An Angel Comes to Cornelius
1At that time there was a Roman military officer, Cornelius, who was in charge of one hundred men stationed in Caesarea. He was the captain of the Italian regiment, # 10:1 Cornelius was a centurion who was in charge of a sixth of a cohort of six hundred men. It seems likely that Cornelius was a gentile who had converted to Judaism. 2a devout man of extraordinary character who worshiped God and prayed regularly, together with all his family. He also had a heart for the poor and gave generously to help them.
3One afternoon about three o’clock, he had an open vision and saw the angel of God appear right in front of him, calling out his name, “Cornelius!”
4Startled, he was overcome with fear by the sight of the angel. He asked, “What do you want, Lord?”
The angel said, “All of your prayers and your generosity to the poor have ascended before God as an eternal offering. # 10:4 Or “as an offering that he remembers.” 5Now, send some men to Joppa at once. Have them find a man named Simon the Rock, # 10:5 Or “Simon, who is also called Peter” (Rock). 6who is staying as a guest in the home of Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea.”
7After the angel left, Cornelius called for two of his servants and a trusted, godly soldier who was his personal attaché. 8He explained to them everything that had just happened and sent them off to Joppa.
9The next day around noon, as Cornelius’ men were approaching Joppa, Peter went up to the flat roof # 10:9 This was common when the house was filled with smoke from the cooking fires. of the house to pray. 10He was hungry and wanted to eat, but while lunch was being prepared he fell into a trance and entered into another realm. # 10:10 The Greek word for “trance” (ekstasis, from which we get the word ecstasy) literally means “to be taken to another place” (state or realm). (See Strong’s Concordance, Gr. 1611.) He was actually taken into another realm as a trance came over him. 11As the heavenly realm opened up, he saw something resembling a large linen tablecloth that descended from above, being let down to the earth by its four corners. 12As it floated down he saw that it held many kinds of four-footed animals, reptiles, and wild birds.
13A voice said to him, “Peter, go and prepare them to be eaten.”
14Peter replied, “There’s no way I could do that, Lord, for I’ve never eaten anything forbidden or impure according to our Jewish laws.”
15The voice spoke again. “Nothing is unclean if God declares it to be clean.” # 10:15 Or “purified.” The meaning of this spiritual vision is this: God has declared every human being to be of special worth and dignity. The entire world needs the gospel. The four corners of the large tablecloth represent the four corners of the earth. The clean animals represent God’s people, the Jews, and the unclean speak of the non-Jewish nations. This encounter helped Peter understand that God was about to send him off with the men who were at the door of the house, even though their religion had been labeled “unclean.”
16The vision was repeated three times. # 10:16 Peter’s history contains a number of threes. Peter denied he knew Jesus three times, the Lord restored Peter by challenging his love three times, and here we have the vision repeated three times. Then suddenly the linen sheet was snatched back up into heaven.
17Peter was so stunned by the vision that he couldn’t stop wondering about what all it meant.
Meanwhile, Cornelius’ men had learned where Peter was staying and at that same moment were standing outside the gate.
18They called out to those in the house, “Is this where Simon, the Rock, # 10:18 Or “Peter.” is staying?”
19-20As Peter was in deep thought, trying to interpret the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Go downstairs now, for three men are looking for you. Don’t hesitate to go with them, # 10:19–20 Or “Don’t let prejudice keep you from going with them.” The Aramaic is literally “Don’t be divided” (in your soul). because I have sent them.”
21Peter went downstairs to the men and said, “I believe I’m the one you’re looking for. What brings you here?”
22They answered, “We serve Cornelius, a Roman military captain, who sent us to find you. He is a devout man of the highest integrity who worships # 10:22 Or “fears God.” God and is respected throughout the Jewish community. He was divinely instructed through the appearance of an angel to summon you to his home and to listen to the message that you would bring him.”
23Peter invited them to stay for the night as his guests. The next morning they departed, accompanied by some of the believers from Joppa.
24The next day they arrived in Caesarea, where Cornelius was waiting anxiously for them and had gathered together all of his relatives and close friends. 25The moment Peter walked in the door, Cornelius fell at his feet to worship him. 26But Peter pulled him to his feet and said, “Stand up, for I’m only a man and no different from you.”
27They talked together and then went inside, where Peter found a large gathering waiting to hear his words.
28Peter said to them, “You all know that it is against the Jewish laws for me to associate with or even visit the home of one who is not a Jew. Yet God has shown me that I should never view anyone as inferior # 10:28 Or “forbidden.” or ritually unclean. 29So when you sent for me, I came without objection. # 10:29 The Aramaic is “I was destined to come to you.” Now, may I ask why you sent for me?”
