Acts 10

This chapter is the most important one in all the Bible for the description of including the Gentiles into the New Covenant community of God. This transition could happen only through Peter.

As I write in every introduction:

The translation and commentary are mine, just so I can learn. I also offer quick word studies. If you would like to see the verses in many translations, please go to biblegateway.com. And if you would like to study Greek with a short lexicon, go to biblehub.com, and click on the interlinear tab.

At the end of each section and this post, I offer observations for discipleship. How can we apply these truths to our lives?

Links are provided for further study.

Let’s begin.

Cornelius the Centurion’s Angelic Vision (Acts 10:1-8)

1 Now, in Caesarea, a certain man named Cornelius, a centurion in the Italian regiment, 2 devout and God-fearing, along with his household, practiced many acts of generosity for the people and prayed to God continuously. 3 About three in the afternoon, he clearly saw in a vision an angel of God, coming towards him and saying to him, “Cornelius!” 4 And fixing his attention on him and trembling, he said, “What is it, Lord?” And he said to him, “Your prayers and acts of generosity have gone up as a memorial, right in front of God. 5 Now send men to Joppa and summon a certain Simon, nicknamed Peter. 6 He is being hosted by Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea.” 7 When the angel who had been speaking to him departed, he called two servants and a devout soldier from among those were served him; 8 after he explained everything to them, he sent them to Joppa.

Comments:

Luke repeats this episode about Cornelius and God’s acceptance of Gentiles three times (Acts 10:1-48, 11:4-17; 15:7-9). Paul’s conversion is also repeated three times. He is initially converted, and the Lord tells Ananias, the disciple who prayed for him, that Paul will be sent to the Gentiles (9:1-19, see especially v. 15). Paul repeats this testimony to a crowd in Jerusalem (Acts 22:3-16) and before king Agrippa (26:9-18). Further, the entire narrative that goes from 10:1 to 11:18 is the longest one of a single piece in Acts. Clearly Luke intends his Gentile readers of Acts to understand that God accepts them. Jewish followers of Jesus must also realize the same thing.

Bock places this event before A.D 41 (comment on vv. 1-2).

1:

Cornelius was a common Roman name. He was a member of the occupying force, the oppressors. It was very risky for Peter to go into his house and eat with him. He will have to answer to a committee of powerful Messianic Jews who were headquartered in Jerusalem (Acts 11:1-18).

However, centurions are a cross between an Non Commissioned Officer (NCO) and a captain of one hundred men, in a cohort of about 600 members (thus commanding one-sixth of a cohort), which was part of a legion of 6000 men (Bock, comment on vv. 1-2). Centurions seem to have special place in the Gospels and here (Matt. 8:5-13 // Luke 7:2-10). Jesus commended one for having great faith. He told Jesus that the Lord did not have to come to his house to heal a servant. He is in charge of men, and when he orders them what to do, they obey. Diseases are subject to Jesus’s commands, too. He just speaks the word, and the disease will leave. Wow! No wonder Jesus commended his faith. Most times the centurion’s faith is greater than mine. I pray God give me the grace to have an equal amount. Bruce quotes ancient historian Polybius: “Centurions are required not to be bold and adventurous so much as good leaders, of steady and prudent mind, not prone to take offensive or start fighting wantonly, but able when overwhelmed and hard-pressed to stand fast and die at their post” (comment on v. 1, Polybius, History, 6.24).

I have watched historical youtube videos about how important and courageous centurions were. I encourage you to watch them too!

2:

“devout and God-fearing”: Gentiles sometimes attached themselves to Judaism without going through circumcision. They must have liked the devotion, the monotheism, and the ethics.

Never doubt that acts of generosity and prayers catch God’s attention, even if the people doing them don’t follow Jesus. For more discussion, see v. 35 and the link. Bock calls Cornelius a “prayer-warrior” (p. 386). Insightful. I wish I had thought of the accurate label. Keener says that Peter is following Jesus’s model of private prayer Luke 4:42; 6:12; 9:28; 22:41) (p. 299). I say we need to follow Jesus and become regular prayer warriors.

Cornelius is a clear example of Rom. 2:6-11:

God “will repay each person according to what they have done.” To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; 10 but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11 For God does not show favoritism. (Rom. 2:6-11, NIV)

“household”: Acts is about salvation of entire households and meeting in those saved households (2:2, 46; 5:42; 8:3 [but be careful of persecution!] 10:2; 11:14; 16:15, 31, 34; 20:20; 21:8).

3:

“clearly”: He was probably awake. Renewalists believe angels appear to people today. See the long discussion in the final section for how to evaluate and handle angelic appearances, without going overboard or developing an elitist attitude.

“about three in the afternoon”: about 15:00. This shows that Cornelius did not see a foggy, ambiguous figure in the night, but it was broad daylight. He saw the angel clearly.

“vision”: the noun horama (pronounced as it appears and where we get our word panorama). It is mostly translated as “vision,” or it could be a supernatural sight (Matt. 17:19; Acts 10:3, 17, 19; 18:9). You’ll know it when you see it, with no room for misinterpretation. And Renewalists believe that visions still happen today. They get them all the time. It’s biblical. But our visions must be submitted to the written Word because our vision may not be right, but self-serving. In contrast, Scripture has stood the test of time. Your dream or vision has not.

See the post:

Dreams and Visions: How to Interpret Them

“angel”: An angel, both in Hebrew and Greek, is really a messenger. Angels are created beings, while Jesus was the one who created all things, including angels (John 1:1-4). Renewalists believe that angels appear to people in their dreams or in person. It is God’s ongoing ministry through them to us.

Here is a multi-part study of angels in the area of systematic theology, but first, here is a summary list of the basics:

Angels:

(a) Are messengers (in Hebrew mal’ak and in Greek angelos);

(b) Are created spirit beings;

(c) Have a beginning at their creation (not eternal);

(d) Have a beginning, but they are immortal (deathless).

(e) Have moral judgment;

(f) Have a certain measure of free will;

(g) Have high intelligence;

(h) Do not have physical bodies;

(i) But can manifest with immortal bodies before humans;

(j) They can show the emotion of joy.

Bible Basics about Angels

Angels: Questions and Answers

Angels: Their Duties and Missions

Angels: Their Names and Ranks and Heavenly Existence

Angels: Their Origins, Abilities, and Nature

4:

“fixing … attention”: it comes from the verb atenizō (pronounced ah-teh-nee-zoh) and also means “stare intently or intensely.” Luke is fond of it: Luke 4:20; 22:56; Acts 1:10; 3:4; 3:12; 6:15; 7:55; 10:4; 11:6; 13:9; 14:9; 23:1. Then Paul uses it twice: 2 Cor. 3:7, 13.

“Cornelius!”: Repeating a name once hints that God is not stern or about to issue a warning, unlike Saul’s case. “Saul, Saul! Why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:4).

“trembling”: the perfect response to an angel that appears and is coming toward you. The Greek is emphobos (sounds as it looks), and it means “afraid, startled, terrified.” Trembling conveys the physical reaction. Be careful of seers who claim they can go up into heaven whenever they wish. They have no trembling. Rather, they have an over-active imagination.

“prayer”: it is the very common noun proseuchē (pronounced pros-yew-khay) and is used 36 times. Its verb proseuchomai (pronounced pros-yew-khoh-my) appears 85 times, so they are the most common words for prayer or pray in the NT. They are combined with the preposition pros, which means, among other things, “towards,” and euchē, which means a prayer, vow and even a mere wish. But Christians took over the word and directed it towards the living God. I like to believe that they leaned in toward him and prayed their requests fully expecting an answer. It is not a mere wish or heartfelt payer to a pagan deity.

