PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS
|Peter and Cornelius||Cornelius Sends a Delegation||The Conversion of Cornelius||Peter and Cornelius||Peter Visits a Roman Centurion|
|Summons to Caesarea||10:15-16|
|10:23b-33||Peter Meets Cornelius||10:23b-29||10:23b-29||10:23b-33|
|Peter Speaks in Cornelius' House||Preaching to Cornelius' Household||Peter's Speech||Peter's Address in the House of Cornelius|
|Gentiles Receive the Holy Spirit||The Holy Spirit Falls on the Gentiles||The Gentiles Welcome the Holy Spirit||Baptism of the First Gentiles|
READING CYCLE THREE (from "A Guide to Good Bible Reading")
FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT THE PARAGRAPH LEVEL
This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.
Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five modern translations. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one main subject.
1. First paragraph
2. Second paragraph
3. Third paragraph
A. The gospel is breaking out of its Jewish origins.
1. Cornelius – a Roman military God-fearer
2. the Ethiopian Eunuch – a Gentile God-fearer
B. The work of the Greek-speaking Jews (the seven of Acts 6) is having an influence.
C. The repeat of the Pentecostal experience shows God's acceptance of all people.
1. Samaritans (chapter 8)
2. Romans (chapter 10)
3. Ethiopian (chapter 8)
D. The theological stage is being set for the Jerusalem Council of chapter 15. A watershed of universal gospel availability has been reached!
WORD AND PHRASE STUDY
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 10:1-8
1Now there was a man at Caesarea named Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian cohort, 2a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, and gave many alms to the Jewish people and prayed to God continually. 3About 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!" 4And 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. 5Now dispatch some men to Joppa and send for a man named Simon, who is also called Peter; 6he is staying with a tanner named Simon, whose house is by the sea." 7When 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, 8and after he had explained everything to them, he sent them to Joppa.
10:1 "there was a man at Caesarea" The conversion of Cornelius was a major event. However, it must be remembered that he was not the first social barrier the gospel had overcome.
1. The first was the Samaritans
2. then there was the Ethiopian Eunuch who also was possibly a God-fearer
3. then Cornelius, who was not only a Gentile, but a Roman army officer who was part of the military occupation of the Promised Land
The emphasis of this account is not so much on Cornelius' conversion because he was already a God-fearer, like the Ethiopian Eunuch, but the large number of relatives and friends, mentioned in vv. 1,24,27,44,48, who were also saved. Peter refers to this account at the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15:7-9 and sets the stage for the Gentile mission of the Church.
▣ "Cornelius" Footnote 1 in F. F. Bruce's Commentary on the Book of the Acts, p. 214, has "Cornelius was an especially common name in Rome ever since Publius Cornelius Sulla in 82 b.c. liberated 10,000 slaves who were enrolled in the gens Cornelia, to which he belonged." A gens was a clan or group of families who shared a common name and a belief in a common ancestor or hero (as here).
▣ "a centurion" Centurions are mentioned several times in the NT and always in a favorable light (cf. Matt. 8:5; Luke 7:2; 23:47; Acts 10:1; 22:5; 27:3; etc). Technically they were leaders of a hundred men; however, they were noncommissioned officers, something like our sergeant majors.
▣ "called the 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. Possibly they were archers. Roman troops had to be stationed in Palestine because of the rebelliousness of the Jews.
10:2 "a devout man" There is a threefold description of this man's devotion:
1. he revered God (see note at v. 22) with all his households
2. he was always liberal in his many deeds of charity to the people
3. he had the habit of praying to God (cf. v. 22; 13:16,26).
This man was religiously, emotionally, and socially linked to the synagogue, although he was not a full convert. To be a full convert one had to
1. be circumcised if a male
2. baptize himself in the presence of witnesses
3. if possible, offer a sacrifice in the Temple.
These requirements prevented many interested Gentiles from becoming full proselytes.
▣ "with all his household" This is the first mention of a family as a religious unit which we find often in the Book of Acts (cf. Acts 10:2; 11:14; 16:15, 31; 18:8). It shows the cultural context that the faith of the father was always the faith of the household and even of the extended family which would include servants.
▣ "many alms" This refers to almsgiving. To Jewish people this would show that Cornelius was an active part of the local synagogue and apparently a God-fearer. See Special Topic: Alms Giving at 3:2.
▣ "prayed to God continually" There are three present participles here, denoting continuing action which shows Cornelius' piety.
