, 8:11, 8:13), or fear (Mark 16:8), or as here and Acts 22:17 a complete loss of outward consciousness, ‘a trance’." (The Acts of the Apostles, 1895)

Trance is an abnormal state of wakefulness in which a person is not self-aware and is either altogether unresponsive to external stimuli but is nevertheless capable of pursuing and realizing an aim, or is selectively responsive in following the directions of the person who has induced the trance. Trance states may occur involuntarily and unbidden.The term trance may be associated with hypnosis, meditation, magic, flow, and prayer. It may also be related to the earlier generic term, altered states of consciousness. 

Holman Bible Dictionary - Trance is descriptive of an experience in which a person received a revelation by supernatural means ( Acts 10:10 ; Acts 11:5 ; Acts 22:17 ). In these instances, the author of Acts, in reference to the experiences of Peter and Paul, seemed to be interested in showing that the trance was only a vehicle for a revelation from God. Luke illustrated that the trances that Peter and Paul experienced “happened” to them and were not self induced. The distinctions between “trance,” “dream” and “vision” are not always clear.

Wikipedia on trance - Trance is an abnormal state of wakefulness in which a person is not self-aware and is either altogether unresponsive to external stimuli but is nevertheless capable of pursuing and realizing an aim, or is selectively responsive in following the directions of the person who has induced the trance. Trance states may occur involuntarily and unbidden. The term trance may be associated with hypnosis, meditation, magic, flow, and prayer. It may also be related to the earlier generic term, altered states of consciousness

Related Resources:

  • American Tract Society Trance
  • Easton's Bible Dictionary Trance
  • Fausset Bible Dictionary Trance
  • Holman Bible Dictionary Trance
  • Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible Trance
  • Hastings' Dictionary of the NT Trance
  • Smith Bible Dictionary Trance
  • 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica Trance
  • International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Trance
  • Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia Trance
  • McClintock and Strong's Bible Encyclopedia Trance

Acts 10:11  and he saw the sky opened up, and an object like a great sheet coming down, lowered by four corners to the ground,

KJV Acts 10:11 And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth:

  • saw Acts 7:56; Ezekiel 1:1; Luke 3:21; John 1:51; Rev 4:1; 11:19; 19:11
  • and an object Genesis 49:10; Isaiah 11:6-14; 19:23-25; 43:6; 56:8; Mt 8:11; 13:47,48; John 11:52; 12:32; Ro 1:16; 3:29-31; 9:4; 15:9-12; 16:25,26; Gal 2:15; 3:28; Eph 1:10; 3:6; Col 3:11

PETER SERVED A
SMORGASBORD ON A SHEET

And he saw the sky opened up - The word for sky is ouranous witch is used 256 times in the NT and is translated heaven 218 times. Thus sky in this passage is clearly synonymous with heaven. The sky opened up is language of a vision or a revelatory act of God as shown by reviewing some of the other Biblical uses (below). 

Saw  (2334)(theoreo) (graphic present tense - was seeing) is derived from theaomai which means to look at  something closely, attentively and even contemplatively, often with a sense of wonder (cf derivative of theoros = a spectator; gives us English = theater). Theoreo means to gaze, to look at carefully or to examine with emphasis on attention to details. The picture of this verb is of a person who is a spectator.

And so here Peter is a "spectator" of the step-by-step unfolding of God's divine drama of deliverance (redemption), and in this "Act of the divine drama" he had a "front row seat" to allow him to clearly see the prologue of the promulgation of the Gospel of salvation to the Gentiles. Peter's feet were (figuratively) being shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace (Eph 6:15+), which accomplishes the "abolishing in His (CHRIST'S) flesh the enmity (BETWEEN JEWS AND GENTILES), which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances (THE WHOLE JEWISH LEGAL SYSTEM - IN ACTS 10 IT WAS EPITOMIZED BY THE DIETARY REGULATIONS WHICH WAS LIKE A "WALL" BETWEEN JEWS AND GENTILES), so that in Himself He might make the two (JEWS AND GENTILES) into one new man, thus establishing peace." (Eph 2:15-22+). That's what the Gospel does to our prejudices, whether they are ethnic, racial, caste, rich, poor, or any other "wall" separating people!

Opened up (perfect tense - it opened and remained open)(455)(anoigo from ana = again + oigo = to open) means to open or open up and thus to give access to. To open one's eyes causing them to see into the truth of the Gospel  (Acts 26:18). It is used of the heavens opened or divided so that celestial (supernatural) things become manifest to natural men (See verses below). 

In Luke 11:10 Jesus used this same verb anoigo in giving a promise regarding believing prayer, declaring that "For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened." Peter had "knocked" at the "door of heaven" and the door was opened up for him to see into the supernatural world, which ultimately would reveal to him God's will for the Gentiles to receive the Gospel and for him to be the means by which this task would be accomplished. Of course, at this time, Peter only saw a portion of the divine drama unfolding, but would soon participate personally in the next "act.". 

And an object like a great sheet coming down, lowered by four corners to the ground - Note the term of comparison (simile) "like a great sheet," so it looked like a sheet (or big sail) but was not an actual sheet. 

Sheet (3607)(othone) means literally fine linen and thus a linen cloth and then a sheet (only in Acts 10:11, 11:5 with no uses in the Septuagint). BDAG adds that othone was used in secular Greek to describe a ship's sail, perhaps helping us visualize what Peter saw in his vision. It is interesting that Peter was a fisherman familiar with sails and also on the roof top where sails of passing ships may have been visible (apologies, I couldn't pass up this bit of wordplay conjecture). One pastor writes Peter "probably looked out over the Mediterranean Sea and saw a huge white sail on a boat that blended into the blue sky of heaven."

It is also interesting that the derivative word othonion which means linen wrappings is used in Lk 24:12+ where Peter after running to Jesus' tomb, stooped down. looked and saw "linen wrappings" (othonion) but no body (cf Jn 20:5, 6, 7). Peter certainly had some incredible experiences with sheets!

Lowered (2524)(kathiemi from kata = down + eimi = to be) means to let down from higher to lower place, as the paralytic on the cot lowered from roof to floor before Jesus (Lk 5:19), of Saul's being lowered in a basket and escaping assassination (Acts 9:25). 


Verses on "Heaven Opened"

Mt 3:16 After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him,

Acts 7:56  and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

Ezekiel 1:1  Now it came about in the thirtieth year, on the fifth day of the fourth month, while I was by the river Chebar among the exiles, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God.

Luke 3:21  Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus was also baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened,

John 1:51   And He *said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

Revelation 4:1 After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.”

Revelation 11:19 And the temple of God which is in heaven was opened; and the ark of His covenant appeared in His temple, and there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder and an earthquake and a great hailstorm.

Revelation 19:11 (John writes) And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war.

Acts 10:12   and there were in it all kinds of four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air.

KJV Acts 10:12 Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.

  • Genesis 7:8,9; Isaiah 11:6-9; 65:25; John 7:37; 1 Cor 6:9-11

AN ASSORTMENT OF ANIMALS
KOSHER AND NON-KOSHER

And there were in it all kinds of four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air - Recall that Peter is already staying with a Jewish man named Simon (almost certainly a believer in Jesus) who handled dead animals in his profession of tanning and thus was considered by most Jews to be unclean! This was surely preparatory work in Peter's heart which would soon overcome even greater prejudice. It is as if Peter's walls of prejudice were progressively being lowered - an unclean profession (a tanner), unclean produce (non-kosher animals) and (soon) unclean people (Gentiles)! God's ways of carrying out His supernatural work using natural means are absolutely fascinating! 

Four-footed animals and crawling creatures - The four-footed animals probably included the unclean hog among other creatures. "What a veritable Noah's ark of animals!" (Phillips)

Steven Ger - In this sheet or sail is a miniature "wild kingdom"; a veritable menagerie of kosher and non-kosher animals (excluding fish, who would not be able to swim very well on a sheet, even within a vision) (ED NOTE: Actually fish are not mentioned,  though they were clean and unclean also Lev. 11:9; Dt. 14:9). According to the kosher laws enumerated in the Torah, the only animals Jews are permitted to eat are those four-footed animals that chew the cud and have split hoofs, as well as specific kinds of birds. Every other animal is forbidden, including all reptiles (Lev. 11:1-47). (Acts - Twenty-First Century Commentary)

Crawling creatures - Peter would have been mindful of the words of Moses...

