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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Acts 10

 

 

Verse 1

There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band,

We here enter on an entirely new phase of the Christian Church, the "opening of the door of faith to the Gentiles;" in other words, the recognition of Gentile, on terms of perfect equality with Jewish, discipleship, without the necessity of circumcision. Some beginnings had been already made in this direction (see the notes at Acts 11:20-21); and Saul probably acted on this principle from the first, both in Arabia-if he preached there-and in Syria and Cilicia. But had he been the prime mover in the admission of uncircumcised Gentiles into the Church, the Jewish party, who were never friendly to him, would probably have acquired such strength as to bring the Church to the verge of a disastrous schism, But it was wisely ordered that on Peter - "the apostle (specially) of the circumcision" - should be conferred the honour of initiating this great movement, as before of the first admission of Jewish believers (see the note at Matthew 16:19). After this, however, one who had already come upon the stage was to eclipse this "chiefest of the apostles."

Cornelius, by Divine Directions, Sends for Peter ()

There was a certain man , [ een (Greek #1510) of the Received Text is wanting in all the manuscripts except one cursive, the verb being reserved to Acts 10:3 - eiden (Greek #1492). It has come in from the versions. Accordingly the translation should be, 'A certain man ... saw,' etc.]

In Cesarea (see the note at Acts 8:40) called Cornelius, a centurion [ hekatontarchees (Greek #1543), the termination in -os is rather more frequent in the New Testament, though the other is more prevalent (says Winer, 8: 1) in later Greek]

Of the Italian [band] - a cohort of Italians, as distinguished from native soldiers. That such Italian cohorts served in Syria is proved by an ancient coin, of which a copy will be found in Akerman's 'Numismatic Illustrations of the New Testament;' and one of these might very naturally be stationed at Caesarea, as a body-guard to the Roman procurator who resided there.


Verse 2

A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.

A devout man - an uncircumcised convert to the Jewish faith, of whom at this time there were a very great number,

And one that feared God with all his house. Not contented with regulating his own life by religious principle, he had brought his whole household under the influence of revealed religion.

Which gave much alms to the people - that is, the Jewish people; and did so, no doubt, on the same principle which actuated another centurion before him (Luke 7:5), thinking it no "great thing" that they who had 'sown unto him spiritual things should reap his carnal things' (1 Corinthians 9:11),

And prayed to God alway - that is, at every stated season (see the notes on next verse).


Verse 3

He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius.

He saw in a vision evidently (or 'distinctly'), about [ hoosei (Greek #5616). So Tischendorf, with the Received Text. But Lachmann adds peri (Greek #4012), which has preponderating authority. The sense is the same.]

The ninth hour of the day (3 P.M.; see the note at Acts 3:1) - the hour of the evening sacrifice and of evening prayer, according to the Jewish ritual. From Acts 10:30 it would appear that he had been fasting "until" this hour; beginning, possibly, from the previous season of prayer, the sixth hour, or noon (Acts 10:9).

An angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius.


Verse 4

And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.

And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What Is it, Lord? - language which, though half tremulously uttered, betokened childlike reverence and humility.

And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms - by the one his soul going out to God, and his hand by the other to men,

Are come up for a memorial before God - that is, an offering bringing thee into acceptable remembrance, an odour unto God of a sweet smell (see Leviticus 2:2 and Revelation 8:1).


Verse 5

And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter:

And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon. The word "one," printed in italics in the King James Version, belongs to the genuine text [ Simoona (Greek #4613) tina (Greek #5100). The word apparently dropped out, from its occurring in the next verse. Lachmann and Tischendorf properly insert it].

Whose surname is Peter - both his names being given, for greater precision.


Verse 6

He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.

He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea-side (see the notes at Acts 9:11; Acts 9:43): [he shall tell thee what thou oughest to do]. These bracketed words are totally destitute of authority here, being wanting in all the manuscripts of any value, and all the most ancient versions. They seem to be made up out of Acts 10:32, and Acts 9:6.


Verse 7

And when the angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually;

And when the angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called - immediately doing as directed, and thus showing the simplicity of his faith. In all probability he despatched the messengers the same evening.