1. fearing, Present middle (deponent)
2. doing alms, present active
3. praying, present middle (deponent)
This man's devotion was daily and personal. He was doing the two things which rabbinical Judaism honored most—almsgiving and prayer.
10:3 "About the ninth hour" This refers to the time of the evening offering (i.e., 3 p.m., cf. Exod. 29:39, 41; Num. 28:3-31; I Kgs. 18:29-36; Ps. 55:17; 141:2; Dan. 6:10; Josephus Antiq. 11.4.1; Wars 1.1.1). This was a traditional time for prayer.
NJB, NIV"distinctly saw"
In the Gospels the adverb phanerōs means to openly or publicly make an appearance (cf. Mark 1:45; John 7:10). This vision came in daylight hours and was very specific and distinct.
▣ "in a vision an angel of God" In some ways this conversion is like Saul's. This person was a devoutly religious man. God sends a supernatural agent to direct him to faith. Who could say "No"? These conversions are a sign of God's choice, not human free will. These people are responding to overwhelming evidence and experience of the reality of the gospel.
10:4 The angel's message contains two sacrificial terms: "ascended"and "memorial before God." Apparently God accepted this man's worship (i.e., prayers and almsgiving) even before he heard the gospel.
▣ "fixing his gaze on him" See note at 1:10.
▣ "‘What is it, Lord'" It is very difficult to know how to translate this term Lord. It can mean (1) "mister" or "sir" or (2) "Lord" in a theological sense of master/owner/sovereign. Another good NT passage which shows the ambiguity is John 4:1,11,15,19,49.
In Acts there is even an added possibility. Cornelius addresses the angel as Lord (cf. Rev. 7:14) and Peter addresses "the voice" (cf. 10:13,15) as Lord (cf. 10:14). Therefore, the term could refer to any supernatural, personal manifestation, with reference specifically to Jesus. In 8:26 and 29 an angel of the Lord is identified with the Spirit. This same fluidity and transference occurs between "the voice" and the Spirit in 10:13,14,15 and 19,20.
10:5 "Now dispatch some men to Joppa" This is an aorist middle (deponent) imperative. Notice the angel did not share the gospel, but sent for Peter. God uses human instruments (cf. Exod. 3:7-10). This man, though a devout, sincere religionist (like Saul), needed to hear and respond to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
10:7 "he summoned two of his servants and a devout soldier" This makes a party of three; however, in verse 19 only two of them are mentioned. Possibly the soldier was a guard and the two household servants spoke.
10:8 Cornelius involved his family and friends in his faith. This man lived out what he believed. A whole community would come to faith in Christ through him.
These three men must have walked through the night and wondered and discussed the angel's message and their master and friend's faith.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 10:9-16
9On 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. 10But he became hungry and was desiring to eat; but while they were making preparations, he fell into a trance; 11and he saw the sky opened up, and an object like a great sheet coming down, lowered by four corners to the ground, 12and there were in it all kinds of four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air. 13A voice came to him, "Get up, Peter, kill and eat!" 14But Peter said, "By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean." 15Again a voice came to him a second time, "What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy." 16This happened three times, and immediately the object was taken up into the sky.
10:9 "about the sixth hour to pray" 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. Apparently Peter was acting in the traditions of the elders by praying at noon or maybe he was just taking a nap before lunch.
10:10 "he became hungry" The setting of Peter's vision is in the context of his hunger and his view of the Mediterranean Ocean from Simon's roof.
The word for "hunger" is used only here in all of known Greek literature. Its exact connotation is impossible to know, but with the preposition pros added, it may mean "extreme hunger," but this is surprising in this context. This hapax legomenon (words used only once in the NT) must remain uncertain until more lexical information is discovered. It must remain uncertain as to why Luke chose to use this rare term, but the general sense of the context is obvious.
▣ "he fell into a trance" This is literally "out of himself" or "beside himself," often used of astonishment (cf. Mark 5:42; 16:8; Luke 5:26; and several texts in LXX). We get the English term "ecstasy" from this Greek word. In this verse and 11:5 and 22:17 it means a semiconscious mental state which allows God to speak to the subconscious. This is a different word from the one used in verse 3 to describe Cornelius' vision.
