By Donna Reimer

In Acts 1:8, ‘Jesus tells His disciples, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Here we have three people groups that Jesus wanted His disciples to reach.
1. To Jerusalem and Judea which were the Jews first.
2. To the region of Samaria which was the Samaritans who were half-Jew, half-Gentile; the Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans because they were not fully Jews. They deemed them half-breeds and had viewed them as enemies to be shunned.
3. To the end of the earth which were the Gentiles which are all the non-Jews (most of us).

So far the Gospel had been preached to the:
Jews and… To the Samaritans: Acts 8: When Philip preached Christ to the Samaritans. Now to the Gentiles in Acts Chapter 10!

Chapter 10 is pivotal in the book of Acts. We’ll discover the account of a Gentile receiving the Good News! This is a timely account since we just celebrated Jesus Christ’s Resurrection.

In Ephesians 2:11-13, Paul says, ‘Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh-who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands-that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near through the blood of Christ.’

Acts 10

Remember that up until this time many Jews considered Gentiles unclean and impure, calling them “dogs” and “the uncircumcision”. Verse 1 ‘There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment,...’

-This account centers around Cornelius, a Roman officer in charge of 100 men.

-The Italian regiment was the ‘backbone of the Roman army’ according to the Oxford Bible Commentary.

-Corneius lived in Caesarea which was a Roman city on the Mediterranean shore in the region of Judea.

-At this time Israel had been occupied by the Romans for 100 years.

Verse 2a ‘A devout man and one who feared God with all his household,’ -He was not a Jew nor was he yet a Christian believer. -But he was a ‘God-fearer’ (so called by the Jews) -One who loved the God of Israel -Was sympathetic to and supportive of the Jewish faith -But was not a full convert to Judaism in lifestyle or circumcision

Hebrews 11:6 says, ‘But 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 diligently seek Him.’

-Cornelius was such a man who believed that God existed unlike his Roman counterparts who believed in many pagan gods and goddesses. The Roman Empire was mainly a polytheistic civilization except for Judaism and the early Christians.
-He believed that God would reward him for seeking Him with his whole heart. Jeremiah 29:13 says, ‘And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with your whole heart.’
-His whole household believed along with him.


‘...who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always.’
-The faith he had, he put into action through his charity and prayer. -Notice it says he prayed to God always. We are commanded in I Thessalonians 5:18, to ‘...pray without ceasing…’ which means to be in constant communication with the Lord and to have our minds focused on the things of God. Cornelius did this! He must have known that his good works were not enough for a right relationship with God. In Acts 11:14, Cornelius was told that Peter would tell him and his household how to be saved.

Verse 3

‘About the the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, “Cornelius!”’
-The ninth hour was 3 pm which was one of the customary times of prayer for the Jews.
-He had a clear vision of an angel of God calling his name.

Verse 4

‘And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, “What is it, lord? So he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God.”’

-He was afraid just like we would be but was willing and waiting to hear what the angel had to say to him.
-The angel told him that God had heard his prayers and received his generosity as a memorial. Even though he was not yet a believer, God heard his prayers and hears all prayers from any devoted seeker of the one true God. Psalm 34:15 says, ‘For the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers;...’

Verses 5-6

‘Now send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter. He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea. He will tell you what you must do.’
-The work of a tanner was a filthy and stinky job but this showed that there was a large variety of people from different status’ of Christ’s followers. By Peter staying there he was showing acceptance of other believers regardless of their status.
-Peter would be the man to tell Cornelius what to do. Notice that the angel was not an evangelist but only a messenger, as are all angels. We, as believers, are commissioned to bring the salvation message to all!

Verses 7-8

‘And when the angel who spoke to him had departed, Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier from among those who waited on him continually. So when he had explained all these things to them, he sent them to Joppa.’
-Cornelius was quick to listen and quick to obey and followed the angel’s order.
. -Joppa or Jaffa was about thirty miles south of Caesarea on the coast which would be a full day’s journey.