Whatever crawls on its belly, and whatever walks on all fours, whatever has many feet, in respect to every swarming thing that swarms on the earth, you shall not eat them, for they are detestable. 43 ‘Do not render yourselves detestable through any of the swarming things that swarm; and you shall not make yourselves unclean with them so that you become unclean. 44 ‘For I am the LORD your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy. And you shall not make yourselves unclean with any of the swarming things that swarm on the earth. 45 ‘For I am the LORD who brought you up from the land of Egypt to be your God; thus you shall be holy, for I am holy.’”  (Lev 11:42-45+)

It is surely no coincidence that this was the very passage Peter would later quote in his first epistle having come to fully understand what it was that really made a man holy...

As obedient children, do not be conformed (suschematizo - used in Ro 12:2+ = don't be poured into the "mold") to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, 15 but like the Holy One who called you, be (aorist imperative - Do this without delay or compromise!) holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16 because (TERM OF EXPLANATION - WHY WE ARE TO BE HOLY) it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY (PETER IS QUOTING Lev 11:44, 45).”  (1 Peter 1:14-16+)

Rich Cathters - As Gentiles, we aren’t all that familiar with the Jewish dietary laws. But to a good Jewish boy (like Peter), there are some animals that are edible, and others that aren’t. Some of the inedible animals we would readily agree with – like “bats”. Some of the inedible animals we would not want to stop eating, like pigs (bacon, ham, pork chops) and shrimp. (Sermon Notes)

Jack Arnold is probably correct explaining that "These clean and unclean animals all had a symbolic meaning which Peter would later come to understand completely. The sheet containing the clean and unclean animals represented all of humanity made up of both Jews and Gentiles. The clean animals were the Jews and the unclean animals were the Gentiles. The Jews hated the Gentiles. They thought them common and unclean. In fact, if a Jew even touched a Gentile on the street, he had to go home immediately and wash. A Gentile, if possible, was not to be spoken to and never invited into a Jewish home. The Jews felt themselves superior to the Gentiles and were filled with prejudice, pride, bigotry and snobbishness. The Jews often referred to the Gentiles as “dogs.” The Old Testament taught that Jews were to be a separate people but they perverted this so as to believe they were a super race and they were to have no dealings at all with Gentiles. A Jew's religion, culture and background taught him to have no social intercourse with the Gentiles. Now perhaps we can understand better why Peter had to have this vision of clean and unclean animals. God was teaching him that the Gentile was no longer unclean."  (Acts 10:1-23a The Seeking Sinner and the Bigoted Believer)

Acts 10:13 A voice came to him, "Get up, Peter, kill and eat!"

KJV Acts 10:13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.

  • Rise Acts 10:10; Jeremiah 35:2-5; John 4:31-34

DIVINE PHONICS

Phonics refers to the method of teaching people to read by correlating sounds with letters or groups of letters in an alphabetic writing system. Wikipedia says phonics is defined as "a method for teaching reading and writing of the English language by developing learners' phonemic awareness—the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate phonemes—in order to teach the correspondence between these sounds and the spelling patterns (graphemes) that represent them."

Peter perceives this voice to be that of the Lord (Acts 10:14). 

Steven Ger - As had Saul on the road to Damascus, Peter now hears a bat kol, the divine voice of God from heaven. The voice commanded Peter to pick himself up, walk over to the assembled menagerie, slaughter an animal of his choice and eat it.(Acts - Twenty-First Century Commentary)

Wikipedia on bat kol - In Judaism bat kol or bat ḳōl (Hebrewבּת קול, literally "daughter of voice", "voice of God") is a "heavenly or divine voice which proclaims God's will or judgment."[1] It signifies the ruach ha-kodesh (רוח הקודש, "the spirit of holiness") or serves as a metonym for God; "but it differed essentially from the Prophets", though these were delegates or mouthpieces of ruaḥ ha-kodesh.

A voice came to him - Voice is the Greek noun phone which gives us the English word "phonics" and which can mean a sound, tone or noise which is made in order to convey some significance. In this case the "divine phonics" came in the form of a supernatural voice. Was it an audible voice? We cannot say for certain and obviously God does not need to have sound waves hit our ear drums in order to make Himself known. God can easily "bypass" the ear drums and go directly to one's brain, which is where the sound waves on the ear drum are interpreted! The fact that Peter answers in Acts 10:14 does suggest this was an audible voice, because Peter begins to dialogue.

THOUGHT - The question arises does God still speak to His saints today? The answer is of course He does. However today the "divine phonics" come to us not so much through His audible voice as from an impression He brings to our mind, especially as we read and meditate on His Word and seek Him in prayer. (See additional thoughts in note below). 

Get up, Peter, kill and eat- Kill and eat are both aorist imperatives indicating this was something Peter must do without hesitation. The idea of this command is "Do this now! Do not delay!" 

Marshall - the point is that the Lord’s command frees Peter from any scruples about going to a Gentile home and eating whatever might be set before him. It would be a short step from recognizing that Gentile food was clean to realizing that Gentiles themselves were ‘clean’ also.”


Question: "Does God still speak to us today?"

Answer: The Bible records God speaking audibly to people many times (Exodus 3:14; Joshua 1:1; Judges 6:18; 1 Samuel 3:11; 2 Samuel 2:1; Job 40:1; Isaiah 7:3; Jeremiah 1:7; Acts 8:26; 9:15—this is just a small sampling). There is no biblical reason why God could not speak to a person audibly today. With the hundreds of times the Bible records God speaking, we have to remember that they occur over the course of 4,000 years of human history. God speaking audibly is the exception, not the rule. Even in the biblically recorded instances of God speaking, it is not always clear whether it was an audible voice, an inner voice, or a mental impression. God does speak to people today.

(1) First, God speaks to us through His Word (2 Timothy 3:16–17). Isaiah 55:11 tells us, “So is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” The Bible is God’s Word, everything we need to know in order to be saved and live the Christian life. 2 Peter 1:3 declares, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”

(2) God can also “speak” to us through events—i.e., He can guide us through arranging our circumstances. And God helps us to discern right from wrong through our consciences (1 Timothy 1:5; 1 Peter 3:16). God is in the process of conforming our minds to think His thoughts (Romans 12:2). God allows events to occur in our lives to direct us, change us, and help us to grow spiritually (James 1:2–5; Hebrews 12:5–11). 1 Peter 1:6–7 reminds us, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

(3) God may sometimes speak audibly to people. It is highly doubtful, though, that this occurs as often as some people claim it does. Again, even in the Bible, God speaking audibly is the exception, not the ordinary. If anyone claims that God has spoken to him or her, always compare what is said with what the Bible says. If God were to speak today, His words would be in full agreement with what He has said in the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16–17). God does not contradict Himself. (Gotquestions)

Related Resources:

Acts 10:14  But Peter said, "By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean."

KJV Acts 10:14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.

  • By no means Genesis 19:18; Exodus 10:11; Mt 16:22; 25:9; Luke 1:60
  • for Lev 11:1-17; 20:25; Deuteronomy 14:1-29; Ezekiel 4:14; 44:31

JEWISH DIETARY LAWS: 
AN IMPORTANT DISTINCTION

Think about why the command to kill and eat would provoke such strong negative reaction from Peter? Think of it this way - In Peter's day what marks clearly distinguished the Jews from the pagan Gentiles? There were primarily three visible distinguishing marks. There was (1) circumcision (although some pagan nations did practice this ritual), (2) Sabbath keeping, and (3) dietary laws regarding clean and unclean foods, all of which served to set the Jews apart from the Gentiles in a very visible way wherever they were dispersed. Even today, most larger supermarkets have aisles and even entire sections of "Kosher" foods. And so to the Jews these three markers would have been "sacred ground" and would continue to be enemies of the Gospel throughout these early years of the Church (cf Gal 3:1-3, etc) But back to the situation with Peter, clearly the food laws made fellowship with Gentiles awkward, to put it mildly! And yet Peter was about to receive an invitation to commune with a Gentile! To cross this "cultural chasm" would take a God-sized "drawbridge," (pix) and for this God orchestrates two visions, one for the Gentile God seeker and the other for the Jewish believer. God is good!

