Objective: To realize the fallacy of modern man’s (our) tendency to filter our view of ancient Biblical times through the lens of our society, time and place (2Tim. 2:15) and to understand we must study to be approved by God. AND: To continue studying the beginnings of Christianity.
HISTORY reveals: The ancient world was a far cry different than this one. In that time of bladed weapons and tools there were no antibiotics. Some plants had antibiotic qualities but they made little difference. A deep puncture wound or cut might well cause death by infection. Ancient records show infant deaths were high and a high percentage of mothers died in childbirth. The times were primitive and violent.
The death penalty for crime, usually by some type of torture, was very common. Captured enemy soldiers were made slaves or killed, usually by torture, to show the enemy the victors were not to be trifled with. Famine was common. Enemy conquest resulted in many deaths, ravage of the land, livestock and crops, looting of treasure and confiscation of personal property. Read history. Life was cheap in the ancient world.
How much time had elapsed until Saul disappeared and went silent? The events from (Acts 1:3) to (Acts 11:18) scripturally give the impression they happened in a few weeks but various early church documents and timelines record that about ten years had transpired during that time.
(Acts 13:9) Why was Saul’s name changed to Paul? Saul is a Hebrew (Jewish) name and is defined: asked for, inquired of God and Paulos (Paul) is the Latin name for the same man. Paul is simply the anglicized version of Paulos which is defined: little. Saul, the apostle, will be referred to as Paul from this point onward in this commentary.
(Acts 22:25) How can Paul be a Hebrew/Jew/Judaean citizen and a Roman citizen at the same time? Some scholars say Judaism is a religion and you cannot be a citizen of a religion. Others say there were free cities in the Roman empire and whosoever was born in them automatically became a Roman citizen.
Hebrew is a race of people. (Gen. 15:5-18 esp. V.5 keyword: Abraham, 17:7-21 keyword: Isaac, and 32:24-28 esp. V.28 & 35:9-26 esp. V.10 keywords in both: Jacob whom God named Israel) To be a Hebrew/Jew/Judaean a person must be born into God’s covenant bloodline of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob whom God later named Israel (Hebrew definition: he will rule as God).
God’s given covenant bloodline is carried on (Ex. 19:1 thru 34:32) through the time of Moses and the children of Israel (the nation of Israel with the covenant promise of a homeland) (Josh. 1:1-18 esp. V.5) to Joshua and the children of Israel (the nation of Israel preparing to take their Promised Land for their homeland) (V.5) with God’s help (V.6 keywords: which I sware) which God had sworn to do.
(Gen. Ch. 4, 5 &11) Some Bible scholars say there were no written records of Jewish genealogy but there are many in the Old Testament (Matt. 1:1-16 & Luke 3:23-38) and in the New Testament. (1Chron. 25:8 thru 27:34) The scholars/teachers, scribes, rabbis and priests (Levites) obviously kept the records of lineages because it was a religious matter. AND:
(Ex. 38:26 keywords: every one, Num. 1:1-47 esp. V.2 keywords: take ye the sum of all the congregation of the children of Israel, 1Chron. 21:1-5 esp. V.5 keywords: men that drew the sword, 2Ki. 23:35 keyword: taxation & Luke 2:1-5 keywords: taxed) Civil law census records were kept for the Jews’ taxation, travel and war whether they were the victors or the vanquished and under the domination of their conquerors in the Jew’s struggle for national identity.
(1Sam. 8:1-22) The people of Israel made the choice to establish a monarchy that attended to civil affairs AND (John 18:11-23, Acts 4:5-7 & 6:11 thru 7:60) they also operated as a theocracy under the high priest and the Sanhedrin court which attended to covenant, Mosaic Law, bloodline kinship and other religious affairs. Both forms of government continued until Judaea was destroyed by Rome.
(Acts 22:28) Roman citizenship could be purchased or (historical documentation) Roman citizenship could be won by some great act of service to the Roman Empire. (Acts 22:28) The fact Paul, the bloodline Jew, was born a Roman citizen means he had inherited his citizenship from his father. For further details ask the internet how foreigners obtained Roman citizenship and to what degree of civil rights they were awarded. END OF QUESTIONS SEGMENT:
CHRISTIANITY: Part 7 ended with the fact (Acts 9:26-30) the brand-new apostle Paul had disappeared (John 21:15-17 & Acts 9:32) and Simon Peter had continued to lead in the establishment, growth and advancement of the Christian Church.
The Romans had conquered and occupied Judaea in 63 BC and used local leaders to rule until 6 AD (anno domini: defined- the year of the Lord) for a total of 69 years.
