Copied from the sermon notes of Pastor Don Elmore
April 25, 2021
Scripture Reading: Acts 10:1-2:
1) “There was a certain man in Caesarea, called Cornelius, a Centurion of the band called the Italian band,
2) A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.”
There was an interesting story about one of the three Black Lives Matter leaders that was exposed by other members of Black Lives Matter. Patrisse Cullors, 37, has bought an expensive property in Topanga Canyon in California. The district in which the BLM founder will now live is 88% white and 1.8% black. Critics accused her of abandoning her social justice and activist roots.
Social media has silenced some of the negative viewpoints that emerged that BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors, a self-professed ‘trained Marxist’, had purchased the $1.4 million house in Los Angeles. The New York Post reported Cullors had also bought two other L. A. homes in recent years and paid $415,000 for a 3.2-acre property in Georgia.
Cullors, who grew up very poor, founded Black Lives Matter with Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi (two other queers) in 2013, in response to the acquittal of George Zimmerman, who killed Trayvon Martin. It is unclear where Cullors got all this money, but the fact that BLM received over 90 million dollars in the last year (2020) makes it very suspicious that the leaders got most of the donations, not the organization.
Cullors grew up as a Jehovah’s Witness, a group she came to despise, and which helped set her on a bad spiritual path. She rails against the fact that all the Elders in the congregation were men. She denounces the group today as full of “vulgar hypocrisy.” She left the doors of the Kingdom Hall permanently behind: “I set out to find God, to find my spirit, to find myself.”
Where she went is unconventional. Recently a striking video clip emerged from a June 2020 interview between Cullors and Melina Abdullah, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, discussing the role that “spirituality” plays in the movement.
[Any Christian who supports BLM should reread the previous sentence.]
She called BLM a “spiritual movement,” and she and Abdullah discussed spirit-raising. “We become very intimate with the spirits that we call on regularly,” Abdullah said. “Right, like, each of them seems to have a different presence and personality. You know, I laugh a lot with Wakiesha, you know, and I didn’t meet her in her body. Right, I met her through this work.” Cullors responded by explaining how she has been empowered by these spirits and how the BLM ritual to “say his (or her) name” is not merely a mantra but also an appeal to deceased spirits.
[Black Live Matters is a spiritual entity. The founders look to, talk to and are empowered by evil spirits. They discuss how they appeal to the deceased spirits of former friends and ancestors. This is anti-Christian to the core.]
This spiritual curiosity has been widely discussed online, particularly among BLM critics. But it’s not the first time that Cullors opened up on this subject. She wrote about the faith of her and her “cisgender” husband in her memoirs:
“Both of us [Cullors and her “cisgender” husband] live in the tradition of Ifa, the African spiritual practice that originated with the Yoruba people of Nigeria at least 8,000 years ago.”
[So, if the Yoruba of Nigeria have been around for over 8,000 years, they couldn’t be the descendants of Adam and Eve, could they?]
“The tradition is earth-centered and is balanced by these three: Olodumare, Orisha and Ancestors. Our Supreme Being is known as Olodumare and is without gender. Olodumare is benevolent, not the vengeful, angry God I grew up with. Olodumare does not interfere with the affairs of humans. Rather, Olodumare has provided us with a Universe, with all that is needed to create joy and peace — if we so choose it.
In Ifa we believe that all living beings, all elements of Nature, are interdependent and possessing of soul. Rocks. Flowers. Rivers. Clouds. Thunder. The Wind. These energies are called Orisha and it is these Orisha with whom we are in direct contact, whether we know it or not.
[This is anti-Christian to the core.]
In Ifa, we also recognize and believe that our Ancestors are always with us and must be honored and acknowledged. They are part of what both grounds and guides us, and to understand them, we undertake a process of Divination, readings that help us understand that our purpose and destiny are based on the wisdom of the Orishas and the Ancestors. Cullors is married to a transgendered woman. Enough said.