But - Term of contrast. This one is easy to discern what Luke is contrasting! What God sent as a revelatory vision had in Peter's mind with all his Jewish prejudices become a veritable nightmare, causing him to recoil in horror at the very thought of partaking of the unholy mixture of animals in the sheet!

A T Robertson - Not so, Lord (Mēdamōs, kurie). The negative mēdamōs calls for the optative eiē (may it not be) or the imperative estō (let it be). It is not oudamōs, a blunt refusal (I shall not do it). And yet it is more than a mild protest as Page and Furneaux argue. It is a polite refusal with a reason given.

Peter said, "By no means (NET = "Certainly not") - Peter clearly recognizes the voice in Acts 10:13 as from a supernatural source because he adds the term "Lord." And even despite his recognition of the divine nature of the command Peter still makes a strong protest. This serves to demonstrate just how ingrained and entrenched the Old Testament dietary laws were in Peter's Jewish mind, even though He was a "new creature" in Christ (2 Cor 5:17+).

THOUGHT - Let's apply Peter's difficulty in making the transition from the Old to the New to our own lives. We once were entangled sinners but have now become saints set apart in Christ. And while many of the sinful patterns of thinking we had before we knew Christ did in fact disappear when we first came to faith, unfortunately not all of them went away (speaking from personal experience). And in this sense all of us believers in the New Covenant are a lot like Peter who was having difficulty shaking his old traditions and habits. Here in Acts 10-11 it took a supernatural work of God to effect that change in Peter (and yet he still lapsed back into his OT mindset in Gal 2:11-16, 14+). Are you still "wrestling" with some of the "baggage" you brought with you when you were transferred from darkness and the dominion of Satan to the Kingdom of Light and Christ? (cf Acts 26:18+, Col 1:12-13+) Don't be discouraged, beloved. Seek the Lord, and continue to daily "Put on your new nature, and be (supernaturally) renewed (present tense = a process not an arrival in this life!) as you learn to know your Creator and become like Him." (Col 3:10NLT+)

Peter had forgotten His Lord's teaching in Mark 7 in which Jesus in effect removed the restrictions regarding dietary laws...

After He called the crowd to Him again, He began saying to them, “Listen to Me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man...When he had left the crowd and entered the house, His disciples questioned Him about the parable. And He said to them, “Are you so lacking in understanding (asunetos) also? (AND FROM PETER'S REPLY HERE IN Acts 10:14 IT IS CLEAR HE HAS STILL NOT UNDERSTOOD JESUS' WORDS!) Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?” (Thus He declared all foods clean.) (Mark 7:14-15, 17-19)

Comment by Ryrie - Mark's comment that all foods were clean was written years after the church had begun and was directed at his Christian readers who may have misunderstood these Jewish ceremonial laws. 

The writer of Hebrews explained to the Jewish readers who were being attracted to the Gospel (some of whom had already entered the New Covenant but were still being drawn back to their Old Covenant ways) that Christ had inaugurated a New Covenant and the OT dietary laws were no longer in effect...

When He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first (Old Covenant) obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear. (Hebrews 8:13+)

Comment regarding the ceremonial law (like eating "Kosher" foods) - The ceremonial laws are called hukkim or chuqqah in Hebrew, which literally means “custom of the nation”; the words are often translated as “statutes.” These laws seem to focus the adherent’s attention on God. They include instructions on regaining right standing with God (e.g., sacrifices and other ceremonies regarding “uncleanness”), remembrances of God’s work in Israel (e.g., feasts and festivals), specific regulations meant to distinguish Israelites from their pagan neighbors (e.g., dietary and clothing restrictions), and signs that point to the coming Messiah (e.g., the Sabbath, circumcision, Passover, and the redemption of the firstborn)....Christians are not bound by ceremonial law. Since the church is not the nation of Israel, memorial festivals, such as the Feast of Weeks and Passover, do not apply. Galatians 3:23-25+ explains that since Jesus has come, Christians are not required to sacrifice or circumcise. There is still debate in Protestant churches over the applicability of the Sabbath. Some say that its inclusion in the Ten Commandments gives it the weight of moral law. Others quote Colossians 2:16-17+ and Romans 14:5+ to explain that Jesus has fulfilled the Sabbath and become our Sabbath rest. As Romans 14:5 says, "Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind." The applicability of the Old Testament law in the life of a Christian has always related to its usefulness in loving God and others (ED: cf Luke 10:27+) . If someone feels observing the Sabbath aids him in this, he is free to observe it. (See What is the difference between the ceremonial law, the moral law, and the judicial law in the Old Testament?)

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Graham Scoggie has an interesting comment stating that "Whoever says ‘not so’ should never add ‘Lord,’ and whoever truly says ‘Lord’ will never say ‘Not so.’”

Do you understand what Scroggie is saying? Lord is the word kurios which means master, sovereign, the one in complete control. How ludicrous in one moment to call Him "Lord," and with the same breath tell Him "No." That's a clear contradiction of terms. If He the sovereign Lord tells us to do something, and we respond with "No" our negative reply clearly does not acknowledge Him as Lord.

How like the old Peter he was in this moment...

So He *came to Simon Peter. He *said to Him, “Lord, do You wash my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.” Peter *said to Him, “Never shall You wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” (Jn. 13:6–8, cf Mt 16:21-23 where Peter said "God forbid it Lord!" that Jesus should be killed and raised).

Spurgeon adds that "No, Lord" "is a curious expression. If Peter had said, “No,” there would have been a clear consistency in his language and tone. But “No, Lord,” is an odd jumble of self-will and reverence, of pride and humility, of contradiction and devotion. Surely, when you say, “No,” it ought not to be said to the Lord, and if you say, “Lord,” you ought not to put side by side the word no. Peter always was a blunderer in his early days, and he had not grown out of his old habits of honest impetuosity. He meant well, and his expression was not intended to convey all that we might easily make of it. At any rate, it is not for us to condemn him. Who are we that we should sit in judgment on another saint of God? We are not without fault ourselves.

ILLUSTRATION - A young believer, facing the choice of obeying the call of God to the mission field or of continuing in a rewarding and comfortable business position, once consulted a veteran missionary. He explained how clearly God had called and yet how hard it was to make the choice to go. The missionary opened his Bible at this passage and pointed out to the young person Peter's words, "Not so, Lord." "You cannot say that," the wise, older man explained. "It is either 'Not so' or it is 'Lord.' The two words put together are a contradiction in terms. Now then," he continued, "take my Bible and take this pencil. Sit down here and pray about it. Then cross out one of the expressions. Cross out the words 'not so' and leave the word 'Lord,' or cross out the word 'Lord' and leave the words 'not so.' You cannot have it both ways." (John Phillips)

Steven Ger - An observant Jew, Peter maintained the laws of kashrut, the kosher restrictions mandated in the Torah. Most of the animals on that sheet had been forbidden to Jews by God Himself. Even permitted animals must be ritually slaughtered in the prescribed kosher manner. Peter was not hungry enough to slaughter one of these on a housetop, lacking the proper implements of slaughter. He saw no inherent contradiction in his refusal of the sovereign deity's command, and reminded God that he had never in his life eaten any unholy or unclean food.(Acts - Twenty-First Century Commentary)

Wikipedia on kashrut - Kashrut is a set of Jewish religious dietary laws. Food that may be consumed according to halakha (Jewish law) is termed kosher (/ˈkoʊʃər/ in English, Yiddish: כּשר‎), from the Ashkenazi pronunciation of the Hebrew term kashér (כָּשֵׁר‬), meaning "fit" (in this context, fit for consumption). Among the numerous laws that form part of kashrut are the prohibitions on the consumption of certain animals (such as porkshellfish [both Mollusca and Crustacea], and most insects, with the exception of certain species of kosher locusts), mixtures of meat and milk, and the commandment to slaughter mammals and birds according to a process known as shechita. There are also laws regarding agricultural produce that might impact the suitability of food for consumption. Most of the basic laws of kashrut are derived from the Torah's Books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy. Their details and practical application, however, are set down in the oral law (eventually codified in the Mishnah and Talmud) and elaborated on in the later rabbinical literature

James Rossup observes that " it is one thing to say no to God in prayer out of defiance, another to say no in a heart that is obedient but misunderstnnding how things fit (Acts 10:14). God discerns, and is patient to teach the receptive to do what He wants, as He nudges Peter along by His Word here, and us by the completed Scripture." (Ibid)

Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean - Peter had been perfect! In other words Peter was steadfastly "kosher" regarding his diet. It is interesting that Peter uses the same description of Gentiles in Acts 10:28 declaring "God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean."

