Caesarea was the headquarters for the Roman governor in the region and is where a man named Cornelius lived. He was a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort, soldiers who were fiercely loyal to Rome. Despite this pretty nationalistic introduction, Cornelius is what the Jews of the day would have called a “God fearer”:
“He was a devout, God-fearing man, as was all his household; he did many acts of charity for the people and prayed to God regularly”.
(Acts 10.2, NET)
Even though he was immersed in the world of many gods Cornelius had come to know of the one true God, and was living a life of monotheistic faith in a polytheistic world.
Around 3pm he is praying (v.3, cf. 10.30) and sees a vision [of] an angel of God. Cornelius’ faith and reverence are so strong that he stared at him in terror and said “What is it, Lord?“
He is told to send men to Joppa and bring one Simon who is called Peter. No reason why, no justification, just the detail of where Peter will be found (v.6). Cornelius called two of his servants and a devout soldier…and sent them to Joppa.
The simple obedience of Cornelius is something that we can learn from. He didn’t ask why, didn’t argue, didn’t seek more than what was given to him, didn’t go beyond what was said to him, but simply obeyed what he had been told (vv.7-8).
We can easily be lured into this (false) way of thinking that says ‘Well, the Bible is a good starting point but you’ve got to find your own path…it’s a compass, not a roadmap…‘. Cornelius simply heard what was said and got to it. He took the instructions and the words of this Divine representative as authoritative, as sufficient, and as actionable. As a man who knew about orders and authority (v.1), we can learn a lot from this response.
For you and for me, we ought to be coming to the Word of God we carry in our Bibles as authoritative, sufficient, and actionable. We ought not to, as Paul writes, go beyond what is written (1 Corinthians 4.6). As Cornelius does here, let us come to God’s Word and simply obey what is said.