[There is nothing Christian about Black Lives Matter, Inc. They worship evil spirits, nature and their Ancestors. They don’t worship our ancestors, just theirs. And they certainly don’t worship Jesus the Christ.]
The Communist media will never post this picture of Duante Wright, the thirteen-year-old that was shot and killed in Minnesota. He was being arrested for an outstanding arrest warrant in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. After a brief struggle with officers, Wright was shot, and then drove off but crashed his vehicle into another and hit a concrete barrier. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Here he is in a the photo that he put on his own social media.
By far the most important event on the Apostle Peter’s missionary journey was the conversion of Cornelius. Cornelius was a Roman army officer, stationed in Caesarea. This city had been rebuilt by Herod [an Edomite] and was named in honor of Caesar Augustus. It was the chief port of Palestine and the official Roman capital of the provinces of Judea and Samaria. There the Roman governor had his headquarters.
He was in Jerusalem, usually, only during the feasts. The Italian Cohort, made up largely of freedmen, was probably a special detachment of troops, to be used by the governor to put down disorders that might arise among the Judeans.
Cornelius, weary of Roman paganism, had been worshipping the God of Israel, but was missing something. Verse two describes him as “devout”, a “God-fearer”, a “giver of alms”, and “prayerful” to Almighty God. In fact, his “whole house feared God.” Who was this special man? What race was he? What was unusual about this situation?
God sent an angel to Cornelius with instructions that told him what he was to do. The angel told him to contact the Apostle Peter and invite him to come to his house in Caesarea. But there was a gigantic problem. The Apostle was in Joppa and his people were forbidden to fellowship or keep company with uncircumcised unbelievers. How was a circumcised Judahite Israelite to come to an uncircumcised person’s house?
3) “He saw in a vision evidently, about the ninth hour of the day [3 o’clock in the afternoon, our time], an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius.
4) And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.
5) And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter.
6) He lodgeth with one Simon a Tanner, whose house is by the Sea side; he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.”
In his vision, Cornelius was directed to send to Joppa for the Apostle Peter. God told Cornelius that Peter would tell him what his next steps were. Cornelius had the first vision.
Where is Joppa? How far away was Joppa from Caesarea? How long would it take the messengers to get there? It is about the same distance from Hamilton, Ohio to Florence, Kentucky. It was 30 miles to the south along the coast and it would take a good two days to go to Joppa. Round trip would take four days. Remember, there were no automobiles, buses, trains or taxis.
7) “And when the angel which spake unto Cornelius, was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually.
8) And when he had declared all these things unto them, he sent them[the three men] to Joppa.
9) On the morrow as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the house to pray, about the sixth hour [that would be noon our time].
10) And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: But while they made ready, he fell into a trance,
11) And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet, knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth:
12) Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fouls of the air.”
The form in which Peter’s vision (the second one in the series which was repeated three times) came was very natural under the circumstances. The great sheet may have been suggested to him by the sails on the boats in the harbor. Joppa was located on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Notice, that Peter fell into a trance.
And the animals, to be eaten, may have been suggested by the fact that it was noon and Peter was hungry. But the essential message of the vision was contrary to all his past conditioning and training. The animals in the sheet were unclean; that is, they were animals that the Law of Moses forbade the Israelites to eat:
- Leviticus 11, and
- Deuteronomy 14.
Three men were sent by Cornelius to find Peter who was lodging at the house of Simon the Tanner. At the time of their arrival (it took them two days to get to Joppa from Caesarea), Peter fell into a trance and this supernatural vision was shown to him three times. What did it all mean?
13) “And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter: kill, and eat.
14) But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.
15) And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.
16) This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven.
17) Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen, should mean: behold, the [three] men which were sent from Cornelius, had made inquiry, for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate,
18) And called, and asked whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were lodged there.”