Prayer flows out of confidence before God that he will answer because we no longer have an uncondemned heart (1 John 3:19-24; Rom. 8:1); and we know him so intimately that we find out from him what is his will is and then we pray according to it (1 John 5:14-15); we pray with our Spirit-inspired languages and our native languages (1 Cor. 14:15-16). But that’s what all believers should do; however, too often theory outruns practice. Pray! For a theology on how to respond when God does not answer our prayers, as when James was executed by Herod, see Acts 12 and the Observations for Discipleship section.

Prayer can be (1) for oneself, like overcoming sins and vices in your heart and mind or receiving wisdom from above (James 3:17) and not being double-minded about receiving it (Jas. 1:5-8), but (2) it is also for the needs of the community. It was coming under attack, so prayers were offered. Praying for boldness to reach out and spread the word is wonderful. We should do it more often. (3) Further, prayer brings down the manifest presence of God. God is omnipresent (everywhere) of course, but his presence can make itself felt and experienced. God showed up and shook the place where they were gathered.

Prayer can be visualized like a pebble in a pond, and the ripples go outward. (1) It starts with oneself and one’s needs; (2) then it goes outward to one’s own family and (3) to the Christian community (your home church). (4) It goes out to evangelism and the needs of the world around the community, (5) and finally to parts around the globe. But this prayer here in Acts varies the order, which you may do, if you like. Prayer is ultimately and most deeply a conversation with God.

What Is Prayer?

What Is Petitionary Prayer?

What Is Biblical Intercession?

As noted in v. 2, acts of generosity and prayers catch God’s attention, even from people who have an incomplete religion, like Cornelius had. God specially chose him to enjoy a Gentile Pentecost, right in front of the lead apostle and his Jewish traveling companions.

“right in front of”: from the Greek adverb emprosthen (pronounced as it looks), which means in (en)-towards-(pros)-from (then). Most translators go for the standard “in the presence of God” or “before God.”

“gone up”: his practical acts of generosity and prayers ascended like the smoke of a burnt offering in the OT.

5:

“Joppa … Simon, nicknamed Peter”: God knew where Peter was, exactly. He knew his name. Never doubt that God knows your name—even your nickname, and where you live. He reads your emails and texts, every time you send one. The point here is to encourage you because God has not forgotten you. Joppa is about thirty-one miles (50km) from Caesarea.

6:

“Being hosted”: it comes from the Greek verb xenizō, which has lots of meanings, depending on the context: “to receive as a guest, entertain”; “lodge or reside with.” My translation is good enough. It is also used in vv. 18, 23, 32.

“Simon the tanner”: tanning skins was considered an unclean practice by devout Jews because the tanner had to handle dead animals. Maybe, however, his tanning shop did not touch his house, and he hired Gentiles (non-Jews) to do the dirty work. Whatever the case, Peter had no misgivings about staying with him.

“by the sea”: God knows exactly where you live. He loves and cares for you and sees your family and household. He watches over your home.

7-8:

Cornelius did not argue or delay. He acted. Obey God right away. Contrast him with Peter who will argue with the Lord, but he had years of religious traditions to overcome (vv. 14-16).

“Orderlies”: household servants, from the Greek verb, a favorite of Luke: proskartereō (pronounced praws-kahr-teh-reh-oh or prohs-kahr-teh-reh-oh). They were devoted to him and his household. kartereō means to “persevere” and “endure” (Heb. 11:27), and the preposition pros has a directional meaning of “towards.” So they leaned in to their duties.

“angel”: see v. 3 for more comments.

“explained”: it can be translated “narrated.”

A.. God himself through an angel says Cornelius is a man of prayer. How about your prayer life?

B.. God himself through the same angel says that he likes Cornelius’s generosity. How about your generosity?

Peter Receives a Vision about Unclean Things (Acts 10:9-16)

9 The next day, while they were traveling and nearing the town, Peter went up on the housetop to pray around noon. 10 He got hungry and was wanting to partake. But while they were preparing the meal, a trance happened to him. 11 He saw heaven open up and an object coming down, something like a huge sheet, lowered by the four corners to the ground. 12 On it were four-footed animals, reptiles, and birds of the sky. 13 And a voice said to him, “Get up, Peter, slaughter and eat!” 14 Peter said, “No way, Lord! I have never eaten anything common or unclean!” 15 And again a voice said to him a second time, “What God has made clean, don’t you call common. 16 This happened a third time, and instantly the object was taken back up into heaven.

Comments:

9:

What is about to happen is a divine convergence or appointment. While the emissaries from Cornelius approach Joppa, Peter goes on the rooftop to pray and is about to receive a vision.

“pray”: see v. 4 for a closer look.

10:

After praying a while, he got hungry and wanted to partake (of a meal), so Simon’s servants prepared food for him.

“trance”: the noun ekstasis (pronounced ehk-sta-seess) literally means “standing outside (oneself).” It befell him; he did not ginger it up or use soul power.

For more information on dreams and visions, please see Observations for Discipleship in this post.

Also see:

Dreams and Visions: How to Interpret Them

11-12:

“He saw heaven open up”: Heaven is not on a far, distant planet inside the corrupt universe (as some teachers and even a few theologians oddly claim). If so, then where did God live before he made the heavens and the earth? No, heaven is another realm in a completely different order from ours. It is another dimension. All God has to do is to pull back the veil, and we could see it, just as Peter did, in part.

Here Peter has another power encounter with the Lord. He received thee infillings in Acts 2:4, 4:8 and 31. Renewalists believe that God fills and empowers his people throughout their lives at special times. It is not as if they “leak,” but sometimes we need a special power surge or anointing to accomplish a special task for God.

In the descending object, God worked out a design that served his purpose. The object must have been solid, and not a sheet that curves under some weight. But we don’t need to focus on the laws of physics here. It is a vision.

The three classes of animals were named in Gen. 6:20. Apparently the vessel or object contained all unclean animals like the pig.

“reptiles”: ground crawlers, which reminds me of the serpent cursed by God to crawl around on the dirt, without feet (Gen. 3:14-15). It “ate” dust, so to speak. This kind of creature, thereafter, was a lower life form, which must be avoided. Unclean.

Peter was right there when he heard Jesus speak these words in the Gospel of Mark (and most scholars say Peter was the source of Mark’s Gospel):

17 And when he entered a house away from the crowds, his disciples asked him about the illustration. 18 And said to them, “Are you still without understanding? Don’t you know that everything outside entering a person is unable to defile him 19 because it does not go into his heart but into the stomach and goes out into the latrine?” (This means all foods are clean.) 20 The thing coming out of a person—that defiles the person. 21 For on the inside from the heart of people are evil thoughts that come out: sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, evil, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, arrogance, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come out from the inside and defile the person.” (Mark 7:17-23)

Apparently in order to appreciate Jesus’s teaching, Peter needed this extra-powerful revelation / vision to learn this truth about ceremonial cleanness. He soon applied the parabolic vision to humankind. Jesus was not just talking about animals. Peterson is great here. “What needed to be resolved for Peter was not whether the gospel was for Gentiles (cf. Lk. 24:47; Acts 1:8; 2:39; 3:25-26), but how they could receive it in view of their ‘uncleanness’ in Jewish eyes and be one with Jewish believers in the fellowship of the church. In practical terms, Jews and Gentiles could not share food and shelter” (p. 324). Then he goes on to cite another commentator (Gaventa) who says that the issue of hospitality requires a conversion of Gentiles, true, but mainly a conversion of the (Jewish) church as well. The change of mind in the Messianic Jews was more gut wrenching than the change in Gentiles which they gladly accepted (p. 324).

This explains very well the hesitation of Peter to arise and kill and eat in light of the passage in Mark 7:7-23. It takes a long time for these religion-altering, worldview changes to happen. Gentiles will be accepted by the Council in Jerusalem because Peter says that the Gentiles have cleansed their hears by faith (15:9), implying that ethnic birth and keeping “kosher” (an anachronistic term) is irrelevant to the Jesus Movement, as it goes out into the provinces and the Gentiles.