See: www.chabad.org and ask how a high priest is selected under Jewish law. In 6 AD the Romans began appointing Jewish leaders in violation of the precepts of the Law such as high priest (John 18:13 Annas & Caiaphas, Annas’ son-in-law, both from a wealthy Judean family) and king (Herod an Idumean- non-Jewish), and during this restructured occupation Judaea had been under Roman domination for approximately thirty-seven more years.
In the twenty usages of the word centurion in the N.T. (Acts 10:1-31 esp. V.1 & 22 keyword in both: centurion) only Cornelius is named. The only way to know Cornelius as a person aside from the scanty scriptural details is to explore historical documentation, ancient Roman records, ancient church records and ancient Jewish records to bring him to life.
Example: Why make sure we know Cornelius was an Italian but give no further details? What events had brought Cornelius to being devout? Why did he bother to give alms to a conquered people and pray to a “foreign” God (Italy was a pagan society)? Is God beckoning us to investigate the circumstances so we can understand God’s process? SO:
(Acts 10:1-48) Here we have the well-known story of Cornelius the centurion (from the anglicized Latin word kenturion; the captain of 100 Roman soldiers: a century = 100= centurion) of the Italian (belonging to Italia- Italy) band. (Acts 10:1) His century of 100 soldiers was stationed in Caesarea and was part of Rome’s occupying force in conquered Judaea. The first Herod, known as; the most famous Herod, Herod the great, Herod the builder, Herod the ruthless military commander had completed a former Greek harbor at Caesarea sometime between 37 and 4 BC.
History states: Centurions were selected from the best of the best in the Roman army. They had to have been tested in brutal combat and have served in the Roman army as a common soldier (legionnaire) in a Roman legion for at least 16 years before they were even considered to be promoted to the rank of Centurion. Centurions were selected because they were very intelligent, were natural leaders with a stable temperament and the ability to think clearly especially in the heat of battle. Cornelius’ great abilities had won him that special position in the Roman army.
Centurions were known for their mindset, force of personality and courage to hold themselves and their soldiers at their post even if it cost their lives to the last man. (Matt. 8:8-9) Centurions exerted absolute control over their soldiers. Centurions were directly responsible for their soldiers’ training. Soldiers, being of the soldier mindset, admired their centurions and did not hesitate to obey their orders even unto their death. Cornelius was a man to be reckoned with in any circumstance.
History generally portrays the Roman army as brutal, cruel, merciless and arrogant. War is a brutal, merciless, life changing event. Soldiers who go through rigorous training feel special. After the horror, fear, anger, carnage, shock and numbness of battle wears off the victorious soldiers who survive eventually feel like conquerors and they are. Both conditions breed a certain arrogance in many soldiers. Some soldiers even become war lovers, adrenaline junkies, they love the danger and they live to kill and kill and kill.
It was a custom to kill the enemy wounded; “We need to treat our own wounded. Why waste resources to heal and feed those who will fight us again.” “They’ve killed our brothers in arms, kill them.” War breeds into a soldier’s soul a coldness, a skepticism of people’s intentions, a paranoia of one degree or another, a well-honed acceptance of reality that excludes many of life’s meaningless frivolities, a certain efficiency about their actions, they have few illusions about death- their constant companion, a blunt manner and a factual tell it like he sees it attitude. BUT:
Sometimes, late, there in the darkness of the night, straining and sweating, the battles would return and they would awaken to the fear, anger and horror with the screams and curses still a far echo in their minds. When the horror was gone and with it their sleep, the sadness would come and they’d wonder; “What happened to the innocent boy I used to be?” And sometimes, to the youngest, to the oldest, the hardest, the bravest, here and there tears would trickle down someone’s tanned face as they once more attended the funeral of their innocence.
Sometimes, here and there, one would think; “My mind is like a trip, wounded and unarmed, staggering through enemy territory and all I have for company is me.” Inevitably the thought would follow; “I’ve got to train harder, I’ve got to be tougher, I’ve got to be stronger, I’ve got to survive.” And they would go on into their bleak future.
(Prov. 15:3 & Rev. 8:3) Far, far yonder, there in everlasting, from the throne above the great golden altar, (Psa. 145:8) the gracious, compassionate, merciful God of all glory, (1John 4:8 & 16 key: love hurts) the God who is love itself (1Tim. 3:16 God was manifest in the flesh, Luke 19:41 & John 11:35 wept) felt His own tears (John 3:14-17 esp. V.15 keywords: whosoever believeth in him) and renewed (Gen. 3:15 keyword: seed) His ancient Eden prophesy; “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Though far different from the civilian population active duty combat tried soldiers are still human. They have friends, they love their families, they worship whatever they consider to be their deity and they have their station in life. They eat, drink, joke, laugh, worry, pay their bills, and etc. just like everybody else. Cornelius had been tried in the fiery cauldron of personal man to man combat and had not been found wanting.