30Cornelius replied, “Four days ago I was fasting # 10:30 As translated from the Aramaic. The Greek has no mention of Cornelius fasting. and praying here in my home at this very hour, three o’clock in the afternoon, when a man in glistening clothing suddenly appeared in front of my eyes. 31He said, ‘Cornelius, God has heard your prayers. Your generosity to the poor has been recorded and remembered in God’s presence. # 10:31 The Aramaic is “Your acts of righteousness are offerings before God.” 32However, you must send for a man named Simon, the Rock, who is staying in Joppa as a guest of Simon the tanner, who lives by the sea.’ 33So I immediately sent my men to bring you here—and you were kind enough to come. And now, here we are, all of us in God’s presence, anxious to hear the message that God has put into your heart to share with us.”
34Peter said, “Now I know for certain that God doesn’t show favoritism with people # 10:34 The Aramaic is “God is not the God of hypocrites.” but treats everyone on the same basis. # 10:34 The Greek is “God is not one who receives masks (faces).” God doesn’t treat us according to externalities but according to what is in our hearts. 35It makes no difference what race of people one belongs to. If they show deep reverence for God, and are committed to doing what’s right, they are acceptable before him. 36God sent his word to the Jewish people first, # 10:36 The Aramaic is “For the Living Expression was the inheritance of the Jewish people.” announcing the wonderful news of hope and peace # 10:36 Or by inference, “peace with God through Jesus Christ.” Only the Aramaic has “hope and peace.” through Jesus, the Anointed One, the Lord of all. # 10:36 The Aramaic is “who is Master Yahweh of all.” That is, Jesus is Lord, not just for the Jewish people but for all people groups. The Aramaic is “who is Master Yahweh of all.” 37You are well aware of all that began in Galilee and spread throughout the land of Israel immediately after John preached his message of baptism.
38“Jesus of Nazareth was anointed by God with the Holy Spirit and with great power. He did wonderful things for others and divinely healed all who were under the tyranny of the devil, # 10:38 The Greek word for “devil” can also be translated “slanderer-liar.” for God had anointed him. 39We apostles were eyewitnesses to all the miracles # 10:39 Or “things.” By inference, the miracles of healing and deliverance. that he performed throughout the land of Israel. Finally, in Jerusalem, he was crucified on a cross, # 10:39 Or “hung him on a tree and killed him.” See Deut. 21:23. 40but God raised him from the dead three days later, allowing him to be seen openly. # 10:40 As translated from the Aramaic. 41He didn’t appear to everyone, but he appeared to us, his chosen witnesses. He actually ate and drank with us # 10:41 The word sumpino means “to drink together.” It is used only here in the New Testament and refers to being refreshed by drinking the after-dinner wine together. Jesus celebrated with his disciples after his resurrection. He still longs to celebrate with us today. after he rose from the dead! # 10:41 See Luke 24:35–49.
42“Jesus ordered us to preach and warn the people # 10:42 Or “He commanded us to tell everyone the command.” that God had appointed him to be the judge of the living and the dead. 43And not only us, but all of the prophets agree in their writings that everyone who believes in him receives complete forgiveness # 10:43 Or “cancellation.” of sins through the power of his name.”
The Holy Spirit Falls
44While Peter was speaking, the Holy Spirit cascaded over all those listening to his message. 45The Jewish brothers who had accompanied Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out on people who weren’t Jews, 46for they heard them speaking in supernaturally given languages and passionately praising God. # 10:46 This is the gentile Pentecost as the Holy Spirit fell on gentile believers for the first time, imparting to them the gift of tongues.
47Peter said, “How could anyone object to these people being baptized? For they have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” 48So he instructed them to be baptized in the power of the name of Jesus, the Anointed One.
After their baptism, they asked Peter to stay with them for a few more days. # 10:48 At last the gospel broke through and penetrated into the non-Jewish cultures and people groups. The Holy Spirit was now uniting Jewish believers and non-Jewish believers into one mystical body of Christ on the earth. Because of this, there would no longer be a distinction between Jew and non-Jew, but one family of believers formed by faith in Jesus Christ. See Gal. 3:26–29. The three conversions of the Ethiopian dignitary in ch. 8, Saul of Tarsus in ch. 9, and the Roman officer Cornelius in ch. 10 prove the power of the gospel of God. One could view these three represent all of the sons of Noah: Ham (Ethiopian), Shem (Saul), and Japheth (the Roman Cornelius). A black man, a Jew, and a gentile were converted!