NASB"the sky opened"
NKJV, TEV"heaven opened"
NRSV"the heaven opened"
NJB"heaven thrown open"
This is a perfect passive participle, literally "the heavens having been and continued to be opened." In the OT heavens is plural. This opening of the atmosphere is an idiom for the spiritual, invisible dimension to break into physical reality (cf. Ezek. 1:1; Matt. 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:21; John 1:51; Acts 7:56; 10:11; Rev. 4:1; 19:11).
▣ "like a great sheet" This is the same term used for the sails on a ship.
10:12 "all kinds of four footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air" This is the same threefold division of animals found in Gen. 1 and 6:20. Apparently they were made up of clean and unclean animals according to the Jewish food laws of Lev. 11.
10:13 "A voice came to him" From the time of the closing of Malachi to the coming of the NT period there was no authoritative prophetic voice from God among the Jews. During this period when the Jews wanted to confirm something as being revealed from God they depended on something known as a bath kol. We see this in the NT in Matt. 3:17; 17:5, also in Acts 9:7, and here.
10:14 "By no means Lord for I have never eaten anything unholy or unclean" "By no means" is a strong Greek phrase used several times in the Septuagint to translate several Hebrew idioms. Peter was still struggling with his Jewish orthodoxy. He was basing his actions on Leviticus. 11. However, Jesus seems to have specifically dealt with this issue in Mark 7:14ff, especially verse 19. It is interesting to note that the Gospel of Mark is apparently the later recollections or sermons of the Apostle Peter from Rome.
10:15 "What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy" This is a present active imperative with a negative particle, which usually implies stop an action already in progress. God clearly states the cessation of the Mosaic food laws (i.e., Leviticus 11). They are no longer appropriate for new covenant believers. Here they are used in an analogous way to show the acceptance of all humans!
10:16 "This happened three times" It is not uncommon in the Bible for important prayers, praises, or actions to be repeated three times.
1. Jesus' prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane (cf. Mark 14:36,39)
2. Jesus' discussion with Peter after the resurrection (cf. John 21:17)
3. Paul's "thorn in the flesh" prayer (cf. II Cor. 12:8)
It was a Semitic way of emphasis (cf. Isa. 6:3; Jer. 7:4). In this case it specifically shows Peter's reluctance to obey this heavenly voice!
A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures In the New Testament has an incisive word at this point.
"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" (p. 137).
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 10:17-23a
17Now 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; 18and calling out, they were asking whether Simon, who was also called Peter, was staying there. 19While Peter was reflecting on the vision, the Spirit said to him, "Behold, three men are looking for you. 20But get up, go downstairs and accompany them without misgivings, for I have sent them Myself." 21Peter 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?" 22They 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." 23So he invited them in and gave them lodging.
10:17 "Peter was greatly perplexed" This is an imperfect active indicative, which here denotes the beginning of an action in past time.
The term is used several times by Luke to show mental confusion (cf. Luke 9:7; Acts 2:12; 5:24; 10:17). Peter did not immediately understand the purpose of the vision.
▣ "the vision" The word used here to describe Peter's experience, horama, is the same as is used of Cornelius' vision in v. 3 (cf. v. 19).
10:19 "the Spirit said to him" The exact relationship between "the Spirit" (v. 19) speaking and "the angel" (vv. 3,22) speaking throughout this context is uncertain (cf. v. 20, "I have sent them Myself"). Apparently the angel spoke on the behalf of the Holy Spirit or the two are identified like an OT theophony (cf. Exod.3:2,4; Acts 8:26,29).
10:20 This verse is very emphatic.
1. get up, participle used as an imperative
2. go downstairs, aorist active imperative
3. accompany them, present middle (deponent) imperative
4. without misgiving, participle used as an imperative
5. I have sent them Myself, ego with perfect active indicative
There was no option for Peter but to go! This was a divine appointment. The Spirit was responsible for Cornelius' vision, Cornelius' sending the men, Peter's vision, and now Peter's responding to their request.
10:22 They faithfully relate what has happened.
NKJV"a just man"
TEV"a good man"
This term must be used in the OT sense of "blameless." It does not refer to sinlessness (cf. Gen. 6:1; Job 1:1; Luke 1:6; 2:25) or to the imputed righteousness of Christ (cf. Rom. 4). This man lived up to all he understood about the will of God. See SPECIAL TOPIC: RIGHTEOUSNESS at 3:14.
NKJV"one who fears God"
TEV"who worships God"
This phrase (or one like it) is used often to describe Cornelius (cf. 10:2,22,35). In Acts 13:16,26,43,50 it is used for those who are not racial Jews and not full proselytes, but those who regularly attended synagogues. They were called "God-fearers" (cf. 16:14; 17:4,17; 18:7).
