There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band,Acts 10:1-2. There was a certain man in Cesarea — That is, Cesarea of Palestine, (of which see note on Acts 8:40,) where Philip had been and preached before, and where, therefore, the doctrine of salvation by faith in Christ was not quite unknown. It had been preached, however, by him, as it was now at Jerusalem and elsewhere, only to the Jews, Samaritans, and such Gentiles as were circumcised, and complete proselytes to Judaism. But God was now determined to open a way for the publication of it to the uncircumcised Gentiles, and to admit them into his church by baptism, on the terms of true repentance and faith in Christ, without obliging them to be circumcised, or proselyted to the Jewish religion. This remarkable change in the economy of divine grace toward mankind; this discovery of the gospel to the Gentiles; and the bringing of them, who had been strangers and foreigners: to be fellow-citizens with the saints and of the household of God, without laying them under any obligation of observing the ceremonial law, was such a mystery to the apostles themselves, and such a surprise, (Ephesians 3:3; Ephesians 3:6,) that it concerns us carefully to observe all the circumstances of the beginning of this great work, this part of the mystery of godliness, Christ preached to the Gentiles, and believed on in the world, 1 Timothy 3:16. No doubt, before this time, some Gentiles had occasionally entered into the synagogues of the Jews, which Christ and his apostles continually visited, and had heard the gospel preached by them; but the gospel had not yet been designedly preached to the uncircumcised Gentiles, nor had any of them been baptized; the person here mentioned was the first. Of the conversion of this man, the first-fruits of the Gentiles in the Christian Church, we are here presented with a most interesting and edifying account. We are informed that before his conversion, although a Roman soldier, (a centurion, or commander of one hundred men, in what was called the Italian band, or cohort, the soldiers composing it, it seems, being Italians,) and although an uncircumcised heathen: he was a devout man — A man of real piety, as ευσεβης, the expression here used, signifies; one that feared God — Who believed in the one living and true God, the Creator of heaven and earth, reverenced his glory and authority, and had a dread of offending him by sin. Yea, he feared him with all his house — Had not an idolater or profane person in his family; but took care that not himself only, but all his, should serve the Lord. He was also a very charitable man, one who gave much alms to the people — Namely, the people of the Jews, notwithstanding the singularities of their religion. Though he was a Gentile, he was ready to contribute to the relief of any one that was a real object of charity, whatever his religious sentiments or mode of worship might be. Add to this, he spent much time in prayer; yea, he prayed to God alway — Living continually in the spirit of prayer; and having, and constantly observing, stated times for prayer in private and in his family, esteeming it an important part of his daily business and pleasure to employ himself in such sacred exercises. Observe, reader, wherever the fear of God rules in the heart it will show itself in works both of piety and charity; both equally necessary, and neither of which will excuse our neglecting the other.
A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.
He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius.Acts 10:3-6. He saw — At a time, it seems, when engaged in secret devotion; in a vision — Not in a trance, like Peter; evidently — Φανερως, manifestly and plainly, so as to leave him, though not accustomed to things of this kind, no room to suspect any imposition; about the ninth hour — That is, about three in the afternoon, which, being the hour of evening sacrifice, was chosen by him as a proper season for his devotion; an angel of God — Known to be such by the brightness of his countenance and the manner of his coming in to him: and saying, Cornelius — Calling him by his name, to intimate the particular notice God took of him. And when he looked on him — Ατενισας αυτω, having fixed his eyes on him; he was afraid — And no wonder, for the wisest and best of men have been struck with fear upon the appearance of any extraordinary messenger from heaven; and said, What is it, Lord? — As if he had said, What can this mean? for the words seem to be a sudden exclamation, and prayer to God to preserve him, and let him know what was the design of so astonishing an appearance. And he (the angel) said, Thy prayers, and thine alms — With which they have been attended; have come up for a