Acts 10:44-48

Sunday Morning Bible Study

January 18, 1998


We are on the brink of a new day in church history. God has been working both in the life of a Gentile, Roman army officer named Cornelius, as well as in the life of the apostle Peter. Peter has now arrived at Cornelius’ house, and to teach …

:44 While Peter yet spake these words,

The language seems to indicate that Peter hasn’t even finished speaking when he’s interrupted.

In fact, later Peter will say that he was just getting started with his message when the Holy Spirit interrupted him (Acts 11:15)

What had Peter been talking about?

It’s interesting to note that Peter wasn’t teaching them about the Holy Spirit, He was teaching them about salvation.

After having heard all that had already happened in Cornelius’ life, Peter had come to the conclusion that God appeared ready to save even Gentiles.

After having said that, Peter told these people a little about the life of Jesus, and how the apostles were witnesses of His death and resurrection, and were told to go and preach to people that Jesus was going to judge them one day.

The last thing he said before being interrupted was …

(Acts 10:43 KJV) To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.

In other words, Peter had been telling them that the way to be saved and have their sins forgiven, was to believe in Jesus.

:44 the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.

Is this the same as what happened to the disciples on the day of Pentecost?

Peter thought so. Later he tells it like this, as he was describing what happened –

Acts 11:15-18 And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. {16} Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. {17} Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God? {18} When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.

Peter said it was just like what had happened to them in being baptized in the Holy Spirit.

We've seen Luke record six places when the Holy Spirit has been poured out –

Acts 2:1-4 – The day of Pentecost with the disciples

Acts 4:31 – After the first arrest of Peter and John

Acts 7:55 – Stephen's death

Acts 8:14-17 – Upon the Samaritans

Acts 9:17 – Saul with Ananias in Damascus

Acts 10:44 – Now a group of Gentiles at Cornelius' house


There is no formula to receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Each time God poured out His Spirit, it came in a little different manner –

Waiting and prayer (Acts 1:4, 14; 2:1-4)

Prayer (Acts 4:31)

Persecution (Acts 7:55)

Prayer and Laying on of hands (Acts 8:15,17)

Laying on of hands by a non-apostle (Acts 9:17)

In the middle of a Bible Study (Acts 10:44)

These are all valid ways that God will use to fill us with the Spirit.

Jesus summed up the basic requirements for the filling of the Holy Spirit like this –

(John 7:37-38 KJV) … If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. {38} He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water…

You need to have a need, a thirst for the Holy Spirit, and you need to believe and open up your heart to receive the power of the Holy Spirit.

A. W. Tozer (1897–1963) wrote – Before we can be filled with the Spirit, the desire to be filled must be all-consuming. It must be for the time the biggest thing in the life, so acute, so intrusive as to crowd out everything else. The degree of fullness in any life accords perfectly with the intensity of true desire. We have as much of God as we actually want.

:45 And they of the circumcision which believed

In contrast to these uncircumcised Gentiles in Cornelius’ living room, the six guys that had come with Peter, along with Peter, were all circumcised Jews, as were all the believers up to this time.

:45 were astonished, as many as came with Peter

astonished - existemi – to throw out of position, displace; to amaze, to astonish

I think it’s worth seeing how this word is used in Scripture.

When four men hacked a hole in a roof and lowered their friend down to Jesus, Jesus forgave the man of his sins, and healed him…

(Mark 2:12 KJV) And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.

When the disciples were rowing hard all night against the storm …

(Mark 6:49-51 KJV) But when they saw him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been a spirit, and cried out: {50} For they all saw him, and were troubled. And immediately he talked with them, and saith unto them, Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid. {51} And he went up unto them into the ship; and the wind ceased: and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered.

When Saul, the man behind the persecution of the church got saved, the first thing he began to do was to tell people about Jesus …

(Acts 9:21 KJV) But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests?


God doesn’t fit in your box.

Our God can do AMAZING things!

(Isa 43:18-19 KJV) Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. {19} Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.


E. Stanley Jones tells of a missionary who got lost in an African jungle--nothing around him but bush and a few cleared places. He found a native hut and asked the native if he could lead him out. The native said he could. "All right," said the missionary, "show me the way." The native said, "Walk." So they walked and hacked their way through unmarked jungle for more than an hour. The missionary got worried. "Are you quite sure this is the way? Where is the path?" The native said, "Bwana, in this place there is no path. I am the path."

You may not have a clue where God is leading you, and at times there doesn’t even seem to be a path. But perhaps God is wanting to do something new, and all you need to do is to stay close to him.

:45 on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost

These guys were amazed because they would have never imagined that God would do something so radical as saving Gentiles!

After all, to the ordinary Jewish man, a Gentile-pig-dog-heathen was good for nothing more than being fuel to keep the fires of hell nice and hot!


Know your terminology.

Some have tried to teach that "the baptism of the Holy Spirit isn’t the same as the filling of the Holy Spirit".

I think we need to take a look at the words that Luke uses to describe the baptism of the Holy Spirit. As we’ve already established, this event in Acts 10 is the same in Peter’s mind as the event in Acts 2. (see Acts 11:15-17)

1. Jesus promised beforehand the "baptism of the Holy Ghost".

(Acts 1:5 KJV) For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.

2. Jesus also called it "the Holy Ghost coming upon you".

(Acts 1:8 KJV) But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you …

We’ve also mentioned before that there are different variations using the word "upon", as the Holy Ghost "falling upon" (Acts 10:44).