10:23 "So he invited them in and gave them lodging" This is another example of Peter's continuing separation from his Jewish legalism. It is certain that the accompanying soldier was a Roman and yet Peter invited him in for dinner and fellowship. Notice how in v. 48 Peter will stay in a Roman house for a few days.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 10:23b-29
23bAnd on the next day he got up and went away with them, and some of the brethren from Joppa accompanied him. 24On the following day he entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting for them and had called together his relatives and close friends. 25When Peter entered, Cornelius met him, and fell at his feet and worshiped him. 26But Peter raised him up, saying, "Stand up; I too am just a man." 27As he talked with him, he entered and found many people assembled. 28And 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. 29That 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."
10:24 "some of the brethren from Joppa accompanied him" Chapter 11:12 says there were six of them. Peter knew that this incident would cause problems among some of the Jewish followers of Jesus. Therefore, he took several witnesses with him (cf. 11:12).
▣ "Caesarea" Caesarea was the beautiful city by the sea. It was named in honor of the Roman Caesar. It was the Palestinian quarters for the Roman occupation force. The Romans had made it into a small harbor.
▣ "called together his relatives and close friends" Cornelius, expecting a speaker from God, had called all his close family, friends, servants, and possibly other soldiers. They may have all been waiting for hours and hours. What a spirit of anticipation and expectation must have filled this house! All of these would have been discussing the vision and its message.
This is what shocked the leaders of the Jewish segment of the church, that a large number of Gentiles, many of them not God-fearers, had been included in the filling of the Spirit and baptism (cf. v. 27).
10:25,27 "When Paul entered. . .he entered" There is an apparent discrepancy in the Greek text here. However, the first "entering" mentioned in v. 25 could be the city gate on the courtyard of the house, and the second "entering" in v. 27 could be Cornelius' house. Whichever is the case, again Peter is violating Jewish ceremonial ritualism by entering a Gentile home.
10:25 "fell at his feet and worshiped him" This is the regular idiom in the Septuagint and the Gospels for worship. But, in this context "give respect" may better catch the idea (cf. NJB). An angel had prepared Peter's coming; of course Cornelius would honor and respect this messenger (cf. Rev. 19:10; 22:8-9).
10:28 "You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a man who is a Jew to associate" Peter is quoting his rabbinical training or synagogue school; however, this is not found in the OT, but simply in rabbinical interpretations.
▣ "a foreigner" This term is another unique text found only here in the NT. Luke has chosen several very rare words in this chapter.
1. eusebēs, vv. 2,7, devout (cf. II Pet. 2:9)
2. prospeinos, v. 10, hungry
3. dienthumeomai, v. 19, reflecting
4. sunomileō, v. 27, talked
5. athemiton, v. 28, unlawful
6. allophulō, v. 28, foreigner
7. anantirrētos, v. 29, without even raising any objections (cf. Acts 19:36)
8. prosōpolēmpēs, v. 34, respecter of persons (similar to Rom. 2:11; Eph. 6:9; James 2:19)
9. katadunasteuō, v. 38, oppress (cf. James 2:6)
10. procheirotoneō, v. 41, elect before
It is uncertain whether Luke copied some of these early sermons and events in Acts from other sources or records verbal interviews with those who were present.
▣ "yet God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean" Peter got the message! The animals in the sheet represented all human beings made in the image of God (cf. Gen. 1:26-27). God's love for Cornelius and his family and friends showed Peter the worldwide scope of the gospel! This would confirm the witness of Stephen and the preaching of Philip.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 10:30-33
30Cornelius 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, 31and he said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God. 32Therefore 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.' 33So 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."
10:30 "in shining garments" Angels often appear in this form (cf. 1:10; Matt.28:3; Mark 16:5; John 20:12; Luke 24:4).
10:31 This is the third time in this chapter that Cornelius' piety has been affirmed (cf. vv. 4,22). Cornelius is not the surprise; it is his friends, servants, and family who also trust Christ. This is one of several examples in Acts of "household salvations."
Those of us who have grown up with western evangelical models of evangelism which emphasize individual volitional response are surprised by these kinds of corporate responses, but most of the world has a tribal, family, group orientation. God is able to work through many models to reach humans made in His image. There is no one model of evangelism!
