Acts 10.17-26

After seeing the vision (vv.9-16) Peter is confused (v.17) but is interrupted in his pondering by the arrival of the men who were sent by Cornelius. Peter is told by the Spirit that there are men looking for him whom he is to accompany as the meeting is Divinely ordained (v.20). Peter receives the men as guests into the house and in doing so goes against many Jewish customs of the day (vv.21-23). Peter is starting to behave like a believer, isn’t he?

The next day the travelling party, plus some of the brothers from Joppa, sets out to Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and is waiting with relatives and close friends. His faith is on display that this unknown man will arrive with good news and as Peter arrives Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshipped him. Peter’s response tells us a a lot:

“Stand up. I too am a mere mortal”.

(Acts 10.26, NET)

It would have been easy for Peter to have accepted the worship of these Gentiles and passed it off as ‘well, I guess they’re worshipping God, but this is certainly nice…‘. Instead, Peter puts an immediate stop to the worship of any man, including himself, by saying

“Stand up. I too am a mere mortal”.

In the Bible we sometimes see people or angels worshipped (Revelation 19.10 for example) but those with a right and proper view of God know that this should not be so. However, there was One who did receive worship freely. Whilst walking the earth in human flesh, Jesus freely received worship (Matthew 14.33 and 28.9, for example).

Peter was absolutely right to refuse the worship of Cornelius here, as well-intentioned as it was, because worship is due to the One, true God alone (Exodus 20.3). The fact that Jesus received worship tells us, plainly and simply, that He is God. Jesus, born in Bethlehem to a human mother, conceived by the Spirit, is God in the flesh (John 1.14).

If we are thinking of Acts as prescriptive or descriptive then this is absolutely a prescriptive point: worship is due to God alone, Jesus is God, and so it is acceptable and it is good to worship Jesus.

Published by James Travis

Pastor of Saar Fellowship in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Married to Robyn and Dad to our two boys.

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