Once again:

Dreams and Visions: How to Interpret Them

13-16:

Here Peter does argue with the Lord, and he knew it was the Lord, too! In contrast, Cornelius had a humble and pliable outlook, while Peter was stuck in his religious past. But let’s not be too hard on Peter. Religious traditions in which one grows up for years are heard to break or leave behind. “God’s voice corrects Peter: God is able to make the unclean clean (10:15); triple repetition 10:16 underlines the point. By eliminating the intrinsic impurity of gentile foods, God removes the barrier to table fellowship with gentiles (cf. 11:3). God’s agenda is not a change in Peter’s regular diet, but God cleansing unclean gentiles (10:28; 15:9)” (Keener, p. 300).

“No way!”: it can be translated “Certainly not!” “By no means!” I use a more updated phrase.

“common”: the opposite is holy, which means “set apart.” “Common” means everybody acts this way and has the same degraded moral status. It’s common! However, you personally are set apart by God; you are not common in the sense of profane or unclean or “unkosher.” It is actually a verb: “don’t you ‘commonize’ what God has made pure.

Peter is about to learn that Cornelius is just as set apart for God as the Jewish nation is. Gentiles too can be grafted into God’s Chosen People. They too can be consecrated to God and made holy.

On the third time, the object was taken back up in to heaven. The verb is passive, indicating that God is the behind-the-scenes subject of the verb. He is the one who took the sheet back up.

And as to God making something holy, he has to declare it to be holy. Those three classes of animals are not holy or unholy, kosher or unkosher in themselves, by their nature; they are just animals. But God decreed some animals to be kosher or holy or clean, and other animals to be the opposite. (It is odd that a locust is clean or kosher [Lev. 11:22], for example.) To use other verbs, he considered or imputed or calculated or reckoned certain animals holy or kosher. Yes, scientists have figured out that a pig is a scavenger and can eat bad food, but what about a pig that is given special treatment and is fed only the best food? So it is all about God’s declaration, not about the animals being who they are by nature. The same goes for humans. All humans are sinful and unclean by their nature, so God has to get them ready for judgment and declare them clean. Then he sends his Holy Spirit into them to work out what God has declared over them.

God did this to Cornelius and his household and gave them the Holy Spirit.

See my post:

What Is Biblical Imputation?

GrowApp for Acts 10:9-16

A.. This section is, on the surface, a vision about clean and unclean animals. But it is more deeply about unacceptable people, those who do not have the right religious background. How has God accepted you despite all your sins and uncleanness? Tell your story.

Peter Visits Cornelius (Acts 10:17-29)

17 As Peter was inwardly figuring out what the vision he saw might mean, then look! The men sent by Cornelius, after they inquired about Simon’s house, appeared at the gate, 18 calling and asking whether Simon, nicknamed Peter, was staying inside. 19 Now, while Peter was reflecting on the vision, the Spirit spoke to him, “Look! Three men are asking about you. 20 Get up and go down and go with them without hesitating and overthinking it, because I have sent them.” 21 Peter went down to the men and said, “See, I am the one you’re looking for. What’s the cause of your coming?” 22 And they replied, “Cornelius the centurion, a righteous and God-fearing man, attested by the entire nation of the Jews, was instructed by a holy angel to summon you to his house and hear spoken words from you.” 23 Therefore, he invited them in and hosted them.

The next day, he got up and left with them, and certain brothers of Joppa accompanied him.

24 The day after, he got to Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. 25 As Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet and began to worship. 26 But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up. I myself am also a human.” 27 He talked with him and went inside and found many people had gathered. 28 He spoke to them. “You understand how it is unlawful for a Jewish man to associate with or visit Gentiles, but God revealed that no one should call a human common or unclean. 29 Therefore being summoned, I came without raising an objection. So I ask what is the reason you summoned me.”

Comments:

17-18:

Peter was perplexed in himself (Greek diaporeō and pronounced dee-ah-pohr-eh-oh), which for me works out to “figuring out.” He thought too much about it, while Cornelius obeyed without question. Peter has to be told not to hesitate or over-think things.

“vision”: see v. 3 for a closer look.

“look!”: It translate the common Greek (and Hebrew) term “Behold!” “Amazing!” carries the same connotation.

These two verses keep the divine convergence or appointment in the forefront of the readers’ minds. While this was going on, that was happening too. God sees where you are. Let’s say you are praying for a relative to come to the saving knowledge of Christ or return to his walk with God he once had. God is working out circumstances right now that you are not even aware of. Just keep praying for him, not out of fear or anxiety, but out of confidence that “God’s got this!”

19:

“reflecting on”: The Greek is dienthumeomai (pronounced dee-ehn-thoo-meh-oh-my) and combines dia (through) en (in) thum– (spirit or mind) and the rest is a verbal ending. It appears only here in the NT. The mind thinks or ponders or reflects, and here it does so through and through.

“the Spirit spoke to him”: Renewalists certainly (and probably other people of the Church around the globe) believe that the Spirit speaks to the human spirit and soul (and not just the human spirit as some teachers claim. We are a package—body, soul, and spirit).

“Look”: Again, it translates the older word “Behold!”

“vision”: see v. 3 for a closer look.

20:

“without hesitating or overthinking”: This comes from one Greek verb diakrinō (pronounced dee-ah-kree-noh), which is a mental activity and means these things, depending on the contexts and verb form: “make distinctions, differentiate, single out”; “pass judgment, judge correctly, recognize, render a decision;” “take issue, dispute, doubt, waver.” But when it comes to this verse the Greek dictionary guys would have us translate it as “hesitate.” Yes, hesitation is a mental activity in the mind, so I translate the verb in its fullest sense. Peter, who is famous among current preachers as being a blabbermouth and speaking without thinking, was actually a thoughtful man. In this verse the Spirit has to tell him to put away his doubts and mental gymnastics and just obey. But let’s not be too hard on him, because he had a difficult time visiting and eating with non-Jews, even after this visit with Cornelius (Gal. 2:11-21). He is about to be cross-examined by Messianic Jews back in Jerusalem (Acts 11:1-18)

21-22:

It is good to have an exemplary reputation before the people. Guard it as you would your life (Prov. 3:4; 10:7; 22:1; 1 Pet. 2:12). Cornelius had one. So should we.

“spoken words”: the Greek here is the noun rhēma. The ma– suffix means “the result of” and rhē means “speaking.” Put the two together and you get “the result of speaking” or “the spoken word.” It is also used in vv. 44 and 48.

“angel”: see v. 3 for more comments.

23:

Peter’s fellow Jews (“brothers”) accompanied him to be witnesses of the conversion and outpouring that is about to happen (Acts 10:47; 11:1-18). They were six in number, so they and Peter make seven, the number of completeness in the Bible. Peter was not a loner in ministry. We can be sure that when he went from Jerusalem to Lydda and Joppa, he had assistants or at least traveling companions with him, but as usual, the Bible omits such details, but not here. He needed supporters who could shore up his testimony that God accepted Gentiles, when Peter got back to Jerusalem and had to answer for his actions (Acts 11:1-18).

Bruce provides a short timeline:

Day One: Cornelius saw an angel and sent messengers to Joppa;

Day Two: they arrived at Joppa about midday, just after Peter’s vision on roof of Simon’s house

Day Three: They spent the night between Caesarea and Joppa.

Day Four: they reached Caesarea where Peter was staying.

24:

Cornelius was on the edge of his seat waiting for Peter to come. In the intervening days, he must have heard how important and powerful, spiritually speaking, Peter was—and he was. He certainly heard of the growth of the Way (v. 37). He must have heard about Aeneas being healed (Acts 9:32-35) and Tabitha being resurrected in (Acts 9:36-43), in nearby towns. He had an expectant heart. Peter coming to his house was a big deal.

