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Bible Commentaries

Vincent's Word Studies
Acts 10



Other Authors
Verse 1


See on Luke 7:2.

Band ( σπείρης )

See on Mark 15:16.


Probably because consisting of Roman soldiers, and not of natives of the country.

Verse 2

Devout ( εὐσεβὴς )

See on godliness, 2 Peter 1:3.

Prayed ( δεόμενος )

See on prayers, Luke 5:33.

“Unheard by all but angel ears

The good Cornelius knelt alone,

Nor dream'd his prayers and tears

Would help a world undone.

“The while upon his terrac'd roof

The lov'd apostle to his Lord,

In silent thought aloof

For heavenly vision soared.”

Keble,Christian Year.

Verse 3

A vision

See on Acts 7:31.

Evidently ( φανερῶς )

Better, clearly or distinctly, as opposed to a fancy.

Verse 4

When he looked ( ἀτενίσας )

Rev., more accurately, fastening his eyes. Compare Acts 7:55; and see on Luke 4:20.

Verse 6

A tanner

Showing that the strictness of the Jewish law was losing its hold on Peter; since the tanner's occupation was regarded as unclean by strict Jews, and the tanners were commanded to dwell apart. “If a tanner married without mentioning his trade, his wife was permitted to get a divorce. The law of levirate marriage might be set aside if the brother-in-law of the childless widow was a tanner. A tanner's yard must be at least fifty cubits from any town” (Farrar, “Life and Work of St. Paul”).

By the seaside

Outside the walls, both for proximity to the business, and because of the ceremonial requirement referred to above. Mr. William C. Prime, describing a visit to Joppa, says: “I was walking along the sea-beach, looking for shells, and at about a fourth of a mile from the city, to the southward, I found two tanneries directly on the seaside. I observed that the rocks in front of them were covered with the water a few inches deep, and that they soaked their hides on these rocks, and also submitted them to some process in the water which I did not stop to understand” (“Tent-life in the Holy Land”).

Of them that waited on him continually ( προσκαρτερούν των αὐτῷ )

See on Acts 1:14.

Verse 8

Declared ( ἐξηγησάμενος )

Better, as Rev., rehearsed. See on Luke 24:35.

Verse 9

They ( ἐκείνων )

Those messengers, the servants and the soldier. The pronoun has a more specific reference than the English they.

Verse 10

Very hungry ( πρόσπεινος )

Only here in New Testament.

Would have eaten ( ἤθελε γεύσασθαι )

Rev., correctly, desired to eat. Γευέσθαι is rendered both to eat and to taste, more frequently the latter. See Matthew 27:34; John 2:9; 1 Peter 2:3; and compare Acts 20:11.

He fell into a trance ( ἐπέπεσεν ἐπ ' αὐτὸν ἔκστασις )

Lit.,an ecstasy fell upon him. The best texts, however, read ἐγένετο , came upon him, orhappened to him. See on astonishment, Mark 5:42. Luke alone employs the word in this sense of ecstasy or trance.

Verse 11

Saw ( θεωρεῖ )

Rev., better, and more literally, beholdeth. See on Luke 10:18. The present tense is graphically introduced into the narrative.

Unto him

The best texts omit.

Sheet ( ὀθόνην )

Only here and Acts 11:5. Originally fine linen; later, sail-cloth or a sail. Dr. J. Rawson Lumby suggests that the word, “applied to loose, bellying sails of ships,” may indicate that the form of vessel which appeared to Peter “recalled an image most familiar to his previous life - the wind-stretched canvas of the craft on the Lake of Galilee” (“Expositor,” iii., 272).

Knit ( δεδεμένον )

If this is retained, we must render bound, or attached; but the best texts omit, together with the following and. Render, as Rev., let down by four corners. Compare Acts 11:5.