A T Robertson - I never did anything like this and I shall not do it now....At this moment he is in spiritual and intellectual turmoil.

John Phillips observes that "A tremendous struggle took place in Peter's soul. His ingrained religious prejudice, reinforced by the clear commands of biblical ritual law, strengthened by years of rabbinical teaching and tradition, and enforced by lifelong practice, warred against the clear demand of the vision. Peter, as always, blurted out what was on his mind. "Not so, Lord.""

Unholy (2839)(koinos)  means defiled (corrupted in regard to its purity or perfection), unclean (because it is treated as common and thus considered morally or spiritually impure) or profane (not holy because unconsecrated, impure, or defiled). Koinos describes spiritual desecration which occurs when one treats that which is considered sacred or holy (set apart to God) as ordinary ("not special").

Unclean (169)(akathartos from a = without + kathaíro = cleanse from katharos = clean, pure, free from the adhesion of anything that soils, adulterates, corrupts, in an ethical sense, free from corrupt desire, sin, and guilt) (See akatharsia) in a moral sense refers to that which is unclean in thought, word, and deed. It can describe a state of moral impurity, especially sexual sin and the word foul is an excellent rendering. The idea is that which morally indecent or filthy. It is not surprising that this word is repeatedly applied to filthy demonic spirits in the Gospels.

John Stott gives us background on just how amazing the events of Acts 10-11 were in light of the great cultural divide between Jews and Gentiles...

It is difficult for us to grasp the impassable gulf which yawned in those days between the Jews on the one hand and the Gentiles (including even the ‘God-fearers’) on the other. Not that the Old Testament itself countenanced such a divide. On the contrary, alongside its oracles against the hostile nations, it affirmed that God had a purpose for them. By choosing and blessing one family, he intended to bless all the families of the earth. So psalmists and prophets foretold the day when God’s Messiah would inherit the nations, the Lord’s servant would be their light, all nations would ‘flow’ to the Lord’s house, and God would pour out his Spirit on all humankind. The tragedy was that Israel twisted the doctrine of election into one of favouritism, became filled with racial pride and hatred, despised Gentiles as ‘dogs’, and developed traditions which kept them apart. No orthodox Jew would ever enter the home of a Gentile, even a God-fearer, or invite such into his home (see verse 28). On the contrary, ‘all familiar intercourse with Gentiles was forbidden’ and ‘no pious Jew would of course have sat down at the table of a Gentile’. This, then was the entrenched prejudice which had to be overcome before Gentiles could be admitted into the Christian community on equal terms with Jews, and before the church could become a truly multi-racial, multi-cultural society. (The Message of Acts).

Gary Hill in his discussion of koinos adds some interesting insights that help understand Peter's resistance to obey the command to eat "unclean" food...

Rabbinical (Jewish) laws often erred by imposing many regulations about what supposedly made certain types of cups, plates, etc., "defiled" (koinos). This bred much unwarranted legalism with the terrible result of calling all Gentiles "unclean" whom the Lord was calling to Himself. Because of this, the Jews missed out on their duty to evangelize. Example: If a Jewish person even touched an "unclean vessel," they could be barred from entering the Temple or synagogue. Much needless care was taken to keep all vessels "ceremonially clean" to meet rabbinical (man-made) standards about religious purity. Any contact (no matter how indirect) with something "unclean" required elaborate rituals of sacrifice (purification). Accordingly, the Pharisees meticulously followed religious formulas to clean vessels, strain wine, etc., in order to rid themselves of supposed defilement. The Jews became preoccupied with minors and missed the "majors" – like living in faith, hope, love (cf. Mt 23:23 with 1Cor 13:13). Their greatest error in this regard was avoiding Gentiles supposedly to escape "defilement." The Bible itself never prohibited nor discouraged them from having contact with Gentiles (non-Jewish people)! Indeed, this was needed for the outreach God desired the OT saints to extend to all people! (See athemitos = properly, not acceptable to the prevailing custom or ordinary practice - used only in Acts 10:28; 1Pet 4:3). The OT never prohibited Jews from eating with Gentiles, or coming in contact with them! This twisted idea, of "ceremonial defilement," (unfortunately) came from misguided rabbis....The Pharisees in NT times were infamous for their distorted ideas about "ceremonial uncleanness," i.e. what was really "defiled" (koinos). Indeed, they often defined something as koinós ("defiled") which was morally neutral, or not "defiled" at all. They failed here by overly focusing on the physical, even petty things that supposedly made someone spiritually unacceptable to the Lord. Examples - The rabbis and Pharisees said touching a "defiled" plate made someone "unclean" if it had a rim. But touching a flat plate could not spiritually defile a Jew. So too, a person was supposedly defiled by touching an "unclean" object made of wood and metal – but the metal part could "not become unclean" or pass on impurity (Wm Barclay). Worse, they believed a person became "unclean" by standing in the shadow of an "unclean object" – another "holiness standard" defined by the rabbis (not the Bible!). (From this interesting resource The Discovery Bible)

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Acts 10:15 Again a voice came to him a second time, "What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy."

KJV Acts 10:15 And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.

  • What Acts 10:28; 11:9; 15:9,20,29; Mt 15:11; Rev 14:14-17,20; 1 Cor 10:25; Gal 2:12,13; 1 Ti 4:3-5; Titus 1:15; Heb 9:9,10

GOD MAKES ALL
FOODS KOSHER!

Again a voice came to him a second time - The patience of God to speak a second time even after Peter's negative response.

"What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.- Recall Mark's parenthetical statement in Mk 7:19 that Jesus "declared all foods clean." Here in Acts God is establishing a new order, overturning the Old Covenant regulations having to do with ritual or ceremonial laws in the Mosaic Covenant, including clean and unclean foods, need for sacrifices, celebration of festivals and special days and even circumcision. 

The phrase no longer consider unholy is present imperative with a negative which means to stop an action in progress - Peter had just called unholy what God had invited him to slay and eat. Peter was to stop calling unholy what God had cleansed. 

Matthew 15:11 “It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man.” 

Col 2:16, 17  Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day–things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.


The Open Bible -  Reconciliation Between Enemies—The gospel of Jesus Christ not only reconciles humans to God but provides the basis for reconciliation between people who are natural enemies. In NT times the natural enemies who heard the gospel were Jews and Gentiles. Jews, whose faith rested on the OT, comprised all of the earliest converts to faith in Christ (Acts 2:41; 4:4; 11:19). The Jewish Christians did not want to consider Gentiles as Christians until they first became Jewish converts (Acts 15:1). One of the triumphs of the NT church was recognizing that all humans stand on level ground before the Cross of Christ—equally needy, equally redeemed by His death, equally worthwhile in His body (Eph. 2:11–18).
  It is a scandal in the church of Jesus Christ when centuries later majority-race Christians exclude minority groups. That Native Americans, African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Hispanics, and other ethnic groups are despised and excluded from various Christian congregations is sin. One of the most powerful witnesses to the reality of the work of God in the modern world is interracial reconciliation (John 17:20–23). Hatred and suspicion cannot be solved by education and legislation. Only regeneration can change the fearful human heart (2 Cor. 5:16–20). Only the church has a compelling reason to reject natural racial hostility in favor of the supernatural love of Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:19–22).

Acts 10:16 This happened three times, and immediately the object was taken up into the sky.

KJV Acts 10:16 This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven.

  • three times Genesis 41:32; John 21:17; 2 Cor 13:1

THE SHEET VISION:
PART THREE

This happened three times - The implication is that Peter remained unconvinced accounting for the need to repeat this action three times.

Robertson comments "Here is a striking illustration of obstinacy on the part of one who acknowledges the voice of God to him when the command of the Lord crosses one’s preferences and prejudices. There are abundant examples today of precisely this thing. In a real sense Peter was maintaining a pose of piety beyond the will of the Lord. Peter was defiling what God had cleansed."