As noted, for Peter, however, it was a dubious deal, because Jews don’t associate with Gentiles in the format or setting of sitting down and eating (v. 28). Peter had a tough time with it, even after Cornelius was overwhelmed and filled with the Spirit (Gal. 2:11-21).

Cornelius also invited his relatives and close friends. There’s a lesson in those words for all of us. We need to invite our relatives and close friends to our “small group.”

25-27:

When Cornelius fell at his feet and bowed, he was confused, but he must have built Peter up so highly in his mind that he had to pay him the utmost respect, almost like a man before a great king. Peter was right to raise him up. Peter was not a divine man, as a Greek or Roman would be quick to believe. He was a mere mortal or a human. Then they chatted outside for a bit, before they went inside. Peter must have been a little startled to see a large gathering. In the previous section, the Spirit focused just on Cornelius. Now the audience has expanded. The narrative comes alive with such details!

28-29:

Peter lays it on the line: It is unlawful for him to be here. But God overrode Jewish misgivings and told him to come anyway.

“without raising an objection”: This phrase translates one Greek adverb anantirrētōs (pronounced ahn-ahn-tee-ray-tohss), which combines an– (not or -un), anti– (against) rrhe (spoken, related to rhē in v. 22). So it literally means “no-anti-speaking” or more lyrically: “without verbally contradicting.” The adverb is used only here, and the adjective is used only in Acts 19:36, so it is used only twice in the NT.

Bruce:

The most ordinary kinds of food, such as bread, milk or olive oil, coming from Gentiles, might not be eaten by strict Jews, not to mention flesh, which might have come from a forbidden animal or from one that had been sacrificed to a pagan divinity, and which in nay case contained blood. Hence, of all forms or intercourse [social interaction] with Gentiles, to accept their hospitality and sit at table with them was the most intolerable. However, Peter’s lesson [in the vision] had so impressed itself on his mind that he accompanied Cornelius’s messengers without scruple or protest. And now that he had arrived, he asked them to state more fully their reason for inviting him. (comment on vv. 27-29)

GrowApp for Acts 10:17-29

A.. The Spirit tells Peter not to hesitate or overthink things about God’s command. Describe how obedience is better than the paralysis of over-analysis (over-thinking things)?

B.. Peter, without hesitation, allowed Cornelius to host him inside his house. This was a major step towards change in God’s plan of salvation. Have ever taken even a small step and see God work in wonderful ways?

Peter Says That Jesus Is for Everyone (Acts 10:30-43)

30 Then Cornelius said, “Four days ago at this very hour, three in the afternoon, I was praying in my house. And look! A man stood before me in shining clothes 31 and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your practical generosity has been remembered right in front of God. 32 Therefore send men to Joppa and call for Simon who is nicknamed Peter. He is a guest at Simon the tanner’s house near the sea.’ 33 Thus I immediately sent for you. And you have done well by coming. Now then all of us are present right in front of God to hear everything that has been commanded to you by the Lord.

34 Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God is not taken by faces, 35 but instead, in every nation the one fearing him and doing righteousness is acceptable to him. 36 The message he sent to the descendants of Israel announces the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. 37 You know that the spoken message has taken place throughout Judea, starting off from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed, 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, who went around doing good deeds and healing everyone under the dominion of the devil, because God was with him. 39 And we are witnesses of all these things he did in the region of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging him on wood. 40 This is the one whom God raised on the third day and granted him to be revealed, 41 not to all the people, but to witnesses selected by God—to us, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 And he commanded us to proclaim to the people and testify that he is the one appointed by God to be the judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes on him receives forgiveness of sins.

Comments:

Peter spells out the basic message of Jesus’s life and exaltation. Let’s listen in and learn from his master sermon that includes all the essential components about God and Jesus.

30-33:

“right in front of” (vv. 31 and 33): from the Greek adverb enōpion (pronounced ehn-oh-pea-on), which combines en (in) and ōp– (eye) or “in God’s eye.” But most translations have the sensible “before.”

“prayers” and “praying”: see v. 4 for a closer look. Your practical acts of generosity and prayers go right up into God’s presence and under his watchful and caring and appreciative eyes.

“kindly”: Nice touch from Cornelius, who had a generous and courteous soul. He would have been a good boss or supervisor at your job today!

The two verbs “heard” and “remembered” are in the passive voice, which indicates that God is the unspoken, behind-the-scenes subject of those verbs.

34:

We can be sure that Peter was empowered by the Spirit to speak, as he was in Acts 4:8. Luke does not need to record this anointing in every verse or every time Peter or someone else begins to speak.

“taken by faces”: The Greek noun is prosōpolēmptēs (pronounced prohs-oh-poh-laym-tays) and is a compound word: prosōp– (face) and lēmp– (take) and tēs (he who) or literally “he who is face taken” or “he who is taken by someone’s appearance or face.” Traditionally it is translated as “shows partiality” or “shows favoritism.”

35:

God has not forgotten those who have never heard the gospel or the name of Jesus. He will judge them righteously (Gen. 18:25).

For a longer post on how God judges those far away and long before the gospel reached them in a way that combines his mercy and justice, see

Please see this post for a deeper look:

What Happens at Judgment to People Who Never Heard Gospel?

In Cornelius’s case, he is blessed to hear the gospel because he lived near the birth of the church in Jerusalem and the spreading of the gospel into Judea and Samaria and Galilee (Acts 9:31), after Jesus came.

Peterson is right: When Peter says that God accepts those from every nation who fear him and do what is right, he is not saying that all roads lead to God, “but another way of affirming God’s impartiality in judgment and salvation. What counts with God is not outward appearance, race, nationality or class, since in every nation whoever fears God and works righteousness is acceptable to him … This does not mean that Cornelius was already saved before he met Peter but that non-Jews are acceptable or welcome to come to Christ on same basis as Jews” (comment on vv. 34-35).

Still, it looks like Cornelius fits in the category laid out in Rom. 2:6-11. See v. 1 for the Scripture.

36:

“message”: It comes from the noun logos (pronounced loh-gohss) and is rich and full of meaning. It always has built into it rationality and reason. It has spawned all sorts of English words that end in –log-, like theology or biology, or have the log– stem in them, like logic.

Let’s explore this noun a little more deeply.

I repeat the following comments throughout the entire commentary. Though certain Renewalists may not like to hear it, there is a rational side to the Word of God, and a moment’s thought proves it. The words you’re reading right now are placed in meaningful and logical and rational order. The Bible is also written in that way. If it weren’t, then it would be nonsense and confusing, and we couldn’t understand the gibberish. Even your prophecies have to make logical and rational sense on some level. Your Bible studies and Sunday morning sermons have to, also. Paul’s brief speech to the Gentiles, below, also has Bible-based logic and rational argumentation built into it. People need to be ministered to in this way. God gave us minds and brains and expects us to use them. Your preaching cannot always be flashy and shrieky and so outlandishly entertaining that people are not fed in the long term. Movements like that don’t last over the years without the Word. I have observed this from firsthand experience in certain sectors of the Renewal Movement.

People have the deepest need to receive solid teaching. Never become so outlandishly supernatural and entertaining that you neglect the reasonable and rational side of preaching the gospel and teaching the Bible. Yes, the book of Acts is very charismatic, but it is also very orderly and rational and logical.

On the other side of the word Word, people get so intellectual that they build up an exclusive Christian caste of intelligentsia that believe they alone can teach and understand the Word. Not true.  Just study Scripture with Bible helps and walk in the Spirit, as they did in Acts. Combining Word and Spirit is the balanced life.

“announces the good news”: as noted in previous verses in Luke-Acts, the phrase is one verb in Greek: euangelizō (pronounced eu-ahn-geh-lee-zoh, and the “g” is hard, as in “get”). Eu– means “good,” and angel means “announcement” or “news”; and izō is the verb form. (Greek adds the suffix -iz- and changes the noun to the verb and we do too, as in “modern” to “modernize”). Awkwardly but literally it means “good-news-ize,” as in “Let’s ‘good-news-ize’ them!”

