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The Acts of the Apostles: Chapter 10

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1In Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of the Italian Cohort, as it was called. 2He was a devout man who feared God with all his household; he gave alms generously to the people and prayed constantly to God. 3One afternoon at about three o’clock he had a vision in which he clearly saw an angel of God coming in and saying to him, “Cornelius.” 4He stared at him in terror and said, “What is it, Lord?” He answered, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God. 5Now send men to Joppa for a certain Simon who is called Peter; 6he is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the seaside.” 7When the angel who spoke to him had left, he called two of his slaves and a devout soldier from the ranks of those who served him, 8and after telling them everything, he sent them to Joppa.

9About noon the next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10He became hungry and wanted something to eat; and while it was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11He saw the heaven opened and something like a large sheet coming down, being lowered to the ground by its four corners. 12In it were all kinds of four‐footed creatures and reptiles and birds of the air. 13Then he heard a voice saying, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat.” 14But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is profane or unclean.” 15The voice said to him again, a second time, “What God has made clean, you must not call profane.” 16This happened three times, and the thing was suddenly taken up to heaven.

17Now while Peter was greatly puzzled about what to make of the vision that he had seen, suddenly the men sent by Cornelius appeared. They were asking for Simon's house and were standing by the gate. 18They called out to ask whether Simon, who was called Peter, was staying there. 19While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Look, three a One ancient authority reads two; others lack the word men are searching for you. 20Now get up, go down, and go with them without hesitation; for I have sent them.” 21So Peter went down to the men and said, “I am the one you are looking for; what is the reason for your coming?” 22They answered, “Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and Godfearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and to hear what you have to say.” 23So Peter b Gk he invited them in and gave them lodging.

The next day he got up and went with them, and some of the believers c Gk brothers from Joppa accompanied him. 24The following day they came to Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. 25On Peter's arrival Cornelius met him, and falling at his feet, worshiped him. 26But Peter made him get up, saying, “Stand up; I am only a mortal.” 27And as he talked with him, he went in and found that many had assembled; 28and he said to them, “You yourselves know that it is unlawful for a Jew to associate with or to visit a Gentile; but God has shown me that I should not call anyone profane or unclean. 29So when I was sent for, I came without objection. Now may I ask why you sent for me?”

30Cornelius replied, “Four days ago at this very hour, at three o’clock, I was praying in my house when suddenly a man in dazzling clothes stood before me. 31He said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God. 32Send therefore to Joppa and ask for Simon, who is called Peter; he is staying in the home of Simon, a tanner, by the sea.’ 33Therefore I sent for you immediately, and you have been kind enough to come. So now all of us are here in the presence of God to listen to all that the Lord has commanded you to say.”

34Then Peter began to speak to them: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, 35but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all. 37That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: 38how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; 40but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, 41not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. 43All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

44While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word. 45The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, 46for they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter said, 47“Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48So he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they invited him to stay for several days.

Notes:

a One ancient authority reads two; others lack the word

b Gk he

c Gk brothers

Text Commentary view alone

10.1–48 : The conversion of Cornelius.

This key narrative in which the inclusion of Gentiles is directed by God is essentially repeated in 11.1–18 and referred to in significant terms at 15.7–9 . Luke ascribes to Peter the honor of converting the first Gentile; but recall the Ethiopian (8.26–39) and see 11.19–21 .

1 :

Caesarea, see 8.40n. A centurion, an officer in the Roman army. Luke may want to show that Roman citizenship was compatible with Christianity ( 13.7n.; 16.37–38n.; 18.14–15n.; 22.25–29n.; 23.27–30n.; 25.8n. ). On “friendly” centurions, see 27.3,43 .

2 :

Cornelius was devout and feared God, i.e., worshiped him (see v. 22 ); although he had not adopted the Jewish religion (i.e., undergone circumcision), he practiced the characteristic acts of Jewish piety: almsgiving and prayer. The similar profile of the centurion in Lk 7.1–10 shows that Luke is particularly interested in Gentiles who practice Jewish piety (v. 35 ).

3 :

About three o’clock, the time of afternoon prayer ( 3.1 ). Angels often appear in Acts in service of the divine will.

7 :

A devout soldier, suggests that those with Cornelius shared his piety (see 16.15n.,33 ).

9 :

Noon, the usual Roman time for luncheon.

14 :

Profane, only some animals might be eaten (Lev 11 ).

15 :

In Mk 7.14–19 Jesus declared all foods clean, but this statement is not included in Luke's Gospel and Peter seems unaware of it. Some conditions regarding food will still apply at 15.20,29 .

16 :

Three times, for emphasis and warning.

19–20 :

The Spirit's message obliquely refers to Cornelius's vision and is reminiscent of the coordinated visions of Ananias and Paul in ch 9 .

23 :

Invited them in, Peter is prepared to associate with Gentiles.

28 :

You yourselves know, the audience is aware that association with Gentiles can be a cause of defilement for Jews (the centurion in Lk 7.6–7 seems to be sensitive to this). But God has shown me, Peter now understands the vision about food (vv. 11–17 ) to refer allegorically to people‐i.e., defilement is no longer an issue.

30 :

See v. 3n.

34 :

No partiality, lit. “God is no respecter of persons”; cf. Rom 2.10–11 .

36–43 :

A synopsis of Luke's Gospel.

36 :

Lord of all, both Jews and Gentiles.

38 :

God anointed Jesus, seems to refer to the baptism at Lk 3.22 (see also Lk 4.14 ); but note Lk 2.11; Acts 2.36n.; 3.20 .

39 :

We are witnesses, also v. 41, see 1.8n.; 1.21–22 ; tree, 5.30n.

41 :

Jesus was seen only by those chosen (Lk 24.48; Acts 1.8,22 ). Ate and drank with him, Lk 24.30–31 ,41–43.

42 :

Judge, 17.31 .

43 :

All the prophets, Lk 24.25–27 ,44–47; forgiveness of sins, Lk 24.47; Acts 2.38; 13.26,39 ; through his name, 3.6 .

44–48 :

The circumcised believers knew by the speaking in tongues ( 2.4–11 ) that the Holy Spirit fell upon the Gentiles before baptism (see 2.38n. ).

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