Corners ( ἀρχαῖς )

Lit., beginnings; the extremity or corner, marking a beginning of the sheet. “We are to imagine the vessel, looking like a colossal four-cornered linen cloth letting itself down, while the corners attached to heaven to support the whole.” The word is used in this sense by Herodotus, describing the sacrifices of the Scythians. The victim's forefeet are bound with a cord, “and the person who is about to offer, taking his station behind the victim, pulls the end ( ἀρχὴν )of the rope, and thereby throws the animal down” (iv., 60). The suggestion of ropes holding the corners of the sheet (Alford, and, cautiously, Farrar) is unwarranted by the usage of the word. It was the technical expression in medical language for the ends of bandages. The word for sheet in this passage was also the technical term for a bandage, as was the kindred word ὀθόνιον , used of the linen bandages in which the Lord's body was swathed. See Luke 24:12; John 19:40; John 20:5, John 20:6, John 20:7. Mr. Hobart says: “We have thus in this passage a technical medical phrase - the ends of a bandage - used for the ends of a sheet, which hardly any one except a medical man would think of employing” (“Medical Language of St. Luke”).

Verse 12

All manner of four-footed beasts ( πάντα τὰ τετράποδα )

Lit., all the four-footed beasts. Without exception, clean and unclean. Not, of very many kinds.

Wild beasts

The best texts omit.

Verse 14

Not so ( μηδαμῶς )

Stronger: by no means. “With that simple and audacious self-confidence which in his (Peter's) character was so singularly mingled with fits of timidity and depression, he boldly corrects the voice which orders him, and reminds the divine Interlocutor that he must, so to speak, have made an oversight” (Farrar, “Life and Works of Paul”). Compare Matthew 16:22.

Common ( κοινὸν )


Verse 15

Call not thou common ( σὺ μὴ κοίνου )

The thought goes deeper than merely styling “common.” Lit., do not thou defile. Do not profane it by regarding and calling it common. Rev., “make not thou common.

Verse 17

Doubted ( διηπόρει )

See on Luke 9:7.

In himself

On reflection, as compared with his ecstatic state.

Had made inquiry ( διερωτήσαντες )

“Having inquired out;” having asked their way through ( διά ) streets and houses, until they found the dwelling of the tanner, who was an obscure man, and not easily found.

Verse 18


A general summons to any one within, in order to make inquiries.

Verse 19

Thought on ( διενθυμουμένου )

Was earnestly ( διά ) pondering.

Verse 22

Was warned ( ἐχρηματίσθη )

See on Matthew 2:12.

Verse 24

Near ( ἀναγκαίους )

The word originally means necessary; hence of those who are bound by necessary or natural ties; blood-relations. But as relatives or kinsmen is expressed by συγγενεῖς , this must be taken in the sense of intimate friends, a meaning which it has in later Greek writers.

Verse 25

Worshipped ( προσεκύνησεν )

An unfortunate translation, according to modern English usage, but justified by the usage of earlier English, according to which to worship meant simply to honor. Worship is worthship, or honor paid to dignity or worth. This usage survives in the expressions worshipful and your worship. In the marriage-service of the English Church occurs the phrase, “With my body I thee worship. So Wycliffe renders Matthew 19:19, “Worship thy father and thy mother;” and John 12:26, “If any man serve me, my Father shall worship him.” Here the meaning is that Cornelius paid reverence by prostrating himself after the usual oriental manner.

Verse 28

An unlawful thing ( ἀθέμιτον )

The word is peculiar to Peter, being used only here and 1 Peter 4:3. See note there. It emphasizes the violation of established order, being from the same root as τίθημι , to lay down or establish. The Jews professed to ground this prohibition on the law of Moses; but there is no direct command in the Mosaic law forbidding Jews to associate with those of other nations. But Peter's statement is general, referring to the general practice of the Jews to separate themselves in common life from uncircumcised persons. Juvenal says that the Jews were taught by Moses “not to show the way except to one who practises the same rites, and to guide the circumcised alone to the well which they seek” (Sat., xiv., 104,105). Tacitus also says of the Jews that “among themselves they are inflexibly faithful, and ready with charitable aid, but hate all others as enemies. They keep separate from all strangers in eating, sleeping, and matrimonial connections” (“Histories,” v., 5).

