Cornelius had been told by the angel to send for Peter. Peter, on the other hand, had also seen a vision from God and had been instructed by the Holy Spirit to go with the men sent by Cornelius. Through a series of divine arrangement and instructions, the church made a historical breakthrough. Peter, submitting to God’s will, took an unprecedented step forward and preached the gospel of salvation to the first group of Gentiles. God, confirming His will, poured out the Holy Spirit on the Gentiles even before Peter finished his sermon. As difficult as it was for the Jewish brethren to accept the embracing of Gentile believers, God’s miraculous works thrust the church ahead into the next phase of the Lord’s commission—witnessing to the ends of the earth.
Did You Know...?
- Peter Arrived at Cornelius’ House (10:23b-33)
- Peter’s Preaching (10:34-43)
- Receiving of the Holy Spirit and Baptism (10:44-48)
- Peter’s Defense before the Jewish Brothers (11:1-18)
What can we learn from Peter in this paragraph?Hide Answer
1. He was obedient to God (23b,28,29). Having received revelation and instructions from God, he simply obeyed despite his former beliefs. Not only so, he obeyed the Holy Spirit to go with Cornelius men without even knowing why he was going (29). In the same way, God’s words should take precedence over our own opinions and doubts. We also do not need to expect an explanation from God before carrying out His command.
2. Peter did not let Cornelius worship him but told him that he was also a man. In the eyes of Cornelius, Peter was to be honored because he was sent by God. But Peter did not bask in glory. He immediately reminded Cornelius that he was only a man. When we serve God, we often receive respect from others, who highly esteem the workers of God. We cannot fall into the temptation of elevating ourselves. Instead, we need to remind ourselves that we are only human, and we are useless servants who are doing our duty.
What can we learn from Cornelius in this paragraph?Hide Answer
1. Cornelius was a humble man. Although it was wrong for him to worship Peter, it was commendable for him, a man of authority, to fall down at the feet of a common Jew like Peter.
2. He obeyed the Lord’s instructions through the angel. Not only did he send for Peter immediately, he also called together his relatives and close friends and waited for Peter (24). He eagerly and reverently waited to hear the message that God wanted Peter to deliver (33).
What did Peter preach about Jesus?Hide Answer
1. He brought peace (36).
2. He is Lord of all (36).
3. He was anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power, and went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil (38).
4. God was with Him (38).
5. He was killed and hung on a tree (39).
6. God raised him up on the third day, and showed Him openly to witnesses chosen by God (41).
7. He ate and drank with the disciples after He arose from the dead, and He commanded them to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead (41-42).
8. To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins (43).
How can we apply 10:34-35 to today?Hide Answer
1. God looks at a person’s heart, not the person’s race, gender, or social standing. He accepts everyone who fears Him and works righteousness. Everyone has an equal opportunity before God, and as long as they fear God and obey Him, God will bless them. The things that we own, such as status, appearance, and wealth play no part in finding God’s acceptance.
2. God’s salvation is for all. No one is too insignificant or unworthy in the eyes of God. If we seek God, we will find Him and receive His saving grace.
3. Since God’s salvation extends to all nations, it is our responsibility as believers to witness to all nations so that all who fear God may hear the good news about Jesus Christ.
How did Peter and the Jewish brethren know that Cornelius and the other listeners had received the Holy Spirit?Hide Answer
1. They heard them speak in tongues and magnify God (46).
2. They saw that these Gentiles had received the Holy Spirit just as the apostles had (47). In other words, the experience was the same as that of the disciples on the day of Pentecost (cf. Acts 2:4).
What was the reaction of the brethren who went with Peter? Why?Hide Answer
They were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. Their preconception that God only saved the Jews was instantly shattered by this miracle.
What does this event teach us about the evidence of receiving the Holy Spirit?Hide Answer
Receiving the Holy Spirit is not a silent experience. Peter and the Jewish brethren knew that the Holy Spirit had fallen upon the Gentile believers because they heard them speak in tongues and magnify God. Without this evidence, Peter would not have concluded that the Holy Spirit had come upon them, and the Jewish brethren would not have been astonished. Nor would they have proceeded to baptize Cornelius and the rest. The evidence of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit was so clear, and it was visible to all who were present. And the evidence was the same as that which had occurred to the disciples on Pentecost. Because of these reasons, Peter cited the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on Cornelius and the rest as an indisputable proof that God also wanted to give salvation to the Gentiles (11:15-17).
What did Peter command Cornelius and his family and friends to do? Why?Hide Answer
Peter commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Now that God’s gift had come upon them, the logical thing to do was for them to be baptized into the Lord Jesus Christ.
Those who have accepted Jesus Christ need to repent and be baptized for the remission of their sins and for salvation (Acts 2:38; Mk 16:16). It is through baptism that we receive a new life in Jesus Christ and put on Christ (Col 2:11,12; Rom 6:3,4; Tit 3:5; Gal 3:27). Therefore, it was necessary for Cornelius and the others to be baptized so that they could be saved and become children of God.
Why do you think that the Holy Spirit came upon these listeners before they were baptized?Hide Answer
Generally, the Holy Spirit is poured out on a person after his baptism into Christ, since the Holy Spirit is God’s promise to those who repent and are baptized (Acts 2:38). But God sometimes gives the Holy Spirit to manifest His power and to convince a person to believe in Him.
In the case of Cornelius, God probably poured out the Holy Spirit first in order to make it absolutely clear to the apostles and Jewish believers that He had also chosen the Gentiles. Because Peter saw that Cornelius and the other listeners had received the Holy Spirit, Peter commanded them to be baptized.
What opposition did Peter face when he returned to Jerusalem?Hide Answer
The Jewish believers confronted Peter for going to the house of a Gentile and eating with him. Not only had Peter broken the tradition of the Jews, his actions could potentially stir up antagonism from the unbelieving Jews against the Christians.
From Peter’s defense, record all the facts that proved beyond any doubt that God wanted to also save the Gentiles.Hide Answer
1. God’s revelation to Peter through a vision (5-10).
2. The exact timing of the arrival of the men from Cornelius (11).
3. The Spirit’s command to go with these men and to doubt nothing (12).
4. Cornelius’ vision and the angel’s instructions to send for Simon Peter (13-14).
5. The pouring out of the Holy Spirit (15 17).
For Peter, why was the fact that the Gentiles received the Holy Spirit significant?Hide Answer
The Lord’s promise of the Holy Spirit was given to the disciples. The fact that God also poured out His Holy Spirit on Cornelius and the rest signified that God had also chosen them to be His own. God made no distinction between the Jewish believers and the Gentile believers, but gave the Gentile believers the Holy Spirit just as He gave the Jewish believers the Holy Spirit. If it is God’s will to give the same gift to Jews and Gentiles alike, who can exclude the Gentiles from being baptized and from becoming members of the same body of Christ?
What was the response of those who contended with Peter?Hide Answer
They became silent; and they glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.” (18).
Under what situations should traditions be challenged and removed?Hide Answer
From Peter’s defense we could see that Peter gave up his long-held traditions and submitted to the will of God because of the truth that God taught him and the confirmation of God through the miraculous deeds of God.
Today, we should humbly examine our traditions to see if they conform to the truth of God and the teaching of the Holy Spirit. Traditions that are contrary to God’s will need to be abandoned. Sometimes, God also arranges special circumstances or does miraculous deeds to bring His truth to light. We ought to ponder on these things to see what God wants to teach us and surrender ourselves to obey God’s word.