Acts 10:24-43

Sunday Morning Bible Study

January 11, 1998


We are on the brink of a new day in church history. Up to this time, all believers have been Jewish. The concept of any Gentile receiving salvation would seem ridiculous to anyone.

But God began to work in the life of a Roman military officer named Cornelius, sending an angel who told him to send for a man named Peter.

At the same time, God gave Peter a vision of animals wrapped up in a sheet coming down from heaven, trying to get through to Peter to show him that when He, God, cleanses something, it shouldn’t be considered unclean.

We pick up the story as the messengers from Cornelius have found Peter, and are spending the night with him before setting out for Caesarea, and the home of Cornelius.

:24-33 Peter arrives at Cornelius’ house

:24 And Cornelius waited for them

The picture is that Cornelius is outside the house expecting them to come any minute. He’s waiting for them and wants to be the first to meet them.

:24 and had called together his kinsmen and near friends

This wasn’t something that Cornelius wanted to keep to himself, but he wanted to share what was about to happen with all those who important to him, both his relatives and his close friends.

As we will see in chapter 11, Cornelius was expecting Peter to come and –

(Acts 11:14 KJV) Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.


Invite your family and friends to Jesus.

Cornelius is thrilled with the possibility of his family and friends being saved.

(Rom 1:16 KJV) For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

:25 fell down at his feet, and worshipped him

You can’t blame Cornelius really. He is a pagan man, raised in a society where people were worshipped as gods. And to have had a vision of an angel telling him that Simon Peter would be the one to tell him something important, well Cornelius can’t contain himself.

:26 Stand up; I myself also am a man.

Of course Peter knows that only God should be worshipped like this.

But then again, it sure is nice to be appreciated …


Don’t take the credit due to God.

It’s pretty heady stuff, when people begin to show their appreciation for how God can work through you.

I remember reading an article in the Register recently about some men who have recently gone into the Catholic priesthood, and there was a picture of one of the men clothed in his green and white robes, with another regular guy bowing down and kissing his ring.

If God uses you, keep your head on straight. You’re just a man.

:28 Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing …

Actually, there was no Old Testament law prohibiting a Jew from having contact with a Gentile.

The Jews were prohibited from intermarrying with the seven nations who were in the land when they conquered it (Deu 7:2-3), but the idea of a Jew not keeping company with a Gentile was added later by the Rabbis.

How would they know? Perhaps because of the snotty ways that the Jews were treating the Gentiles?

Can we be that way at times? As if we only mix with "nice" people?

Jesus wasn’t afraid to talk to the "wrong people".

(Mark 2:16-17 KJV) And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? {17} When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

:29 Therefore came I unto you without gainsaying

without gainsaying – "without even raising any objection"

:29 I ask therefore for what intent ye have sent for me?

Peter is still curious just what this is all about.

:30 Four days ago I was fasting until this hour

Apparently it’s the "ninth" hour when Peter arrives, or 3:00 p.m.

:30 a man stood before me in bright clothing,

brightlampros – shining, brilliant; magnificent. Standard angel issue garments.

:33 Now therefore are we all here present before God to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.


How to go to church.

We kind of have a neat pattern here that really ought to be the way we always come to church.

1) Present before God.

Cornelius recognized that they were in the presence of God, even while in Cornelius’ house.

I think that’s one of the functions of our "worship time", to help us open our spiritual eyes to the fact that we are here in God’s presence.

2) Ears to hear.

Some sixteen times in the New Testament we are told, "To him that has ears, let him hear!"

I believe that much of what we’re going to see happen at Cornelius’ house comes from this very fact, that these people are ready to hear from God.

We need to learn to tell God what the old priest Eli taught the young boy Samuel to say,

(1 Sam 3:10 KJV) And the LORD came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth.

:34-43 Peter’s message

:34 Of a truth I perceive

Peter has finally gotten the message of what God has been trying to show him. It’s finally beginning to dawn on him that God wants to reach the Gentiles with the gospel.

We can follow the progression of Peter’s thoughts on this whole affair –

10:17 Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean,

doubteddiaporeo – to be entirely at loss, to be in perplexity, Peter was totally perplexed at this weird vision.

10:19 While Peter thought on the vision,

thought onenthumeomai – to bring to mind, revolve in mind, ponder. Peter began to chew it over in his mind, thinking about just what it could mean.

10:28 God hath showed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.

showed medeiknuo – to show, expose to the eyes. Peter was able to say that God had showed him something, but until he hears from Cornelius just what God had done for Cornelius, he still doesn’t quite grasp the whole picture.

10:34 Of a truth I perceive

perceivekatalambano – to lay hold of; to lay hold of so as to make one's own; to lay hold of with the mind. Now Peter sees the whole picture.


Make God’s truths your own.

Don’t let them just be something that perplexes you, or something you just think about, or something that you can say that God has shown you.

Make God’s truths REAL in your life. Make them a part of your life. Incorporate them into your life.


Wednesday night I was teaching about how our joy needs to come from our relationship with the Lord, and not from our circumstances.

I know this. Sort of.