Christianity had not spread to Rome during this time period and Rome was a completely pagan society worshipping its mythological gods and goddesses (polytheism). The number of Roman deities is staggering. It is easy to find an internet list of fifty-eight major mythological deities worshipped by the Romans. Cornelius was part of that society and he was a pagan. BUT:
NOTE: (Eph. 5:32, Col. 1:26-27, 1Tim. 3:9 & 16 and Rev. 10:7 then back to Rom. 11:13-36 esp. V.25 keyword in all: mystery) God keeps secret (mysteries) certain things as He unfolds His plan for the redemption of man in the span of time from Eden to the ending of Revelation. (Psa. 115:3) God can arrange events as it pleases Him and we must accept that if we are to please Him.
There are “unknown divine appointments” arranged by God (Isa. 55:8-11) that we can only dimly understand because God’s thoughts and ways are so far beyond ours. (1Sam. 17:1-32 esp. V.17-18) David is a perfect example. All David knew was that he was taking parched corn and bread to his brothers and cheese to their captain. He didn’t know he was on his way to fight Goliath the giant.
(V.29) But God always leaves man with the power of choice. I have experienced these “unknown divine appointments” many times in parking lots, various stores, pumping my gas at a quick stop, standing in a checkout line and etc. I would see a person and I would be faced with the choice to go talk to them or to not talk to them. I never knew where the conversation would go. I could feel the Holy Spirit as they, by their choice, would reveal some secret thing, a problem, or some kind of trouble.
“Somehow” the answer always comes and many times people have said; “I know we were supposed to meet because you have my answer.” Only God can make arrangements like that when in a few seconds, a minute, or even two we would have missed each other. I always tell them only God can make these arrangements, “unknown divine appointments”, and for them to give God all the credit, not me, because I had no idea what was happening in their life! Look for “unknown divine appointments” in the rest of this article. END OF NOTE.
(Acts 10:1-2) The “devout (pious)” centurion named Cornelius “prayed to God “alway” (constantly). Though an experienced soldier and leader in the conquering Roman occupation force that kept the Jews under the thumb of the Roman government Cornelius obviously had developed a compassionate heart toward the Jews and “gave much alms (charity, humanitarian acts) to the people” (general Jewish population- he did not give alms to curry favor with important people who could do something for him). WHY?
What did Cornelius see and know? (Ex. 20:3) It is obvious Cornelius was attracted to the Jewish concept of one all-powerful God (monotheism) (Acts 2:1-4) who would have a direct relationship with men (John 14:23) and prove it. (Acts 11:1-5 esp. esp. V.3 keywords: keyword: uncircumcised) BUT: Cornelius was not a proselyte Jew because he was uncircumcised. AND: (Matt. 9:1-26 & 14:1, Mark 1:28 and Luke 5:15 keyword in all: fame) It was impossible for Cornelius to HAVE NOT known about Jesus. BECAUSE:
(Matt. 21:7-16) The miracle Worker from Galilee had set all of Judaea on fire with His teaching and miracles. (1Cor. 15:4-8) Cornelius had to have at least heard the stories concerning the miracle of Jesus’ resurrection. (Matt. 9:18-26, Luke 7:12-22 esp. V.22 keywords: the dead are raised & John 11:1-45) Cornelius saw and knew a great number of people who had seen Jesus actually raise the dead.
(Mark 15:39) Perhaps Cornelius’ fellow centurion had told Cornelius he had been at Jesus’ crucifixion and that he really believed Jesus was the Son of God. (Luke 7:1-10) Perhaps another fellow centurion had told Cornelius how Jesus had healed his servant. For sure Cornelius had at least heard (knew) those stories second-hand when they were told in the tight knit community of Roman soldiers.
(Acts 3:1 thru 4:31, 5:12-16, 6:8, 8:5-8 then V.32-42) He saw and knew the apostles had continued in the same manner as Jesus in their teaching, preaching and miracles by some strange God given power and the great Christian movement was spreading like a wildfire.
(Acts 2:1-4) Native, Judaean Jews had been saved, (Acts 2:5-41 esp. V.5 keywords: Jews, devout men out of every nation) the Jews of the diaspora had been saved, (Acts 2:10 & 6:5) Proselyte Jews had been saved, (Acts 8:5-8) counterfeit Jews had been saved (Acts 8:27-38) and proselyte Jews of other races and nationalities had been saved! Cornelius saw and knew something new, wonderful and strange was happening here in Judaea because of the Jewish God of Eden, their God of prophesy, their God they would die for!