Was Peter refuted in the vision for refusing to obey the command to not eat unclean animals? No, he wasn’t. He was told in a reply: “What God has cleansed; you must not call common.” What was it that God had cleansed? Was it the unclean animals or was it something else that was represented by the unclean animals? Why did the vision occur while the three uncircumcised men were inquiring where Peter was staying?
Three times the command came. And three times Peter refused. Peter said that he had never eaten any unclean animals; that would be pig, hog (swine), catfish, rabbit, squirrel, shrimp, camel, snake, rats, snails, etc.
If that was the meaning of the lesson, why didn’t the angelic voice tell him that what God had prohibited His people to eat for thousands of years had now changed. It was okay for them to now eat unclean animals. And what did Cornelius’ vision have to do with this?
But the voice did not say this. And why was this vision given at the same time the men from Cornelius arrived at his lodging? Peter was perplexed at the meaning! What did it mean?
And if it meant that Peter was now allowed to eat unclean animals, how did showing this private vision to Peter help all the other Israelites in the world learn that they were now permitted to eat the unclean animals? They still thought that they were forbidden to eat pig, for example; when would the rest of the Israelites get the supposed message that Peter just received?
Most of the Israelites were scattered throughout Europe, the middle east, and Africa. It would be a long, long time before the news got to them. Even to the Israelites living in Judea, it would be a while as Peter was told to go to Caesarea and to be with formerly “unclean” men. He told no one that the vision taught that they were now allowed to eat unclean animals for he was going to men who had eaten unclean animals for about 10 centuries! It would have been a very ineffective way to get the message out to the rest of the Israelites.
19) “While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee.
20) Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them.
21) Then Peter went down to the [three] men, which were sent unto him from Cornelius, and said, Behold, I am he, whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come?
22) And they said, Cornelius the Centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews [Judeans], was warned from God by an holy angel, to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee.
23) Then called he them in, and lodged them: And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren [six men] from Joppa accompanied him. [10 men made the journey from Joppa to Caesarea.]
24) And the morrow after they entered into Caesarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends.
25) And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him.
26) But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up, I myself also am a man.
27) And as he talked with him, he went in, and found many that were come together.
28) And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Judean, to keep company or come unto one of another nation: but God hath shewed me, that I should not call any man common or unclean.”
Verse 28 is the very heart of the explanation of Peter’s vision. It was against God’s law for anyone of Judea to keep company or go to one of another nation. But the Lord God, in a special vision, showed Peter that he should not call any “man” common or unclean. There had been a big change!
THREE MAIN INTERPRETATIONS
There are three main interpretations among Christendom with very different meanings. Here are the three most common views:
- Uncleans foods are now permitted for all the individuals in the world to now eat:
I got this from the “gotquestions.org” website:
“Question: ‘What does the Bible say about what foods we should eat (kosher)? Are there foods a Christian should avoid?’
Answer: ‘Leviticus chapter 11 lists the dietary restrictions God gave to the nation of Israel. The dietary laws included prohibitions against eating pork, shrimp, shellfish and many types of seafood, most insects, scavenger birds, and various other animals. The dietary rules were never intended to apply to anyone other than the Israelites.’”
[This last sentence is correct! But who are the Israelites? This website does not tell its readers who they are.]
The website continues. “The purpose of the food laws was to make the Israelites distinct from all other nations. After this purpose had ended, Jesus declared all foods clean (Mark 7:19).”
[So, they say that Israel was no longer to be distinct from all the other nations. All the nations were just assimilated, I guess. They do not provide any Scripture for this reason; they just say that it is so.
Therefore, since Israel was no longer to be distinct from all the other nations, there was no need for the unclean food laws. All the different races of the world are now equal. So, Jesus declared all unclean foods clean. This time they have part of one verse from the Bible to prove their point and then their view of what it means. The Scripture given in Mark 7:19, if you click on the blue, the following comes up on your computer:]
“19 since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he [referring to Jesus] declared all foods clean.)”