Of another nation ( ἀλλοφύλῳ )

Only here in New Testament. Used of the Philistines, 1 Samuel 13:3-5 (Sept.).


Emphatic, by contrast with ye.Ye know,” etc., “but God hath showed me.

Verse 29

With what intent ( τίνι λόγω )

More strictly, for what reason.

Verse 30

Four days ago ( ἀπὸ τετάρτης ἡμέρας )

Lit.,from the fourth day; reckoning backward from the day on which he was speaking.

I was fasting, and

The best texts omit.

At the ninth hour I prayed ( τὴν ἐννάτην προσευχόμενος )

Lit., praying during the ninth hour. With the omission of I was fasting, and, the rendering is as Rev., Four days ago, until this hour, I was keeping the ninth hour of prayer.

Verse 31

Said ( φησι )

Rev., saith. The historical present, giving vividness to the narrative.

Verse 33

Well ( καλῶς )

You have done a courteous and handsome thing in coming. Compare 3 John 1:5, 3 John 1:6.

Verse 34

I perceive

See on Acts 4:13.

Respecter of persons ( προσωπολήμπτης )

See on respect of persons, James 2:1. Only here in New Testament.

Verse 36

The word ( τὸν λόγον )

The message.

Verse 37

That word ( ῥῆμα )

The contents of the message: the report or history which it proclaimed.

Verse 38

Anointed ( ἔχρισεν )

See on Christ, Matthew 1:1.

Went about ( διῆλθεν )

Lit., went through (the country). Compare Acts 8:4.

And healing

The and ( καὶ ) has a particularizing force: doing good, and in particular, healing.

Oppressed ( καταδυναστευομένους )

Only here and James 2:6, on which see note.

Verse 39

They slew

The best texts insert καὶ , also: “whom also they slew;” also having an incressive force. They added this crowning atrocity to other persecutions.


See on Luke 23:31.

Verse 40

Shewed him openly ( ἔδωκεν αὐτὸν ἐμφανῆ γενέσθαι )

Lit., gave him to become manifest. Compare, for the construction, Acts 2:27.

Verse 41

Chosen before ( προκεχειροτονημένοις )

Only here in New Testament. The simple verb χειροτονέω , to appoint, occurs Acts 14:23; 2 Corinthians 8:19; and originally means to stretch out the hand for the purpose of giving a vote. Hence to elect by show of hands, and generally to appoint. Plato uses the word of the election of leaders of choruses (“Laws,” 765). In later ecclesiastical usage it signified ordain, as bishops or deacons.

Who ( οἵτινες )

The compound pronoun marks them more strongly as belonging to the class of eye-witnesses.

Verse 42

Testify ( διαμαρτύρασθαι )

See on Acts 2:40.


See on Luke 3:3; and James 5:15.

Verse 43

His name

As in the Lord's prayer: not simply the title, but all that is embraced and expressed by the name: Christ's “entire perfection, as the object revealed to the believer for his apprehension, confession, and worship” (Meyer).

Verse 44

The Holy Ghost fell

The only example of the bestowment of the Spirit before baptism.

Verse 45

They of the circumcision

From this point Luke distinguishes Christians into two classes - those of the circumcision and those of the uncircumcision; calling the formerJews, and the latter Gentiles or Greeks.

Were amazed

See on Acts 2:7.

Verse 47

Water ( τὸ ὕδωρ )

Note the article: the water; co-ordinating the water with the Spirit (see 1 John 5:8), and designating water as the recognized and customary element of baptism.


Copyright Statement
The text of this work is public domain.

Bibliography Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Acts 10:4". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, October 29th, 2020
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30
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