What did Cornelius think? About Cornelius: (Acts 10:2) “A devout (pious) man, and one that feared (frightened, to be alarmed, in awe of, reverence: defined: respect) God with all his house (family), which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.” Cornelius had become a God fearer. With all he had seen and heard Cornelius had to think; “I want God in my life.” (Prov. 15:3 & Rev. 8:3) Far, far yonder, there in everlasting, from the throne above the great golden altar, God was pleased.
(Gen. 12:3) Once in a while a shameful thought would flicker through Cornelius’ mental process; “God said He would bless (benefit) those who bless (benefit) the Jews” and Cornelius would hang his head in shame; “I’m not giving alms to these people to get something from God!” (Luke 16:19-25) He would look at the Jews and think; “These poor people are not even being helped by most of the rich people of their own race. Some of them are sick and hungry, I can help them and I will.”
What did Cornelius remember? (Acts 8:4 & 40 and 9:30 key: the salvation message had previously come to Caesarea) Cornelius remembered when he was off duty, down by the port of Caesarea watching the ships come and go and he had heard two Jews discussing the Jewish writings (Psa. 22:3) and one had said Yahweh inhabits the praises of Israel. The other went on to say that whole writing prophesied Jesus’ suffering on His cross.
By that time Cornelius was straining with rapt attention to hear every word. (Isa. 48:17) With solemn respect the first quoted from the writings of their great Prophet Isaiah and said he knew Jesus was the long-awaited Redeemer and that he had accepted Him as Saviour. The other agreed, (Job 19:25-29 & Isa. 49:26) quoted from Job and Isaiah and said Jesus was also his Redeemer BUT: (Psa. 66:18) he also said The Lord would not hear one who regarded (consider, enjoy) iniquity (wickedness, idolatry, vanity: sin) in his heart (soul).
(Acts 2:37-41, 3:19 thru 4:4, and 4:19-31) Many people, including Cornelius, had seen and heard the stories concerning the miraculous activities of the Holy Spirit but that was a barely understood concept. (John 6:44 & 65 and 12:32) It is very apparent the Holy Spirit was at work in Cornelius’ soul.
(John 3:5-8 esp. V.5 key: born of the Spirit, 14:15-18 esp. V.18 keywords: I will come unto you & 16:8 keyword: reprove the world of sin) Jesus had spoken about the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:4-9 & Eph. 1:18 keyword: calling) but the activities of the Holy Spirit had not yet been taught to the common population in Cornelius’ time; (John 14:17 & 15:5) that Jesus/God, holy, pure and perfect, would condescend to spiritually live within man cannot be believed until you experience it.
Those two statements; “Yahweh inhabits the praises of Israel” and “The Lord would not hear one who regarded sin.” had made Cornelius’ blood run cold. As the two Jews, now brand-new Christians, wandered away his off-duty outing was ruined and, head down, thinking, he made his way home. Cornelius came to himself with a start and realized he was covered in a sheen of sweat. Thinking; “I don’t even know how to pray.”
(Acts 10:2) What did Cornelius pray? “Oh Lord God Almighty please teach me to pray. Oh great God I don’t understand thee, I don’t understand me and I don’t understand sin. Help me oh Lord God of Israel. (Deut. 4:29 & Jer. 29:13) The one thing I do understand is that I want YOU in my life more than anything else! (Prov. 15:3 & Rev. 8:3) Far, far yonder, there in everlasting, from the throne above the great golden altar, God beckoned an angel.
(Acts 10:2-8) (V.2) Cornelius was praying (V.3) and he saw a vision (supernatural spectacle) at the ninth hour (Acts 3:1 the Jewish hour of prayer: 3-4 PM) of an angel (supernatural spirit as a messenger) of God that came in and spoke Cornelius’ name. (V.4) When Cornelius saw the angel he was afraid (alarmed and trembling). Can you imagine Cornelius’ low, cautious, trembling voice when he said; “What is it, Lord (supreme in authority).”
Cornelius realized he was in the presence of a “greater” being and he didn’t know he wasn’t supposed to call him Lord. The angel continued; “Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial (reminder, a record) before God.” (V.5-6) The angel told Cornelius to send to Joppa and call on Simon Peter to come and tell him what to do. Cornelius had a choice; “Do I, or don’t I? Cornelius’ free will to choose was left intact.
(John 12:32) This event is the exact pattern of the drawing God exhibits to modern (7-29-17) people. Cornelius had false gods in his life. Cornelius had seen God’s people and their activities, he heard the miraculous stories about Jesus, he had thought about the Jews’ God and He had even prayed to that God because he felt drawn toward Him (Matt. 1:20-25) then God called him through an angel and offered him a choice.
(John 16:7-11) For precise scriptural details concerning God’s drawing and calling please read the commentary Breath of Life on this website. If you wish to read my personal salvation experience please click on the article About the Writer listed to the left of the commentary titles; you will surely laugh and you might even cry.