“peace”: this is peace with God who reconciles us to him, not him to us! We were in need of reconciliation, not him. We strayed, not he. So he draws us to him for peace with him through reconciliation (Rom. 5:10-11; 2 Cor. 5:18-20).

37:

“spoken message”: it comes from the Greek noun rhēma (see v. 22). Often the message of God must be spoken out loud. Never be afraid or feel foolish to declare out loud what God has already spoken, either in his written Word or his personal promise to you in your heart.

38:

This is an extremely important verse for Renewalists, so let’s spend some time here.

“anointed him with the Holy Spirit”: “anointed” is from the Greek verb chriō (pronounced khree-oh) and it meant in the OT to pour oil on a person and set him apart for special service. In the New Covenant it means the same, but with the added bonus of the Spirit’s power surge or special ability. The Spirit, not oil, anoints, though sometimes Christians still use oil (Jas. 5:14).

“power”: It comes from the Greek noun dunamis (pronounced doo-na-mis, and dynamis is pronounced dy-na-mis, but most teachers prefer the first one). It is often translated as “power,” but also “miracle” or “miraculous power.” It means power in action, not static, but kinetic. It moves. Yes, we get our word dynamite from it, but God is never out of control, like dynamite is. Its purpose is to usher in the kingdom of God and repair and restore broken humanity, both in body and soul.

For more information, please click on:

What Are Signs and Wonders and Miracles?

“doing good deeds”: This is very broad. Jesus fed the multitudes and healed them in their body and soul. He commanded us to represent him to prisoners and the sick and needy and naked (Matt. 25:31-46). Those activities are good deeds, and there is nothing wrong with doing good deeds.

“healing”: at first glance it is an odd word to use in the context of demonic oppression, but deliverance is a kind of healing. It is a restoration of what people used to be to who they should be in their bodies and souls.

“dominion”: it comes from the Greek verb katadunasteuō (pronounced kah-tah-doo-nah-stew-oh), and it is related to dynamis (see above). We get our word dynasty from the stem, and the prefix kata– basically means “down.” So our dynastic heritage outside of Christ was to come under the dominion of Satan’s kingdom. Then Christ sets us free, we get saved, and we become citizens of God’s kingdom; and he anoints us to be a member of the royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:5-9).

“because God was with him”: this is one of the great clauses in the Bible. He is with you too. Your power depends on Jesus through the Spirit. Renewalists believe that you can do the works and signs and wonders that the apostles and even Jesus did (John 14:12), by the power of the Spirit! You too are anointed by Jesus to be his ambassadors and walk in his power and authority (2 Cor. 5:20).

Recall these verses about Jesus’s ministry:

16 He came to Nazareth, where he was raised, and according to his custom on the Sabbath day he entered the synagogue and stood up to read. 17 And the book of the prophet Isaiah was given him, and he opened the scroll and found the place where it was written:

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,

Because he has anointed me.

He sent me to preach the good news to the poor,

To proclaim release to the captives

And sight to the blind,

To set at liberty the shattered,

19 To proclaim the Lord’s year of favor” [Is. 61:1-2].

20 After he rolled up the scroll and gave it to the attendant, he sat down. Everyone’s eyes in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 He began to tell them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:16-21)

How does the Holy Spirit’s anointing on Jesus interact with his divine attributes? After all, Jesus never lost or laid aside his divine attributes, as some misinformed teachers have said on TV and radio. If he did, then he would not have been fully God in the flesh.

Let’s use one of the divine attributes as an example as it relates to power: omnipotence (all powerful). He never lost or laid it aside when he, the eternal Son of God, became a man. In Phil. 2:6-11, he surrendered to the Father the privileges and exalted status of heaven (his throne) and the right to fully reveal his divine attributes to humanity. Instead, he humbled himself in the form of a man. But he took his omnipotence with him.

However, the Father hid this divine attribute behind his Son’s human nature, and his Son surrendered it to the Father’s will. “The Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father is doing” (John 5:19). “I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. … for I always do what pleases him” (John 8:28-29). The Father held his Son’s divine attributes—all of them—in his hands, so to speak, and allowed them to partly burst forth in front of sinful humanity only when he willed, for example, at the Mt. of Transfiguration (e.g. Matt. 17:1-10). And “partly burst forth” means that at the Mt. of Transfiguration, Peter James, and John still did not get to gazed fully on the glories of heaven but got only a glimpse. If they had stared into heaven fully, their unresurrected and untransformed eyes would have been blinded, much like Saul’s eyes were blinded, when he saw a flash of light on the road to Damascus. Until then, the Father hid all of his Son’s divine attributes behind his humanity.

Moreover, the Father willed that Jesus must be anointed with the third person of the Trinity or Triunity—the Holy Spirit. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit worked together, while the Son was a human and worked miracles. The eternal Son of God, who acquired the name Yeshua (Jesus) at his birth, had to fulfill the Scriptures to become the Anointed One, the Christ (Greek), the Messiach (Hebrew). And he was anointed with the Spirit.

Further, Jesus’s divine attributes worked during his ministry, of course they did, but only as the Father willed. Here is an example of his hiding his omniscience: “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Matt. 24:36). While Jesus was a human in his preresurrected state, his omniscience was surrendered to the Father, unless the Father revealed something to him by the Spirit.

The Triunity was important in the humanity of Jesus. Jesus never lost or laid aside his divine attributes when he became a man; if he had, he would not have been fully God, but just an anointed man. Rather, he submitted and surrendered his divine attributes to the Father, who hid them in his humanity until the Father willed to reveal them, through the power of the Spirit.

Bottom line: So basic theology says that Jesus ministered both in the power of the Spirit and by his divine attributes that were surrendered to the Father; basic theology says that the Son and the Spirit obeyed the Father who decided and willed when miraculous displays of power took place. Basic theology says Jesus ministered and lived both by the Spirit’s anointing, becoming the Anointed One, and by his divine attributes, all under the Father’s will. It is both-and. It’s all about the Triunity working together in the earthly ministry of Jesus.

The Trinity: What Are the Basics?

The Trinity: What Are Some Illustrations?

The Trinity: Why Would God Seem So Complicated?

The Trinity: What Does He Mean to Me?

Athanasian Creed + Commentary

4. Do I Really Know Jesus? He Took the Form of a Servant

39:

The disciples were witnesses of everything Peter just outlined, and what he is about to say. Just tell your story of what God did for you.

“wood”: the Greek word is xulon (pronounced xoo-lon), and it could be translated “tree,” but I like the more general term. The cross was made of wood. The Greek word echoes Deut. 21:22-23, which talks about someone being guilty of a capital offense and his body being exposed on a pole. In the LXX (third-century B.C. Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible) of that text, the word for pole is xulon. In Jesus’s case he was accused of blasphemy (Mark 14:61-64), and ignorantly found guilty of it, which carried the death penalty (Lev. 24:16).

Why the Cross?

40:

The resurrection occurred on the third day, counting Friday and Sunday as partial days. Let’s not quarrel about the definition of days, when three days are mentioned: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. He was raised on Sunday. Friday = day 1; Saturday = day 2; Sunday = day 3. The third day is counted inclusively (Bock, comment on vv. 38-41). So let’s not count the day as 24 hours. This is not how the ancient Jews counted the day.