Two of his household servants. Lechler thinks the word here used [ oiketoon (Greek #3610)] intended to denote persons above the rank of household servants [ douloon (Greek #1401)]; but though sometimes so used (as by Herodotus), New Testament usage seems against any such distinction (see Luke 16:13; Romans 14:4; 1 Peter 2:18).

And a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually - not merely one of the "soldiers under him" as a centurion (Matthew 8:9), but one of a select number of them in personal attendance upon him, to whom, doubtless-though beneath himself in rank-the centurion was peculiarly drawn by the tie of their common piety. Now-a-days (says Bengel pertinently) he who is deemed the successor of Peter receives more splendid legations. Who this "devout soldier" was, cannot with any probability be conjectured; for da Costa's reasons for identifying him with the writer of the second Gospel, though ingenious and beautiful, are nothing more.


Verse 8

And when he had declared all these things unto them, he sent them to Joppa.

And when he had declared all these things unto them - a pious familiarity (says Bengel) toward domestics, "he sent them to Joppa."

Peter's Vision ()


Verse 9

On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour:

On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the house-top - or flat roof; the chosen place in the East, even to this day, for cool retirement,

To pray about the sixth hour (noon).


Verse 10

And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance,

And he became very hungry, and would have eaten , [ eethelen (Greek #2309) geusasthai (Greek #1089)] - rather, 'wished to eat.' It was meal-time, indeed; but his being "very hungry" [ prospeinos (Greek #4361)] was no doubt a special preparation for what was to follow.

But while they made ready , [ autoon (Greek #846), not ekeinoon (Greek #1565) - as in the Received Text-is the true reading; and so Lachmann and Tischendorf],

He fell into a trance , [ egeneto (Greek #1096) is preferable to epepesen (Greek #1968), of the Received Text.] In a state of "trance," the ordinary consciousness, and the perceptions of the external world, seem to have been in abeyance; things which, in ordinary circumstances would be invisible, being exclusively seen. In the state of 'vision,' this cessation of the ordinary laws of sense and perception probably did not exist, or took place but partially.


Verse 11

And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth:

And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending [unto him]. These bracketed words [ ep'

(Greek #1909) auton (Greek #846)] are evidently not genuine.

As it had been a great sheet, knit at the four corners , [ archais (Greek #746)] - 'extremities,' or 'ends.' So all the older interpreters. Dr. Middleton's rendering (after Wakefield) - to which Humphry, Alford, Webster and Wilkinson adhere-`fastened to the ends of four ropes'-is without warrant (see Blownfield's good note). Meyer's rendering-`bound to four corners,' as meaning the four quarters of the heavens-though approved by Neander, is unnatural.


Verse 12

Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.

Wherein were all manner of four footed beasts [ panta (Greek #3956) ta (Greek #3588) tetrapoda (Greek #5074) tees Wherein were all manner of four-footed beasts , [ panta (Greek #3956) ta (Greek #3588) tetrapoda (Greek #5074) tees (Greek #3588) gees (Greek #1093)] (properly, 'all the four-looted beasts')

Of the earth - the visional representation being that of all such animals,

And wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air - the clean and the unclean all mixed together. (In the genuine text the words "of the earth" come after "creeping things.")


Verse 13

And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.

And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.


Verse 14

But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.

But Peter said, Not so , [ meedamoos (Greek #3365)] - 'By no means,' 'Not at all,'

Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean - or (according to a well-supported reading [ kai (Greek #2532) for ee (Greek #2228)], 'common and unclean;' that is, not separated (or divinely sanctified to holy uses) for food, and so, unclean.


Verse 15

And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.

And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not (or 'make not') thou common [ su (Greek #4771) mee (Greek #3361) koinou (Greek #2840)]: q.d., 'Ceremonial distinctions are now at an end, and Gentiles, heretofore debarred from access to God through the instituted ordinances of His Church, are now admissible on terms of entire equality with His ancient people.'


Verse 16

This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven.

This was done thrice , [ epi (Greek #1909) tris (Greek #5151)] (see Genesis 41:32).

And the vessel was received up again - rather, 'immediately' [ euthus (Greek #2117) having much better support than palin (Greek #3825)] "into heaven."