memorial before God — Far more pleasing to him than the most fragrant incense. And dare any man say, then, that these were only splendid sins? or that they were an abomination before God? And yet it is certain, in the Christian sense, Cornelius was then an unbeliever. He had not then faith in Christ. So certain it is, that every one who seeks faith in Christ, should seek it in prayer and doing good to all men. And now — Adds the angel, since God is about to give thee a very singular proof of his love, by discovering things to thee which it is of the highest importance thou shouldst know; send, therefore, to Joppa, and call for one Simon, &c.; he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do — Two things here are remarkable, and worthy of particular attention: 1st, Cornelius is influenced continually by the fear of God; from that principle he prays and gives alms; is religious himself, and maintains religion in his family. And all this he does in such a manner as to be accepted of God therein. Nevertheless, it is now necessary he should do something further; he must embrace the Christian religion, God having now established it among men. Not, he might do this if he pleased, and it would be an improvement of his religion; but, he must do it, his doing it is indispensably necessary to his acceptance with God for the future. He that had believed the promise of the Messiah, must now believe the performance of that promise. Now God having given a further record concerning his Son than what had been given in the Old Testament prophecies, he requires men to receive that record when it is brought to them; and unless they do so, neither their prayers nor their alms can any longer come up for a memorial before him. Prayers and alms are indeed still accepted from those that believe in God and fear him, if they have not an opportunity of knowing more. But with those to whom the gospel is preached, it is necessary, in order to the acceptance of their persons, prayers, and alms, that they should believe that Jesus is the Christ, and should confide in him alone for acceptance. 2d, Though Cornelius has now an angel from heaven talking to him, yet he must not receive the gospel of Christ from this angel, nor be told by him what he ought to do, but must send for Peter to inform him. As the former observation puts a remarkable honour upon the gospel, so doth this upon the gospel ministry. It was not to angels, but to saints, persons compassed about with infirmity, that this grace was given, to preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, that the excellence of the power might be of God, and the dignity of Christ’s institution supported. And as it was an honour to the apostle, that he must preach that which an angel might not, so it was a further honour, that an angel was despatched from heaven on purpose to order him to be sent for. Observe, reader, to bring a faithful minister and a willing people together, is a work worthy of an angel, and what, therefore, the greatest of men should be glad to be employed in.
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.
And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter:
He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.
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;Acts 10:7-8. When the angel was departed, he called, &c. — He was obedient to the heavenly vision, without dispute or delay, and sent forthwith to Joppa to fetch Peter to him. Had he himself only been concerned, he might have gone to Joppa to Peter; but he had a family, and kinsmen and friends, (Acts 10:24,) a little congregation of them, that could not go with him, and therefore he sends for Peter. And to show him the greater respect, he sends two of his household servants — All of whom feared God; (Acts 10:2;) and a devout soldier that waited on him continually — Always attended his person. How many such attendants have our modern officers? A devout soldier would now be looked upon by many as little better than a deserter from his colours. Observe, a devout centurion had devout soldiers; a little devotion, indeed, commonly goes a great way with soldiers; but there would be more of it in them, if there were more of it in their commanders. And when he had declared all these things — Just in the manner they had happened, of which he informed them, because Peter’s coming was a matter in which they also were concerned, having souls to save as well as he. He sent them to Joppa — That very evening. Thus, on Cornelius’s part, all things are disposed toward his receiving the gospel; and the same providence, at the same time, disposes all things on Peter’s part toward his coming to publish it.
And when he had declared all these things unto them, he sent them to Joppa.