Here are the basics about resurrection in the New Testament:

1.. It was prophesied in the OT (Ps. 16:3-11; Is. 55:3; Jnh. 1:17)

2.. Jesus predicted it before his death (Mark 8:31; 9:9, 31; 10:33-34; John 2:19-22)

3.. It happened in history (Matt. 28:1-7; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-8; John 20:1-8)

4.. Power used to resurrect Jesus:

a.. Power of God (Acts 2:24; Eph. 1:19-20; Col. 2:12)

b.. Christ’s own power (John 10:18)

c.. Jesus is the resurrection (John 11:25-26)

d.. Power of the Spirit (Rom. 8:11; 1 Pet. 3:18)

5.. Nature of Christ’s resurrection

a.. The same body that died was raised (Luke 24:39-40; John 20:27)

b.. It was a physical body

(1)) He ate (Luke 24:41-43; John 21:12-13; Acts 10:40-41)

(2)) He could be touched (John 20:27; 1 John 1:1)

(3)) It was a gloried body (1 Cor. 15:42-44; Phil. 3:21)

(4)) He passed through locked door (John 20:19, 26)

(5)) He ascended into heaven (Acts 1:9)

c.. It was also a transformed and glorified body

12. Do I Really Know Jesus? What Was His Resurrected Body Like?

And for a review of the basics, please click on this post:

11. Do I Really Know Jesus? He Was Resurrected from the Dead

You can also go to youtube to find out the evidence for it. Look for Gary Habermas or Mike Licona.

“visible”: was seen. These are the resurrection appearances. For a table of his appearances and other facts. For a table of his appearances and other facts, please see:

14. Do I Really Know Jesus? He Appeared to His Disciples

41:

“selected”: from the Greek verb procheirotoneō (pronounced pro-khayr-oh-toh-neh-oh. It combines pro– (pre-) and cheir– (hand), and ton– (stretching out). Originally and literally, people voted by raising (stretching out) their hand. Here it means that he pre-hand-chose his disciples to see his resurrection appearances, but we will never figure out completely the interaction between human free will and God’s sovereignty. The main point is that the resurrection appearances were to his disciples.

Do I Really Know God? He Is Sovereign and Free

His resurrection body was physical, so he ate and drank with his disciples. It was not ghostly (Luke 24:39-43).

42:

One of the essential elements of our message is that God is the judge. Let’s not skip over it entirely when we preach. But get the doctrine right: unbelievers and believers will not be judged at the same judgment. Believers will be in heaven and be judged for rewards. Unbelievers will be judged for hell and good and bad deeds with a graduated separation from God—there are different levels of punishments.

Again see the post:

What Happens at Judgment to People Who Never Heard Gospel?

“testify”: the verb is diamarturomai (pronounced dee-ah-mahr-too-roh-my), and it can also mean “bear witness to.” In these contexts, it always means witnessing or testifying through the power of the Spirit.

Everyone Shall Be Judged by Their Works and Words

Word Study on Judgment

Bible Basics about the Final Judgment

43:

Let’s not limit the Lord’s purposes to judgment.

The Greek is broken up: The prophets testify about him, and then the Messiah proclaimed the forgiveness of sins for everyone who believes on him. That’s the shorthand message.

“name”: this noun stands in for the person—a living, real person. You carry your father’s name. If he is dysfunctional, his name is a disadvantage. If he is functional and impacting society for the better, then his name is an advantage. In Jesus’s case, he has the highest status in the universe, under the Father (Col. 1:15-20). He is exalted above every principality and power (Matt. 28:18; Eph. 1:20-23; Heb. 2:14; 1 John 3:8). His character is perfection itself. His authority and power are absolute, under the Father. In his name you are seated in the heavenly places with Christ (Eph. 2:6; Col. 3:1). Now down here on earth you walk and live as an ambassador in his name, in his stead, for he is no longer living on earth, so you have to represent him down here. We are his ambassadors who stand in for his name (2 Cor. 5:20). The good news is that he did not leave you without power and authority. He gave you his. Now you represent him in his name—his person, power and authority. Therefore under his authority we have his full authority to preach the gospel and set people free from bondages and satanic spirits and heal them of diseases.

“believed”: The verb is pisteuō (pronounced pea-stew-oh), and it is used 241 times. It means to “believe, be convinced of something.” In a more specific definition it goes in a direction: “to have faith in Christ or God” (Mounce p. 61). Believing (verb) and faith (noun) is very important to God. It is the language of heaven. We live on earth and by faith see the invisible world where God is. We must believe he exists; then we must exercise our faith to believe he loves us and intends to save us. We must have saving faith by trusting in Jesus and his finished work on the cross.

True acronym:

F-A-I-T-H

=

Forsaking All, I Trust Him

Here it is connected to “saved.”

Let’s discuss the verb believe and the noun faith more deeply. It is the language of the kingdom of God. It is how God expects us to relate to him. It is the opposite of doubt, which is manifested in whining and complaining and fear. Instead, faith is, first, a gift that God has distributed to everyone (Rom. 12:3). Second, it is directional (Rom. 10:9-11; Acts 20:21). We cannot rightly have faith in faith. It must be faith in God through Christ. Third, faith in Christ is different from faith in one’s ability to follow God on one’s own. It is different from keeping hundreds of religious laws and rules. This is one of Luke’s main themes in Acts, culminating in the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15) and Paul’s ministry for the rest of Acts. Faith in Jesus over faith in law keeping. Fourth, there is faith as a set of beliefs and doctrines, which are built on Scripture (Acts 6:7). Fifth, there is also a surge of faith that is poured out and transmitted through the Spirit when people need it most (1 Cor. 12:9). It is one of the nine charismata or manifestations of grace (1 Cor 12:7-11). Sixth, one can build faith and starve doubt by feasting on Scripture and the words about Christ (Rom. 10:17).

Word Study on Faith and Faithfulness

“receive”: it comes from the Greek verb lambanō (pronounced lahm-bah-noh), and its basic meaning is indeed to take or receive, but it has an active ingredient. You got to reach out for it.

“forgiveness”: it comes from the Greek noun aphesis (pronounced ah-feh-seess), which means “release” or “cancellation” or “pardon” or “forgiveness.” Let’s look at a more formal definition of its verb, which is aphiēmi (pronounced ah-fee-ay-mee), and BDAG defines it with the basic meaning of letting go: (1) “dismiss or release someone or something from a place or one’s presence, let go, send away”; (2) “to release from legal or moral obligations or consequence, cancel, remit, pardon”; (3) “to move away with implication of causing a separation, leave, depart”; (4) “to leave something continue or remain in its place … let someone have something” (Matt. 4:20; 5:24; 22:22; Mark 1:18; Luke 10:30; John 14:18); (5) “leave it to someone to do something, let, let go, allow, tolerate.” The Shorter Lexicon adds “forgive.” In sum, God lets go, dismisses, releases, sends away, cancels, pardons, and forgives our sins. His work is full and final. Don’t go backwards or dwell on it.

Please read these verses for how forgiving God is:

10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us. (Ps. 103:10-12, ESV)

And these great verses are from Micah:

18 Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity
and passing over transgression
for the remnant of his inheritance?
He does not retain his anger forever,
because he delights in steadfast love.
19 He will again have compassion on us;
he will tread our iniquities underfoot.
You will cast all our sins
into the depths of the sea. (Mic. 7:18-19, ESV)

What Is Biblical Forgiveness?

“sins”: it comes from the Greek word hamartia. A deep study reveals that it means a “departure from either human or divine standards of uprightness” (BDAG, p. 50). It can also mean a “destructive evil power” (ibid., p. 51). In other words, sin has a life of its own. Be careful! In older Greek of the classical world, it originally meant to “miss the mark” or target. Sin destroys, and that’s why God hates it, and so should we. The good news: God promises us forgiveness when we repent.

Human Sin: Original and Our Committed Sin

Bible Basics about Sin: Word Studies

GrowApp for Acts 10:30-43

A.. Cornelius invited his friends and family to hear the gospel. Have you invited your own friends and family to hear your own story? What were the results?

B.. Very simply, Cornelius retells his story about how God visited him. How do you tell your own story of God’s favor?

C.. God welcomes those who are open to him, regardless of their background. God welcomed you into his kingdom. Tell your story of the first “nudge” you got from God to open your heart to him.

