Home Library

Acts 10

Thursday Evening Bible Study

November 21, 2013


Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision Is the church loved? Target 4400 words

On the day of Pentecost, the church was born. It began with the Holy Spirit filling the believers. As the apostles preached about Jesus, the church began to grow.

By chapter seven, the church was beginning to experience persecution. Stephen was the first one to die for his faith. With the persecution, the church began to scatter, and the message of the gospel actually increased as more people heard about Jesus.

One of the main men behind the persecution was a man named Saul. But when Saul headed for the city of Damascus to pursue the Christians there, he was knocked off his horse by a bright light and he met Jesus. We will see Saul in a few weeks using a new name, Paul.

The last chapter ended with a glimpse of the apostle Peter’s ministry. He healed the sick and even raised the dead. Peter is now staying in the city of Joppa with a man named Simon the tanner.

10:1-8 Cornelius’ Vision

:1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment,

:1 Caesarea

Caesarea was a fairly new city, built by Herod the Great as a tribute to his Roman patrons.

While we tend to think of Jerusalem as the capital, it was only the capital to the Jews, and was the center of religious power.

The actual political power was seated in Caesarea.

It was where the Roman governors lived.
It was a seaport city 30 miles north of Joppa.

Play “Joppa & Caesarea” clip

We’ve last left Peter in the city of Joppa (modern Tel Aviv). He will travel 30 miles north to the city of Caesarea.

:1 Cornelius – “of a horn”

It’s a Latin name (he is a Roman after all)

:1 centurion

A Roman officer in charge of 100 men. The New Testament tells us about several of these “centurions” and their connection to early Christianity.

One of them witnessed the crucifixion.

(Mk 15:39 NKJV) So when the centurion, who stood opposite Him, saw that He cried out like this and breathed His last, he said, “Truly this Man was the Son of God!”

:1 Italian Regiment

A regiment was 1/10 of a Legion, or 600 men.

The Romans had men from lots of nationalities serving in their military.

These men were from Italy. They would be an important part of the Roman governor’s rule since he would need soldiers especially loyal to Rome to help him rule over the restless Jews.

:2 a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always.

:2 devouteusebes – pious, dutiful

:2 one who feared God

This was one of the ways that Jews would categorize those Gentiles who worshipped Yahweh, but were not circumcised. They were called “God fearers”.

:2 gave almseleemosune – mercy, pity; a donation to the poor

There was another Roman centurion who had encountered Jesus in the city of Capernaum. This man had a servant who had become ill, and he had requested Jesus to heal his servant.

(Lk 7:4–5 NKJV) —4 And when they came to Jesus, they begged Him earnestly, saying that the one for whom He should do this was deserving, 5 “for he loves our nation, and has built us a synagogue.”
This man had been generous to the Jews as well.

:3 About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, “Cornelius!”

:3 about the ninth hour

Or, 3:00pm.

This also just happens to be the “hour of prayer”, the time of the evening sacrifice for the Jews, the same time that Peter and John went into the temple and healed the lame man (Acts 3).

:4 And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, “What is it, lord?” So he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God.

:4 Your prayers and your alms

God had been touched by this man’s heart for God.

:4 memorialmnemosunon – a memorial (that by which the memory of any person or thing is preserved), a remembrance

:5 Now send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter.

:6 He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea. He will tell you what you must do.”

:6 He will tell you what you must do

The angel isn’t going to give anymore instructions than this. It’s going to be up to Peter to take it from there.


God uses people

God could simply use angels to preach the gospel, and apparently, there will be a day during the Tribulation when this will happen (Rev. 14:6).
But for now, it seems that God’s instrument of choice is simple people, like you and me.
Sometimes we just hope that God would use somebody else to talk to that person we’re concerned about, but what if God has been wanting you to be the one to share with them?

:7 And when the angel who spoke to him had departed, Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier from among those who waited on him continually.

:8 So when he had explained all these things to them, he sent them to Joppa.

:8 he sent them to Joppa

Cornelius is not a man who is shy about his faith in God.

He has two household servants and a soldier who obey their boss’ order to hunt for a man he’s never met.

10:9-16 Peter’s Vision

:9 The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour.

:9 Peter went up on the housetop

Houses typically had something akin to a patio on the roof.

:9 about the sixth hour

Noon. Lunch time.

:10 Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance

:10 he became very hungry

God is going to use Peter’s physical hunger to teach him something.

:11 and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth.

:12 In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air.

:12 all kinds of … animals

As Gentiles, we aren’t all that familiar with the Jewish dietary laws. But to a good Jewish boy (like Peter), there are some animals that are edible, and others that aren’t.

Some of the inedible animals we would readily agree with – like “bats”.

Some of the inedible animals we would not want to stop eating, like pigs (bacon, ham, pork chops) and shrimp.

:13 And a voice came to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.”

:14 But Peter said, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.”

Peter has been a good Jewish boy and has followed the Levitical law.

:14 commonkoinos – common; Levitically unclean

:14 uncleanakarthartos – not cleansed, unclean

:15 And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.”

:15 has cleansedkatharizo – to make clean, cleanse

:15 commonkoinos – common; Levitically unclean

The voice uses the same words that Peter has used, but turns them around.