Arrival of the Messengers-Peter, Divinely Directed to Go Down to Them, Obeys-They Tell Their Errand, Are Invited In, and Lodged ()


Verse 17

Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon's house, and stood before the gate,

Now, while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean. Of course, the trance was by this time at an end. The reply to his difficulty about eating what was unclean could not fail to convince him that some great principle of action was embodied in this vision, and what that might be he was anxiously considering, when, "behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon's house, and stood before the gate,"


Verse 18

And called, and asked whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were lodged there.

And called, and asked , [ epunthanonto (Greek #4441)] - 'were [in the act of] inquiring;' that is, were doing so at the very time when the Spirit was supernaturally informing Peter of the fact, "whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were lodged there."


Verse 19

While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee.

While Peter thought - literally, 'cast about in his mind' [ enthumoumenou (Greek #1760); but this has hardly any support: the compound dienthumoumenou (Greek #1760).-has decisive authority]

On the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee. Tischendorf reads, 'Men seek thee' [leaving out treis (Greek #5140)] but on insufficient evidence: Lachmann rightly retains the word.


Verse 20

Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them.

Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing , [ meeden (Greek #3367) diakrinomenos (Greek #1252)] - 'making no scruple:'

For I have sent them , [ egoo (Greek #1473) apestalka (Greek #649).] The "I" here is gloriously emphatic: 'I, with Whom thou hast been holding entranced conversation-it is I that have sent them.'


Verse 21

Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come?

Then Peter went down to the men [which were sent unto him from Cornelius.] These bracketed words [ tous (Greek #3588) apestalmenous (Greek #649) apo (Greek #575) tou (Greek #3588) Korneeliou (Greek #2883)] are missing, and properly left out by Lachmann and Tischendorf. They were probably added to introduce a new sectional church lesson.

And said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come? This question seems to have been asked by Peter without any communication made to him regarding either the men or their errand, and purely in obedience to the Spirit's direction.


Verse 22

And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee.

And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God - fine testimony this from his own servants;

And of good report among all the nation of the Jews; this was added, doubtless, to conciliate the favourable regard of the Jewish apostle.

Was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee. See the note at Acts 11:14.


Verse 23

Then called he them in, and lodged them. And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him.

Then called he them in, and lodged them - thus anticipating to some extent that fellowship with the Gentiles which he was so soon formally to inaugurate, after it should be divinely sealed.

Peter's Departure with the Messengers to Cornelius-The Meeting of Peter and Cornelius ()

And on the morrow Peter. It should be 'he,' the name being a later addition, perhaps as a connecting word.

Went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him. These were six in number, as we learn from himself (Acts 11:12), and they were taken in order to witness what Peter was now prepared to believe would be pregnant with great consequences.


Verse 24

And the morrow after they entered into Caesarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends.

And the morrow after they entered - or, 'he entered,' according to what is presumably the true reading [though eiseelthon (Greek #1525) and - en (Greek #1722) have about equal support].

Into Cesarea. And Cornelius waited (or 'was waiting') for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends. From this it would seem that he had been long enough at Caesarea to form relationships there, and at least that there he had intimate friends, whose presence he was not ashamed to invite to a religious meeting of the most solemn nature, and likely to affect his whole future.


Verse 25

And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him.

And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him - a mark of highest respect, "and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him."


Verse 26

But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man.

But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up: I myself also am a man. In the East this way of showing respect wee customary not only to kings but to others of superior station; but among the Greeks and Romans (as Grotius says) it was reserved for the gods. Not that we have the smallest reason to suppose that Cornelius meant to pay divine honours to Peter by this attitude; but the apostle regarded it as an act of religious homage, which his own insignificance as a mere mortal instrument, divinely chosen to open the door of faith to this centurion, would not endure. Alford justly remarks, that 'those who claim to have succeeded Peter have not imitated this part of his conduct.' But this only verifies 2 Thessalonians 2:4 (compare Revelation 19:10; Revelation 22:9).


Verse 27

And as he talked with him, he went in, and found many that were come together.

And as he talked ('talked familiarly') with him , [ sunomiloon (Greek #4926)] in emphatic contrast with the abject position toward Peter which Cornelius had just before assumed.

He went in, and found many that were come together - a noble opportunity for the apostle, of which he was not slow to avail himself.