The phrase three times of course recalls Peter's three denials that he knew Jesus (cf Lk 22:34, after the third denial = Mt 26:74). Some commentators say in this present pericope, Peter refused to obey three times, but Luke only describes one specific refusal in Acts 10:14 explaining that he had never eaten anything unclean and unholy before. The three part sheet vision also recalls another, and perhaps more relevant event that occurred three times in John 21 where Jesus asks Peter three times if he loved Him (Jn 21:15, 16, 17 agapao...phileo, agapao...phileo, phileo...phileo). To each of Peter's affirmative replies, Jesus spoke of feeding His sheep - "Tend My lambs" (Jn 21:15), "Shepherd My sheep" (Jn 21:16) and "Tend My sheep." (Jn 21:17). (See in depth notes on John 21:15-25) In John 10:16 Jesus had clearly declared "I have other sheep, which are not of this fold (i.e., Gentiles); I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd (i.e., the Church, cf Eph 2:16+)." This was in a very real sense a prophecy that the Gentiles would be gathered into the Kingdom of God under Christ the Chief Shepherd. And here in Acts 10-11, God is leading Peter to fulfill Jesus' prophecy by taking the Gospel to the Gentiles in Caesarea Maritima. How wonderful is God's word in one section which perfectly integrates with His words in this parallel section. 

Rich Cathers makes an interesting comment - A principle in Scripture is that “truth” is determined by two or more witnesses. (Dt 19:15NKJV) “One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established." You will see this in places where a dream is repeated twice. When Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams, it was significant that the theme of the two dreams was repeated. Joseph told Pharaoh: (Ge 41:32NKJV) "And the dream was repeated to Pharaoh twice because the thing isestablished by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass." (Sermon Notes)

And immediately the object was taken up into the sky 

Acts 10:17 Now while Peter was greatly perplexed in mind as to what the vision which he had seen might be, behold, the men who had been sent by Cornelius, having asked directions for Simon's house, appeared at the gate;

KJV Acts 10:17 Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made enquiry for Simon's house, and stood before the gate,

  • while Acts 10:19; 2:12; 5:24; 25:20; John 13:12; 1 Peter 1:11
  • the men Acts 10:7-18; 9:43

Now while Peter was greatly perplexed in mind as to what the vision which he had seen might be - At this point Peter does not understand the significance of his vision of clean and unclean. 

behold, the men who had been sent by Cornelius, having asked directions for Simon's house, appeared at the gate

Vision (3705)(see preceding discussion of horama)

William MacDonald comments that "It is clear that the vision had deeper significance than the mere matter of eating foods, clean and unclean. True, with the coming of the Christian faith, these regulations concerning foods were no longer in effect. But the real significance of the vision was this: God was about to open the door of faith to the Gentiles. As a Jew, Peter had always looked upon the Gentiles as unclean, as aliens, as strangers, as far off, as godless (ED: cf Peter's statement in Acts 10:28). But now God was going to do a new thing. Gentiles (represented by the unclean beasts and birds) were going to receive the Holy Spirit the same as the Jews (clean beasts and birds) had already received Him. National and religious distinctions were to be dissolved, and all true believers in the Lord Jesus would be on the same level in the Christian fellowship." (Believer's Bible Commentary)

Acts 10:18 and calling out, they were asking whether Simon, who was also called Peter, was staying there.     

KJV Acts 10:18 And called, and asked whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were lodged there.

  • and asked Acts 10:5,6; 11:11

and calling out, they were asking whether Simon, who was also called Peter, was staying there

Acts 10:19 While Peter was reflecting on the vision, the Spirit said to him, "Behold, three men are looking for you.

KJV Acts 10:19 While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee.

  • the Spirit Acts 8:29; 11:12; 13:2; 16:6,7; 21:4; John 16:13; 1 Cor 12:11; 1 Ti 4:1

PETER IS A 
SPIRIT DIRECTED MAN

While Peter was reflecting on the vision - NET has "was still thinking seriously." Peter is still on the roof pondering the vision. His perplexity of Acts 10:17 was about to be explained as the Spirit speaks to him.

Reflecting (dienthumenomai from dia = through or intensifies + enthumeomai in turn from en = in + thumos = mind, thought) so the idea is to think upon something, to think it through, giving it careful consideration. The present tense indicates this was continually on Peter's mind. Robertson comments that "Peter was revolving in his mind, through and through, in and out, to find the meaning of the strange vision."

The Spirit said to him - This is the first (and only) record by Luke that the Spirit spoke directly to Peter. He refers to this supernatural speech in Acts 11:12 stating that "The Spirit told me to go with them without misgivings."

The Spirit of truth is like an inner compass in our lives.

The Spirit speaks directly several times in Acts

(Acts 8:29) Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go up and join this chariot.”
(Acts 11:12) “The Spirit told me to go with them without misgivings. These six brethren also went with me and we entered the man’s house.
(Acts 13:2) While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”
(Acts 16:6) They passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia;
(Acts 16:7) and after they came to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them;
(Acts 21:4) After looking up the disciples, we stayed there seven days; and they kept telling Paul through the Spirit not to set foot in Jerusalem.

Behold, three men are looking for you - Peter has the supernatural vision repeated three times and now receives additional supernatural confirmation regarding the three men sent by Cornelius. While the number "three" occurs twice in this story and several times in Peter's lifetime, it is difficult to ascribe any particular significance to this number.

Vision (3705)(see preceding discussion of horama)


Adrian Rogers - Learning to Yield to the Holy Spirit - Let me give you a few suggestions about yielding to the Holy Spirit. Remember that his guidance is promised in the Gospels by Jesus himself. "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come" (John 16:13).
Also his guidance is shown in the Book of Acts. "While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee" (Acts 10:19). "After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not" (Acts 16:7). And in his Epistle to the Romans, Paul makes clear that the Spirit of God leads the people of God. "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God" (Rom. 8:14).
How can we tell, however, if it is the Spirit of God or some other voice? How can we assure ourselves that the Spirit is leading rather than autosuggestion or human impression? Many foolish and hurtful things have been done by people who claim to have been led by the Spirit of God or some "inner light."
One of the keys that I've found is to be aware of anything that disturbs our peace with God. Colossians 3:15 says, "Let the peace of God rule in your hearts." The Greek word translated as rule is a verb form of the word for a judge or a referee in an athletic game. I can tell when I'm "out of bounds" because the Holy Spirit will blow the whistle. If you are walking in the Spirit, you will hear the whistle.
There is authority everywhere, and we must yield. I was with some friends at a restaurant. We wanted to move some tables together so we could sit together. The waitress said, "You can't do that." To me it was obvious that we could and for practical purposes should. Had I been a manager in the restaurant, not only would I have encouraged it; I would have seen that it was done.
At the time of this event, I was serving as president of the Southern Baptist Convention—the world's largest evangelical denomination. Here's a waitress telling us that we could not do a very reasonable thing. My first impression was to just do it anyway, and so I started to move the tables. At that moment the Holy Spirit blew a whistle and said, "Adrian, you're out of bounds. She is in authority here." Indeed she was. I submitted, and I am glad that I did.
I have found that to yield to him in small things, everyday things, practical things makes it so much easier to yield in times of crisis. Oh, there is so much more in Jesus! We need to know it, reckon on it, and yield to it. Then, the mighty Spirit of God releases the awesome power of Kingdom Authority, and we can shout that "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death" (Rom. 8:2)! (The Incredible Power of Kingdom Authority)