Gentiles Experience Their Own Pentecost (Acts 10:44-48)

44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell on everyone listening to the message. 45 And the circumcised believers who went with Peter were amazed because even upon the Gentiles the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out. 46 For they heard them speaking in Spirit-inspired languages and magnifying God. Then Peter answered, 47 “Surely no one can refuse water to baptize these who have received the Holy Spirit, as we also have!” 48 He ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay for some days.

Comments:

This is the Gentile Pentecost in Acts 10:44-48; the Jerusalem / Judean Pentecost was in Acts 2:1-4; the Samaritan Pentecost happened in Acts 8:14-17. Paul’s Personal Pentecost was in Acts 9:17; and Pentecost for John the Baptist’s followers will happen in Acts 19:1-7. The Pentecost that launched the others was in Jerusalem / Judea.

44:

This is a humorous touch by Luke—accurate in the sequence, but humorous nonetheless. Sometimes the Spirit will interrupt the message. But he falls on those who listen. It seems, fortunately, that all of them were listening from the heart and received the Spirit.

“message”: it comes from the noun logos. See v. 36 for a closer look.

So did Spirit-conversion (born again) and Spirit-baptism happen exactly at the same time, or one after another? I used to think the listeners were Spirit converted and Spirit baptized at the same time. Now I think they were sequential—in quick succession, one after another within seconds.

In his speech Peter spoke enough of the basic truths of the life of Jesus that the faith of the listeners awoke (Rom. 10:17), with the help of the Spirit bearing witness. Then the Spirit flooded their spirits and souls, and people spoke in prayer languages. They were converted and then filled with the Spirit with the evidence of prayer languages, Spirit-baptism immediately following Spirit-conversion. But I won’t quarrel about the timing and sequence.

45:

Now we see why it was important to have the six Messianic, believing Jews (“circumcised believers”) to accompany Peter (v. 23b). They will help him testify to the miracle of the outpouring of the Spirit that is taking place to the powerful committee of Messianic Jews headquartered in Jerusalem (Acts 11:1-18). These latter Jews were much more scrupulous and restrictive than the Jews who accompanied Peter. But as we shall see, they too accept the will of God to allow Gentiles to come into the community.

“amazed”: the Greek verb existēmi (pronounced (ex-ee-stay-mee) can be translated literally as “they were standing beside themselves” Or “they were beside themselves.” Most translations go with “stunned” or “astonished” or “amazed.”

The Spirit is a gift from God. Never forget it, and never condescend towards it, especially when it is accompanied with Spirit-inspired languages.

46:

“Spirit-inspired languages”: It is the one Greek word glōssa, which means both the physical “tongue” and “language” in Greek and older English, around the time when the King James Version was published in 1611. It is best to translate it as “language,” not “tongue,” which is archaic. And since the Spirit is inspiring the languages (not gibberish), I translate it fully: “Spirit-inspired languages.” I also use “prayer languages” or “spiritual languages” (etc.).

6. Gifts of the Spirit: Prophecy

Questions and Answers about Spirit-Inspired Languages

Are ‘Tongues’ the Sign of Baptism with Spirit in Acts?

Should We Call It ‘Tongues’?

These languages do not seem to be ones that other nations would understand at that time, as it happened in Acts 2. Instead, these were supernatural languages as we see in 1 Cor. 14. No one understands them unless someone gives a supernatural interpretation.

What 1 Corinthians 14 Really Teaches

“magnifying God”: it comes from the Greek verb megalunō (pronounced meh-gah-loo-noh), and it is clear that mega– (“great”) is built into it. The Latin equivalent is magnus, so translators often choose “magnify.” Too bad we don’t have in English “greatify”! We can say the awkward “render him great (in our eyes).”

In Acts 11:15 and 15:7-11, Peter will recount the gift of the Spirit, but omit the detail of their receiving heavenly languages. Why the omission? He will focus our attention on Gentile salvation. But Luke’s narrative is “full” of omissions (if it’s possible to be full of gaps!). So how does this relate to the overall very charismatic book of Acts? We should always read verses about the fullness and infilling and power of the Spirit in light of manifested gifts of God, like prayer languages, even when they are not openly stated.

Let’s explore this more deeply.

In Acts, Luke links receiving prayer languages with being filled with the Spirit in three explicit paradigmatic or exemplary instances, and one clearly implied paradigmatic and exemplary instance, but we only look at one here.

In Caesarea, Cornelius and his household, who were Gentiles, needed their own Pentecost (10:44-48). And it is also important to realize same three biblical truths, with perhaps a compacted element. First, Cornelius and his household heard the word, so faith rose in their hearts. Second, they received their prayer languages. Third, it could be the case that salvation and the infilling of the Spirit to the point of receiving prayer languages can happen at the same time, or at least one right after the other. It is the Spirit who works both salvation and the empowering infilling.

For the other four passages, click on this link:

Are ‘Tongues’ the Sign of Baptism with Spirit in Acts?

These five cases are paradigmatic and exemplary because they illustrate that converts to the Jesus Movement or the Way had also to be filled with power and fire and this speaking gift.

However, Paul’s experience proves that Luke does not have to explicitly link the fullness of the Spirit and prayer languages every single time. Paul received the fulness of the Spirit, but his prayer language is not mentioned at that time (Acts 9:17-18). But we know that he used this gift very often (1 Cor. 14:18).

Luke expects us to fill his omissions with the power of the Spirit because the entire sweep or context of his book is charismatic. It is similar to his omitting water baptism in key places. Often he does say that new converts got baptized: Acts 2:38, 41; 8:12-13, 35-38; 9:18; 10:48; 16:14-15, 31-33; 18:8; 19:5), Yet in other cases water baptism is not brought up for new converts: Acts 9:42; 11:21; 13:12, 48; 14:1; 17:12, 34. It may be hard to believe, but during Paul’s and Barnabas’s first missionary journey, Luke does not record even one water baptism, even though numerous conversions are recorded. But it is a sure thing that every new convert was water baptized. Luke expects us to fill in these omissions. This is why I have nicknamed him Luke “the Omitter.” Or he could be called Luke “the Condenser.”

47:

“as we have”: So the circumcised disciples accompanying Peter from Joppa had already received the Holy Spirit, and probably so did Simon the tanner and his household—with the evidence of prayer languages. Luke does not have to record these details at every turn. He assumed it because his entire book is super-charged with the Spirit and power and miracles. We need to see these disciples praying in the Spirit (prayer languages) throughout their ministry times, if only quietly and under their breath.

Paul said he thanked God he spoke in prayer languages more than the Corinthians did (1 Cor. 14:18). Surely apostles like Peter and the other eleven apostles and the seven servants and many “regular” disciples also spoke often in their Spirit-inspired languages.

“baptized”: Cornelius and his household had heard the message. Faith and trust were sparked in their hearts. The Spirit baptized them. And then they were water baptized. Conversion first. Water baptism second. Water does not save, but Jesus does. Salvation goes beyond initial justification or initially being declared righteous. It involves one’s whole life. And being water-baptized for the washing away of sins means that water symbolically washes away one’s sins.

Basics about Water Baptism

48:

People can be baptized in the name of Jesus, but let’s not get involved in doctrinal disputes about “Jesus Only,” as if he is only the latest manifestation of God. No, he is more than a manifestation; he is the second person of the Trinity or Triunity. Baptism should be done in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19). So why didn’t Peter insist on the Trinitarian formula? He was proclaiming the gospel to a mixed audience of Jews and Gentiles. It was important to exalt the name of Jesus. We should do the same when we find ourselves mingling with people who believe deeply in different religions. When Jesus spoke those words in Matt. 28:19, he was in front of his disciples. It was important to reveal the nature of God more fully. And so should we follow his example at the right time and in the right place.

“him”: notice how Luke does not mention “them,” or Peter’s fellow-Jews who accompanied him, but we can be sure that they too were hosted by Cornelius. Once again, Luke’s narrative is elliptical or omits details. We treasure the details that are mentioned.