Peter, Introduced to the Assembled Company, Asks Formally what He is Sent for-The Reply of Cornelius ()


Verse 28

And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.

And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation. There was no express prohibition to this effect, and contact to a certain extent was undoubtedly kept up, as is evident from the Gospel History; but intimate social fellowship was not practiced, as being contrary to the spirit of the law, and (as is usual in such cases) the law was strained injuriously in this direction (see John 18:28).

But God hath showed me that I should not call any man common or unclean - from which it is evident that the apostle had already caught the import of the vision, and was prepared at once to carry it out.


Verse 29

Therefore came I unto you without gainsaying, as soon as I was sent for: I ask therefore for what intent ye have sent for me?

Therefore came I unto you without gainsaying, as soon as I was sent for: I ask therefore for what intent ye have sent for me? The whole speech is full of dignity, the apostle beholding in the company before him a new brotherhood, into whose devout and inquiring minds he is ready, as divinely directed, to pour the light of new and surprising truth.


Verse 30

And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing,

And Cornelius said, Four days ago. If the messengers were despatched on the first day, and on the second reached Joppa, started for Caesarea on the third, and on the fourth arrived, this would make out the four days.

I was fasting until this hour. Lachmann reads thus: 'Four days ago I was praying in my house at the ninth I was fasting until this hour. Lachmann reads thus: 'Four days ago I was praying in my house at the ninth hour' [leaving out neesteuoon (Greek #3522), kai (Greek #2532)]. His external authorities are weighty, perhaps of equal strength with those for the Received Text, but internal evidence is against him; because while it is easy to account for the dropping out of this short clause from many manuscripts-no mention of fasting being made in Acts 10:3 - its insertion, if spurious, can hardly be accounted for. Tischendorf abides by the Received Text.

And at the ninth [hour]. The bracketed word [ hooran (Greek #5610)] is an unauthorized addition to the text.

I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing (see the note at Matthew 28:3).


Verse 31

And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God.

And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God.


Verse 32

Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter; he is lodged in the house of one Simon a tanner by the sea side: who, when he cometh, shall speak unto thee.

Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter; he is lodged in the house of one Simon a tanner by the sea-side: who, when he cometh, shall speak unto thee. Here again Lachmann shortens the text, omitting all the clause [ hos (Greek #3739) paragenomenos (Greek #3854) laleesei (Greek #2980) soi (Greek #4671)]; but the evidence for it is preponderating, and Tischendorf inserts it.


Verse 33

Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.

Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou are come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God - rather, 'of the Lord,' according to the better attested reading [ apo (Greek #575) tou (Greek #3588) Kuriou (Greek #2962) ... apo, as being less natural, is preferable to hupo (Greek #5259) of the Received Text, though both are about equally attested. So Lachmann and Tischendorf]. Beautiful expression this of preparedness to receive the expected communication from this heaven-commissioned teacher, and delightful encouragement to Peter to give free utterance to what was no doubt already on his lips!

Peter now preaches Christ to Cornelius and his party ()


Verse 34

Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:

Then Peter opened his mouth (see the note at Matthew 5:2),

And said, Of a truth I perceive - `The events of these days past, and the scene I now behold, have made it evident to me,'

That God is no respecter of persons - not, 'I see that there is no capricious favouritism with God,' for Peter would never imbue such a thing; but (as the next clause plainly shows to be the meaning) 'I see that God has respect only to personal character in His acceptance of men, and that national and ecclesiastical distinctions are of no account with Him.'


Verse 35

But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.

But in every nation - not, 'in every religion,' according to a common distortion of these words.

He that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. As the two-fold description here given of the divinely-accepted man is just the well-known Old Testament description of him who, within the pale of Revealed Religion, was regarded as truly godly, it cannot be alleged that Peter meant it to denote a merely virtuous character in the pagan sense; and as the apostle had learnt enough from the messengers of Cornelius, and from his own lips, to convince him that the whole religious character of this Roman officer had been cast in the mould of the Jewish Faith, there can be no doubt that the apostle meant to describe exactly such saint-ship, in its internal spirituality and external fruitfulness, as God had already pronounced to be genuine and approved; and since to such "He giveth more grace," according to the law of His kingdom (James 4:6; Matthew 25:29), He now sends Peter, not to be the instrument of his conversion-as is very frequently said-but simply to show him the way of God more fully, as before to the Ethiopian eunuch.