10:33 These people were ready to hear! They realized they were in the midst of a divine moment with a God-sent messenger.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 34-43
34Opening his mouth, Peter said: "I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, 35but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him. 36The word which He sent to the sons of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all)—37you yourselves know the thing which took place throughout all Judea, starting from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed. 38You 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. 39We 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. 40God raised Him up on the third day and granted that He become visible, 41not 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. 42And 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. 43Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins."
10:34 "that God is not one to show partiality" This is the beginning of Peter's sermon to Cornelius. It is a good example of the preaching of the early church to non-Jews. In the OT this judicial phrase characterized God (cf. Deut. 10:17; II Chr. 19:7) and is required of His people (cf. Deut. 1:17; 16:19). It is also a common characterization of God in the NT (cf. Rom. 2:11; Gal. 2:6; Eph. 6:9; Col. 3:24-25; I Pet. 1:17). In the OT this phrase literally meant "to lift the face." In Hebrew courts the defendants kept their heads bowed so that the judge would not recognize the person and thereby be biased.
God has no favorites (nations, races, or individuals)! If this is true then how does predestination work? Or how is Israel special? Be careful of modern systems of theology!
10:35 "in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him" This description does not refer to the concept of spiritual salvation, but apparently to the idea of almsgiving, prayer, and piety. See Special Topic at 3:2. This phrase must be theologically balanced with the mandate to receive the gospel (cf. John 1:12; 3:16; Rom. 10:9-13).
The major truth is that God accepts Gentiles without their becoming proselyte Jews. This set the theological stage for Acts 15, the Jerusalem Council.
10:36-39 The Jerome Biblical Commentary (vol. II, p. 188) makes a several good comments about these names.
1. they constitute Peter's summary of the gospel (i.e., Kerygma)
2. they have poor syntax, which shows that Luke accurately records his sources and does not invent them or edit them
10:36 "The word which He sent to the sons of Israel" This does not refer to the OT, but Jesus and the Apostles' preaching.
▣ "preaching peace through Jesus Christ" This may be an allusion to Isa. 52:7. The term "peace" is used in three ways in the NT:
1. peace between God and humanity (cf. Col. 1:20)
2. the subjective peace of the individual believer (cf. John 14:27; 16:33, Philippians 4)
3. peace between human groups who respond to Christ (cf. Eph. 2:14-3:6; Col. 3:16)
All human barriers are down in Christ (cf. Gal. 3:28; Col. 3:11)
▣ "(He is Lord of all)" This is an editorial/authorial comment. Here is the universal element of the message and invitation of the gospel of Jesus Christ that still sounded so radical in the mouth of an orthodox Jew (cf. Acts 2:36; Matt. 28:18; Rom. 10:12; Eph. 1:20-22; Col. 2:10; I Pet. 3:22). He is Lord of all races and all things (i.e., cosmic Lordship)!
10:37,39 "you yourselves know the things which took place" Peter is using the same form as his Pentecost sermon (cf. 2:22,33). They had heard about Jesus and what happened to Him in Jerusalem.
One wonders how these people would have had all this information. Is Peter using hyperbole? Were these somehow involved in some of the events in Jerusalem? Were some of these household servants Jewish? The text is too brief and we just do not know.
Some have used this sermon to assert:
1. Luke wrote all the sermons in Acts (but Luke is a good Koine writer and vv. 36-38 are not good, acceptable Greek).
2. Luke was true to his sources and quoted them accurately without correcting their poor grammar.
3. This phrase is meant to be understood by later readers of Acts (cf. The Jerome Commentary, vol. II, p. 189).
10:37 "after the baptism which John proclaimed" Why Jesus was baptized has always been a concern for believers because John's baptism was a baptism of repentance. Jesus did not need repentance or forgiveness, for He was sinless (cf. II Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15; 7:26; I Pet. 2:22; I John 3:5). The theories have been:
1. it was an example for believers to follow
2. it was His identification with believers' need
3. it was His ordination and equipping for ministry
4. it was a symbol of His redemptive task
5. it was His approval of the ministry and message of John the Baptist
6. it was a prophetic foreshadowing of His death, burial, and resurrection (cf. Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12).
The baptism by John was seen as the beginning of Jesus' Spirit-filled, public ministry. All three Synoptic Gospels record this inaugural event. Mark begins his Gospel (Peter's eyewitness account) with this event. This was seen by the early church as the special start of the new age of the Spirit as it relates to the public ministry of Jesus.
