Monday, November 26, 2007

Acts, Chapter 10

It's been a few days since I have written here, but such are the needs of family and friends. It is my prayer that everyone had a great holiday weekend spent in thankfulness to the One that provides everything we need. It is appropriate that we are in chapter 10 of Acts just after Thanksgiving, as we begin with a man that was very thankful for what he was given. Cornelius was a rarity in that he was a Roman Centurion who was also a devout follower of God. Because he was thankful for what God had provided he gave back praying in thankfulness and by giving to the poor. Because of this God chose him for a special type of blessing, and we will see today that he was used in a special way to further the message to the Gentiles.

In today's lesson it is important to know he was a centurion because they weren't exactly liked by the Jews. Many people in Israel viewed the Romans as occupiers and oppressors, so this story of his visit with Peter is an example of God's love and His power to change things. Today we have a lesson in God's mercy and the fact that He sent Christ to die for ALL mankind, and not just the Jews. At the time the Jews couldn't even associate with the Gentiles, but God told Peter dramatically that those old ways had passed away.

"27Talking with him, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people. 28He said to them: "You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean. 29So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection." – Acts 10:27-29

The beauty here is the breaking down of barriers that we unfortunately still put up today. Here Peter sees Cornelius not as a Gentile, but a fellow human being. Even today, in 2007 there are still some people that categorize others based on their race, religion, or creed and not by the fact they are simply another human being. This leads to exclusivity and divisiveness that is counterproductive to the gospel. When we stop seeing people for these insignificant things, we can begin to truly let the Holy Spirit work, as happens in the next few verses:

"34Then Peter began to speak: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right. 36You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. 37You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached— 38how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him." – Acts 10:34-38

Notice how Peter does not say, "God accepts men from just the Jews who fear Him and do what is right." He plainly states that every nation is accepted under God. It is a breaking down of barriers that were so critical in that day because the Jews did not widely accept that the Gentiles could find God's favor unless they became Jews themselves. The true power lies in the Holy Spirit, and that is a gift that can be given to everyone.

"44While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. 45The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. 46For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God." – Acts 10:44-46.

The beauty of God's grace is amazing, and here we see that his Spirit is meant for all peoples, not just the Jews. Once again God triumphs over the ideas of man, as Peter's view of the Gentiles is totally changed. Not only that, but the Gentile converts receiving the Holy Spirit meant that the message was further sent to people who otherwise would not receive it. This is a lesson in overcoming divisiveness between people that we can still apply today.


  1. Why was important for Cornelius as a Gentile to have Peter visit him?
  2. Why would Peter need to have his mind changed to dramatically even though he already knew Christ's message?
  3. How important was it for the Holy Spirit to come over these Gentile believers?

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