[But I thought they had just said that the dietary laws were given to the nation of Israel only. So, the non-Israelites have always eaten whatever they wanted. They could eat bats, rodents, kangaroos, elephants, camels, pigs, hogs, catfish, shrimp, clams, etc. Peter’s vision would be for the Israelites only. It would not be for the non-Israelites that Peter was going to speak to. That is their position. So, what is the purpose of the vision?
Mark 7, talks about what enters not the heart, but a person’s stomach and is expelled? This scripture, which they used, is part of a parable that Jesus gave. Verse 19 is part of His answer that He gave only to His disciples after He was alone with them in the house. The parable was about what defiles a man; not what foods were unclean.]
The gotanswers.org website goes on and says, “God gave the apostle Peter a vision in which He declared that formerly unclean animals could be eaten: ‘Do not call anything impure that God has made clean’:
15 And the voice came to him again a second time, ‘What God has made clean, do not call common.’”
[Well, if that is correct, why did Peter get a third vision of the sheet of unclean animals at the exact time the three men, who had been sent by Cornelius had arrived, at where Peter was living? Did these two events have any connection with each other? Peter was perplexed by the three visions that he had just seen.
In verse 28, Peter said, “Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Judean to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any MAN common or unclean.”
They don’t mention this verse, at all, in their answer. I wonder why they didn’t; no, I don’t. For if they had used it, it would destroy their false position. What “men” God had cleansed are totally ignored by the interpreters of these verses.]
The website continues, “When Jesus died on the cross, He fulfilled the Old Testament law (Romans 10:4; Galatians 3:24-26; Ephesians 2:15). This includes the laws regarding clean and unclean foods.
Romans 10:4: “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”
Galatians 3:24: “So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.
25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian,
26 For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.”
Ephesians 2:15: “By abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace.”
[Do these three sets of Scriptures have anything to do with clean and unclean animals? Ephesians, chapter 2, is used wrongly for so many of their false doctrines. It is just used, with no explanation, to show that the commandment, which was for Israel only (remember), is now done away. And the two are now one. No explanation of who the two are and who the one is?
The common belief that Jesus nailed the Law of God to the cross on which He was crucified, which included the law of clean and unclean meats, is not approved, but is refuted in Acts 10. Ten years after everything had supposedly been nailed to the cross, Peter said,
“. . . Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean” (Acts 10:14).
Peter did not believe the Law of God had been “done away.” He was still obeying the commands regarding clean and unclean animals! Ephesians has nothing to do with the law of clean and unclean meats. It has to do with the sacrificial ordinances, that were done away; not the entire Law of God!
But this interpretation says that everyone can eat whatever they want. That includes all Jews and Gentiles. There are no restrictions on clean and unclean animals. But this interpretation has many loopholes and falsehoods. It is arrived at by just reading with no thought, and assuming how it affects other scriptures. Three unknown messengers being sent by Cornelius to the Apostle Paul was the heart of the meaning of the vision. And who was Cornelius and his relatives and friends that were awaiting the Apostle to come and preach to them? We should totally reject this interpretation as it totally ignores to answer these questions.]
- Salvation became, for the first time in history, available to the Gentiles:
This popular interpretation of these verses is what is commonly believed in modern-day Christendom. The believers of this interpretation rightfully understand that the vision had the answer to the Holy Spirit’s voice, saying,
“Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them.”
Peter makes the journey north to Caesarea, with the three men sent from Cornelius, arriving at the house of the Roman ruler. As Peter enters, he finds a gathering of Cornelius’ relatives and close friends eagerly awaiting the divine message which God was going to speak through Peter.
After awkward introductions, Peter begins by telling them about the meaning of the vision God gave to him while on the roof while he prayed in Joppa. Peter tells those listening the true meaning of his divine vision – “God has shown me that I should not call any MAN common or unclean.” It is that Man is no longer common or unclean; not the animals.