10:38 "Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power" Notice the things Peter affirms about Jesus.
1. God anointed Him (anoint is the Hebrew root word of Messiah)
2. with the Holy Spirit (the new age is the age of the Spirit)
3. with power (effective ministry)
a. doing good
b. healing all oppressed by the devil (power of evil and Satan)
4. God was with Him (He spoke and acted on behalf of YHWH, cf. John 3:2; 9:33; 10:38; 14:10-11)
Apparently this refers to Jesus' baptism (cf. F. F. Bruce, Answers to Questions, pp. 171-172).
Robert B. Girdlestone, Synonyms of the Old Testament, makes the interesting statement:
"The verb χρίειν is used five times in the N.T. In four of these passages it refers to the anointing of Christ by His father, namely: Luke 4. 18, which is quoted from Isa. 61. 1; Heb. 1. 9, quoted from Ps. 45. 7; Acts 4. 27, where it is used with special reference to the quotation from the second Psalm, which immediately precedes it; and Acts 10. 38, where we are told God anointed Jesus with the Spirit" (p. 183).
See Special Topic: Kerygma at 2:14.
▣ "healing all who were oppressed by the devil" See special Topics at 5:3 and 5:16.
10:39 "They also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross" "They" refers to the Jewish leadership, the mob, and the Roman authorities. See note at 2:23. This concept of hanging upon a tree is mentioned in 5:30 and reflects Deut. 21:23 (which originally referred to impaling on a stake after death to humiliate someone, but the rabbis of Jesus' day interpreted it as Roman crucifixion), whereby Jesus bore the curse of the OT law (cf. Isa. 53) for us (cf. Gal. 3:13).
10:40 "God raised him" It is theologically interesting that Isa.53:4-6,10 asserts that it was YHWH's will and purpose that Jesus suffer and die (cf. Gen. 3:15). YHWH used the agency of
2. evil Jewish leadership
3. manipulated Roman leadership
4. an angry Jewish mob
Evil is in the will of God! He uses it to accomplish His ultimate purpose for humanity made in His image/likeness. Wow! What a theology of sovereignty! He allows death, then brings resurrection life to Jesus and to all!
The NT affirms that all three persons of the Trinity were active in Jesus' resurrection:
1. Spirit (Rom. 8:11)
2. Jesus (John 2:19-22; 10:17-18)
3. Father (Acts 2:24,32; 3:15,25; 4:10; 5:30; 10:40; 13:30,33,34,37; 27:31; Rom. 6:4,9)
This was confirmation of the truth of Jesus' life, death, and teachings about God. This was a major aspect of the Kerygma (i.e., sermons in Acts, see Special Topic at 2:14).
▣ "on the third day" Because of I Cor. 15:4, some relate this to Ps. 16:10 or Hosea 6:2, but more probably Jonah 1:17 because of Matt. 12:40.
10:40-41 "granted that He become visible, not to all the people" Jesus appeared to several select groups (cf. John 14:19, 24; 15:27; 16:16, 22; I Cor. 15:5-9).
10:41 "who ate and drank with Him after He rose from the dead" Although Jesus' resurrection body did not need physical nourishment, He ate and drank to show His special witnesses He was real and to express His fellowship with them (cf. Luke 24:35, 41-43; John 21:9-13).
10:42 "He ordered us to preach to the people" The pronoun refers to Jesus (cf. Matt. 28:18-20; Luke 24:47-48; John 15:27). This witness was to begin in Jerusalem but reach to all the world (cf 1:8).
▣ "Judge of the living and the dead" Christ is the Father's agent in judgment (cf. Dan. 7:13-14; John 5:22,27; Acts 17:31; II Cor. 5:10; II Tim. 4:1; I Pet. 4:5) as He was the Father's agent in creation (cf. John 1:3; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2). Jesus did not come to judge, but to save (cf. John 3:17-19).
The phrase "living and dead" refers to eschatological judgment, the Second Coming. Some believers will be alive (cf. I Thess. 4:13-18).
10:43 "Of Him all the prophets bear witness" Jesus showed the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (only recorded in Luke 24:13-35) where and how the OT referred to Himself. These showed the disciples in the upper room and this information became the standard approach of witnessing to Jews (cf. 3:18). Jesus opened the disciples' minds (cf. Luke 24:45).
