Acts: Chapter 10
Let’s begin by reading (Acts 10:1-8).
(Verses 1-2)(NKJV) “There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, (2) a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always (continually). “
“Cornelius” – We learn six things about Cornelius from these first two verses:
1. He was from Caesarea (the Roman capital of Judea)
2. He was a Roman centurion (of the Italian Regiment)
3. He was a devout man
4. He feared God (as did his entire household)
5. He gave many alms (gave generously to those in need)
6. He prayed to God continually (always)
“Caesarea” – As we mentioned in the previous chapter, Caesarea was built by Herod the Great between 25 – 13 B.C., and he named it in honor of Caesar Augustus. It served as the headquarters for Roman governors (i.e. Pilate lived there while he was ruling Judea). Several important events in the New Testament occurred there: i.e. Philip preached there (Acts 8:40), and later lived there (Acts 21:8-9), Paul was sent there by the “brethren” from Jerusalem to escape those who were trying to kill him (Acts 9:28-30), Herod Agrippa I was killed by God there (Acts 12:19-23), Paul was sent there to stand trial before Felix (Acts 23:23,33), and Paul sailed from the harbor there to appear before Caesar in Rome.
“A centurion” – From the “Nelson’s NKJV Study Bible” – “As a centurion, Cornelius would have been part of a cohort, a regiment of the Roman military. A legion numbered about six thousand men. Each legion had ten cohorts of about six hundred men each. The cohorts were divided into centuries of a hundred men, and each century was commanded by a centurion, something like a modern sergeant.”
“He feared God” – When it says that Cornelius “feared God” (also see: Acts 10:22), this means he was a man who believed in, and came to worship the God of the Jews, but was not technically a Jew (also see: Acts 10:35, Acts 13:16,26). He would not have been circumcised. However, it appears that he was respected by the Jews (Acts 10:22), which would have been very unusual for someone who was a Roman centurion.
(Small rabbit trail!) Cornelius “prayed to God always.” If you have followed the JesusAlive website for any period of time, you know that I believe the Bible clearly shows that God does not hear the prayers of a non-Christian (an unbeliever). I discuss this in great detail at https://jesusalive.cc/does-god-hear-non-christian-prayer.
In short, I believe that we are told to pray to the Father (primarily) (Mt 6:6)(Jn 15:16), with the Lord’s Prayer being one example (Mt 6:9-13)(Lk 11:2-4), and we can only get to the Father through Jesus (Jn 14:6)(Mt 11:27). Jesus is the “mediator” between God (the Father) and man (1 Tim 2:5)(Heb 9:15). Jesus allows us to enter into the Father’s presence (the Holy of Holies)(Heb 10:19-20). Therefore, if one’s sins are not covered by the blood of Jesus, we cannot go to the Father (in prayer, or to Heaven at death).
Cornelius is sometimes used as an example that this belief is not true. However, I disagree with this for two reasons. First, I strongly suspect Cornelius may have believed in Jesus, however, he had not fully heard the Gospel, nor had salvation as yet been offered to the Gentiles. As such, his prayers would be heard. Secondly, even if Cornelius was not a believer, God providentially used Cornelius to bring salvation to the Gentiles. (He had to start with someone.)
(Verses 3-4) “He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. (4) And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.”
“The ninth hour of the day” – This was 3 p.m. Most Jews believed (and still believe today) that they had a duty to pray 3 times a day. These times of prayer were generally 9 a.m. (the third hour), 12 p.m. [noon] (the sixth hour), and 3 p.m. (the ninth hour). Combining the time of 3 p.m., with the “angel of God” saying to Cornelius “Thy prayers… are come up for a memorial before God,” may indicate that Cornelius was following the Jewish time of prayer, and was praying when the angel appeared.
“What is it Lord?” – As a Gentile, who had recently become a Jewish convert, Cornelius may not have known about the ministry of angels in the Old Testament, and mistook “an angel of God” for the Lord Himself.
A “memorial” before God – The word “memorial” (Gr “mnemosunon“) is used only here, and in (Mt 26:13)(Mk 14:9) in the New Testament. It is interesting to note that the “prayers and alms” of Cornelius as a “memorial” before God is similar to the language used for sacrifices in the Old Testament (Lev 2:2,9,16)(Lev 5:12)(Lev 6:15).
(Verses 5-6) “And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter: (6) He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.”