But the error that they make in their interpretation is that they say that Peter said that it was all humans that were unclean but are now common; not all men who were at one time clean, became unclean but are now common. They fail to recognize that “man” is the same word as “Adam”. It is limited in the Bible to the Adamic race; the Bible does not call everyone on the earth “man”. Remember, one of the founders of Black Lives Matter, Cullors said that she is descended from the Yoruba tribe in Nigeria which is at least 8,000 years old. The descendants of this tribe are not called “men” in the Bible; nor were they descendants of Adam.
But the individuals who have this interpretation, say that the purpose and meaning of Peter’s vision are quite plainly that Peter (and all Jews) should no longer believe that Gentiles coming to faith in the God of Israel are unclean (unacceptable by God) or common (unholy). The reality is, that God has, in fact, accepted Gentiles coming to faith in Him without the need for them to undergo a man-made ritual conversion to become a legal Jew.
This idea of Gentiles being unclean (unacceptable) was so ingrained in Jewish thought, that Judaism of the day deemed it to be ‘unlawful’ for a Jew to associate with or enter the house of a Gentile. Therefore, when Peter enters the house of Cornelius he says: “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation” (Acts 10:28).
Peter then turns his attention back to his host – Cornelius the Gentile – and asks “So when I was sent for, I came without objection. I ask then why you sent for me?” (v. 29).But was it a Gentile seeking Jews, or was it someone else that was demonstrated by the vision?
This interpretation is the basis of Judeo-Christian theology. They identify that after the death of Jesus, the dynamics changed. It was no longer the Jews who were God’s people, but it was now the Jews and the Gentiles who are God’s holy people. Peter’s vision gave them the hope of a scripture which would show that their interpretation is correct.
But is it? Did Peter’s vision tell him that all the individuals of the world, including the descendants of Cain, the Canaanites, the Edomites, the Ammonites, etc. are now clean? It should be rejected because it lacks any Biblical support and teaches opposite the laws of God.
- The unclean animals represented the unclean House of Israel:
Is it correct or incorrect that Peter and his relatives were Jews and Cornelius and his relatives were Gentiles, i.e. non-Jews? If it is true, then the universalists have the Scriptural verses which teach that after the death, burial and resurrection of the Savior, the Gentiles were given the opportunity to be saved, just like the Jews were. But, it doesn’t. They both never had the opportunity – for they were enemies of our LORD and His followers.
But if it doesn’t mean Jews and Gentiles, then what did this vision mean? Just at the exact moment, when Peter was greatly perplexed, he heard men below calling his name, asking if he was staying there. The Spirit assured him that this was no accident: the vision and the messengers were connected; he must go with them.
- What hesitations did he have to overcome to invite the uncircumcised men in for the night?
- What misgivings did he have as he journeyed with these three uncircumcised men for two days on the road to Caesarea?
- What sermon would he bring to this unusual group of uncircumcised men?
- What made this meeting so special that Peter had to have a vision given three times?
- Why did Peter think to take six brethren from Joppa as witnesses? (Acts 11:12). These witnesses would be needed later.
The word “another” in “another nation” (v. 28) refers to people of the same kind. “Nation” here is phulos and not ethnos or demos which are often translated as “nation” and “people”. The distinction is noted by Vine under “nation” and refers to allos (another), and phulon (a tribe). If Cornelius and his relatives were non-Israelites, then the word phulos would not have been used.
The key to understanding Peter’s vision is to know that it was unlawful for a Judean to keep company or come unto one of another nation. Israel was to be a separate nation.
The two Houses had been two different kingdoms for over 1,000 years, the last 700 years they were separated by many miles from each other, except for the royalty. The House of Israel had been divorced by God for over 700 years. They were cut off from the covenant. They had been taken in captivity and separated from Palestine for centuries. They had “no hope.”
The House of Judah, headquartered at Jerusalem, were circumcised; the House of Israel were not. The House of Israel were separated from the anointed, were aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise. The House of Israel ate unclean foods and kept different feast days. The House of Israel were unclean. There had been no fellowship between the two kingdoms for almost a millennium. The two houses were forbidden to fellowship with each other. But now that was suddenly changed!