▣ "through His name" (cf. Joel 2:32 and Luke 24:47)
▣ "everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins" This is the gospel message:
2. through His name
3. who believes in Him
4. receives forgiveness of sin (cf. Luke 24:46-47)
It is Jesus-focused, not performance focused (i.e., the new covenant of Jer. 31:31-34, cf. Ezek. 36:22-38). All that needs to be done for everyone, anyone, to be saved has been done! God has chosen to work with fallen humanity through covenant. He initiates it and sets the agenda, but He has also demanded that humans respond by repentance, faith, obedience, and perseverance. Humans must receive God's gift in Christ (cf. John 1:12; 3:16; Rom. 10:9-13). It is not an automatic transfer.
Frank Stagg, New Testament Theology, has an interesting comment about forgiveness and its assumed relationship to repentance.
"Forgiveness calls for a new awareness of sin and a turning from it. The assurance is given that forgiveness and cleansing will certainly follow upon the confession of sins (I John 1:9), but no promise is given where confession does not obtain. In the home of Cornelius, Peter related forgiveness to faith, declaring that to this one (Jesus) all the prophets bear witness: ‘that through his name everyone who trusts him shall receive forgiveness of sins' (Acts 10:43). In this trust, with its repentance and confession, one both ‘owns and disowns' his sin. This does not mean that repentance wins forgiveness; even repentance does not make one worthy of forgiveness. As another has put it, the sinner must accept his rejection and accept his acceptance, although he knows himself to be unacceptable. The sinner is not forgivable until he is willing to accept God's no in order to hear his yes" (p. 94).
For "believes in Him" see Special Topic at 3:16.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 10:44-48
44While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. 45All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. 46For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God. Then Peter answered, 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?" 48And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay on for a few days.
10:44 Notice that Peter had not yet finished his sermon when the Spirit fell (cf. 8:16-17; 10:44; 11:15).
▣ "upon all those who were listening to the message" The real theological tension was not Cornelius. He had been fully accepted by the local synagogue. It was all the friends! They had no apparent previous contact, even with Judaism, and now God had fully accepted them. This acceptance was demonstrated and confirmed by the same manifestation of spiritual power and presence shown at Pentecost.
Also notice that the order of events changes. The Spirit comes before water baptism, not in conjunction with it (cf. 2:38) or after it (cf. 8:17). Luke records what happened, not what "should have happened." Be careful of trying to turn one of these gospel encounters recorded in Acts into "the" gospel encounter!
10:45 The same supernatural manifestation of the Spirit (cf. v. 46) that occurred at Pentecost, occurred again involving Romans! This special sign was not for Cornelius and his friends only, but primarily for the circumcised believers (cf. v. 47). It showed in a powerful, undisputable fashion that God had accepted Gentiles (cf. 11:17), even Romans!
Luke is setting the literary stage for Acts 15, the Jerusalem Council. Both Peter and Paul had been convinced along with the Hellenistic believing Jews that God fully accepted Gentiles through Christ.
▣ "the gift of the Holy Spirit" The ministry of the Spirit can be seen clearly in John 16:8-14. In one sense, conviction of sin is a gift from the Spirit. Salvation itself is a gift of the Spirit. The indwelling presence is a gift of the Spirit. This is the new age of the Spirit (cf. 2:38; 8:20; 11:17). Nothing permanent and effective happens without the presence and power of the Spirit.
▣ "had been poured out" This is a perfect passive indicative. Pouring was part of the OT sacrificial system. It was predicted of the Spirit in Joel 2:28 and quoted by Peter in his Pentecostal sermon (cf. 2:17,33). The Spirit has been fully and permanently given to believers by God.
10:47 This is a rhetorical question which expects a "no" answer. This question was to gain the consensus of the Jewish believers who accompanied Peter from Joppa. See SPECIAL TOPIC: BAPTISM at 2:38.
10:48 "he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ" Notice that baptism was immediate. Also, notice that it was done in Jesus' name as in 2:38 and 19:5. The baptismal formula in Acts was "in the name of Jesus," while in Matt. 28:19 it was in the name of the Triune God. The formula is not the key, but the heart of the candidate!
This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.
These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.
1. Why is the salvation of Cornelius so significant?
2. How is Cornelius' salvation experience like Paul's?
3. What theological significance did the sheet full of animals and Peter's comments have in relation to Cornelius?
4. Why was Cornelius' friends' conversion such a problem?
5. Outline Peter's sermon and compare it with other salvation events in Acts. They are all different, yet the same.
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