“name”: see v. 43 for more comments about this noun.

Let’s now look at being baptized in Jesus’s name (only).

Some Pentecostal pastors claim this verse to believe in Jesus alone, and the Father and Spirit are some sort of manifestation of him. So they should be baptized only in Jesus’s name. Error.

Rather, Peter ordered God-fearing Gentile Cornelius and his household to be baptized “in the name of the Lord Jesus.” Peter says nothing about Elohim or YHWH. Cornelius already knew about his God. Instead, Peter had to drive home the point that Jesus was the only and new way of salvation. God introduced his Son as the Messiah a few years earlier, and his Son revealed his Father more fully. Now a relationship with God the Father goes through only his Son.

In comparison, in Acts 2:38, let’s not make too much of Peter’s primitive or first time of preaching. He is simply highlighting Jesus’s vindication in the face of his Jewish persecutors. It’s irony. You put him to death in your ignorance, when you thought you were doing God a favor? Well, God raised him from the dead. Now be baptized in his name!

In Israel at time, baths dotted the landscape, where people washed. No doubt the new converts were baptized there, immediately. They were baptizing extra-devout Jews, many of whom were pilgrims. They already knew about Elohim and YHWH (whom they reverently called the Name). Would Peter have said, “Be baptized in the name of Elohim!”? Or baptized in the Name!”? They already knew that. Instead, Peter preached boldly the name of Jesus, the “new sheriff” in town, the new path of salvation. Other baptisms in the name of the God of Israel, as they understood the term, were inadequate.

Let’s look at other situation of people being baptized in the name of Jesus.

Acts 8:12-16 says that the Samaritans believed Philip’s preaching the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus, and they were baptized simply (or only) “in the name of the Lord Jesus.” The reason for their being baptized in this name only? They too were in the confines of Israel, and they already knew about Elohim or YHWH (or the Name). Philip was emboldened to proclaim the name of Jesus, the new Savior, the new and fuller revelation about God and the way of salvation. They were to be baptized in his name, and not merely the name of Elohim or the Name. Then they were immersed or baptized in the Spirit.

Acts 19:1-5 teaches us that Ephesian disciples had been baptized by John presumably in the name of Elohim or the Name or the God of Judaism. Paul saw this as incomplete. There was a new Savior, the Messiah, and his name is Jesus. These disciples had to be baptized “in name of the Lord Jesus.”

Here are passages in which people were baptized, but not mentioning any name, but they probably were baptized in the name of Jesus.

Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:38)

Saul (Acts 9:18)

Lydia and her household and friends (Acts 16:15)

Philippian jailer and his household (Acts 16:33)

Crispus the synagogue leader, his household, and many Corinthians (Acts 18:8)

So what is the point? We must not make a massive doctrine out of being baptized in the name of Jesus only. These people were not going to be baptized in the name of Elohim or the Name (YHWH). Jesus was the newest, only and fuller Savior. Salvation was through him alone. Those who believe that water baptism must be done in “Jesus only” are shortsighted because they fail to understand the cultural and religious contexts.

I like how Bock concludes this chapter about Cornelius:

The case of Cornelius raises an interesting question, given that he was respectful of God but had not yet responded to Jesus. Luke is aware that there are people who show respect for God, and Luke’s account of them is respectful. This does not mean, however, that Luke ignores that their spiritual state still leaves them in need of salvation. Their pursuit of God by itself does not exempt them or inoculate them from needing the forgiveness Jesus has obtained …. There is a difference between seeking and entering into fellowship with God. God directs Peter to complete Cornelius’s journey back to God. Cornelius’s heart has been well prepared for the gospel. His conversion in many ways stands in contrast to Paul’s. Where Paul went from enemy to believer by a dramatic experience, Cornelius went from an open seeker to a believer through the preached gospel. The contrast reveals the variety of ways in which God can work. (p. 402)

Yes, everyone needs salvation, and God leads them towards it in a variety of ways, but he will judge people who do good works without salvation more leniently and those who do evil severely.

Are All Sins Equal?

Are There Degrees of Punishment, Rewards after Final Judgment?

GrowApp for Acts 10:44-48

A.. God interrupted Peter’s excellent sermon and filled Cornelius and his household with the Spirit. They were born again and Spirit filled at the same time. What is your story about being born again by the Spirit of God?

Observations for Discipleship

This chapter is about God welcoming Gentiles—those of a background that is unacceptable to other more religious people. God accepts you and cleanses you from your profane life. John 3:3 says, “In reply, Jesus said to him, “I tell you the firm truth: unless someone is born again, he will not see the kingdom of God.” When you are born again, you enter God’s kingdom. You come under God’s Son’s authority and are placed in him. This wonderful act consecrates you and sets you apart. This means that Peter’s vision about unclean animals is a parable that is actually about you. God declares you clean from all your old bad habits.

This chapter is also about dreams and visions. They happened back in the first century, and they happen today. You must be open to them. You can seek God for them. It is important to realize, however, that most of your dreams come from your own soul. So be careful. Soul power or mind power is misguided. Dreams or visions that come from God are right. So how do I know the difference? Here are five basics:

1.. They must lead to holiness and righteousness. For example, if a dream tells you to pursue another woman’s husband, then it did not come from God. But if a dream tells you not to fear, but to pray, then it probably came from God.

2.. If a dream has symbols in it, you can go to a Jesus-glorifying website to look them up. However, too many and obscure symbols can get confusing. In that case, put the dream on a shelf, so to speak. Don’t obsess or get distracted by symbols. Dreams should be clear and direct, without confusion.

3.. Dreams are like prophecies, so they are to encourage, comfort and edify. If your dream does not do those things, ignore it.

4.. You must stay in close Christian fellowship so you can test your prophetic dreams.

5.. You must stay in Scripture, so you can discern whether your dreams are of God or your own soul or Satan.

Please see this post for a deeper look:

Dreams and Visions: How to Interpret Them

And here:

The Power of Scripture and Doctrine in the Church

Acts 10 also includes angelic visitations. How do you know that an angel who appears to you either in person is from God? Here are three basics:

1.. Angels must glorify Jesus. Therefore, they will not teach strange doctrines, as I see on one main website that comes at the topic from a world religions angle. No, God through Christ create angels. They do not teach or open your mind to other religions.

2.. You must stay in Scripture so you can discern whether your angel visitor—most come in dreams—was a messenger from God or your own soul or Satan.

3.. You must stay in Christian fellowship, so you can discern the source of the being, whether it comes from God or your own soul or Satan.

In all your dreams and visions, always stay close to Jesus through prayer, his Word, and his mature followers.

For a deeper look, please see this post:

Angels: Questions and Answers

SOURCES

Bock, Darrell L. Acts. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Baker Academic, 2007.

Bruce, F. F. Acts. Rev. ed. Eerdmans, 1988. (I also used his earlier work Acts of the Apostles: Greek Text with Commentary, Eerdmans, 1951, 1952, 1990, 3rd ed.).

The Greek New Testament. Fifth Revised Edition by Barbara Aland, Kurt Aland, Johannes Karavidopoulos, Carlo M. Martini, Bruce M. Metzger. United Bible Society, 2014.

Keener, Craig, S. Acts. New Cambridge Bible Commentary. Cambridge UP, 2020.

Longenecker, Richard N. Acts. Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Rev. ed. Zondervan, 2007.

Marshall, I. Howard. Acts. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. Tyndale, 1980.

Parsons, Mikeal C. and Martin M. Culy. Acts. A Handbook on the Greek Text. Baylor, UP, 2003.

Peterson, David G. The Acts of the Apostles. The Pillar New Testament Commentary. Eerdmans, 2009.

Polhill, John B. Acts. New American Commentary. Vol. 26. Broadman and Holman, 1992.

Schnabel, Eckhard, J. Acts. Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Zondervan, 2012.

Works Cited

 

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