Day 1: (V.7-8) Cornelius chose to obey the angel. He called two of his household (fellow resident, menial domestic, occupy the same house) servants (slaves) and a devout (pious) soldier (to enlist in the army, to select as a warrior) of them that waited (to be earnest toward, persevere, adhere closely) upon him continually (summon) and declared all (everything) that had happened to him and sent them to Joppa after Simon Peter.
These household servants could not have been Jews (Acts 11:3) because all were uncircumcised. It is obvious these household servants were gentile slaves taken during the Roman conquest of some other southern European or Near Eastern nation. It is also obvious they must have been with Cornelius a long time, must have been glad they had such a kind, generous, humane master and from his activities they shared his pious views and had become God fearers.
The devout soldier was obviously a member of Cornelius’ personal retinue of soldiers who escorted him wherever he went and were his personal bodyguard in addition to being aides, messengers and administrative staff in the daily record keeping, control, training, duties and provision of Cornelius’ century of men. They would have been a part of Cornelius’ household to be immediately available for administration and defense. (Acts 10:33 keyword: all) Like the household servants they too had obviously heard and observed Cornelius’ activities and had become God fearers.
THEN: According to historical records Caesarea was about thirty miles north of Joppa. (Acts 10:8) Cornelius sent them to Joppa to fetch Simon Peter. They headed south. On the way to Joppa the soldier started to feel great disgust and contempt for the tiring household slaves as they faltered because of his blistering Legionnaire’s pace; “They are weak and sniveling.” He grew angrier and angrier. “I should just go on ahead, leave them and meet them on the way back!”
That caused him to think about the other slaves with his soldier’s contempt. “Before we enslaved them in our wars one had been a businessman and he handles the accounts of Cornelius’ household and the final Roman accounting that would be sent up the chain of command to Rome for Cornelius’ century of men. Well, at least that frees up a soldier from that onerous duty. Three others had been farmers. Hmmmm. The crops from their wide gardens and the fresh meat from the livestock they raise gives us fresh food. The other slaves have also been laborers in various endeavors.”
“And the women slaves, they cross the spectrum from mothers to laborers. What good are they? Women don’t even count except to accommodate our needs!” The devout soldier angrily muttered; “All of them are weaklings!” The devout soldier did not realize Cornelius’ household represented a cross section of Gentile societies in every nation, past, present and future. He once more grunted his contempt. BUT:
Then somehow a voice of reason spiked through him and he remembered a time when he was one of the four Quaternions of Roman Soldiers (sixteen soldiers: 1 quaternion= 4) on guard at an Iesvs convenus (Latin for: Jesus meeting). These Jews were emotional about their religion, trouble followed Jesus like the plague and the Romans tried to have soldiers near from one Centurion’s band or another to quell trouble before some sort of uprising could develop.
He somehow vividly remembered Jesus saying (Matt. 18:16) that two or three witnesses must speak and give testimony concerning very important matters. “Three witnesses? This could be as important as life or death!” For some reason he suddenly, vividly remembered two Jews discussing a place in their writings and what the definitions of certain words were; (Eccl. 3:1) “To everything there is a season (an appointed occasion) and a time (appointed time, place or meeting) for every purpose (a valuable thing) under the heaven.”
The road they traveled was completely visible by starlight but the sturdy, athletic, well-armed Roman Soldier slowed his pace and looked furtively to each side of him into the darkness. Chills raced over him and he thought; “Can this God we pray to, this, this, this God the Jews call Jehovah God, be directing our journey on a timetable?” What would Cornelius do.” He muttered to the two slaves; “We’ll stop over here, build a fire, eat, drink and rest a while.”
You are correct, none of this is in the Bible but it was a common practice for a well-placed, permanent duty Centurion to have such a retinue of slaves (servants) and soldiers are soldiers wherever they are in whatever age. We need to see the historical lifestyle of these people to understand the beginning of the Gentile church. And we need to see God as other scriptures describe Him.
(Prov. 15:3 & Rev. 8:3) Far, far yonder, there in everlasting, from the throne above the great golden altar, God smiled and thought; “You are almost ready to finally understand.” The unnamed soldier, sitting by the fire with his two companions, looking about, munching his bread, (John 6:44 & 16:7-11) would someday hear a teaching or a sermon and he would then understand the process God had used to draw him. Day 2: (Acts 10:9) The next day at almost noon the three crested a far rise and saw Joppa in the distance.
