Acts 10.27-43

After honouring one another (10.23-26) Peter shares with Cornelius how he now understands his own vision (vv.28-29, cf. vv.9-16). Cornelius then recaps his own Divine message (vv.30-33) and Peter begins to share the story of Jesus.

Peter says that he now sees that God shows no partiality: national heritage and ethnicity no longer matter in terms of relationship to God. There is now no preference, no choice made, no one nation carrying the promise as we see in the Old Testament, because the promise has come: Jesus. Peter gives them the briefest of overviews of what happened (vv.36-42) even though he says that Cornelius and those gathered surely know what happened. Re-hearing the truth is never a bad thing.

Peter finishes on the Gospel, a wonderful crescendo to an inspired speech:

“About him all the prophets testify, that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name”.

(Acts 10.43, NET

This is the core message that Peter has come to deliver, and the core message that you and me need to be aware of each and every day:

“…everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name”.

No longer is preference shown to a particular people group, because the promise that they were chosen to steward has arrived, the truth that they tended is now plain for all to see, you yourselves know what happened. The Good News is that everyone who believes in [Jesus] receives forgiveness of sins through His name. This is what Peter shared and this is what we need to remind ourselves of each and every day.

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.

Acts 10.9-16

Whilst Cornelius’ messengers are on the way to Joppa (v.8), Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. As he does so, he became hungry and…fell into a trance. The Divine connection of Cornelius and Peter came about in very different ways (v.3, cf. vv.12-13) but was orchestrated by the same Person. 

Peter sees a vision of kosher and non-kosher animals (v.12) and hears a voice tell him to

“Get up, Peter; slaughter and eat!”

(Acts 10.13, NET)

Peter then, in typical fashion (Matthew 16.22, John 13.8) replies to the Lord with a ‘no’. He says that he has never eaten anything that is common or unclean. The vision is repeated three times and Peter hears the voice tell him that

“What God has made clean, you must not consider ritually unclean!”

(v.15, NET)

The bigger picture point that God is making through the eating of certain foods will become clear later in this chapter but for now we see that whilst Peter is born again, that whilst Peter has the Holy Spirit living in him, Peter is still Peter. David Guzik writes:

“God didn’t use him because he was perfect, but because he was in the right direction and he was available. We often fall into the trap of thinking that we must be perfected until God can really use us”.

(Enduring Word)

We will never be the finished article this side of eternity (Philippians 1.6) but God knows and God sees that we are submitted and committed to His Word and His ways and this is enough for Him to use in us. We will never reach a point where we flawlessly live the life He wants us to live (Hebrews 8.7) but we can reach a point where we accept this and turn to God for the help we need which comes through the shed blood of His Son, Jesus, and the indwelling power of His Holy Spirit. 

Peter was still Peter, and you are still you. We don’t need to be perfect before we are used by God, just in a place where we want to be. Posture, not perfection, is what the Lord looks for. 

 

Acts 10.1-8

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.