“Joppa” – As we mentioned in the previous chapter (9), Joppa (meaning beautiful) is called “Jaffa” today, and it is located south of Tel-Aviv. It is a seaport located on the Mediterranean Sea, and was about 39 miles south of Caesarea. It was the place of two significant events in the Old Testament (see: 2 Chr 2:8-9,16, Ezra 3:7, Jon 1:1-3).
“Simon the tanner”- As we saw at the end of the previous chapter (Acts 9:36-43), Peter raised Tabitha (“Dorcas”) from the dead at Joppa. Afterwards, “he stayed many days in Joppa with Simon a tanner.” We see here that he is still there when these events occur. Do you remember what we discussed about Simon’s occupation as a “tanner” in relation to the Jews?
“He (Peter) will tell you what you ought to do”
How would you react if you were Cornelius, and someone you thought was the Lord suddenly appeared to you and told you that a man in another city had a message for you?
(Verses 7-8) “And when the angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually; (8) And when he had declared all these things unto them, he sent them to Joppa.”
We see here that Cornelius immediately obeyed what the angel (that he thought was the Lord) told him to do, sending 3 men to Joppa. Notice that one of the three is called a “devout soldier,” just as Cornelius is called “devout.”
While this seems a stretch to me, the Jamieson, Fausset, Brown Commentary gives us this interesting thought regarding the identity of the “devout soldier:”
“DA COSTA [Four Witnesses] gives a number of ingenious reasons for thinking that, having attached himself henceforth to Peter – whose influence in the composition of the second Gospel is attested by the earliest tradition, and is stamped on that Gospel itself – he is no other than the Evangelist Mark.”
Next, let’s read (Acts 10:9-17): “Peter’s Vision.”
(Verses 9-10) “The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour. (10) Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance”
“Peter went up on the housetop to pray” – In Bible times, most houses had a flat rooftop. A set of steps on the outside of the house led up to the rooftop. Occupants of the house would often go up there to cool off, relax, have some privacy (1 Sam 9:25-26), or in the case of believers to pray. Sadly, pagans also went on their roofs and “burned incense” to their gods (Jer 19:13)(Jer 32:29)(2 Kin 23:12). Peter was on the roof for the midday (noon) Jewish time of prayer.
Lunch was being prepared (“made ready”) while he was on the roof, and he was “very hungry.” Peter then falls into a trance, and receives a vision (v. 17) from God (about “food”).
(Verses 11-14)(NKJV) “and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth. (12) In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. (13) And a voice came to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” (14) But Peter said, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.””
In this vision, God (Jesus?) has lowered a “great sheet” from heaven containing animals that were unclean to the Jews. In the Old Testament, God had made a restriction forbidding the Jews to eat (or even touch) “unclean animals” (Leviticus Chapter 11)(Lev 20:25)(Deut 14:3-20). The Jews had obeyed this restriction for hundreds of years. Now, God is telling Peter to break this law, and “eat” what has been forbidden.
***Note: The “Believer’s Bible Commentary” adds this quote from W. Graham Scroggie: “Whoever says ‘not so’ should never add Lord,’ and whoever truly says ‘Lord’ will never say ‘Not so.’ “
(Verses 15-17) “And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.” (16) This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again. (17) Now while Peter wondered within himself what this vision which he had seen meant…”
As we see in Verse 17, after seeing the vision, Peter does not understand what it means. Based upon his words above, it seems clear that Peter thought God was telling him to “eat unclean foods,” and the reason was that “He (God) has cleansed” them. However, since Peter is still trying to determine afterwards “what this vision meant,” it also appears that Peter may have thought there was more to it.
While there is some debate about this, I believe God “is” speaking about the eating of “unclean foods,” however, there is also a deeper secondary meaning as well.
(Small rabbit trail!) To understand this “first” meaning, we must understand the difference between “moral laws” and “ceremonial laws” in the Old Testament.
Ceremonial laws were given by God to Israel, and they pointed forward prophetically to Jesus Christ. Most of these laws made a distinction between what was clean and unclean (with many of them having practical benefits as well). In addition, they showed the holiness of God, and were a way to show honor and respect to Him. These laws were connected with the Old Covenant, and were fulfilled through Jesus’ death and resurrection. In Jesus, we are now under a New Covenant, given to the “church,” and we are made pure, clean, and sanctified through Him. Therefore, ceremonial laws have passed, and no longer need to be kept.
