Acts 10:1-8 A gentile roman soldier named Cornelius, who was a believer of the Jewish God and very devout, saw a vision of an angel instructing him to bring a man named Peter from Joppa to himself in Caesarea.
Notes: Cornelius was a centurion, a commander of 100 men, and a member of the Italian Cohort. (A “cohort” consisted of 600 men under the command of six centurions, but with auxiliary forces in remote areas such as Judea a “cohort” might have as many as 1,000 men.) Ten cohorts formed a “legion.” Centurions were paid very well (as much as five times the pay of an ordinary soldier), so Cornelius would have been socially prominent and wealthy.
Acts 10:9-23 In the meantime, Peter has a vision of a great sheet full of animals that are prohibited to eat under the ceremonial laws coming toward him with a voice saying to kill and eat. Peter says, “Never!” The voice says what God has made clean, do not call uncommon. As Peter pondered the vision, Cornelius’ servants arrived to bring Peter back to Caesarea to meet Cornelius. The Spirit confirmed to Peter to rise and go with them without delay for this was the Lord’s doing. The servants told Peter about the angel visiting Cornelius, so Peter invited them to stay the night.
Notes: With the coming of the New Covenant and the calling of the church, God ended the dietary restrictions.
Acts 10:23-28 The next day, Peter took with him some of the brothers in Christ that were at Joppa and went to Caesarea. Cornelius called all his friends and family to come to his house to witness this meeting with Peter. Cornelius made the mistake of worshipping Peter, but Peter straightened him out. Peter reminded Cornelius that their law made them unclean by entering the house of a Gentile, but now understood that it is no longer to be true, for God has now included the Gentiles to receive the blessings and salvation of God. The vision of the forbidden meat was a spiritual lesson to teach Peter that the Gentiles are no longer considered unclean and are welcome into God’s Kingdom.
Notes: unlawful. Not in terms of violating OT commands but in the sense of not following the later customs of strict Jewish traditions about uncleanness. The Jewish traditions of purity made it virtually impossible for them to associate with Gentiles without becoming ritually unclean. God was overturning the old clean/unclean distinctions and dietary laws in general, along with all other “ceremonial” laws in the Mosaic covenant (including laws about sacrifices, festivals and special days, and circumcision). Nothing like this was to get in the way of fellowship with Gentiles.
Acts 10:29-43 Peter was curious to why he was asked to visit Cornelius. Cornelius told Peter his story about the angel and now wanted to hear all that Peter had been commanded to tell him by the Lord. Peter retold the story of Jesus, whom Cornelius was sure to have known about. Peter said that it was true that Jesus was raised from the dead, and that they were commanded to preach that Jesus is the One appointed by God to judge the living and the dead, and that all who believe in Jesus will receive forgiveness of sins.
Acts 10:44-48 As Peter was saying these things, the Holy Spirit descended on all who heard the word. The brothers who came with Peter were shocked to see the Holy Spirit being poured out on Gentiles, evidenced by their speaking in tongues and praising God. Peter said to the brothers, shall we not go ahead and baptize with water those who have unmistakably received the Holy Spirit like us? None refuted Peter, so the Gentile believers were baptized.
Notes: The fact that they had not followed any Mosaic ceremonial laws (such as those concerning circumcision, sacrifice, and dietary restrictions) before receiving the gift of the Spirit is an important point, as soon becomes evident.