Verse 36

The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:)

The word which God sent unto the children of Israel. The apostle, though addressing a company of Gentiles, and about to proclaim Christ and salvation to them, will have them distinctly to know that to the Jews first the word of salvation was sent, even as the facts of it took place on the special theater of the ancient economy.

Preaching peace by Jesus Christ. This is the sum of all Gospel truth (see Isaiah 52:7; Isaiah 57:19; Ephesians 2:17; Colossians 1:20), and standing as it does at the outset of all that the apostle was to say about Christ and His errand into the world, it clearly shows what it was that he thought it most important that men so new to the glad tidings should first of all lay hold of.

(He is Lord of all) - Gentiles as well as Jews; q.d., 'I have said that the glad tidings were first sent unto the children of Israel; but not for them only was the word of this salvation designed, for this Jesus hath God exalted to embrace under the canopy of His peace the Gentile and the Jew alike, whom the blood of His cross hath cemented into one reconciled and accepted family' (Ephesians 2:13-18).


Verse 37

That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached;

That word ... [ reema (Greek #4487) - not logon (Greek #3056), as in Acts 10:36] - rather, 'matter.' The grammatical structure of this whole passage is somewhat perplexed, and various ways of pointing the text and bringing out the sense have been adopted. Tischendorf so points the text as to bring out the following sense, given substantially by Bengel and DeWette (in which Olshausen, Baumgarten, and Alford concur): 'Of a truth, I perceive that God is no respecter of persons, etc., [even] the word which God sent to the children of Israel; He is Lord of all. Ye know what took place throughout all Judea,' etc. But this is very forced. We must regard the statement about the acceptance of all who fear God and work righteousness, which the apostle says he now perceived (Acts 10:34-35), as complete within itself; and all that follows must, as we think, be rendered thus (with Scholefield): 'The word which He sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all), ye know; [even] the matter which took place throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached, [concerning] Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him,' etc. [The only difference between this rendering and that of the King James Version, is in making oidate (Greek #1492), at the opening of Acts 10:37, the governing verb, not to reema (Greek #4487), which comes after it, but to ton (Greek #3588) logon (Greek #3056), with which the preceding verse opens; and in taking reema (Greek #4487), not as equivalent to logon (Greek #3056) in the verse before, but as denoting the subject matter of the "word," = daabaar (Hebrew #1697), and so rendering genomenon (Greek #1096), not "published," which it cannot properly mean, but 'took place,' 'happened,' 'occurred.']

Ye know. The facts, it seems, were too notorious and extraordinary to be unknown to those who mixed so much with Jews, and took so tender an interest in all Jewish matters, as they did; though, like the eunuch, they knew not the significance of them.

Which was published , [ to (Greek #3588) genomenon (Greek #1096) reema (Greek #4487)] - 'the matter which took place,'

Throughout all Judea, and began , [ arxamenon (Greek #756), not - arxamenos (Greek #756), though the manuscripts favour it. The construction is against it]

From Galilee - (Luke 4:14; Luke 4:37; Luke 4:44; Luke 7:37; Luke 9:6; Luke 23:5).

After the baptism which John preached - (see the note at Acts 1:22.)


Verse 38

How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.

How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth , [ Ieesoun (Greek #2424) ton (Greek #3588) apo (Greek #575) Nazareth (Greek #3478), hoos (Greek #5613) echrisen (Greek #5548) auton (Greek #846) ho (Greek #3588) Theos (Greek #2316).] - [`Concerning'] Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him

With the Holy Ghost - that is, at His baptism; thus visibly and audibly proclaiming Him Messiah, "The Lord's Christ." For it is not His unction for personal holiness at His incarnation that is here referred to-as many of the fathers and some moderns take it, who view this and similar statements more theologically than exegetically-but His solemn investiture with the gifts for His Messianic office, in which he presented Himself after His baptism to the acceptance of the people. (See the notes at Matthew 3:13-17, Remark 2, p. 15.)

And with power - the fruit of that glorious Anointing, who went about doing good , [ euergetoon (Greek #2109)] - diffusing beneficence; referring to the beneficent character of His mission in general, and all the features of it, but particularly (as appears by the next clause) to the beneficent character of all His miracles, which was their predicted character (Isaiah 35:5-6).