(Acts 10:10-17) They did not know the man they sought was at that time going up on the house top about the sixth hour (noon) to pray. Peter was praying while the noonday meal was being prepared and he fell (seize) into a trance (a displacement of the mind, to be amazed). (V.11-13) A great vessel filled with all manner of creatures was let down to earth. A voice spoke; “Rise, Peter, kill and eat.” (V.14) Peter could obviously see the vessel contained unclean animals Mosaic Law forbade him to eat.
Peter answered; (V.14) “Not so Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common (defiled, shared by all) or unclean (impure).” See: (1Cor. 10:25 keyword: shambles) The shambles was the name of the common meat market where the defiled leftover meat from animals sacrificed to idols was mixed with regular meat and shared by all customers. Orthodox Jews would not eat meat that was purchased from the shambles because they considered it unclean. (Luke 22:33 & John 13:8-9) Peter had uttered another rash statement; “Not so Lord”. In other words; “Lord, I won’t eat it.”
(V.15-16) The Voice spoke again; “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.” Then the same event happened two more times. Three, God’s number of completion. (V.17) Peter was filled with doubt; “I know what I saw but what does it mean? Does God really want me to violate the Law He gave us?” Peter was a Christian saved under the grace covenant and an apostle (please read this-> Heb. 8:1 thru 9:28 then John 8:36) but he was still dragging the old covenant and the Law along behind him like a bundle of dry sticks.
(Acts 6:9 thru 7:60, Rom. 6:14, Gal. 2:11-21 & 3:21-29 and Heb. 8:13) All through the New Testament you will see the verbal, spiritual and persecution war the orthodox Jews (now called Judaizers) waged against the (Acts 11:26 keyword: Christians: defined: followers of Christ) Christian Jews (now called Messianic or Evangelical Jews) to forsake the grace covenant and force the Jewish Christians to convert back to the covenant of Abraham and the Law of Moses. (Acts 15:1-32 esp. V.5 & 24) The Judaizers even wanted the Gentile Christians circumcised and to keep the law of Moses.
(Gal. 5:1-6 esp. V. 1 keywords: free and bondage & Rom. 2:26-29 esp. V.29 keywords: circumcision of the heart then Rom. 9:30-33 esp. V.33 keyword: stumblingstone) It was a time when the church (Christian) which was now under the freedom of the spiritual grace covenant were separating themselves from the bondage of the physical circumcision covenant under the Jewish (Mosaic) Law.
(V.17-18) While Peter tried to discern what the vision had meant the three men from Cornelius stood before the gate and inquired if Simon Peter was there BUT (V.19-21) while Peter was thinking about the vision the Holy Spirit told him about the three men, to go with them because the Holy Spirit had sent them to him. Peter went down and asked why they had come. (Acts 10:20 keywords: doubting nothing) The Holy Spirit had said it and Peter had no more doubts.
(V.22) They explained their mission. (V.28) Then Peter understood the vision that he should not call any man common or unclean. (V.23) Peter lodged (to be a host= food, drink, rest) them that night in the Gentile quarters (Acts 11:3- Simon the tanner was a Jew and it was forbidden by Law that they be under the same roof with Gentiles. If Simon the tanner had been a Gentile Peter would not have been in his house).
(Dan. 9:21-27 esp. V.26) It makes one wonder if Peter lay in his bed that night wondering how long it would be before Rome destroyed Jerusalem and Judah now that Messiah (Jesus) had been cut off.
It makes one wonder if Peter understood why he had chosen six brethren to accompany him to Cornelius house, seven Jews are delivering God’s message of salvation to the pure pagan Gentiles. Seven is God’s number of perfection. We have seen the northern ten tribes called Israel disappear among the nations because they rejected God and went into idolatry. (Luke 19:41-44 & 23:16-24) The two southern tribes called Judaea are almost ready to disappear under the Roman wrath because of the Jews rejection and murder of God’s Messiah (Jesus) (John 19:11-18) through the power of Rome.
#1) (Ezek. 37:21-22 & Matt. 23:23 thru 24:1-2) The seven Christian Jews physically signified, as prophesied, the physical dispensation of the time of God’s physical favoritism for the Jews and Israel is temporarily ending because of their disobedience and sin.
#2) (Isa. 60:5) The number seven also physically signifies the prophesied dispensation of the time of the Gentiles is beginning. Due to two Jewish rebellions Judaea would be destroyed, Jerusalem would be destroyed, the temple would be burned, then torn down, its stones would be hauled away, the ground would be plowed then salted, more than a million Jews and Christians would be killed, the remaining Jews would be dispersed throughout the Roman Empire (Isa. 14:29) and Judaea would be renamed Palaestina (Palestine) on Roman maps between 70-135 AD. But Rome would eventually fall and Israel would be restored (Isa. 14:29-31) just as Isaiah had prophesied.