On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour:Acts 10:9-10. On the morrow, as they went — For they set out too late to reach the place that night; Peter went up upon the house-top to pray — It has often been observed, in the course of these notes, that the houses in Judea had flat roofs, on which people walked for the sake of taking the air, and where they conversed, meditated, and prayed. About the sixth hour — Besides the two stated hours of prayer, at the time of the morning and evening sacrifice the more devout among the Jews were used to set apart a third, and to retire for prayer at noon. Thus David, (Psalm 55:17,) Evening and morning and at noon will I pray. And Daniel also kneeled upon his knees three times a day and prayed. Whether Peter was induced by this, or by some other reason, to retire for prayer at this time, it seems at least to have been customary, in the first ages of the Christian Church, to offer up their daily prayers at the third, the sixth, and the ninth hour. And he became very hungry — At the usual meal-time; or rather, his hunger now was supernatural, to prepare him for the trance and vision here mentioned; for the symbols in these extraordinary discoveries were generally suited to the state of the natural faculties. And he would have eaten — Greek, ηθελε γευσασθαι, would have taken some refreshment; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance — Or ecstasy, as the word, εκστασις, signifies; namely, such a rapture of mind as gives the person who falls into it a look of astonishment, and renders him insensible of the external objects around him, while, in the mean time, his imagination is agitated in an extraordinary manner with some striking scenes which pass before it, and take up all his attention. In this ecstasy of Peter, a very remarkable and instructive vision was presented to him, by which the Lord prepared him for the service to which he was immediately to be called; but to which, without some such discovery of the divine will as was now made to him, he would have had an insuperable objection.
And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance,
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:Acts 10:11-14. And saw heaven opened — While he lay in a trance, the heaven appeared to be opened above him, to signify the opening of a mystery that had been hid. And a certain vessel — Or utensil; (for the word σκευος, here used, extends to all sorts of instruments, and every part of household furniture, of which see on Acts 9:15;) descending unto him as it had been a great sheet — Οθονην μεγαλην, a great linen cloth, or wrapper, an emblem of the gospel, extending to all nations of men; knit — Δεδεμενον, tied; at the four corners — Not all in one knot, but each fastened, as it were, up to heaven; and let down to earth — To receive from all parts of the world those that were willing to be admitted into it. Wherein were all manner of four-footed beasts — The net of the gospel was to enclose persons of all countries, nations, and languages, without any distinction of Greek or Jew, or any disadvantage attaching to barbarian or Scythian, Colossians 3:11. And there came a voice, Rise, Peter, kill and eat — Of what thou seest, without any exception, or putting any difference between clean and unclean; the Lord thus showing him that he might now converse with Jews and Gentiles indifferently, and preach unto the latter, as well as unto the former, the word of life; and, at the same time intimating, that the Jewish Christians were, by the gospel, absolved from the ceremonial law, in which the distinction between clean and unclean meats made so considerable a part. But Peter said, Not so, Lord — I would rather continue fasting a great while longer, than satisfy my hunger on such terms; for I see only unclean animals here; and I have never —
From my childhood to this hour, defiled my conscience by eating any thing common or unclean — Hitherto I have kept my integrity in this matter, and am determined still to keep it. Peter’s words speak his resolution still to adhere to God’s law, though he has a counter command by a voice from heaven; for he knew not, at first, but the words, kill and eat, might be a command of trial, whether he would abide by the sure word, the written law; and if so, his answer, Not so, Lord, had been very proper. Temptations to eat forbidden fruit must not be parleyed with, but peremptorily rejected. Reader, if God by his grace has preserved us from gross sin unto this day, we should use that as an argument with ourselves to continue to abstain from all appearance of evil.
Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.
And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.
But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.
And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.Acts 10:15-16. And the voice spake the second time — When God commands a strange, or seemingly improper thing, the first objection frequently finds pardon. But it ought not to be repeated. This doubt and delay of Peter, however, had several good effects. Hereby the will of God, on this important point, was made more evident and incontestable. And Peter also, having been so slow of belief himself, could the more easily bear the doubting of his brethren, Acts 11:2. What God hath cleansed — By such a declaration of his will, in commanding thee to eat them; that call not thou common — But readily submit thyself to his directions, acknowledging the power of the great Lawgiver to change his precepts as he shall see fit. This was done thrice — To make the deeper impression on Peter’s mind. That is, the sheet was drawn up a little way, and let down again a second time, and so the third time, with the same call to him, Kill and eat. But whether Peter’s refusal was repeated the second and third time is not certain; we may suppose it was not, since his objection had the first time received such a satisfactory answer.
This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven.
Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon's house, and stood before the gate,Acts 10:17-18. Now while Peter doubted in himself — He did not doubt, that it was a heavenly vision; all his doubt was concerning the meaning of it. Christ generally reveals his will to his people by degrees, and not all at once: he leaves them to doubt a while, and to ruminate upon a matter, before he makes it fully manifest to them. Behold, the men sent from Cornelius — Being just come to the house; stood before the gate — And now Peter will learn the meaning of his vision. Thus frequently the things which befall us from within and from without at the same time, are a key to each other: and the things which so concur and agree together ought to be diligently attended to.
And called, and asked whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were lodged there.
While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee.Acts 10:19-22. While Peter thought on the vision — Was meditating on what he had seen and heard; the Spirit said unto him — God, by his Spirit, suggested to his mind, as manifestly as if he had whispered in his ear, (as he spake to Samuel, 1 Samuel 9:15;) Behold three men seek thee; arise therefore &c. — Delay not, but go down to these men, and go with them — The journey which they shall propose; doubting nothing — Without any hesitation or scruple on account of the messengers being Gentiles, and coming from one who is also a Gentile. For I have sent them — And have shown thee, that the great ceremonial distinction between Jew and Gentile, clean and unclean, is now to be abolished. And when thou comest to compare their message with what thou hast now seen, thou wilt easily know the intent of this vision, and the use thou art to make of it for thine own direction. How gradually was Peter prepared to receive this new admonition of the Spirit! Thus God is wont to lead on his children by degrees, always giving them light for the present hour. Then Peter went down to the men — Instantly, before any message from them could reach him. And said — To them, while they continued at the door; Behold, I am he whom you seek — The person you inquire for; what is the cause wherefore ye are come? — Peter, not perfectly knowing yet whither all this tended, makes the more exact inquiry. And they said, Cornelius, &c. — Endeavouring to prevent any prejudice which Peter might have against Cornelius, on account of his being a Gentile, they inform him: 1st, That he was a just, or righteous, Man 1:2 d, That he worshipped the true God, the God whom the Jews worshipped, and not the false gods of the Gentiles. 3d, That he was of good report even among the Jews; was reputed by them a pious and good man; so that it would be no disparagement to him to go to him. And, 4th, What must have been an irresistible argument with Peter, that he had been warned by an angel to send for him to his house. When God’s command is evident, his true people do not hesitate to obey.
Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them.
Then Peter went down to the 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?
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, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee.
Then called he them in, and lodged them. And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him.Acts 10:23-24. Then called he them in, and lodged them — Or, hospitably entertained them that night. He did not bid them go to an inn, and refresh or repose themselves at their own charge, but was himself at the charge of entertaining them at his own quarters. He lodged them, though they were Gentiles, to show how readily he complied with the design of the vision, in eating with Gentiles. And, though they were two of them servants, and the other a common soldier, yet Peter thought it not below him to take them into his house. And on the morrow went away with them — Not delaying to obey the heavenly vision. And certain brethren — Namely, six in number, Acts 11:12; accompanied him — Being probably desired by the apostle to go with him, that they might be witnesses of what happened, as this was an affair in which some difficulties might arise, and some censure be incurred from the Jewish converts, and such as were not apprized of his divine direction. How pleasing a mixture have we here, of prudence and humility! Sufficient to “teach us, on all proper occasions, to express at once a becoming deference to our brethren, and prudent caution in our own best intended actions; that even our good may not be evil spoken of, when it lies in our power to prevent it.” See Doddridge, and Romans 14:16. And on the morrow after they entered into Cesarea — Though it is probable they travelled on foot, yet as Joppa was only about fifteen leagues distant from Cesarea, they might easily arrive there the day after that on which they set out. And Cornelius waited for them — Not engaging himself in any secular business during that solemn time, but being altogether intent on this thing. And he called together his kinsmen — His relations; and near friends — Those with whom he was most intimate, and had the greatest love to. This, he thought, he could not better express, than by giving them an opportunity to hear the word of life, and to gain instruction for their souls. And, probably, those here spoken of were accounted near friends by Cornelius; because they were such as had forsaken all pagan idolatry, and were, with him, worshippers of the true and living God.
And the morrow after they entered into Caesarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends.
