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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Acts 10

 

 

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Introduction

Acts 9:32 to Acts 11:18. A Collection of Peter Stories.—Lydda and Joppa (p. 28) belonged at this time to Judæa, and had a predominantly Jewish population, and Peter's activity is of a peaceful, quiet nature. Peter, who appears here alone, is carrying on a mission outside Jerusalem, to which, however, he always returns as he did in Acts 8:25 (see also Acts 12:3). The first two stories are of the same type as those in the Gospels; the third is in broader style, and gives rise to more questions.

Acts 10. The Conversion of Cornelius.—This incident is parallel to the conversion of the Ethiopian by Philip; both show the extension of the Gospel beyond the Jews, and prepare for the story of the Pauline mission. On the opening vision cf. Acts 8:26, Acts 16:9, Galatians 2:2. See also p. 767.


Verses 1-7

Acts 10. The Conversion of Cornelius.—This incident is parallel to the conversion of the Ethiopian by Philip; both show the extension of the Gospel beyond the Jews, and prepare for the story of the Pauline mission. On the opening vision cf. Acts 8:26, Acts 16:9, Galatians 2:2. See also p. 767.

Acts 10:1. The Italian Band has been much discussed. The points are stated by Schmiedel (EBi. 908). Mommsen considers that the Italian band cannot be identified. Cornelius is introduced as a Gentile adherent of the Jewish religion. "Devout" is to be taken in the Jewish sense; "fearing the Lord," he reverenced the God of Judaism by attending the synagogue. Psalms 115:9-13 gives the threefold division of the congregation of the Temple; priests, Jewish members, Godfearers; in the synagogue the priests were wanting.

Acts 10:3. in a vision and openly contradict each other.

Acts 10:4. Cf. Sirach 35:7.—memorial before God: used of a particular sacrifice (Leviticus 2:2; Leviticus 2:9).

Acts 10:5. The distance is thirty miles.

Acts 10:7. devout soldier: cf. Matthew 8:9 and the whole account of the two centurions.


Verses 9-17

Acts 10:9. the housetop to pray: cf. 2 Kings 23:12, Jeremiah 19:13, Daniel 6:10.—sixth hour: an hour of prayer (cf. Acts 2:15). No food was ordinarily eaten by the Jews before midday.

Acts 10:10. Peter is in a house where there are people to prepare his meal.—a trance: cf. Genesis 15:12, 2 Corinthians 12:2.

Acts 10:11. The oldest Fathers and VSS differ much as to what Peter saw coming down to him. According to the Perpignan Latin it was a great box suspended from heaven at the corners.

Acts 10:12. beasts: as in Genesis 1:24; on clean and unclean beasts, see Leviticus 11. The coney, the pig, and the hare were forbidden to the Jew for food, with many inhabitants of the water and of the air. This made the Jews peculiar in the ancient world; with what tenacity they stuck to the dietary rules the example of Daniel tells us (Daniel 1:8 ff.), and many others are known, e.g. 1 Maccabees 1:62 f., Tobit 1:10-12, Judith 12:1 f., Ad. Est. 14:17.

Acts 10:13. The voice tells Peter that the food rules he has observed are to be cast aside, that he may eat what Gentiles eat and join them at their meals. His objection is put aside as not according to God's will; the distinctions he wishes to keep up about clean and unclean foods are not from God but upheld by men against God. The threefold repetition removes all doubt as to the lesson; the vessel is withdrawn, the lesson is taught.

Acts 10:17. before the gate: the house has a gateway leading into the inner court, from which the rooms were entered.


Verses 19-33

Acts 10. The Conversion of Cornelius.—This incident is parallel to the conversion of the Ethiopian by Philip; both show the extension of the Gospel beyond the Jews, and prepare for the story of the Pauline mission. On the opening vision cf. Acts 8:26, Acts 16:9, Galatians 2:2. See also p. 767.

Acts 10:19. Peter on the roof would hear their voices calling for him. He did not need the Spirit to tell him their errand, only to help him to make the decision.

Acts 10:20. nothing doubting: cf. James 1:6.

Acts 10:23. brethren from Joppa: an apostle has a retinue, and this is an important occasion.

Acts 10:24. Cornelius has allowed two days for the journey each way, and has made preparations to receive Peter with dignity.

Acts 10:25. D and other MSS add further touches: "when Peter approached Csarea, one of the servants ran before and announced his arrival, and Cornelius rushed out," etc. That a Roman officer could act as the text says is sufficiently surprising. The centurion of Luke 7:6 is evidently influencing his confrre.

Acts 10:26. Cf. Acts 14:15, Revelation 19:10.

Acts 10:28. Peter finds himself in a new situation, in a Gentile house, expected to address a company of Gentiles; and he acknowledges what all present must have known, that he is breaking through a custom of his race (Philip had not gone so far); he appeals to his vision for justification, and asks why he was sent for; Cornelius repeats the substance of Acts 10:3-8, and invites Peter to speak.


Verses 34-43

Acts 10:34-43. Peter's Speech.

Acts 10:34 f. declares that Peter regards the persons before him, though not Jews, as fit to enter the Church and share in the promises. The word for "respecter of persons" is a new one; for the notion, see Luke 20:21, Romans 2:11, Galatians 2:6, James 2:1. God does not judge of men by their outward appearance (1 Samuel 16:7), and their nationality belongs to the outward part of them which God disregards. It is implied that those before Peter belong to a nation which ordinary Jewish sentiment regards as not acceptable to God: but he has learned differently, and agrees with Paul (Romans 2) that it is doing righteousness that counts with God and not circumcision.

Acts 10:36 f. The sentence is difficult as it stands. It is necessary to take the "word" in Acts 10:36 and the "saying" or rather the matter or event in Acts 10:37 as denoting the same thing, and both governed by the verb you know. It was to the children of Israel that the word was sent in Jesus Christ. The hearers know what it was; then follows a description of Christ's ministry. It began after John's baptism (Acts 1:22), its scene was Galilee and Juda, where Jesus of Nazareth, anointed by God with the Holy Spirit and with power, fulfilled His wonderful career. All this the hearers know; of all this Peter and his fellows are witnesses. The crucifixion is mentioned without any doctrine being based on it, as in Acts 2:23, Acts 3:15, etc. The resurrection on the third day followed and redressed it, vouched for by the intercourse with Jesus of the chosen witnesses (Acts 1:22). The speech ends (Acts 10:42 f.) with a statement of what the Saviour ordered His apostles to preach (Acts 1:8); it resembles the creed of 1 Timothy 3:16 and 1 Peter 4:5. They are to preach Him as judge of the living and the dead. The passages thought of, where all the prophets witness to Him, will be specially those which speak of forgiveness of sins, of the gathering of the flock to their own pasture, of restoration and redemption.


Verses 44-48

Acts 10:44-48. Result of the Sermon.—The Holy Spirit comes as a rule at baptism, but here, before anything is said about baptism, Peter's speech is interrupted by the descent of the Spirit. Those who had come with Peter from Joppa knew at once what had happened when they heard the Gentile hearers break out into speaking with tongues and praising God. They were surprised that this should happen to Gentiles; Jews alone till now had had these visitations. Peter's reply to their exclamations was that one part of baptism had already taken place with these people, so that God Himself had solved the question of their reception into the Church. Could anyone refuse them the other part of baptism, the water? They are at once baptized; the Church is opened by Peter's means to the Gentiles.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Acts 10:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/acts-10.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, June 27th, 2019
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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