But sure enough, on Thursday I a meeting with a person that did not go quite the way I had hoped for. It was rather a depressing outcome. And I was faced with the fact that I was not getting my joy from the Lord, but my circumstances.

Jesus said,

(Mat 7:24-27 KJV) Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: {25} And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. {26} And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: {27} And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

It’s not just hearing the sayings of Jesus that gives stability to life. It’s building your life upon them, letting them get into your way of living, that gives you assurance in life’s storms.

:34 that God is no respecter of persons

respecter of personsprosopoleptes – lit., "to receive the face"; to be one who discriminates based on a person’s outward appearance or circumstances, and not their inward person.

Peter is saying that he’s begun to realize that God isn’t impressed with someone just because they’re Jewish, but that God is looking at people’s hearts, not their nationality.

When the prophet Samuel went to Jesse’s house to find a new king to replace Saul, the first son of Jesse he saw was big old handsome Eliab –

(1 Sam 16:6-7 KJV) And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the Lord's anointed is before him. {7} But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.


The problem of partiality.

Partiality has a lot to do with our prejudices.


A Chinese man and a Jewish man were eating lunch together. Suddenly, without warning the Jewish man gets up, walks over to the Chinese fellow and smashes him in the mouth, sending him sprawling. The Chinese man picks himself up, rubs his jaw and asks, "What in the world did you do that for?" And the answer comes back: "For Pearl Harbor!" His response is total astonishment: "Pearl Harbor? I didn't have anything to with Pearl Harbor. It was the Japanese that bombed Pearl Harbor!" The Jewish man responds, "Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese--they're all the same to me. With that they both sit down again, and before too long the Chinese man gets up, walks over to the Jewish man and sends him flying with a hard slap to the jaw. The Jewish man yells out, "What did you do that for?" And the answer comes back: "The Titanic." "The Titanic? Why, I didn't have anything to do with the Titanic!" Whereupon the Chinese man replies, "Goldberg, Feinberg, Iceberg -- they're all the same to me!"

So often our prejudices make about as much sense as that!

We too need to be careful that we don’t become a respecter of persons by how we treat others as well –

James 2:1-9 (NLT) My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim that you have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people more than others? {2} For instance, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in shabby clothes. {3} If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, "You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor"--well, {4} doesn't this discrimination show that you are guided by wrong motives? {5} Listen to me, dear brothers and sisters. Hasn't God chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith? Aren't they the ones who will inherit the kingdom God promised to those who love him? {6} And yet, you insult the poor man! Isn't it the rich who oppress you and drag you into court? {7} Aren't they the ones who slander Jesus Christ, whose noble name you bear? {8} Yes indeed, it is good when you truly obey our Lord's royal command found in the Scriptures: "Love your neighbor as yourself." {9} But if you pay special attention to the rich, you are committing a sin, for you are guilty of breaking that law.

We need to learn to look to the heart, and not the outward appearance.

:35 he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.

Note: Peter doesn’t say that just good works is enough for God, but that God is looking for people who will fear and respect HIM! And Peter isn’t saying that following after any old god will do, but to fear HIM!

:36 preaching peace by Jesus Christ

The message that was sent from God was that there could be peace with God through Jesus Christ.

This seems to be the goal of the message, that there can be peace with God through Jesus Christ.

:37 That word, I say, ye know

Jesus was not some unknown figure, but even these Gentiles in Caesarea would have familiar with Him.

:37 after the baptism which John preached

It was John the Baptist’s ministry that began the message of Jesus.

:41 Not to all the people

Peter is making the statement that Jesus didn’t do any grand public appearances to groups as large as those He preached to before His death.

This isn’t to say that Jesus only appeared to a few people. Paul records –

(1 Cor 15:3-8 KJV) For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; {4} And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: {5} And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: {6} After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. {7} After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. {8} And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

:42 to be the Judge of quick and dead.

quick – living

Jesus will one day judge the world. That judgment will be based on one thing, whether or not you chose to trust Jesus to take care of your sins.

(John 3:16-18 KJV) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. {17} For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. {18} He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

:43 To him give all the prophets witness,

The prophets had plenty to say about God forgiving sins, such as –

Isa 43:25 I, [even] I, [am] he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.

:43 that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.

The reason that forgiveness of sins can only come through Jesus Christ is because only Jesus Christ has taken care of the problem that keeps our sins from being forgiven.

The problem that keeps us from receiving forgiveness and obtaining peace with God, it our sin.

(Isa 59:1-2 KJV) Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: {2} But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.

God is a holy, just God, and it is necessary that all debts be paid for.

The price that had to be paid for our sins is death.

(Rom 6:23 KJV) For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Jesus Christ came, as a sinless sacrifice, having an eternal life, to bear upon Himself the sins of the world, so that with His single death, He was able to pay for all the sins of the entire world.

(2 Cor 5:21 NLT) For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

Now, all that is necessary for a person to receive this forgiveness for their sins, and to receive peace with God, is to call upon His name, to ask Him to forgive you, and to believe that He will.

(John 1:12 KJV) But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

Is it time for you to open your heart to Jesus?