Moral laws were given by God and will never pass away, must never be broken, and apply to everyone. The Ten Commandments (with the exception of the 4th commandment about the Sabbath Day) are all examples of moral laws. These laws are based on God’s unchanging nature and character. The Bible tells us in (Rom 2:14-15) that we all instinctively know the difference between what is right and wrong, because it is written on our hearts. For instance, we know in our conscience that it is wrong to murder, steal, commit adultery, etc… This gives moral laws a clear distinction from ceremonial laws, which man would not have known were wrong if God had not specifically stated that they needed to be followed.
Having explained this, when God is telling Peter here in (Verses 11-15) that “God has cleansed” unclean animals, and is telling Peter to “rise and eat” them, I believe He is saying that the dietary restrictions against eating “unclean animals” has been lifted. The restriction against eating unclean animals pointed forward to Jesus, and we are now made clean through Jesus. Ceremonial, cleansing laws no long need to be kept. Other verses showing us that Christians are allowed to eat all foods: (Mk 7:18-19)(Rom 14:2-3)(1 Cor 10:25)(Col 2:16-17)(1 Tim 4:3-5).
***Note: For examples of other ceremonial laws given to Israel in the Old Testament that no longer apply today, see: https://jesusalive.cc/difference-ceremonial-and-moral-law. For a more in-depth explanation of the difference between clean and unclean animals, see: https://jesusalive.cc/difference-clean-unclean-animals.
HOWEVER, the deeper (“secondary”) meaning of Peter’s vision is yet to come!
Next, let’s read (Acts 10:17-33).
(Verses 17-18)(NKJV) “Now while Peter wondered within himself what this vision which he had seen meant, behold, the men who had been sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate. (18) And they called and asked whether Simon, whose surname was Peter, was lodging there.”
While Peter is trying to understand the meaning of the vision, suddenly the 3 men sent from Cornelius (2 servants, and a devout soldier) arrive. Coincidence? Nope! The “secondary” meaning of the vision is about to become more clear!
***Note: The men likely added “whose surname is Peter” to distinguish between the 2 men named “Simon” who lived in the house: Simon the tanner, and Simon Peter.
(Verses 19-21) “While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee. (20) Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them. (21) Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come?”
Several interesting things are found in these verses. What do you see?
***Note: The Greek word for “thought” in (Verse 19) is “enthumeomai.” It means “to think on, or ponder.” It is used in the New Testament only here, and in (Mt 1:20)(Mt 9:4).
(Verses 22-23)(NASB) “They said, “Cornelius, a centurion, a righteous and God-fearing man well spoken of by the entire nation of the Jews, was divinely directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and hear a message from you.” (23) So he invited them in and gave them lodging.”
I believe this was the “Ah-Ha” moment for Peter in understanding the deeper “secondary” meaning of the vision! Peter finds out here that the men “the Spirit” had “sent,” and told him to “go with… doubting nothing,” were Gentiles! How do we know he understands the deeper “secondary” meaning here? Because, he “invited them in and gave them lodging.” Traditionally, no Jew would “ever” invite an “unclean” Gentile into his house (especially a Roman soldier), let alone give them lodging (Acts 11:3).
As we see from this point going forward, Peter displays an understanding of the “vision” he received.
(Verses 23-24) “On the next day Peter went away with them, and some brethren from Joppa accompanied him. (24) And the following day they entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting for them, and had called together his relatives and close friends.
The next day, Peter left with the 3 men sent by Cornelius, and he took some brethren (“6” – Acts 11:12 / “of the circumcision” – Acts 10:45) from Joppa with him. Peter likely took these 6 brethren with him to be witnesses of what was about to occur. In the next chapter, when Peter goes to Jerusalem to explain what has happened with Cornelius in Caesarea, they go with him (Acts 11:12). It is also worth noting that Peter, as a Jew, is now traveling “in public” with Gentiles.
Why would Cornelius invite all of his “relatives and close friends” to be at his house when Peter arrived? Almost certainly, just as Peter took “6 brethren” to witness what he expected to occur in Caesarea, Cornelius also expected something big to happen, and he wanted his loved ones to be there for it. I strongly suspect that when Peter arrived, he was not expecting to appear before a crowd.
(Verses 25-26) “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.”