3. Luke describes the day of Pentecost event as the "filling with the Holy Ghost".

(Acts 2:4 KJV) And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

4. Luke also describes it as "the gift of the Holy Ghost".

(Acts 10:45 KJV) And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.

See also Acts 2:38; 11:17

It’s not that we want to get argumentative about it, but there is no difference between the "baptism" of the Holy Spirit and the "filling" of the Holy Spirit, at least not in Luke and Peter’s minds.

:46 they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God


What is speaking with tongues?

It is one of the "gifts of the Holy Spirit", whereby a person is able to speak in a language they’ve never learned before.

Just as we see them doing here, it is a way where a person can give praise and thanks to God. (1Cor.14:17)

With the gift of tongues, the Holy Spirit prays through a person, directly to God. Unless there is also an accompanying gift called the "interpretation of tongues", the person who prays doesn’t even know themselves what was being spoken.

And yet, because the person speaking has released control of part of their life over to the Spirit, they find themselves built up (1Cor.14:4), and God being praised.


Does speaking with tongues always occur with the baptism of the Holy Spirit?

It occurs sometimes, but not always.

Of the six times we’ve seen described so far in Acts (Acts 2:1-4; 4:31; 7:55; 8:14-17; 9:17; 10:44), only twice is the gift of tongues specifically mentioned as having occurred (Acts 2, 10).

Later, Paul writes to the Corinthians,

(1 Cor 12:29-31 KJV) Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? {30} Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? {31} But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet show I unto you a more excellent way.

In the Greek, these questions are all written in a rhetorical way, where the obvious, expected answer is "no, of course not".


Then what is the evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit?

The specific thing that Jesus promised the disciples concerning the baptism of the Holy Spirit, was that they would receive power.

(Acts 1:8 KJV) But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you …

The true mark of whether or not you’ve received the baptism of the Holy Spirit is not whether you speak with tongues, but whether you’re living in the power that God has for you and your life.

As we saw in our study through the book of Galatians, doing what is pleasing to God doesn’t come about by keeping the Law (which is impossible), it comes through the power of the Holy Spirit.

(Gal 5:16 KJV) This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

The Holy Spirit alone has the power (dunamis) to free you from the bondage of your fleshly sin nature.

Paul also gives us a clear result of living under the influence of the Holy Spirit –

(Gal 5:22-23 NASB) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, {23} gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.


More than once.

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is not to be a one time thing, but a continuous, way of life.

(Eph 5:18 KJV) And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

Paul literally means "be being filled", continually, with the Holy Spirit.

It’s not just important to have once been "baptized in the Holy Ghost", but even more to be daily being refilled, daily resubmitting your life to the control of the Holy Spirit.

For some of us, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit can be something that we experienced a while ago, but we’re beyond that now.


David N. Dinkins, then the mayor of New York , was riding through the city in his limousine with his wife, Joyce. Looking out the window, they recognized a man doing manual labor on the roadside as "John," a former suitor of Mrs Dinkins'. Seeing him, the mayor smiled a bit smugly at his wife. "You must be so glad," he said, "to be married to the powerful mayor in the limo rather than to poor John shoveling alongside the road." His wife smiled. "If I'd married John, he'd be with me in the mayor's limo."

Sometimes we get the idea that we’re the one taking God places, but in reality, it’s only because we’re with Him that we are where we are today. So stay close. Stay filled. Continually.

:47 Can any man forbid water …

Peter is saying that since these people seemed to have become saved, and we ought to go ahead and baptize them.

The fact that the Holy Spirit had fallen upon them was evidence that they had opened up their hearts to the Lord, and had done what Peter had just told them about, receiving forgiveness for their sins by believing in Jesus.

The work of the Holy Spirit in them was a proof that they had been saved. In fact, you can’t even be saved unless the Holy Spirit it involved in your life.

Not necessarily that you have to speak in tongues to be saved (since not all speak in tongues).

Not necessarily that you have to be baptized in the Holy Spirit to be saved (since the Samaritans under Philip’s ministry had believed and been baptized, but had not received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, Acts 8).

But if the Holy Spirit doesn’t at least come into your life, you aren’t saved.

(Rom 8:9b KJV) …Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

These people have just been saved, and it happened before they were baptized.


Baptism doesn’t save you.

There are people who teach that you can’t be saved until you’ve been baptized. They usually add that it’s also unless you’ve been baptized by them.

Yet here we see a group of people who are believing, having received the Holy Spirit, and so are saved, but haven’t even been baptized yet.

Baptism is only a sign of what God has already done for you. It doesn’t wash away your sins, it is a way of showing that your sins have been washed away.


So why be baptized?

1. Because we are commanded to be baptized (Mat.28:19; Acts 2:38)

2. Because it is a way of making a public declaration that you are following Jesus Christ.

(Mat 10:32-33 KJV) Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. {33} But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.

3. It is a way of helping you to make the truths related to baptism more real in your life.

(Rom 6:4 KJV) Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.


What if I was baptized as a child?

Baptism in the New Testament is always done for those who have repented, for those who have come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah.

Did you repent and believe as a child? If not, then go ahead and be baptized again. It’s not that we need to make a big deal of pointing out the error of infant baptism, but simply that we obey the Lord in baptism by being baptized after we have believed.