This is what Peter’s vision was to show. Peter needed something to tell him that a magnificent change had just occurred. The obstacles that kept the two kingdoms apart had been removed. Jesus, the sacrifice for both kingdoms, had cleansed, not the unclean animals that Peter had never eaten; but had cleansed the unclean and uncircumcised people that were represented as the House of Israel by the unclean animals in Peter’s vision.
Peter rightfully was reluctant to go to men of another nation, until they had been made clean. What Peter’s vision showed him, was that Cornelius and his kin had been cleansed. Peter could not only have the three men stay at his house, but he was now allowed to travel the two days to see their master and his family and friends. Why? Because they used to be unclean (for over seven centuries), but now were made clean by the death and resurrection of our Savior. The two houses had become one house again.
Peter gives his sermon where he tells that he and the other disciples were commissioned by God to go to the “Gentiles”; i.e., the House of Israel and preach the “gospel of the kingdom” to them, too. It was the first time in over 700 years that anyone from the House of Judah would be preaching to any one from the House of Israel.
That is what the universalist misses, either intentionally or deceptively. It is the two kingdoms, the House of Judah and the House of Israel that are the subject of the vision; not that the Jews and the Gentiles or the unclean animals.
It is not that Peter was preaching to any one of all the different races, but Peter was preaching to his brothers, who had been separated from the House of Judah for over ten centuries. Kind of reminds one of the story of Joseph and the rest of his family.
For this to be true, it meant that Cornelius and his kinfolk had to be from the House of Israel. The Christian world today cites Cornelius as being the opposite -- a “Gentile” or a non-Israelite. The place of birth, or citizenship tells us nothing about his race. But this man’s race can be determined from Scripture, even if he is not described as a Judean. In the AV of Acts 10:28, Cornelius is of another nation but, the Greek text uses the word allophulos which is a compound of all [another of the same kind], and pholus [a kindred tribe].
Cornelius was a devout man, we are told, and he feared God, therefore he was one who could believe. According to Vine, devout means careful as to the presence and claims of God. So, Cornelius knew the Old Testament claims of God upon Israel. We do not find devout being used of people other than Israelites. Also, he fears “God” and he prayed to the God and was heard by the God. He was not a person that had no ability to hear God’s words.
“God” here is ho theos, the term used to denote the one true God. So, Cornelius and his kin were not Roman polytheists! They were Israelites, from the House of Israel!
Quite a reception awaited Peter and his party at Caesarea. Cornelius had assembled his kinsmen and friends. When Peter entered, Cornelius attempted to worship him by bowing down to him, but Peter prevented him. Peter told him to get up for they both were men.
The Roman Catholics ignore this verse of scripture and do not comment on it. Their “first pope” did not act like most popes in history. If a person falls at his feet worshipping him, all popes expect that to happen. But Peter, who was never a pope, acted in a converse way. He told Cornelius to get up for he was just a man as he was.
Upon seeing the large crowd of the formerly divorced, cut off from the commonwealth of Israel, Peter’s prejudice rose to his throat, and he felt compelled to say that he was present only by the direct revelation of God. He had come to understand at least that the animals in his vision signified men, his brothers, not animals (v. 28).
29) “Therefore came I unto you without gainsaying, as soon as I was sent for. I ask therefore, for what intent ye have sent for me.
30) And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour, and at the ninth hour [ 3 PM] I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing,
31) And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God.
32) Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter; he is lodged in the house of one Simon a Tanner, by the sea side, who when he cometh, shall speak unto thee.
33) Immediately therefore I sent to thee, and thou hast well done, that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.”
Cornelius recounted the vision which led him to send for Peter. He concluded: “Now therefore we are all here present in the sight of God, to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord.” Any preacher would be humbled to be so addressed by his congregation.