Healing all that were oppressed , [ katadunasteuomenous (Greek #2616)] - or 'tyrannized over.'

Of the devil - whether in the form of demoniacal possession, or more indirectly, as in her "whom Satan had bound with a spirit of infirmity eighteen years" (Luke 13:16); thus showing Himself the premised Redeemer from all evil.

For God was with him. Thus gently does the apostle rise to the supreme dignity of Christ, with which he closes, accommodating himself to the imperfect capacity of his audience to apprehend the things of the kingdom.


Verse 39

And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree:

And we [are] witnesses , [ esmen (Greek #2070) is not genuine] - no objects of superstitious reverence, but simply witnesses; yet eye and ear-witnesses to the great historical facts on which the Gospel is based.

Of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews - including Galilee, of course; because the apostle, addressing Gentiles, speaks in general terms.

And in Jerusalem - the metropolis not only of their nationality, but of their whole Religion.

Whom, [ hon (G3739) kai, 'whom also'] they slew and hanged on a tree , [ aneilon (Greek #337) kremasantes (Greek #2910)] - rather, 'hanged on a tree and slew;' or 'slew by hanging' (as in Acts 5:30). See the note at Galatians 3:13.


Verse 40

Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly;

Him God raised up the third day, and showed him openly , [ edooken (Greek #1325) auton (Greek #846) emfanee (Greek #1717) genesthai (Greek #1096)] - literally, 'gave Him to become manifest;' that is, so exposed Him in His resurrection-body to the senses of men, that they were qualified to attest the fact of His being raised from the dead.


Verse 41

Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead.

Not to all the people - for it was not fitting that He should subject Himself, in His risen condition, to a second rejection in Person.

But unto witnesses chosen before of God , [ prokecheirotoneemenois (Greek #4401)]. The word signifies to 'choose by show of hands,' and then to 'choose' in any way. Even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. Not the less certain, therefore, was the fact of His resurrection, though withholding Himself from general gaze in his risen body.


Verse 42

And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.

And he commanded us to preach unto the people - the Jewish people,

And to testify that it is he which - `He it is' [ autos (Greek #846). Lechler properly says here, that though the external authorities are in favour of houtos (Greek #3778) - which Lachmann adopts-it is probably a correction, in consequence of the frequency and regularity with which houtos (Greek #3778) occurs in this address. Tischendorf abides by autos (Greek #846)].

Was ordained of Cod to be the Judge of quick and dead. He had before proclaimed Him "Lord of all," for the dispensing of "peace" to all alike: now he announces Him Lord for the exercise of judgment upon all alike. On this grand ordination, see John 5:22-23; John 5:27; and Acts 17:31. Thus have we here all Gospel truth in brief. But Forgiveness through this exalted One is the closing note of Peter's beautifully simple discourse.


Verse 43

To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.

To him give all the prophets witness - i:e., 'This is the burden, generally, of the prophetic testimony.' It was fitter thus to give the spirit of their testimony than to quote them in detail on such an occasion. But let this apostolic statement of the evangelical import of the Old Testament writings be devoutly weighed by these who are disposed to rationalize away this element in that part of Scripture.

That through his name - by virtue of what He is and what He hath done (compare 1 Corinthians 6:11).

Whosoever believeth in him - `Ye Gentiles whom I now address, as well as we of Abraham's seed.'

Shall receive remission of sins - a noble practical conclusion to the whole discourse.

The Holy Spirit Descends on the Whole Gentile Audience, who thereupon Speak with Tongues and Magnify God, to the Astonishment of the Jewish Converts Present-They are Baptized by Peter's Direction ()


Verse 44

While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.

While Peter yet spake these words - and probably as the last words were dropping from his lips,

The Holy Spirit fell on all them which heard the word. - by sensible manifestation; all speaking with foreign tongues (Acts 10:46) --


Verse 45

And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.

And they of the circumcision which believed, [ pistoi (G4103) = pisteuontes (G4100)], were astonished, as many as came with Peter - the six Jewish brethren 'that accompanied Peter from Joppa' (Acts 11:12, and Acts 10:23),

Because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Spirit. Their wonder arose not from the descent of the Spirit upon men of Gentile birth, but from His descending on them while yet uncircumcised.