The things that God has “cleansed” (so they are no longer “unclean”), you should be careful not to call “common”.

:16 This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again.

:16 done three times

A principle in Scripture is that “truth” is determined by two or more witnesses.

(Dt 19:15 NKJV) “One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established.

You will see this in places where a dream is repeated twice
When Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams, it was significant that the theme of the two dreams was repeated. Joseph told Pharaoh:
(Ge 41:32 NKJV) And the dream was repeated to Pharaoh twice because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass.

Peter’s dream is repeated three times. This is something to pay attention to.

We’re going to see that Peter doesn’t quite understand the full implications of this dream. Not yet.

10:17-23 Peter’s Visitors

:17 Now while Peter wondered within himself what this vision which he had seen meant, behold, the men who had been sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate.

:18 And they called and asked whether Simon, whose surname was Peter, was lodging there.

:18 whose surname was Peter

Our English word “surname” refers to your “last name”.

Here is refers to the more “common” name that people used.

We usually know him as “Peter”, but the name he was actually born with was “Simon”

:19 While Peter thought about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are seeking you.

:20 Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them.”

:20 doubtingdiakrino – to separate, make a distinction; hesitate, doubt


A time to trust

There are certainly times when we need to “doubt” or ask questions.
The noun form of this word is diakrisis, the word translated “discernment”.
But there are going to be times when God is leading you and you need to just do what God says to do.
Jesus said this was an important part in prayer, learning to trust God and ask for the things He wants us to ask for.
(Mk 11:23 NKJV) For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.
James said that doubting in prayer only makes you unstable.
(Jas 1:5–7 NKJV) —5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;
Abraham, the father of “faith”, learned to not question the promises of God.
(Ro 4:20 NKJV) He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God,

The word “waver” is this word “doubting”.

There is a time to ask questions beloved.
But there is also a time to trust and do what God is asking you to do.
Peter was willing to put his doubt on the back burner and follow God’s promptings.

:21 Then Peter went down to the men who had been sent to him from Cornelius, and said, “Yes, I am he whom you seek. For what reason have you come?”

:22 And they said, “Cornelius the centurion, a just man, one who fears God and has a good reputation among all the nation of the Jews, was divinely instructed by a holy angel to summon you to his house, and to hear words from you.”

:23 Then he invited them in and lodged them. On the next day Peter went away with them, and some brethren from Joppa accompanied him.

:23 some brethren from Joppa

Peter isn’t going alone. He is going to take some of the believing Jewish men with him.

Remember that up to this time, ALL Christians were Jewish.

Peter is not going to be alone when the important events take place.

We’ll see (11:12) that there are six men accompanying Peter.
(Ac 11:12 NKJV) —12 Then the Spirit told me to go with them, doubting nothing. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house.
It will be important that the events have a significant number of brothers witnessing it.

10:24-33 Peter meets Cornelius

:24 And the following day they entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting for them, and had called together his relatives and close friends.

I find Cornelius’ faith refreshing. He has been instructed by an angel to send for Peter. He fully expects a man named Peter to not only exist, but to come back and share something important with him.

And Cornelius is so excited about this, that he has brought his friends and relatives together to hear as well.

We might think that Cornelius was a little goofy. “Want to come to my house today?” “What for Cornelius?” “To hear what this guy has to say” “What guy?” “A guy named Peter I’ve never met or heard of”.

:25 As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him.

:26 But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I myself am also a man.”

:25 fell down at his feet and worshiped him

worshipedproskuneo – to kiss the hand to (towards) one, by kneeling or prostration to do homage, whether in order to express respect or to make supplication

Peter knows that only God should be worshiped. Peter knows that he isn’t God.


Giving Credit

Sometimes we can fall into the trap of thinking that we’re the brains behind the operation.
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.”
Peter is quick to remember that he’s just an average guy. It’s the Lord who gets the credit for everything.
(Is 42:8a NKJV) I am the Lord, that is My name; And My glory I will not give to another

:27 And as he talked with him, he went in and found many who had come together.

:28 Then he said to them, “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.

:28 God has shown me


Putting it together

Back in verse 15, Peter had been told,
(Ac 10:15 NKJV) …“What God has cleansed you must not call common.”

Remember the words we saw used, “cleansed”, and “common”.

Yet in verse 17 we found that Peter didn’t understand it all … not immediately.
(Ac 10:17 NKJV) Now while Peter wondered within himself what this vision which he had seen meant…
Now Peter gets it.
It often works that way in our lives.
We get little pieces of the puzzle. We wonder what it all means. Then one day the pieces all come together.
Don’t rush it. Don’t force the pieces into place.

:28 I should not call any man common or unclean



This would be a hard thing for someone raised in Judaism.
All of his life, Peter has been taught that Gentiles were unclean.

You don’t spend time with Gentiles. You don’t associate with Gentiles.

For us, it’s a little more subtle, but it’s still there.
When some of us were kids, it was the “hippies” that most people considered “unclean”.

And a lot of hippies were actually pretty dirty.

It took Chuck Smith’s wife Kay to help Chuck realize that God loved the hippies too.