God would use this overlap of time to establish his church internationally and the seat of Christianity would already be moved from Jerusalem to Rome, Italy, when Israel (Judaea- Judah) disappeared as a national entity. See the commentary Sin in Church and read the three article Introduction for very complete details. Part 2 reveals what happened to the seat of the church after it got to Rome. BUT: (Ezek. 36:16-36) God promised in prophesy that Israel would be restored as a nation and that happened on May 14, 1948 when the American President Harry Truman, a Christian, recognized Israel as a nation which was verified by the United Nations.
#3) (Isa. 49:6) Seven signifies the prophesied beginning of the dispensation of the time of the completion of the institution of the spiritual grace covenant in which both Jew and Gentile are free to accept Jesus as Saviour (Rev. 21:1-4) and be admitted into God’s forever family to be in eternity with Him. Above are given only three of the multitude of prophesies that have come true concerning Israel and the Gentiles. Seven: The perfection of God’s prophesy.
Day 3: on the morrow: The next day Peter, (Acts 10:23) accompanied by six brethren from Joppa, started to Caesarea. Day 4: “on the morrow after”: (V.24) They arrived at Caesarea and found that Cornelius had gathered a crowd of his kinsmen (a relative and by extension fellow countrymen) and near friends (neighbors).
(V.25) When Peter came in Cornelius fell at Peter’s feet and worshipped him. Peter was horrified, it was a death trap, (Luke 4:8) Peter knew only God should be worshipped (Acts 12:21-23) and if Peter accepted it God would destroy him. (V.26) Peter pulled Cornelius to his feet as quickly as possible and said; “Stand up, I myself also am a man.”
(V.27) They talked as they went on in to the great room (conference or banquet) that was filled with many people. (V.28-29) Obviously Peter must have been surprised but he immediately informed the group he was breaking the Jew’s Law of Moses by coming into a Gentile house but God had showed him the Gentiles would be accepted by God. He had come without gainsaying (promptly) then he asked why they had sent for him. (V.22) He already knew but he wanted a commitment from Cornelius.
(V.30-32) Cornelius explained what would later become understood by the church (John 6:44) as the culmination of God’s drawing process. Pagan Cornelius had been exposed to information about the God of Israel, his heart had been softened, he began praying, he had become a God-fearer, he had attempted to justify himself by good works but that had merely drawn him closer to the God of the church, then the angel had informed him there was yet more to do and Cornelius sent for the man (Peter) who could guide him to a relationship with God. Cornelius’ house was ready.
Cornelius said; (V.33) “Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come (thank you for coming to me and mine). Now therefore are we all here present before God, (Cornelius understood perfectly that God was the Author of all these arrangements and God was watching and listening) to hear all things that are commanded thee of God (we don’t know what to do, you are God’s man so you tell us). Cornelius and his people were as ready as they could ever be and their free will to choose had been left intact.
(V.34-43) Peter began his message. (V.34-35 keywords: “in every nation he that feareth”: meaning on an individual basis) Peter said God did not respect persons but that salvation had been opened to any person from any nation. Of course, that includes any race or some other non-Jesus as their Saviour religion. Peter had stated the purpose of the Christian movement.
(V.36) “The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:) (V.37) That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism (Luke 3:21-22 Jesus was baptized and received the Holy Spirit) which John preached; (V. 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.” Peter had stated that Israel was the historical vehicle God used to bring Jesus and His Christian movement to fruition.
(V.39-41 esp. V.39 keywords: we are witnesses then John 20:18-29 esp. V.29 keywords: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed) Peter stated he and those with him had witnessed Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. (V.42 then John 5:22) Peter stated Jesus’ commandment that they preach (proclaim the divine truth: the gospel of Jesus) and testify (a witness) that He (Jesus) is ordained by God to be the Judge of the quick (living) and dead (corpse). Peter had stated they were witnesses to the reality of Jesus and His mission.
See Cornelius’ people: (V. 42 again keyword: Judge) It is a fearful time when you know you are going to be judged for what you have done in your lifetime. (Acts 10:1-25 esp. V.2 keywords: A devout man that feared God with all his house, and prayed to God alway) Cornelius had seen a supernatural event and had heard a supernatural message. Cornelius was a respected man. He was the leader (Centurion) in that tiny community of God fearers. (V.7 keywords: devout soldier) Led by Cornelius there had obviously been much discussion and praying among them.
(V.24) Can you hear the eager excitement in their voices and the animated expressions of anticipation upon their faces as they waited? The time they would finally meet the Jew’s God was upon them and they were surely breathless with expectation. (V.25) They did not really know exactly what to expect but their enthusiasm, eagerness and passion is very apparent because they tried to worship Peter as soon as he entered. Though unmentioned (John 6:44 & 1John 5:6) the Holy Spirit had been busy.