Verse 46

For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,

For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. The tongues used on this occasion were clearly not intended for the preaching of the Gospel, but merely as incontestable evidence that the Holy Spirit was resting on them (see the note at 1 Corinthians 14:22, "Wherefore tongues are for a sign"). The "For" at the beginning of the verse makes this evident. It was the same with the tongues spoken on the day of Pentecost. But just as the miracle then consisted not in the mere employment of foreign tongues, but in proclaiming in those tongues, to them unknown, "the wonderful works of God;" so here this company of Cornelius are heard "magnifying God" in foreign languages. Nor is there any reason why these Gentile converts, speaking as the Spirit gave them utterance, may not have magnified God in similar strains of Old Testament inspiration, as we supposed it probable that the Jewish converts on the day of Pentecost did (see the note at Acts 2:11); in which case the company of Peter that listened to them would the more marvel.


Verse 47

Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?

Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized. This is a sort of challenge thrown out to his own six Jewish brethren, who might be supposed to object to the recognition of their Gentile brethren without circumcision. A great principle is here expressed. He does not say, 'Having received the Spirit, what need have they of water!' But, 'Having received the supernatural seal of real discipleship, who can refuse them the visible token of it!'

Which have received, [ hoitines (G3748) elabon (G2983), i:e., 'since they have received'] the Holy Spirit as well as we? - which has put them on a level with ourselves in all that is saving.


Verse 48

And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.

And he commanded them to be baptized. As "Jesus himself baptized not, but His disciples" (John 4:2), His apostolic representatives seem to have acted on the same principle, except on rare occasions (see the notes at 1 Corinthians 1:14; 1 Corinthians 1:17).

In the name of the Lord. Lachmann's reading, 'in the name of Jesus Christ,' is perhaps best attested; but this (as Meyer says) is probably an alteration, to mark the Christian character of the act. Tischendorf abides by the Received Text.

Then prayed they him to tarry certain days - golden days (as Bengel says); spent in refreshing fellowship, and in imparting and receiving fuller teaching on the great topics of the apostle's discourse.

Remarks:

(1) We have adverted to the fact that the Gospel was preached with success to uncircumcised Gentiles before Peter was sent to Cornelius (see the note at Acts 8:4. and Remark 1, at the close of that section). The strong feelings of the dispersed believers, who, after Stephen's martyrdom, went everywhere preaching the word, would not suffer them, it appears, to confine themselves to their brethren of the circumcision. Meeting with Gentiles, equally needing and equally capable of salvation by the Gospel, they felt themselves impelled to proclaim the glad tidings to them also; and they did it not in vain. But since this was so new a feature in the divine economy, and the prejudices of the Jews against any breaking down of the distinction were so intense and general, that even after they believed, they could hardly shake it off, it seemed meet to the wisdom of God to give the extension of the Gospel to uncircumcised Gentiles a more august and formal sanction, once for all, than any success vouchsafed to the spontaneous labours of warm-hearted believers would have lent to it. And this is what we have in the present chapter. And the steps in this case were as notable as in the conversion and preparation of Saul of Tarsus to be a preacher of Christ, because in both cases the issues to the cause of the Gospel were to be so vast. Yet how different the two cases! Saul, nursed under divine revelation, and of 'the straitest' sect of his Religion, was up to the moment of his conversion a bitter enemy of Christ: Cornelius, born a pagan, but learning in Judea (where, as a military man, he had been quartered) that 'salvation was of the Jews,' had surrendered his heart to the God of Abraham, was regulating his life and household by the Faith which he had embraced, and had at least one of his soldiers, like-eluded with himself in spiritual things, on a more intimate footing with him than the rest.

Thus adorning his religious profession, the eye of God rested on him with complacency as an accepted worshipper; and as, like the Ethiopian eunuch before Philip was sent to him, he wanted only the knowledge of Jesus, the Lord brings this about in a way worthy of Him who is wonderful in counsel and excellent in working. That apostle, through whose instrumentality the first ingathering of Jewish believers took place on the day of Pentecost, is now honoured to open the door of faith unto the Gentiles, in the persons of Cornelius and his company. With this view Cornelius is directed in vision to send for Peter, while Peter, on the other hand, taught by a vision that the Gentiles are no longer unclean, is by the Spirit informed that messengers are waiting for him, whom he is to accompany, as men divinely sent to him. Cornelius, in full expectation of Peter's arrival, prepares to receive and cordially welcomes him; each having his respective party with him-the representatives of the two great sections of mankind, Jew and Gentile, coming together for the first time, with the formal recognition of heaven, on a footing of perfect religious equality.