The Jesus Movement began when the “nice” people in church began to love the “unclean”.

Though Jesus spent very little time with Gentiles, He did cross a few lines now and again.
(Mt 9:10–13 NKJV) —10 Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
Today, there are other sorts of people that we might call “unclean”.
Some people still struggle with racial prejudice.
Others have a problem with those in the homosexual community.
Some of us don’t want to spend time with people who are of a different political party than we are.
What does this principle mean that Peter shares?
If God doesn’t want us to call any person “common or unclean”, how does that affect us?
Does that mean that we tolerate or even endorse behavior that is unbiblical?

I think this is where we learn how to love the sinner but hate the sin.

But be careful that your hate for the sin doesn’t cross a line where you never spend any time with “sinners”.

:29 Therefore I came without objection as soon as I was sent for. I ask, then, for what reason have you sent for me?”

:30 So Cornelius said, “Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing,

:31 and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your alms are remembered in the sight of God.

:32 Send therefore to Joppa and call Simon here, whose surname is Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea. When he comes, he will speak to you.’

:33 So I sent to you immediately, and you have done well to come. Now therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God.”

10:34-43 Peter preaches about Jesus

:34 Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality.

:34 God shows no partiality

partialityprosopoleptes – (“face” + “receive”) an acceptor of persons; one who discriminates

This is a truth that the Bible already has been clear about:

(Dt 10:17 NKJV) For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe.

But just how far do you take it? Up to this point Peter would not have even thought it possible that a Gentile person could come to know God.



It’s not easy to deal with prejudice. We have the silliest ideas behind some of 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!”
God is not a respecter of persons. God wants us to be the same.
(Jas 2:1–4 NKJV) —1 My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. 2 For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, 3 and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool,” 4 have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?

Sometimes we tend to be a little nicer to people who might toss us a nickel or two.  Sometimes our prejudice is based on things other than money…

Peter is blown away that God sent an angel to speak to Cornelius.
Peter is learning that since God shows no partiality, he should do the same.

:35 But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.

:36 The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ—He is Lord of all—

The message of salvation came through the Jews. Jesus was Jewish.

But Peter says now that Jesus is Lord of all, even the Gentiles.

:37 that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached:

:38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.

:38 God anointed Jesus

The word “Messiah” means “anointed one”.  Since Cornelius is a “God fearer”, he would have understood the reference.

:39 And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree.

:40 Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly,

:41 not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead.

:37 that word you know

Peter has summarized the life of Jesus.

He begins with the baptism of John and ends with the resurrection of Jesus.
Peter seems pretty sure that Cornelius knows all this.

:42 And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead.

:42 to be Judge of the living and the dead

Jesus not only did all these marvelous things, He is actually the one who will one day be our judge.

You respect the judge.

I was in court a few months ago and watched what happened when a young punk showed up in court not dressed with the proper attire, and sporting a bad attitude to boot.  The judge let the kid have it.  I think he learned his lesson.

:43 To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.”

:43 whoever believes in Him

Forgiveness comes through faith, through believing in Jesus.

Peter is speaking this to a Gentile audience.

Peter is preaching the gospel to Gentiles.


Do you know Him?

Cornelius was a religious man. He knew something about God.
But he didn’t know God.
Today you can come to know God just like Cornelius did.
You can find forgiveness (remission) for your sins.
You simply need to believe in Jesus.

10:44-48 Gentile Spirit Baptism

:44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word.

:44 While Peter was still speaking

Peter has been talking about Jesus, and is apparently interrupted by the Spirit falling on the Gentiles.


No formulas

We've seen Luke record six places when the Holy Spirit has been poured out. Each time God poured out His Spirit, it came in a slightly different manner –
Waiting and prayer (Acts 1:4, 14; 2:1-4)
Prayer (Acts 4:31)
Persecution (Acts 7:55)
Laying on of hands by apostles (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 –

(Jn 7:37–38 NKJV) …“If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will 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 those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.

:46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.

:45 those of the circumcision …were astonished

The Jewish believers that had accompanied Peter were blown away with what was happening.

They were watching Gentiles actually get saved.

:45 the gift of the Holy Spirit

This phrase, along with “the Holy Spirit fell upon” are both phrases used in Acts 2 on the day of Pentecost for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

:46 speak with tongues and magnify God

This was what clued the Jewish believers that the Holy Spirit had fallen on the Gentiles.

Not all speak in tongues when they are baptized with the Spirit, but these Gentiles did speak in tongues.

Note: There was “content” to their tongues. They were giving God praise.

:46 Then Peter answered,

:47 “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?

:48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days.

:48 he commanded them to be baptized

The Samaritans were baptized in water by Philip, and then later were filled with the Holy Spirit.

With Cornelius and his house, they believe and receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit at the same time. When they began to speak with tongues, Peter realized that they had been baptized in the Holy Spirit.

Because they had believed and God had followed their belief by baptizing them in the Holy Spirit, Peter realized that these people had become saved, and so he baptizes them in water as a result.

Note: Baptism follows salvation. Baptism is an outward demonstration of what God has already done on the inside.