This is one of two times in Acts where an apostle was “worshipped,” and refused that worship (also see: Acts 14:11-18). Angels also refuse to be “worshipped” (Rev 19:10)(Rev 22:8-9).
Wouldn’t it be wise for certain religious leaders today to follow Peter’s example, and refuse to allow themselves to be “worshipped?” You know who I am talking about, right?
(Verses 27-28) “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.”
“It is an unlawful thing” (from the Barnes Commentary) – “This was not explicitly enjoined by Moses, but it seemed to be implied in his institutions, and was, at any rate, the common understanding of the Jews. The design was to keep them a separate people. To do this, Moses forbade alliances by contract, or marriage, with the surrounding nations, which were idolatrous. See Leviticus 18:24-30; Deuteronomy 7:3-12; compare Ezra 9:11-12. This command the Jews perverted, and explained it as referring to contact of all kinds, even to the exercise of friendly offices and commercial transactions. Compare John 4:9.”
***Note: The Greek word for “nation” in (verse 28), “allophulos” is used nowhere else in the New Testament.
“God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean” – This declaration by Peter is the first of many times in the New Testament in which it will be said that Jews and Gentiles are now equal in God’s eyes in regards to salvation. see: (Rom 1:16)(Rom 3:29)(Rom 10:11-13)(Gal 3:26-28)(Col 3:11).
(Verse 29)(NKJV) “Therefore I came without objection as soon as I was sent for. I ask, then, for what reason have you sent for me?” “
When Peter met the 3 men sent by Cornelius in (verse 22), they told him that Cornelius had been “divinely directed by a holy angel to send for him.” However, Peter didn’t know the details of the “vision” Cornelius had received from the “holy angel.”
In (Verses 30-32), Cornelius repeats the details that we have already read in (verses 4-7). However, he adds two “extra details” in this second recounting. First, he tells us his “vision” was “four days ago.”
The 1st day was the day he received the vision, and then sent the 3 men to Joppa.
The 2nd day (“the next day” – verse 9), the 3 men arrived in Joppa, and spent the night with Peter.
The 3rd day, (“the next day” – verse 23), Peter and the brethren left with the 3 men to go to Caesarea.
The 4th day, (“the following day” – verse 24), “they entered Caesarea,” and met with Cornelius.
In addition, we are told that the “holy angel” who appeared to Cornelius was “in bright clothing” (verse 30). This matches the description of the angel who was at the empty tomb of Jesus (Lk 24:4)(Mt 28:2-3).
(Verse 33)(NKJV) “So I sent to you immediately, and you have done well to come. Now therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God.” “
The “excitement” of Cornelius to hear what God has “commanded” Peter to say rings out SO loudly in this verse!
Finally, let’s read (Acts 10:34-48).
(Verses 34-35)(NKJV) “Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. (35) But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.”
Peter “opened his mouth” – This phrase is used several times in the New Testament when something important was about to be said (Mt 5:2)(Mt 13:35)(Acts 8:35)(Acts 18:14)(also see: Eph 6:19).
Up to this point, both Peter, and all Jews believed that God’s favor was “only” for the nation of Israel. However, Peter has now “perceived” that God’s favor is upon “every nation.” Jesus actually pointed to this while He was on earth. He told His disciples at the “Great Commission” to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Mt 28:19). He told the disciples on the Mount of Olives that the “Gospel… would be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations” (Mt 24:14). In (Jn 12:32), He said He would “draw all peoples to Myself.” (Also see: Mt 8:11, Rev 5:9, Rev 14:6)
Both the Old Testament (Deut 10:17-19)(2 Chr 19:7)(Job 34:19), and the New Testament (Rom 2:11)(Eph 6:9)(Col 3:25)(James 2:1)(1 Pet 1:17) mention that God does not show “partiality.”
The exact meaning of (verse 35) is a matter of some controversy. Without going too deep, here is the “simple” explanation given in the “Believer’s Bible Commentary:” “Even if a man fears God and works righteousness, he is not thereby saved. Salvation is only by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. But when God finds a man who has lived up to the light he has received about the Lord, He makes sure that man hears the gospel and thus has the opportunity to be saved.”
