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Bible Commentaries
Acts 10

The Bible Study New TestamentBible Study NT

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Verse 1


There was a man in Caesarea named Cornelius. Caesarea was the chief seaport of Palestine, also the Roman capital and military headquarters. Cornelius was one of several Gentile captains spoken of favorably in the New Testament. [Julius (Acts 27:1-3) the one at the cross (Matthew 27:54); the one who built the synagogue at Capernaum (Luke 7:2).] The Italian Regiment. Many of the conquered people served in the Roman armies. This regiment of six hundred men were all Italians, which strongly implies Cornelius was an Italian himself.

Verse 2


He was a religious man. This means he had turned to God and worshiped him. He was not a “Gentile converted to Judaism,” because he had not been circumcised and officially become a Jew. But he and his family were part of a synagogue and worshiped the One True God. Most of the Gentiles who first “came to Christ” were from this type of people.

Verse 3


When he had a vision. Three o’clock was one of the Jewish hours of prayer (Acts 3:1). He clearly saw the angel.

Verse 4


What is it, sir? [lord = sir.] He asks the meaning of this vision which has filled him with awe. God has accepted your prayers. Cornelius was worshiping God to the full extent of his knowledge. When God finds one who is eager to know him, he makes that knowledge available!

Verse 5


To call for a certain man. Note it is not the angel who tells him the Good News of God’s act in Christ to set men free. Cornelius is told to send for Peter [in order to learn what he must believe and do].

Verse 6


In the home of a leatherworker named Simon. Sanitary laws required leatherworkers to live outside the cities, and to be near plenty of water. Note that Cornelius will learn God’s will through a human messenger.

Verse 7


Two of his house servants and a soldier. These also worshiped God.

Verse 9


The next day. They are coming near Joppa. So God sends Peter a vision to get him ready to go with them. Peter is a Jew, they are Gentiles. Peter went up on the roof. The roof was flat, with a wall around it about four feet high. People often slept on the roof at night, when the weather permitted. [Moses commanded this type of construction (Deuteronomy 22:8).]

Verse 10


He had a vision. Compare 2 Corinthians 12:2; Revelation 1:10.

Verses 11-15


He saw heaven opened. The meaning of this vision is clear. Peter is hungry. He sees a sheet lowered down, containing all kinds of animals, reptiles, and wild birds. Many of these are ritually “unclean” and the Law forbids any to eat them. The voice says: “Get up, Peter; kill and eat!” Peter answers: “I have never eaten anything considered defiled or unclean. “ In this we can see much of the same stubbornness that Peter showed in the Gospels. The voice speaks again and says that God has declared these things clean. This can only mean that the commands of the Law about “clean” and “unclean” foods have been canceled! Peter, as a Jew, would not associate with Gentiles (see note on John 4:9). The purpose of the vision is to show Peter that God intends him to go with the messengers. See Ephesians 2:13-18 and notes.

Verse 16


This happened three times. The voice spoke three times.

Verses 17-23


Peter was wondering. He is trying to understand the Lord’s message to him. And do not hesitate to go with them. Peter’s “Jewish attitude” would have told him not to go (compare Galatians 2:11-14). And some of the brother!. See Acts 11:12.

Verse 24


The following day. Parts of two days went into the trip, which was about thirty miles [probably walking]. Cornelius was waiting for him. The religious attitude of this man is shown by the crowd he has called together.

Verses 25-26


Cornelius met him. Note that when Cornelius “worships” Peter, he is made to rise. No man is to be worshiped, and, not even an angel (Revelation 22:8-9). Only God is to be worshiped! [Christ is God in human form.]

Verses 27-29


That a Jew is not allowed. Jewish tradition was much more restrictive than the Law (Galatians 2:12). But God has shown me. This is the meaning of Peter’s vision. Barriers of race, sex, and social status disappear in Christ (Galatians 3:28-29).

Verses 30-33


Now we are all here. Cornelius tells Peter the vision he had, and eagerly waits to hear the message God will give him through Peter. This is the first Gentile audience to hear the Good News of God’s act in Christ to set men free!

Verses 34-35


Peter began to speak. The same preacher who announced God’s terms for salvation to the Jews on Pentecost, now announces them to the Gentiles for the first time. That God treats all men on the same basis. God loves both Jew and Gentile. Compare John 3:16-17 and notes.

Verses 36-38


You know the message. Cornelius and his friends would know the personal history of Jesus of Nazareth, and even the “Good News of peace” which Christ had proclaimed to the Jews. Luke gives us only a short summary of what Peter said. After the baptism that John preached. Jesus began his public ministry after being baptized by John. How God poured out on him. Christ received the unlimited power of the Holy Spirit at his baptism (John 1:33-34; John 3:34). [Remember: the Logos in taking human form took human limitations as well (Philippians 2:7; Hebrews 2:9).]

Verses 39-41


We are witnesses. They saw first hand his life and power, and saw him after he had raised from death. Not to all the people. The reason why he did not show himself to all the unbelievers after his resurrection, may be the principle he taught in Matthew 7:6. He was seen by more than just the apostles (1 Corinthians 15:6), and might have been seen by some who were favorable to him, although not his followers (see notes on Matthew 27:52-53; Acts 1:3).

Verse 42


And he commanded as to preach the gospel. [Gospel means Good News.] Compare Luke 24:44-49.

Verse 43


All the prophets spoke about him. The Old Testament was full of “Christ.” Through the power of his name. Name = authority (compare note on Acts 2:38). (1) Sins are forgiven in/by his name; (2) to those who believe in him; (3) whoever believes, Jew or Gentile, can reach out through faith to grasp the sacrifice of Christ to receive all its benefits including forgiveness of sins. [Plus sonship; eternal life; union with God; etc.]

Verse 44


On all those who were listening. All those mentioned in Acts 10:2; Acts 10:24. Peter later identifies this as: “Just as on us at the beginning” (Acts 11:15). This answers the question about whether the 120 or only the apostles received the “baptism with the Holy Spirit” at Pentecost. Lipscomb says: “Here the Spirit falls on the house [household] of Cornelius when Peter begins to speak, not to make them Christians, but to prove that God accepted them, that Peter and his six Jewish brethren who came with him might be encouraged to baptize them [into Christ]. It was a proof that God was willing to receive them. The miraculous gift of [given by] the Holy Spirit was never a part of the converting process, but was to attest that the work was of God, and to guide those who received this Spirit in teaching all truth of God to the people.” [additions mine, RDI]

Verse 45


The Jewish believers. They were amazed that God would do this to Gentiles, whom they thought of as being “cut off from God.” This is the only time mentioned in the Scriptures of the Holy Spirit coming down on those who had not been baptized. Compare Acts 19:1-7 and notes. This is a unique event, for the purpose of proving to the Jews that God did accept the Gentiles.

Verse 47


From being baptized with water? Baptism with “water and the Spirit” (John 3:5 and note) was still necessary to initiate Cornelius and the others into union with Christ. Compare Titus 3:4-5; Acts 22:16; Colossians 2:11-12.

Verse 48


So he ordered them to be baptized. Cornelius was such a good man that he would be received in many religious groups unbaptized! Yet to be part of the church of Christ, he must comply with Peter’s command to be buried in the liquid grave.

Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Acts 10". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ice/acts-10.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.
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