Verses 9-10

‘The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up to the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour. Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance…’
-So God was working in both Cornelius’ and Peter’s hearts. They both needed spiritual healing:
Cornelius: needed salvation from sin
Peter: needed healing of his prejudices and bigotry
-God works on both ends preparing both the hearts of those who need salvation and those who will bring the Gospel to them.
-Houses had flat roofs that they used as another living area like a patio.
-As Cornelius’ men were nearing Joppa, Peter went up to the roof to pray.
-It was the sixth hour which was noon and another customary prayer time for Jews.
-Peter was very hungry…he was human like us. He wanted to eat but had to wait for the meal to be prepared and fell into a trance or a vision just like Cornelius had.

Verses 11-13

‘and {he} saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth. In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. And a voice came to him, “Rise Peter; kill and eat.”’
-He saw a sheet come down from heaven that was filled with clean and unclean animals according to the Jewish law.
-Jesus had already proclaimed in Mark 7:18-19 that all foods were clean.
‘Jesus said, “Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him? Because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?”’
-Peter hears a voice tell him to get up and kill these animals and eat them.
-But this vision was not about food!
-The Levitical Law distinguished between “clean and unclean foods” and was still a problem between the Jews and Gentiles. Leviticus 11 laid out the ceremonial law but God was now showing Peter that in addition to demolishing food prohibitions God was breaking down the wall between the Jews and the Gentiles for salvation.

Verse 14

‘But Peter said, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.”’
-Peter didn’t get it at first!
-This was hard for Peter to swallow because of the Jewish law. He had never known anything different other than the law.
-Peter talks back to the Lord and shows his self-righteousness in following the law.
-When Peter said, “I have never”… Peter was showing his dependence on his own effort in keeping the law, which was legalism, and not on God’s grace.
His pride was rearing its ugly head and it had to go now!

Verses 15-16

‘And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.” This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again.’
-Here, God rebuked Peter and made it crystal clear not to call anyone unclean that He has deemed clean by repeating this action three times.
-And the sheet went back up to heaven.

Verses 17-18

‘Now while Peter wondered within himself what this vision which he had seen meant, behold, the men who had been sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate. And they called and asked whether Simon, whose name was Peter, was lodging there.’
-Cornelius’ men arrived at Simon the tanner’s house and asked for Peter.
-They had no idea what this was all about but were following their master’s orders.

Verses 19-21

‘While Peter thought about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are seeking you. Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them.” Then Peter went down to the men who had been sent to him from Cornelius, and said, “Yes, I am he whom you seek. For what reason have you come?”
-God’s plan and timing are always perfect! While Peter was thinking about what God had shown him God told him his answer was at the gate!
-’Doubting nothing’ means ‘making no distinctions’.
-Peter must have been shocked to see two Gentiles and a Roman soldier at the gate!

Verses 22-23

‘And they said, “Cornelius the centurion, a just man, one who fears God and has a good reputation among all the nation of the Jews, was divinely instructed by a holy angel to summon you to his house, to hear words from you.” Then he invited them in and lodged them. On the next day Peter went away with them, and some brethren from Joppa accompanied him.’
-They tell Peter about their master’s character: a just man who feared God and had a good reputation with the Jews.
-They also tell him about Cornelius’ vision.
-We see Peter’s heart and mindset changed when he invited the Gentiles in because it was unlawful according to the Levitical Law for a Jew to bring Gentiles into their home.
-We see Peter ‘doubting nothing’ or ‘making no distinction’ between the Jews and the Gentiles for salvation through Jesus Christ.
-They left the next morning along with some of the other believing brothers for Caesarea.