(Verse 36) “The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:)”
While God’s favor, and salvation through Jesus Christ is for “all nations,” the Gospel was first brought to “the children of Israel” (the Jews) (Rom 1:16)(Rom 2:10)(Mt 10:5-7)(Mt 15:24)(Lk 24:47). It was through Israel that salvation was brought to all other nations (Lk 2:30-32)(Jn 4:21-22)(Acts 13:46)(Rom 9:1-5).
The “peace by Jesus Christ” means that “only” through Jesus Christ can man have “peace” with God (the Father). (Rom 5:1) says, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom 5:2-11) explains this further, ending with (verse 11)(NKJV) saying, “And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.” (Also see: Isa 53:5, Eph 2:14-18, Col 1:19-20)
(Verse 37) “That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached”
As we see in the book of Matthew, “Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him” (Mt 3:13). After His baptism, and temptation in the desert (Mt 4:1-11), Jesus “departed to Galilee” (Mt 4:12), and “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mt 4:17). After Jesus called Peter and Andrew at the Sea of Galilee (Mt 4:18-22), He “went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people” (Mt 4:23). From there, the Gospel spread throughout all Judea (Lk 23:5).
This is one of 7 places in Acts that talks about “John’s baptism.” – Also see: (Acts 1:5)(Acts 1:22)(Acts 11:16)(Acts 13:24)(Acts 18:25)(Acts 19:3-4).
(Verse 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.”
Verses mentioning that “God anointed Jesus…with the Spirit” can be found in (Isa 61:1-3 – prophecy / Lk 4:18-21 – prophecy fulfilled) (Isa 11:1-2 – prophecy)(Isa 42:1 – prophecy)(Jn 1:32-33)(Jn 3:34)(Acts 4:27). For more on this, you can go here: https://jesusalive.cc/holy-spirit-in-jesus.
Jesus is shown to “heal all that were oppressed by the devil” in verses such as: (Mt 9:32-33)(Mt 12:22)(Lk 8:2)(Lk 13:10-13). To find a list all people who Jesus cast a demon out of, you can go here: https://jesusalive.cc/times-jesus-cast-out-demon.
(Verses 39-41)(NKJV) “And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree. (40) Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, (41) not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead.”
The disciples (“we”) were eye-witnesses to all that Jesus did from the beginning of His public ministry, until his death on the cross. After His death, Jesus was resurrected (“raised up”) on the “third day” (Mt 16:21)(Mt 17:22-23)(Lk 24:6-7)(1 Cor 15:3-4).
Jesus was on earth for 40 days after His resurrection (Acts 1:3). During this time, He appeared to “witnesses chosen by God,” including the disciples. Jesus is shown to be “eating and drinking” with the disciples in (Lk 24:36-43)(Jn 21:1-23). ***Note: Scripture shows Jesus making 10 different appearances after His resurrection, and none of these were to unbelievers. For a list of those Jesus appeared to, you can go here: https://jesusalive.cc/jesus-appearances-after-resurrection.
***Note: If you are looking for a good proof for the triune God (the “trinity”), the question can be asked, “Who raised Jesus from the dead?” Answer: Jesus did (Jn 2:19), the Holy Spirit did (Rom 8:11), the Father did (Gal 1:1), God did (here – Acts 10:40). How can this be?
(Small rabbit trail): Because (verse 39) says Jesus was “killed by hanging on a tree,” some believe that Jesus was not crucified on a cross. How do we answer this?
“There are 5 verses that talk about Jesus being hanged on a “tree” (Acts 5:30)(Acts 10:39)(Acts 13:29)(Gal 3:13)(1 Pet 2:24). The Greek word for “tree” that is used in these verses is “xulon,” which basically means “wood, a piece of wood, anything made of wood” (Strong’s Concordance). In other words, it does not literally mean “a tree.” If Jesus had been hung from an actual “tree,” the Greek word “dendron” would have been used.
The “cross” is mentioned 28 times in the New Testament. The Greek word “stauros” is used for “cross,” which according Strong’s, means: “a stake or post (as set upright), i.e. (spec.) a pole or cross (as an instrument of capital punishment). In addition to this, history has clearly shown us that the cross was a form of Roman execution. Both Biblical and historical evidence points to an actual cross being used to murder Jesus, as opposed to “a tree.” (Also, consider that Simon was compelled to carry the cross (not a tree) for Jesus on the way to His execution: Mk 15:21.)
(Verses 42-43) “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 (living) and dead. (43) To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.”