And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him.Acts 10:25-27. As Peter was coming in — Cornelius, who had been expecting him, probably with some impatience, longing to know what that important doctrine was, which an angel had told him he should hear from him; met him, and fell down at his feet — Expressing thus his reverence for one, in so eminent a sense, the messenger of Heaven; and worshipped him — Not with divine, but mere civil worship: such as was usually paid to kings and princes, and others of high dignity, in the East. Having believed in the one living and true God, and forsaken the idolatry of the Gentiles, he certainly could not offer divine or religious worship to Peter: nor could he, as some have fancied, imagine Peter to be an angel, considering how the angel had spoken of him. But his reverence for him as a divine messenger, together with the custom which prevailed in those countries, of expressing the highest respect by prostration, might induce him to fall down at his feet, and offer a homage, which Peter wisely and religiously declined accepting. And as he talked with him, he went in — They went into the house talking together, probably of the goodness of God manifested in so happily bringing them together, for they could not but see and acknowledge God in it. And found many that were come together — More than Peter expected, which at once added solemnity to this service, and afforded a greater opportunity of doing good.
But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man.
And as he talked with him, he went in, and found many that were come together.
And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew 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.Acts 10:28-29. And he said, Ye know how it is an unlawful thing, &c. — A thing not allowed by the Jews; for a man that is a Jew — A native Jew, as I am; to keep company with, or come unto one of another nation — A stranger, and an uncircumcised Gentile. This was not made unlawful by the law of God, but by the precepts of their wise men, which they looked upon to be no less obliging. They did not indeed forbid them to converse with Gentiles, in the way of traffic or worldly business, but to eat with them. With such scorn did the Jews look upon the Gentiles, who in their turn held them in equal contempt, as appears by many passages in the Latin poets. But now, saith Peter, God hath showed me — By a remarkable vision; that I should not call any man common or unclean — Peter thought it necessary to inform them how he came to change his mind in this matter, lest, being thought to have used lightness, his word should have the less authority. Therefore — Having received direction from God; came I unto you without gainsaying — Or delay; as soon as I was sent for — Ready to preach the same gospel to you that I preached to the Jews. I ask, therefore, for what intent ye have sent for me — Although Peter in a great measure knew this already, he puts Cornelius on telling the story, both that his friends, and all that were present, might be informed, and Cornelius himself be more impressed by the narration; the repetition of which, even as we read it, gives a new dignity and spirit to Peter’s succeeding discourse.
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?
And 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,Acts 10:30-33. And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting — The first of these days he had the vision; the second, his messengers came to Joppa; on the third, Peter set out; and on the fourth, came to Cesarea; until this hour — Cornelius does not intend to declare by this how long he had fasted; but he tells him when he, being fasting, saw the vision, which was four days before, at the same hour of the day. And at the ninth hour — An hour of solemn prayer, being the time of offering the evening sacrifice, see Acts 3:1. I prayed, and behold a man stood before me — A man in appearance, but an angel in reality, as in Acts 10:3; in bright clothing — Such as Christ’s was, when he was transfigured; and that of the two angels, who appeared at his resurrection, Luke 24:4; and at his ascension, Acts 1:10; showing their relation to the world of light. And said, Thy prayer is heard — Doubtless he had been praying for instruction how to worship and serve God in the most acceptable manner; and thy alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God — Who looks not merely on the outward gift, but on the inward affection from which it proceeds, and the intention with which it is offered. Send, therefore, to Joppa, &c. — See note on Acts 10:4-6. Immediately, therefore, I sent — As I was directed; and thou hast well done that thou art come — To us, though we are Gentiles. Observe, faithful ministers do well in going to those that are willing and desirous to receive instruction from them. Now, therefore, are we all here present before God — The language this of every truly Christian congregation; to hear all things that are commanded thee of God — To know and do whatsoever he shall require of us. In this spirit ought every one that would profit by the word of God, to attend upon it.
And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God.
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.
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.
Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:Acts 10:34-35. Then Peter opened his mouth — Addressed himself to them, with a seriousness and solemnity answerable to so great an occasion; and said, Of a truth I perceive — More clearly than ever, from such a concurrence of circumstances; that God is no respecter of persons — Is not partial in his love. The words mean, 1st, That he does not confine his love to one nation; as the Jews were ready to suppose that he confined it to their nation. 2d, That he is loving to every man, and willeth that all men should be saved; but in every nation he that feareth God, and worketh righteousness — He that, 1st, Reverences God as infinitely great, glorious, wise, mighty, holy, just, and good; the cause, end, proprietor, and governor of all things: and, 2d, From this awful regard to him, not only avoids all known evil, but endeavours, according to the best light he has, to do all things well; is accepted of him — Through Christ, though he knows him not. The assertion is express, and admits of no exception. He is in the favour of God, whether enjoying his written word and ordinances or not. Nevertheless, the addition of these is an unspeakable blessing to those who were before in some measure accepted. Otherwise, God would never have sent an angel from heaven to direct Cornelius to Peter. See note on Acts 10:6.
But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.
The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:)Acts 10:36. The word — Message, or doctrine; which God sent unto the children of Israel — When he sent his Son into the world; preaching — Proclaiming by him, and his apostles and evangelists, peace — Between God and man, whether Jew or Gentile; by — Or through; Jesus Christ: he is Lord of all — Not of the Jews only, but of the Gentiles also, and under that character will manifest the riches of his mercy unto all that call upon him, Romans 3:29; Romans 10:12; That word you know — In some degree; you cannot be entirely ignorant of the facts attested by it, or of the doctrine built thereon; both which, however, I shall now more particularly explain and confirm to you: the facts and doctrine, I mean, published throughout all Judea, and begun from Galilee — Taking their first rise there; after the baptism which John preached — Who went before that extraordinary Person to prepare his way, by calling sinners to repentance and amendment of life, and admitting the penitent to the baptism of water; how God anointed Jesus — Particularly at his baptism, thereby inaugurating him into his office; with the Holy Ghost — With an extraordinary measure of his Holy Spirit; and with power — It is worthy of our remark, that frequently, when the Holy Ghost is mentioned, there is added a word particularly adapted to the present circumstance. So the deacons were to be persons full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, Acts 6:3. Barnabas was full of the Holy Ghost and faith, Acts 11:24; the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Ghost, Acts 13:52. And here, where his mighty works are mentioned, Christ himself is said to be anointed with the Holy Ghost and with power; for God was with him — He speaks sparingly here of the majesty of Christ, as considering the state of his hearers.
That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached;
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.
And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree:Acts 10:39-42. And we — His apostles, of whom I have the honour and happiness to be one; are witnesses of all things which he did — Having been present when he did them; both in the land of the Jews — In all parts of Judea; and particularly in Jerusalem — Their capital city; for we attended him in all the progress which he made, beholding with astonishment his miracles, and hearing with delight his discourses; whom — Nevertheless, this unbelieving and ungrateful people were so far from receiving with a becoming regard, that, in a most infamous manner, they slew and hanged him on a tree — Crucifying him, as if he had been the vilest of malefactors and slaves. Their crucifying Christ is here spoken of, the rather, to show how justly the Jews were now to be abandoned of God, and that they had no cause to complain of their rejection and the calling of the Gentiles, seeing that they had in such a manner rejected Christ. Him — This very same person, though so injuriously treated by men; God raised up the third day — According to the repeated predictions of the prophets. Peter thus preaches unto them the resurrection which immediately followed his crucifixion, lest the Gentiles should be deterred from believing in him, and should take offence at the scandal of the cross. And showed him openly — Greek, εδωκεν αυτον εμφανη γενεσθαι, gave him to become manifest, namely, after his resurrection; and evidently to appear. As if he had said, That he rose is unquestionable, it having been evidenced in all the ways by which any thing can be proved. For Christ was seen, and heard, and felt by many after his resurrection; he appeared not now indeed to all the people — As before his death; but unto witnesses — Persons appointed to be witnesses of this fact; chosen before of God — For this purpose; even to us, who did eat and drink — And converse frequently and familiarly with him, after he arose from the dead — As we had done during the time of his ministry; so that we can, and do, with the greatest certainty, bear witness to the truth of these important matters. And he commanded us — Gave it us in charge in a most solemn manner; to preach unto the people — The glad tidings of salvation, present and eternal; and to testify — Wherever we come; that it is he — This very Jesus of Nazareth; who is ordained of God to be the judge of quick and dead — That is, of all mankind, whether they be alive at his coming, or had died before it. This was declaring to them, in the strongest terms, how entirely their happiness depended on a timely and humble subjection to him, who was to be their final Judge.
Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly;
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.
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.
To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.Acts 10:43. To him give all the prophets witness — Speaking to heathen, he does not mention the name of any one prophet in particular; but, after having spoken of Christ’s person, miracles, and resurrection, contents himself with informing them, in general terms, that there were many prophets in former ages who bore testimony to him, without entering into a particular enumeration of them, or quoting their predictions: an observation which is also applicable to that particular truth which Peter here declares the prophets, which he referred to, had attested, namely, that through his name — Through his mediation, grace, and Spirit; whosoever believeth in him — With a living faith, whether he be Jew or Gentile; shall receive remission of sins — Though he had not before either feared God or wrought righteousness. This truth it would have been easy for the apostle to have proved, from several testimonies of the prophets, (had it been proper to do so to that audience,) as will appear by comparing the passages referred to in the margin. We may further observe here, that we do not read of Peter’s working any miracle on this great occasion, in proof of the truth of his doctrine; as the preceding testimony of the angel to Cornelius, and the descent of the Holy Spirit in his miraculous gifts, while he was speaking to them, were sufficient proofs, both of the truth of the gospel, and of Peter’s being an authorized interpreter of it.
While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.Acts 10:44-46. While Peter yet spake — Or, was yet speaking; these words — Even before he had finished, and without the imposition of his hands on their heads; the Holy Ghost fell — On Cornelius, and on all them which heard — Or, were hearing; the word — Thus were they consecrated to God, as the first-fruits of the Gentiles: and thus did God give a clear and satisfactory evidence, that he had accepted them as well as the Jews. And they of the circumcision — The believing Jews; as many as came with Peter — On this important occasion; were astonished — At the fact; which, if they had not seen it, would to them have appeared incredible; that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost — For they had supposed that they could not have even been admitted into the Christian Church, much less have received such a blessing as the Holy Spirit in his gifts and graces, without submitting to circumcision, and so subjecting themselves to the observation of the whole Mosaic law. But now they saw it incontestably proved, that even those who were neither made converts to Judaism, nor circumcised, might be partakers with them in the highest privileges. For they heard them speak with tongues — Speak in divers languages, which they had never learned; and magnify God — In such exalted sentiments and terms, as abundantly proved that their thoughts as well as their expressions, their minds as well as their tongues, were immediately under a divine influence.
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.
For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,
Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?Acts 10:47-48. Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, &c. — Peter, yielding to the force of evidence, however contrary to his former prejudices, with great propriety asks this question. He does not say, They have the baptism of the Spirit, therefore they do not need baptism with water. But just the contrary: If they have received the Spirit, then baptize them with water. How easily is this question decided, if we will take the word of God for our guide! Either men have revived the Holy Ghost, or not. If they have not, Repent, saith God, and be baptized, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. If they have, if they are already baptized with the Holy Ghost, then who can forbid water? As none of the brethren that came with him pretended to object any thing against it, he commanded them to be baptized — Immediately; choosing to make use of the ministry of his brethren in performing that rite, rather than to do it with his own hands, that by this means the expression of their consent might be the more explicit; in the name of the Lord — Which implies the Father, who anointed him, and the Spirit, with which he was anointed to his office. But as these Gentiles had before believed in God the Father, and could not but now believe in the Holy Ghost, under whose powerful influence they were at this very time, there was the less need of taking notice, that they were baptized into the belief and profession of the sacred Three; though doubtless the apostles generally administered the ordinance in that very form which Christ himself had prescribed.
And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.