The expectations of both parties are wound up, doubtless, to a high pitch; and silence having been broken-by each party explaining how, on his part, this strange meeting had come about-Peter delivers his Gospel message. While he is yet speaking the Holy Spirit descends upon the whole Gentile portion of the audience-evidencing His presence, as on the day of Pentecost, by their magnifying God in foreign tongues; the Jewish portion of the audience is tilted with wonder, and Peter, after challenging objection, orders them-all uncircumcised as they were-to be visibly admitted into the fellowship of believers by the rite of baptism. At their invitation Peter stays some days with these new Gentile brethren-eating and drinking with them freely, no doubt, in disregard now of all his old prejudices. Thus grandly was the admission of the Gentiles to be fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God, established divinely for all time.

(2) The honour in this case put upon prayer-as before in the case of Saul of Tarsus-ought not to pass unnoticed. Just as some other sign of the change that had come over Saul might have been given to Ananias; but that which was fixed upon (the last, by the way, that would have been thought of by any but a simple relater of facts), as it was that in the convert's exercise which was the most befitting his new circumstances, so it shows what the eye of God beheld in him with the greatest satisfaction: even so here, it was "about the ninth hour" - the hour of evening Jewish prayer, and doubtless while himself in the act of prayer-that the angel of God appeared in vision to Cornelius. Perhaps he was praying for more light; and as the centurion in the Gospel-being quartered in Capernaum, and enjoying the advantage of familiarity with His mighty works and wondrous words-had outstripped his Jewish teachers, and passed from Judaism to Jesus; so this man, after having gotten all out of Judaism which he could extract without Christ, feeling still that his soul was not satisfied, was crying to God, "If I wash myself with snow water, and make my hands never so clean; yet shall thou plunge me in the ditch, and mine own clothes shall abhor me.

For He is not a man as I am that I should answer Him and we should come together in judgment Neither is For He is not a man as I am, that I should answer Him, and we should come together in judgment. Neither is there any daysman between us, that might lay his hand upon us both." "Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence. For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, besides thee, what He hath prepared for Him that waiteth for Him." "Show me a token for good" (Job 9:30-33; Isaiah 64:1; Isaiah 64:4; Psalms 86:17). If anything like this was the burden of Cornelius' prayer, how seasonable was the divine response to it! But at any rate, it was, beyond doubt, while he was praying that the promise of new light was sent him, and it was "his prayers" first that the angel told him had "come up as a memorial before God." Nor was it otherwise with Peter; for it was while on the house-top, where he had gone up "to pray," and about the noon-tide hour of Jewish prayer, that he had the trance which prepared him for the messengers of Cornelius, and the Spirit's directions to go with them.

`The saint beside the ocean pray'd, The soldier in his chosen bower,

Where all his eye survey'd Seem'd sacred in that hour `To each unknown his brother's prayer, Yet brethren true in dearest love

Were they-and now they share Fraternal joys above. `There daily through Christ's open gate

They see the Gentile spirits press, Brightening their high estate

With dearer happiness.' KEBLE

And does not the experience of the Church, and of individual believers in every age, attest, quite as decisively, the value which the Lord sets upon prayer? When has any remarkable revival of religion taken place, or light in darkness broken in upon struggling believers, which has not been preceded by much prayer? (Compare the example of Jesus Himself, Mark 1:35; Luke 6:12; Luke 9:28, and Remarks there.)

(3) The principle, that where the Holy Spirit has been already conferred, the visible sign of entrance into the fellowship of the Church cannot reasonably be withheld, is plainly one of more extensive application than the particular case here recorded. One application of it, to facts brought to Jesus, has been noticed on Luke 18:15-17, Remark 5; and Calvin makes this application of it too, But it admits of very varied application.

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Acts 10:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/acts-10.html. 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, October 20th, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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