“He was ordained by God to be the Judge of the living and the dead” – We often hear today about the “loving” Jesus, but rarely about the “judging” Jesus. Jesus / God is “equally “love” and “justice.” This verse tells us that Jesus will judge. Jesus said this of Himself in (Jn 5:22), saying, “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son,” and (Jn 5:27) continues saying, “And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.” Jesus will judge both Jews and Gentiles. (Also see: Isa 11:3-4, Acts 17:31, James 5:9, 2 Tim 4:1, Rev 19:11, Rom 2:16)
***Note: In the future, Jesus will preside over one judgment for believers called “The Judgment Seat of Christ” (1 Cor 3:12-15)(2 Cor 5:10), and one judgment for unbelievers called “The Great White Throne Judgment” (Rev 20:11-15).
“Whosoever believeth in Him” – The New Testament uses the word “whosoever” 16 different times in conjunction with salvation in Jesus. “Whosoever” is a powerful word to use against those who would teach that Jesus died “only” for the “elect” (Limited Atonement), or that God has randomly chosen who would believe, and who would not (Unconditional Election).
Jesus gave His life for “all” men (“whosoever”) (Jn 1:9,29)(1 Jn 2:2)(2 Cor 5:19)(Jn 12:32,47)(Heb 2:9)(1 Tim 2:6)(1 Tim 4:10)(Rom 5:18), and God desires that “all” would be saved (1 Tim 2:3-4)(2 Pet 3:9)(Ezek 18:23,32)(Titus 2:11)(Mt 18:14).
(Verses 44-46) “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.”
“They of the circumcision” – These were the (“6”) “brethren” from Joppa (mentioned in verse 23) that Peter brought along to be witnesses. As we mentioned in (verses 34-35), the Jews were not convinced that God’s favor could come upon anyone but them. To see Gentiles receiving the Holy Spirit, and speaking in tongues, just as they had at Pentecost (Acts Ch. 2) was “astonishing” to them.
As we first spoke of when we began our study in Acts by looking at the “Baptism of the Holy Spirit,” while on earth, Jesus had promised a number of times to send the Holy Spirit after He ascended into heaven (i.e. Lk 24:49, Jn 16:5-7, Jn 7:39). This happened in Acts. Fulfilling a promise made to Peter in (Mt 16:19), Jesus used Peter to bring the Holy Spirit (giving him the “keys to the kingdom of heaven”). This “baptism of the Holy Spirit,” brought by Peter, occurred in 3 different stages in Acts: first at Pentecost (Acts Ch. 2), second with the Samaritans (Acts 8:14-25), and the third is here with the Gentiles. The “baptism of the Holy Spirit” brought each of these 3 groups into God’s New Covenant (and the Church).
***Note: It should be noted that ALL believers who were present in these groups were “Baptized by the Holy Spirit.”
We also discussed in the “Baptism of the Holy Spirit” study why “tongues” were spoken here, and in Acts 2 (and later in Acts 19:1-7). Do you remember the reason?
(Verses 46-48) “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? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.”
Please note the order of the events in (verses 44-48):
Verse 44: The Holy Ghost (Spirit) fell on those who had heard the word.
Verse 45: The Jews (the circumcision) were amazed the Gentiles received the Holy Spirit.
Verses 46-47: Peter tells us that they have received the Holy Spirit and asks if any man can forbid that they should be baptized.
Verse 48: Then they were baptized.
These verses clearly refute the teaching that “baptism” is necessary in order to be saved. The Bible teaches that the moment a person receives the Holy Spirit, they are saved (Eph 1:13-14)(1 Cor 1:22)(2 Cor 5:5), and become a child of God (Rom 8:9,14,16). Those who believe “baptism” is necessary for salvation say that the Holy Spirit comes in “after” being baptized. However, here we see the Holy Spirit coming in “before” being baptized.
The Bible shows us that the Holy Spirit” comes in after “believing” (Eph 1:13-14)(2 Th 2:13)(Jn 7:38-39), and “faith” (Acts 15:8-9)(Gal 3:2,5,14), not after baptism.
“Then they prayed him to tarry certain days” – Can’t you feel the excitement in this statement? Why did they want Peter to stay?
***Note: It is interesting to note that it appears Peter did not personally do the baptizing here, just as Paul mentions that he did not baptize most of those he led to the Lord (1 Cor 1:13-17). (Jn 4:2) mentions that Jesus did not baptize people either.