The Gentiles Receive the Holy Spirit Part 1 of 4

by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)

May 1, 2014

Acts of the Apostles


Lesson III.D.6: The Gentiles Receive the Holy Spirit (10:23-48)


Scripture (Acts 10:23-48)

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.
24 And the morrow after they entered into Caesarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends.
25 And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him.
26 But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man.
27 And as he talked with him, he went in, and found many that were come together.
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.
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?
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,
31 And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God.
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.
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.
34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:
35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.
36 The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:)
37 That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached;
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.
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:
40 Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly;
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.
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.
43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.
44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.
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.
46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,
47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?
48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.


Message

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.

Peter and the three messengers set out the next morning accompanied by several of the Jewish Christians from Joppa. According to Peter’s report in Jerusalem there were six from Joppa (11:12{1]). The company that journeyed those thirty miles from Joppa to Caesarea were ten in all: the three who had been sent—two household servants and a soldier; the apostle himself; and six men whom he took with him—Christian Jews who are designated as, “they of the circumcision” (v. 45). It would take at least two days to complete the journey to Caesarea.

Peter had seen the vision; some gleam of light had broken upon his mind, and he was quite conscious that the journey toward the house of the Gentile was an entirely new movement; so he took with him six brethren for witnesses (three times the number needed in a court of law), Hebrews, who were Christians, and could protect him from any charges which might be made later.


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

After spending the night en route they arrived in Caesarea on the fourth day from Cornelius original vision (v. 30). Cornelius must have expected a positive response from his invitation to Peter, because he had invited a number of relatives and close friends to hear Peter, and they were all gathered at his home when the party from Joppa arrived. This man was a witness before he was a Christian and he must have had quite an influence on his family and friends. This would prove to be of considerable importance to subsequent events. The movement of the Spirit in Cornelius home would not be an isolated conversation but would involve a considerable number of Gentiles, what Luke called “household salvation” (11:14{2]).


25 And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him.
26 But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man.

As Peter entered the house, Cornelius was elated and fell at his feet in a gesture of reverence and respect{3, 5]. Peter protested vigorously—“I myself also am a man.” Paul and Barnabas had a similar experience when the Gentiles in Lystra attempted to worship them as gods (14:14-15{4]).

Cornelius was a follower of Judaism, but he was not circumcised, and that was what made the difference and kept him from being fully accepted as a Jew.


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

After a polite introductory conversation with Cornelius, Peter related the unusual circumstances of his coming. He did not tell of his vision but rather of the conclusion he had drawn from the experience. Everyone had to realize how unacceptable it was for a Jew to associate closely or even visit in the home of a person of another race{6]—some Jews referred to Gentiles as “dogs.” It was “an unlawful thing” (v. 28), something that was not done. Peter is breaking taboos. He had followed Jewish standards and traditions his whole life; but God had shown Peter that he should not call another person common or unclean (v. 28). Actually, Peter’s vision had only related to unclean foods, but he had understood fully the symbolism of the creatures in the sheet. All were God’s creatures; all were declared clean. God had led him to Cornelius, and God had declared Cornelius clean. The old purity laws could no longer separate Jew from Gentile. Since God had shown Himself no respecter of persons, neither could Peter make such a distinction anymore.


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?

This is remarkable, that Peter would ask this question. Didn’t he know he had been summoned there to preach the gospel? Had he forgotten the Acts 1:8{19] commission to go to “the ends of the earth?”

Peter still had not realized the full implication of God’s sending him to Cornelius. He did not yet understand that God intended him to accept Cornelius as a Christian brother. So he asked Cornelius why he sent for him. This amazes me. Why didn’t he immediately begin to tell them about Jesus Christ? Well, you see, the Spirit of God is in charge here, and he keeps Peter from rushing right into this.

We need to be led by the Spirit of God. I personally believe that the finest kind of evangelism today is prayer evangelism. I mean that we should begin by praying for an individual. Then the day will come when we need to put legs on the prayer. Ask God to lead you. Dear reader, I know he will lead you. If you have been praying for a loved one, or a friend, or a stranger, don’t just go to him in your own strength and in the power of the flesh. If you do, you will fail. Let God be the one to lead you. That is what Peter is doing.

Cornelius responded by reiterating his vision (vs. 30-32).

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