Verses 24-29

‘And the following day they entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting for them, and had called together his relatives and close friends. As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I myself am also a man.” And as he talked with him, he went in and found many who had come together. Then he said to them, “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean. Therefore I came without objection as soon as I was sent for. I ask, then, for what reason have you sent for me?’
-Cornelius, in his diligence and seriousness, had called together his family and friends and they were all waiting expectantly for Peter.
-Cornelius fell down at his feet because he knew God had sent him.
-But Peter said he was just a man like him. He did not take any glory for himself.
-Peter showed that he understood his vision and that it was about people, not just food or traditions or customs. No person was now outside of God’s salvation.
-This is truly God’s heart for all people. II Peter 9:9 says, He is ‘longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.’

Verses 30-33

‘So Cornelius said, “Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your alms are remembered in the sight of God. Send therefore to Joppa and call Simon here, whose surname is Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea. When he comes, he will speak to you.’ So I sent to you immediately, and you have done well to come. Now therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God.”’
-Cornelius had been praying and fasting and diligently seeking God and God revealed Himself to him.
-Even though he was not yet a believer in Christ, God heard his prayer and remembered his generosity. He was devoted to God and God answered his prayer.
-He obeyed God and sent his men to Joppa to bring Peter back to him.
-Cornelius truly believed Peter had an all important message from God.
-Peter was prepared by the Holy Spirit to speak and all those at Cornelius’ home were prepared and eager to listen to Peter.

Verses 34-43

‘Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ-He is Lord of all-that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree. Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be the Judge of the living and the dead. To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.”’
-This was a short but powerful message to the Gentiles!
-He told them that God is not partial to anyone and is no respecter of persons. Peter said to believe in Jesus Christ and your sins will be forgiven.
-This is the foundation of Peter’s understanding that the Gospel was now for Gentiles, too.
-Christianity was the first religion in the world that was available to all people regardless of race, cultural and national limitations.
-He does not favor one race, background, social class or station in life over another. We all come to the Lord through the blood of Jesus Christ shed for us upon the cross. There is no other way.
-Although Jews showed partiality, that was never God’s heart. In the Old Testament, Deuteronomy 10:17 says, ‘the LORD your God, is God of gods (small ‘g’) and Lord of lords (small ‘l’), the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe.’
-Peter concluded his short Gospel message with this wonderful news in verse 43. ‘To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission (or forgiveness) of sin.’
-All the prophets of the Old Testament pointed to Jesus Christ. They showed that whoever believes… Jew or Gentile, slave or free, white or black or any skin color, rich or poor, male or female, etc…Whosoever believes in Him will be forgiven of their sin!

Verses 44-48

‘While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles, also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered, “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days.’
-While Peter was still preaching the gospel the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard his words.
-These people were hearing and believing at the same time! Everything he spoke they accepted as the truth.
-How did these believing Jews know the Holy Spirit was filling these Gentiles?
-It was demonstrated by speaking in tongues and magnifying God! Just as happened in Acts 2:4, ‘And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.’
-The believing Jews were astonished to see this with the Gentiles.
-Up until this point they did not believe the Gospel was open to the Gentiles. This must have blown their minds! It was revolutionary thinking!
-But God showed them that the Gentiles were equally accepted by God through Jesus Christ. -They were just like most of us, Gentiles, but were now ‘In Christ’!
-Peter commands that these Gentiles be baptized and said, “just as we have”. This showed that Peter fully accepted these new Gentile believers into the Christian community.
-Let's remember that even though Cornelius was a good man who feared God and was doing good works he still needed Jesus’ forgiveness just as we all do.
-Good works will never put us in right standing with God. Just as Jesus said to Nicodemus in John 3:7, “You must be born again!”

In closing, let’s remember:
-To pray that the Holy Spirit would show us any blind spots, biases or prejudices we may have that would hinder us from sharing the Good News with ALL people. Also, remember that God is always working at both ends. On those who will be saved and on those who will share the Gospel with them.
-Let’s be led by the Holy Spirit by being attentive and obedient to Jesus.
-Let’s look for opportunities to share the Good News with others as the Spirit leads us.
-Let’s expect God to do the unexpected each day!