Charles Stanley - TO WALK IN THE SPIRIT IS TO OBEY THE INITIAL PROMPTINGS OF THE SPIRIT - To whom do you turn for daily guidance on how to live, what to do, where to go, whom to see, how to make decisions? The Scriptures tell us that the only Guide worth trusting is the Holy Spirit. He is the only One who knows our past completely, from the moment we were conceived to the present, and who also knows our future, from this day to eternity. Only He fully knows God’s plan and purpose for us, today and for each day of our lives. Only the Holy Spirit knows what is fully good and right for you. Any other opinion can reflect only part of the full truth, which the Holy Spirit knows completely. Jesus repeatedly referred to the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of truth. Note what He said about the Holy Spirit’s activity in your life: “He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come” (John 16:13). The Spirit of truth is like an inner compass in our livesalways pointing us toward what Jesus would be, say, or do in any given moment. od desires to make His will known to you. He wants you to know what to do and when to do it. Trust the Holy Spirit to be your daily Guide!Throughout the Gospels, we see Jesus guided every day by the Holy Spirit. After God poured out the Holy Spirit on the disciples, they too found themselves led in profound ways by the Holy Spirit. The verses below give just a few examples of how the Holy Spirit dealt with His people in ways that provided very personal and specific guidance. What He did for them then, He desires to do for you today. Then the Spirit told me to go with them, doubting nothing (Acts 11:12).As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them” (Acts 13:2).Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia (Acts 16:6). The leaders of the early church relied on the Holy Spirit to give them this kind of specific, personal guidance, and we are wise to do likewise. Both Romans 8:14 and Ephesians 5:18 refer to our being “led by the Spirit”—the norm of the Christian life. You may ask, “Are there any conditions placed upon the guidance of the Holy Spirit in our lives?” Yes. First, we must stay yielded to the Spirit. (ED: WE MUST CONFESS AND REPENT OF ANY KNOWN SIN LEST WE GRIEVE OR QUENCH HIM!) We must say yes to the Spirit when He prompts us to take a certain action or say a certain word. We must give mental assent to the Spirit’s direction, and then we must actually obey His prompting and follow through by doing or saying what He has called us to do or say. The Spirit often speaks to us in the stillness of our hearts with a word of conviction or assurance. When the Holy Spirit is directing us away from something harmful, we very often have a heaviness or a feeling of trouble, foreboding, or uneasiness in our spirits. When the Holy Spirit is directing us toward helpful things we tend to feel a deep inner peace, an eagerness to see what God will do, and a feeling of joy. How can you know if you are yielded to the Holy Spirit? You are yielded to Him when you can say to Him, “Here is what I desire. But if Your answer to this is ‘no,’ it’s all right. I’ll do what You say.” Second, we must believe for His guidance. We are much more likely to hear what the Holy Spirit has to say to us if we are actively listening for Him to speak. We are much more likely to see the Holy Spirit’s direction if we are looking for His signs. Hebrews 11:6 tells us that God is a “rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” We are to be diligent in seeking His guidance, asking for it, watching for it, anticipating it, and receiving it. The Holy Spirit has come to reveal the truth to us. He has come in His all-knowing ability to impart to us what we need to know in order to live obedient and faithful lives. Trust Him to guide you, now and always. (Amen). (Life Principles Bible)

Acts 10:20 "But get up, go downstairs and accompany them without misgivings, for I have sent them Myself."

KJV Acts 10:20 Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them.

  • get up Acts 8:26; 9:15; 15:7; Mark 16:15
  • for I have sent them Myself Acts 9:17; 13:4; Isaiah 48:16; Zech 2:9-11

But get up, go downstairs and accompany them without misgivings, for I have sent them Myself - What "misgivings?" If one was a Roman soldier, Peter would know immediately he was a Gentile and his lifelong prejudice would "kick in." 

Stanley - Have you ever noticed that God tends to guide us in stages? He rarely, if ever, gives us a roadmap to follow; instead, He asks us to take His hand and go where He goes, without doubting our final destination.

Acts 10:21 Peter went down to the men and said, "Behold, I am the one you are looking for; what is the reason for which you have come?"

KJV Acts 10:21 Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come?

  • Behold John 1:38,39; 18:4-8
  • what Acts 10:29; Mark 10:51

Peter went down to the men and said, "Behold, I am the one you are looking for; what is the reason for which you have come?

Acts 10:22  They said, "Cornelius, a centurion, a righteous and God-fearing man well spoken of by the entire nation of the Jews, was divinely directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and hear a message from you."

KJV Acts 10:22 And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee.

  • Cornelius Acts 24:15; Hosea 14:9; Habakkuk 2:4; Mt 1:19; Mark 6:20; Luke 2:25; 23:50; Ro 1:17; Heb 10:38; 12:23
  • well spoken of Acts 6:3; 22:12; Luke 7:4,5; 1 Ti 3:7; Heb 11:2; 3 John 1:12
  • and hear a message from you  Acts 10:6,33; 11:14; John 5:24; 6:63,68; 13:20; 17:8,20; Ro 10:17,18; 2 Cor 5:18; 2 Peter 3:2

They said, "Cornelius, a centurion, a righteous and God-fearing man well spoken of by the entire nation of the Jews, was divinely directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and hear a message from you." 

Acts 10:23 So he invited them in and gave them lodging. And on the next day he got up and went away with them, and some of the brethren from Joppa accompanied him.

KJV Acts 10:23 Then called he them in, and lodged them. And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him.

  • gave them lodging Genesis 19:2,3; 24:31,32; Judges 19:19-21; Heb 13:2; 1 Peter 4:9
  • on the next da Acts 10:29,33; Eccl 9:10
  • some of the brethren from Joppa  Acts 10:45; 9:38,42; 11:12; 2 Cor 8:21

So (Therefore) (oun) - Term of conclusion. Peter concluded that there was something supernatural about these Gentiles showing up the same day he had a supernatural encounter. 

He invited them in and gave them lodging - A Jewish man inviting a Gentile in was clearly a step in the right direction. This would have been difficult for Peter humanly speaking, because remember he still does not understand the significance of the vision. One thinks of Jonah's response to God when he was instructed to take good news to the hated Gentile Ninevites. And how did Jonah respond? He ran the opposite direction, departing from Joppa, the very city from which Peter would soon depart to go share the good news with a Gentile.

And on the next day he got up and went away with them,

And some of the brethren from Joppa accompanied him - We discover later that these are Jewish believers (Acts 10:45)


Giving Credit - Sometimes we can fall into the trap of thinking that we’re the brains behind the operation. Illustration - David N. Dinkins, then the mayor of New York, was riding through the city in his limousine with his wife, Joyce. Looking out the window, they recognized a man doing manual labor on the roadside as “John,” a former suitor of Mrs Dinkins’. Seeing him, the mayor smiled a bit smugly at his wife. “You must be so glad,” he said, “to be married to the powerful mayor in the limo rather than to poor John shoveling alongside the road.” His wife smiled. “If I’d married John, he’d be with me in the mayor’s limo.”

Acts 10:24 On the following day he entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting for them and had called together his relatives and close friends.

KJV Acts 10:24 And the morrow after they entered into Caesarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends.

  • ad called together his relatives Isaiah 2:3; Micah 4:2; Zech 3:10; 8:20-23; Mt 9:9,10; Mark 5:19,20; Luke 5:29; John 1:41-49; 4:28,29; 1:1-3

On the following day he entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting for them and had called together his relatives and close friends

Acts 10:25  When Peter entered, Cornelius met him, and fell at his feet and worshiped him.

KJV Acts 10:25 And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him.

  • fell at his feet  Acts 14:11-13; Daniel 2:30,46; Mt 8:2; 14:33; Rev 19:10; 22:8,9

When Peter entered, Cornelius met him, and fell at his feet and worshiped him

Acts 10:26  But Peter raised him up, saying, "Stand up; I too am just a man."  

KJV Acts 10:26 But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man.

  • Stand up  Acts 14:14,15; Isaiah 42:8; 48:13; Mt 4:10; 2 Th 2:3,4; Rev 13:8; 19:10; 22:9

But Peter raised him up, saying, "Stand up; I too am just a man."

Acts 10:27  As he talked with him, he entered and found^ many people assembled.

KJV Acts 10:27 And as he talked with him, he went in, and found many that were come together.

  • and found Acts 10:24; 14:27; John 4:35; 1 Cor 16:9; 2 Cor 2:12; Col 4:3

As he talked with him, he entered and found many people assembled

Acts 10:28 And he said to them, "You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him; and yet God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean.

KJV Acts 10:28 And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.

  • How unlawful Acts 11:2,3; 22:21,22; John 4:9,27; 18:28; Gal 2:12-14
  • but God Acts 10:15,34; 11:9; 15:8,9; Isaiah 65:5; Luke 18:11; Eph 3:6,7

And he said to them, "You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him;

Unlawful (111)(athemitos from a = negative + themis = statute, an adjective from themis= law) is literally contrary to statute, and thus illegal or unlawful. It describes that which is forbidden. Vincent says athemitos is "More literally, unlawful, emphasizing the idolatries as violations of divine law."