God had worked both sides in this occasion. He gave Cornelius instructions by a vision and He gave Peter a vision to accept Cornelius’ invitation. Both men followed the instructions that they were given by Almighty God.
34) “Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:
35) But in every nation, he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him.
36) The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all.)
37) That word, I say, you know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached:
38) How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost, and with power, who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil: for God was with him.
39) And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Judeans, and in Jerusalem, whom they slew and hanged on a tree,
40) Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly,
41) Not to all the people, but unto witnesses, chosen before of God, even to us who did eat and drink with Him after He rose from the dead.
42) And He commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is He which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.
43) To Him give all the Prophets witness, that through his Name whosoever believeth in him, shall receive remission of sins.”
Moved by Cornelius’ evident sincerity, Peter preaches an eloquent sermon. In some ways this is the most important of all the examples of the apostolic preaching in Acts. After confessing from this experience about the impartiality of God, Peter states the essential facts about Jesus as follows:
- John the Baptist preached about and baptized Jesus,
- God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power,
- Jesus went about Galilee [not Jerusalem], doing good, healing, casting out demons,
- God sent the word to the children of Israel,
- Jesus went to Jerusalem, where the Edomites were ruling,
- They [meaning the Edomite Jews] crucified Jesus [hanged Him on a tree, not a single cross];
- God raised Jesus on the third day;
- Then the chosen disciples saw Jesus and ate with Him;
- Jesus commanded them to preach to both the Judeans and the House of Israel and be a witness for Him.
Anyone who is reasonably familiar with the Gospel of Mark will immediately recognize that this is Mark’s outline. Our oldest Gospel may well be described as an expansion of Peter’s sermon.
Peter not only tells the straightforward story of Jesus, but he indicates something of its theological significance. Jesus is:
- Lord of all;
- The One ordained by God to be the judge of all the living and the dead;
- The fulfillment of all the prophecies;
- The One through whose name forgiveness may be received by both houses of Israel.
Now there are no exceptions!
The prophets did not witness or prophesy of redemption and remission of sins for all races. Evidently it is thought that they should have, according to the common popular doctrine. The prophets were giving witness about Jesus and Israel.”
44) “While Peter yet spake these words, the holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.
45) And they of the circumcision [men of the House of Judah] which believed, were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles [uncircumcised men of the House of Israel] also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.
46) For they heard them speak with tongues [languages], and magnify God. Then answered Peter,
47) Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the holy Ghost, as well as we?
48) And He commanded them to be baptized in the Name of the Lord. Then prayed they Him to tarry certain days.”
The Holy Spirit “fell on” the House of Israel. This type of event had not happened for over 700 years. Verse 46 leaves no doubt that the outward form of this “falling” of the Holy Spirit was speaking in tongues (languages). This is the second of three exceptional cases where water-baptism and Spirit-baptism are separated in Acts. The Holy Spirit, this time, fell upon the hearers of God’s word before they experienced water baptism, after being divorced for over seven centuries. It was a Magnificat event. The unclean had been made clean. Verse six gives the answer to the mystery of Christ in verse three:
6) “That the Gentiles [The 10 tribes of Israel] should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ by the gospel:”
Finally, the circumcised men of Judah in Jerusalem were not convinced what the Apostle Peter had done in Caesarea was correct. He had lodged and gone with and preached to uncircumcised men. There were discussions and arguments about what had happened. (Acts 11-15).
There were no discussions about the unclean food laws that were supposedly eliminated. It was about the two Houses coming back together again. But that is where the six witnesses played a important part. They were witnesses to the fact that the House of Israel received the Holy Spirit and began to talk in different languages the same way that House of Judah had. When the men of Judah heard this, they became convinced that Peter had acted correctly.
Think about it…700 years…7 centuries ago it was the 1300s. What would we think if that happened in our day? Would we need a vision like Peter received too? Instead of it being given three times, it might have to be given twenty times!
Blessed be the LORD God of Israel.