They were at a fever pitch when Peter said the words that pointed them in another direction. (V.43 keywords: remission of sins) “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his (Jesus) name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” They knew the Latin (Italian) word remissio meant a pardon for sin so they knew remission meant forgiveness of sins and obviously they very badly wanted that.
(Matt. 4:17 & Acts 2:38) They had gone into the repentance phase of salvation (Deut. 4:29 & Psa. 119:2, 10, and 58 keywords in all: whole heart) and they wanted God with their whole heart and God had said (Jer. 29:13); “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”
They had heard about the living God, they had heard about His Son Jesus, they had arranged circumstances so they could listen to preaching that contained the message of the way to attain salvation, they had listened, they wanted God with all their heart, they had repented, THEY HAD GONE AS FAR AS WAS HUMANLY POSSIBLE.
(John 16:7-8 keywords: sin, righteousness, judgment) The Comforter (Holy Spirit) had reproved them of their sins, had reproved them of their idolatry (counterfeit righteousness), and had reproved them by the fact their judgment was waiting. They could face their judgment in this life or they could face their judgment when it was too late after this life was over. No, they did not understand all this.
They did not know Biblical Greek goes much deeper and remission is defined as forgiveness, deliverance, pardon, liberty- Greek word: parresia- confidence, the right to choose and speak and freedom- Greek word: politeia- citizenship in a community. Peter had stated that belief in Jesus and His message was the only way they could receive remission from their sins.
They were about to make an amazing discovery when the concealed part of Abraham’s covenant was opened to them.
(Gen. 17:7 keywords: everlasting covenant) It was an everlasting covenant. “And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed in their generations for an everlasting (defined as: #1 eternal, always, perpetual and #2 concealed, to veil) covenant (covenant is defined as a compact made by passing between pieces of flesh by cutting, a confederacy), to be a God unto thee and to thy seed after thee.”
When Peter said believing in Jesus would bring them the remission of sins their hearts were obviously changed (saved) and the Holy Ghost (Holy Spirit: refer to Rom. 8:9) fell (embrace with affection, fall into) upon all of them which heard the word. (V.45) The six Jews who had come with Peter were astonished (V.46) because the assembled people of Cornelius’ house began to speak with tongues (languages not naturally acquired) and to magnify (enlarge, exalt, hold in high esteem) God.
They were amazed when they experienced several things at the same time. The people in Cornelius’ house were amazed when “somehow” their burdens were suddenly gone and they dimly realized they had experienced a pardon when they were delivered by the forgiveness of their sins.
They had never felt so loved in their lives; no, it was more than that, they dimly realized they had not known the meaning and magnitude of God’s love and they realized they somehow belonged to something and Someone (Rom. 8:15-17 keywords: received the Spirit of adoption: children of God) when God embraced them with His love through the Holy Spirit. (John 3:3-8 esp. V.8 keyword: wind) They had experienced what would come to be called the born again experience and no man understands it until he experiences it.
They felt as if they had “somehow” been liberated and they praised God loud and long. Though they barely understood it they had experienced remission AND remission is defined as forgiveness, deliverance, pardon, liberty- Greek word: parresia- confidence, the right to choose and speak and freedom- Greek word: politeia- citizenship in a community.
The scripture does not reveal what kind of tongues they spoke so we must jump ahead in the scripture to understand what happened. Briefly: (1Cor. 12:1 thru 14:40) (1Cor. 12:4-10 & 28) In the lists of spiritual gifts tongues and interpretation of tongues is mentioned last. (1Cor. 13:1) There are two basic types of tongues; the tongues of men which are earthly languages (1Cor. 14:2, 4, 13-14, & 27-28) and the tongues of angels which are unknown languages of heavenly origin.
(1Cor. 14:21-22 keywords: to them that believe not) Obviously God gave the people of Cornelius’ house the gift of tongues (Acts 10:43-46) to prove to the seven Jewish Christians, including Peter, who had brought the salvation message to Cornelius and his people that God had indeed given these Gentiles the gift of salvation. (V.47-48) And they baptized them in the name of the Lord. (Matt. 28:19) My, my, how soon Peter had forgotten. But they were saved and nothing else mattered!
(Acts 11:5-18) Then the seven could prove (Acts 11:1-4) to the Christianized Jewish hierarchy in Jerusalem (circumcision) (Acts 10:34-44) that God had indeed offered salvation to the Gentiles and had given them salvation when they believed Peter’s Jesus message. (Rom. 11:25 keyword: fulness) The spiritual times of the Gentiles had started (1 Thess. 4:13-18 esp. V.17 keywords: caught up: Latin word: Rapitum: anglicized: Rapture) and would last until the catching away of the church in the rapture.
But where was Paul?