And yet God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean - This is an interesting statement because God had not specifically told Peter not to call any man unholy or unclean. Peter was shown a vision of unclean animals who were declared clean, and it appears that he reasoned out the application to men. Here is the point - God gives us instruction today by His Word, prayer, circumstances, but He never does so by bypasses our minds. We need to think! 

Rich Cathers on unclean people - This would be a hard thing for someone raised in Judaism. All of his life, Peter has been taught that Gentiles were unclean. You don’t spend time with Gentiles. You don’t associate with Gentiles. For us, it’s a little more subtle, but it’s still there. When some of us were kids, it was the “hippies” that most people considered “unclean”. And a lot of hippies were actually pretty dirty. It took Chuck Smith’s wife Kay to help Chuck realize that God loved the hippies too. The Jesus Movement began when the “nice” people in church began to love the “unclean”. Though Jesus spent very little time with Gentiles, He did cross a few lines now and again. (Mt 9:10–13). Today, there are other sorts of people that we might call “unclean”. Some people still struggle with racial prejudice. Others have a problem with those in the homosexual community. Some of us don’t want to spend time with people who are of a different political party than we are. What does this principle mean that Peter shares? If God doesn’t want us to call any person “common or unclean”, how does that affect us? Does that mean that we tolerate or even endorse behavior that is unbiblical? I think this is where we learn how to love the sinner but hate the sin. But be careful that your hate for the sin doesn’t cross a line where you never spend any time with “sinners”. (Rich Cathers)

Acts 10:29 "That is why I came without even raising any objection when I was sent for. So I ask for what reason you have sent for me."

KJV Acts 10:29 Therefore came I unto you without gainsaying, as soon as I was sent for: I ask therefore for what intent ye have sent for me?

  • when I was sent for Acts 10:19,20; Ps 119:60; 1 Peter 3:15

That is why I came without even raising any objection when I was sent for. So I ask for what reason you have sent for me

Acts 10:30 Cornelius said, "Four days ago to this hour, I was praying in my house during the ninth hour; and behold, a man stood before me in shining garments,

KJV Acts 10:30 And 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,

  • Four Acts 10:7-9,23,24
  • I was Acts 10:3; Ezra 9:4,5; Neh 9:1-3; Daniel 9:20,21
  • and, behold Acts 1:10; Mt 28:3; Mark 16:6; Luke 24:4

CORNELIUS RECOUNTS
HIS PRAYER ENCOUNTER

Cornelius said, "Four days ago to this hour, I was praying in my house during the ninth hour; and behold, a man stood before me in shining garments

Acts 10:31 and he said, 'Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God.

KJV Acts 10:31 And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God.

  • your prayer Isaiah 38:5; Daniel 9:23; 10:12; Luke 1:13
  • your alms have been remembered Acts 10:4; Lev 2:2,9; 5:12; Php 4:18; Heb 6:10; Rev 5:8; 8:3,4

and he said, 'Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God

Acts 10:32 'Therefore send to Joppa and invite Simon, who is also called Peter, to come to you; he is staying at the house of Simon the tanner by the sea.'

KJV Acts 10:32 Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter; he is lodged in the house of one Simon a tanner by the sea side: who, when he cometh, shall speak unto thee.

Therefore send to Joppa and invite Simon, who is also called Peter, to come to you; he is staying at the house of Simon the tanner by the sea.'

Acts 10:33 "So I sent for you immediately, and you have been kind enough to come. Now then, we are all here present before God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord."
 

KJV Acts 10:33 Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.

  • we are all here present before God Acts 17:11,12; 28:28; Deuteronomy 5:25-29; 2 Chr 30:12; Pr 1:5; 9:9,10; 18:15; 25:12; Mt 18:4; 19:30; Mark 10:15; 1 Cor 3:18; Gal 4:14; 1 Th 2:13; James 1:19,21; 1 Peter 2:1,2

So I sent for you immediately, and you have been kind enough to come. Now then, we are all here present before God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord.

Acts 10:34 Opening his mouth, Peter said: "I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality,

KJV Acts 10:34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:

  • Opening his mouth Acts 8:35; Mt 5:2; Eph 6:19,20
  • I most certainly understand  Dt 10:17; 16:19; 2 Chr 19:7; Job 34:19; Ps 82:1,2; Mt 22:16; Lk 20:21; Ro 2:11; Gal 2:6; Eph 6:9; Col 3:11,25; Jas 2:4,9; 1 Pe 1:17

Opening his mouth, Peter said: "I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality


ILLUSTRATION - The Recommendation - There’s a wonderful story about a Chicago bank that once asked for a letter of recommendation on a young Bostonian being considered for employment. The Boston investment house could not say enough about the young man. His father, they wrote, was a Cabot; his mother was a Lowell. Further back was a happy blend of Saltonstalls, Peabodys, and other of Boston’s first families. His recommendation was given without hesitation.

Several days later, the Chicago bank sent a note saying the information supplied was altogether inadequate. It read: “We are not contemplating using the young man for breeding purposes. Just for work.”

Neither is God a respecter of persons but accepts those from every family, nation, and race who fear Him and work for His kingdom (Acts 10:34-35). (Kathleen Peterson)

Acts 10:35 but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him.

KJV Acts 10:35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.

  • in every nation Acts 15:9; Isaiah 56:3-8; Ro 2:13,25-29; 3:22,29,30; 10:12,13; 1 Cor 12:13; Gal 3:28; Eph 2:13-18; 3:6-8; Php 3:3; Col 1:6,23-27; 3:11
  • the man who fears Him Acts 10:2; 9:31; Job 28:28; Ps 19:9; 85:9; 111:10; Pr 1:7; 2:5; 3:7; 16:6; Eccl 12:13; 2 Cor 7:1; Eph 5:21; 1 John 2:29
  • is welcome to Him Genesis 4:5-7; Hosea 8:13; Luke 1:28; Eph 1:6; Heb 11:4-6

but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him - In Acts 10:43 Peter adds that this welcome is gained by faith. 

Acts 10:36 "The word which He sent to the sons of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all)--

KJV Acts 10:36 The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:)

  • The word Acts 2:38,39; 3:25,26; 11:19; 13:46; Mt 10:6; Luke 24:47
  • preaching peace through Jesus Christ Ps 72:1-3,7; 85:9,10; Isaiah 9:6; 32:15-17; 55:12; 57:19; Luke 2:10-14; 2 Cor 5:18-21; Eph 2:13-18; Col 1:20; Heb 7:2,3; 13:20
  • He is Lord of all  Acts 2:36; 5:31; Ps 2:6-8; 24:7-10; 45:6,11; 110:1,2; Isa 7:14; 45:21-25; Jer 23:5,6; Da 7:13,14; Hos 1:7; Mic 5:2; Mal 3:1; Mt 11:27; 22:44-46; Mt 28:18; Jn 3:35,36; 5:23-29; Ro 10:11-13; 14:9; 1 Cor 15:27,47; Eph 1:20-23; 4:5-12; Php 2:11; Col 1:15-18; Heb 1:2,6-12; 1 Pe 3:22; Rev 1:5,18; 17:14; 19:16

The word which He sent to the sons of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all)

Acts 10:37 you yourselves know the thing which took place throughout all Judea, starting from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed.

KJV Acts 10:37 That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached;

  • You yourselves know  Acts 2:22; 26:26; 28:22
  • which took place throughout all Judea Luke 4:14; 23:5
  • after the baptism which John proclaimed Acts 1:22; 13:24,25; Mt 3:1-3; 4:12-17; Mark 1:1-5,14,15; John 4:1-3

You yourselves know the thing which took place throughout all Judea, starting from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed.

Acts 10:38 "You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.  

KJV Acts 10:38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.

  • God anointed Acts 2:22; 4:27; Ps 2:2,6; Ps 45:7; Isaiah 11:2; 42:1; 61:1-3; Mt 12:28; Luke 3:22; 4:18; John 3:34; John 6:27; 10:36-38; Heb 1:9
  • how He went about doing good 2 Chr 17:9; Mt 4:23-25; 9:35; 12:15; 15:21-31; Mark 1:38,39; 3:7-11; Mark 6:6,54-56; Luke 7:10-17,21-23; 9:56; 1 Peter 5:8
  • healing Mark 5:13-15; 7:29,30; Luke 4:33-36; 9:42; Heb 2:14,15; 1 John 3:8
  • for God was with Him John 3:2; 10:32,38; 16:32

You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.  

C H Spurgeon - Morning and Evening - Few words, but yet an exquisite miniature of the Lord Jesus Christ. There are not many touches, but they are the strokes of a master's pencil. Of the Saviour and only of the Saviour is it true in the fullest, broadest, and most unqualified sense. "He went about doing good." From this description it is evident that he did good personally. The evangelists constantly tell us that he touched the leper with his own finger, that he anointed the eyes of the blind, and that in cases where he was asked to speak the word only at a distance, he did not usually comply, but went himself to the sick bed, and there personally wrought the cure. A lesson to us, if we would do good, to do it ourselves. Give alms with your own hand; a kind look, or word, will enhance the value of the gift. Speak to a friend about his soul; your loving appeal will have more influence than a whole library of tracts. Our Lord's mode of doing good sets forth his incessant activity! He did not only the good which came close to hand, but he "went about" on his errands of mercy. Throughout the whole land of Judea there was scarcely a village or a hamlet which was not gladdened by the sight of him. How this reproves the creeping, loitering manner, in which many professors serve the Lord. Let us gird up the loins of our mind, and be not weary in well doing. Does not the text imply that Jesus Christ went out of his way to do good? "He went about doing good." He was never deterred by danger or difficulty. He sought out the objects of his gracious intentions. So must we. If old plans will not answer, we must try new ones, for fresh experiments sometimes achieve more than regular methods. Christ's perseverance, and the unity of his purpose, are also hinted at, and the practical application of the subject may be summed up in the words, "He hath left us an example that we should follow in his steps."

Acts 10:39 "We are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross.

KJV Acts 10:39 And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree:

  • We are witnesses of all the things He did  Acts 10:41; 1:8,22; 2:32; 3:15; 5:30-32; 13:31; Luke 1:2; 24:48; John 15:27
  • They also put Him to death Acts 2:23,24; 3:14,15; 4:10; 5:30; 7:52; 13:27-29; Gal 3:13; 1 Peter 2:24

We are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross.

Acts 10:40 "God raised Him up on the third day and granted that He become visible,

KJV Acts 10:40 Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly;

  • Acts 13:30,31; 17:31; Mt 28:1,2; Ro 1:4; 4:24,25; 6:4-11; 8:11; 14:9; 1 Cor 15:3,4,12-20; 2 Cor 4:14; Heb 13:20; 1 Peter 1:21

God raised Him up on the third day and granted that He become visible,

Acts 10:41 not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead.

 KJV Acts 10:41 Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead.

  • Not Acts 10:39; Acts 1:2,3,22; 13:31; John 14:17,22; 20:1-21
  • witnesses John 15:16
  • that is to us Luke 24:30,41-43; John 21:13

not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead.

Acts 10:42 And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead.

 KJV Acts 10:42 And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.

  • He ordered us to preach to the people Acts 1:8; 4:19,20; 5:20,29-32; Mt 28:19,20; Mark 16:15,16; Luke 24:47,48; John 21:21,22
  • that this is the One Acts 17:31; Mt 25:31-46; John 5:22-29; Ro 14:9,10; 2 Cor 5:10; 2 Ti 4:1,8; 1 Peter 4:5; Rev 1:7; 20:11-15; 22:12

And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead

Spurgeon “He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify.” These two verses are an extract from a remarkable sermon, a sermon Peter preached in the house of Cornelius. What did Peter preach? There were six heads in his sermon, though he spoke only of one subject, that is, Christ. The apostle spoke first of the Lord’s person: “He is Lord of all” (Acts 10:36). Peter is clear on the sovereign Godhead of Jesus. Having spoken of his person, Peter then spoke of his life—“how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power” (v. 38). This was the spring of Jesus’s life’s power—his anointing from the Holy Spirit. Peter set out the tenor of Jesus’s life in the next sentence: “He went about doing good and healing.” Then Peter moved on to his third point, which was the Savior’s death—“they killed him by hanging him on a tree” (v. 39). Peter does not take away the offense of the cross or put it in smooth language. Then Peter passed on to the Lord’s resurrection, for that is an essential part of the gospel: “God raised up this man on the third day and caused him to be seen” (Acts 10:40). It was no fiction. He was openly shown on many occasions to those best able to recognize him (Acts 10:41). Then Peter came to the judgment—which he felt it necessary to preach, declaring that Jesus Christ who died and rose again is now designated the judge of all mankind (Acts 10:42). And lastly, Peter preached salvation by the Lord Jesus most fully and graciously when he said, “Through his name everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins” (v. 43). This was what Peter was driving at, and when he had reached this point, enough truth of God had been taught to save a soul—and God, the Holy Spirit, at once used it.

Acts 10:43  "Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His Name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins."

 KJV Acts 10:43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.

  • Of Him  Acts 26:22; Isaiah 53:11; Jeremiah 31:34; Daniel 9:24; Micah 7:18; Zech 13:1; Mal 4:2; Luke 24:25-27,44-46; John 1:45; 5:39,40; 1 Peter 1:11; Rev 19:10
  • through His Name Acts 3:16; 4:10-12; John 20:31; Ro 5:1; 6:23; Heb 13:20
  • whosoever Acts 13:38,39; 15:9; 26:18; Mark 16:16; John 3:14-17; 5:24; Ro 8:1,34; 10:11; Gal 3:22; Eph 1:7; Col 1:14

Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His Name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins

Through His Name - Jesus is " the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through" His Name. (Jn 14:6)

John in giving the purpose of His gospel account writes...

but these have been written (for contrast see Jn 20:30) so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His Name. (John 20:31)

John Piper on through His Name - The Name of Jesus is the focus of faith and repentance. In order to believe on Jesus for the forgiveness of sins, you must believe on his name. That is, you must have heard of him and know who he is as a particular man who did a particular saving work and rose from the dead.

Acts 10:44  While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message.

KJV Acts 10:44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.

  • the Holy Spirit  Acts 2:2-4; 4:31; 8:15-17; 11:15; 19:6

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message

Acts 10:45 All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.

KJV Acts 10:45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.

  • All the circumcised believers Acts 10:23; 11:3,15-18; Gal 3:13,14
  • the Gentiles also Gal 2:15; Eph 2:11; 3:5-8; Col 2:13,14

All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed - Acts 11:12 says Peter brought six brethren and here we they are called  Circumcised believers indicating had placed their faith in Jesus Christ.

because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.

Acts 10:46  For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God. Then Peter answered,

KJV Acts 10:46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,

  • speaking Acts 2:4,11; 19:6; 1 Cor 14:20-25

For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God. Then Peter answered

Acts 10:47  "Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?"

KJV Acts 10:47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?

  • Acts 8:12,36; 11:15-17; 15:8,9; Genesis 17:24-26; Ro 4:11; 10:12

Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he

Acts 10:48  And he ordered them to be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay on for a few days.       

KJV Acts 10:48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.

  • he ordered them John 4:2; 1 Cor 1:13-17; Gal 3:27
  • in the Name of Jesus Chris  Acts 2:38; 8:16
  • Then they asked him Acts 16:15; John 4:40

 

Life Principles Bible - C Stanley


 † 11:17 — “If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?”
 Once we recognize a clear move of God, we are wise to join it or stay out of the way. It may not be what we expected, or even what we hoped for, but He calls the shots, not us.

 † 11:18 — When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.”
 It had never occurred to the early Jewish believers that God might actually choose to put believing Gentiles on the same spiritual plane as believing Jews. But once they saw the truth, they responded correctly by praising God.

 † 11:23 — When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord.
 How does one “see” the grace of God? By observing the fruit of genuine grace: dynamic worship, forgiving spirits, peace, joy, and so forth. We encourage such grace to flourish by exhorting each other to eagerly and tenaciously serve the living God.

 † 11:29 — Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea.
 A heart genuinely touched by the love of God desires to meet the needs of fellow believers in distress. God blesses us so that we might bless others. We all need each other.
 

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