On the following day he entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting for them and had called together his relatives and close friends.”
Cornelius waited for them. Cornelius had given instructions by an angel and there was a lapse of three days and on the fourth day these events occur. On the following day he entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting for them and had called together his relatives and close friends. So we see Cornelius with positive volition desiring his family and friends to hear what the man of God had to say. When a person has positive volition at the point of God-consciousness and wants to know God it is natural that he would also want those he loves to know God as well. Here we see an example of just that.
In verses 25-27 we have the meeting of Peter and Cornelius.
Verse 25 says, “When Peter entered, Cornelius met him, and fell at his feet and worshipped him.” This was erroneously translated. It is true that he fell at his feet, although he didn’t fall. There was a certain type of salute used by Roman officers for the emperor or VIPs in the Roman Empire. Originally, this particular salute was used only for the emperor. It was strictly a kneeling salute, he did not worship Peter. This is not correctly translated. He gave Peter the honors accorded only to the emperor of the Roman Empire or other dignitary. Therefore Cornelius accords to Peter as high an honor as one could have at that time.
Verse 26, “But Peter raised him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am just a man.” When he said “I too am just a man” he was assuming from what he had been told that Cornelius thought he was an angel. Perhaps Peter assumed he was getting honors intended for an angel. He refused to accept this kind of honor. The servant of the Lord must be oriented to grace just as any believer is oriented to grace. Peter was an apostle, he held the highest spiritual gift in the Church but everything in the divine plan depends on Who and what God is, not who and what Peter was. This was a demonstration of his orientation and was also a very clear reminder to us that Peter was in fellowship as well as oriented to the grace of God. Peter took the proper steps to demonstrate his orientation to grace though he still had a way to go before he was fully oriented to the grace of God.
Verses 28-29, “And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him; and yet God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean.That is why I came without even raising any objection when I was sent for. So I ask for what reason you have sent for me.” Peter had learned something from the vision which occurred four days before. His statement means that Peter had some realization of the fact that religious taboos were nullified by grace and that there is no place in the plan of God for human taboos or human concepts, that doctrine comes from God and that none of these things can take the place of doctrine. The plan of God also calls for divine ability and not human ability and Peter was expressing a taboo which was directly related to the energy of the flesh. So there was no place for this taboo. Taboos are a great hindrance to witnessing for Christ, they are a great hindrance in any kind of a communication situation, believer with believer; believer with unbeliever.
Cornelius had assembled in his home a large number of unbelievers who all had one thing in common - positive volition at the point of God-consciousness. They were seeking God, they are anxious to find God. They did not have salvation and they did not have a relationship with God because that only comes through faith in Christ. Peter walks into the room with a group of Jewish believers who will report on him. Peter demonstrated leadership ability and he also demonstrated something else: after three years of being with Christ, and after contacts with angels, Peter was beginning to learn a little doctrine. When he expressed a taboo which he had held all of his life he did so for our benefit. He showed us that all of us are reared with some type of prejudice. Very often these are in direct contradiction to the Scriptures.
At some point in life religious taboos come into conflict with the principle of grace, and when they do then doctrine is your only hope. That is exactly what happened. Peter had received four days ago a doctrinal lecture in the vision which he now sees. He now applied it to the situation, though this is not the whole answer to that message. This message had other things to each him. At least one thing that Peter learned was “call no man common or unclean,” (an untouchable) someone with whom you can have no contact. So the plan of God, Bible doctrine, calls for a change of attitude on the part of Peter.
Verse 29, “That is why I came without even raising any objection when I was sent for. So I ask for what reason you have sent for me.” Peter did not refuse to come though he knew that he was going to contact Gentiles. Already in his mind the vision which he had seen of the unclean animals and God’s Word to him, “Call no man common or unclean,” had caused him to make application. He now made a second application as he stood in a room full of Gentiles which was a violation of a Jewish taboo. It is obvious that Peter did not understand the reason for this mission. Peter described himself as Jew but he was really no longer a Jew, he was a member of the body of Christ, the baptism of the Spirit took place in his life in the Jewish Pentecost.
In verses 30-33 we have the key to Peter’s vision.
Verses 30-33, “Cornelius said, “Four days ago to this hour, I was praying in my house during the ninth hour; and behold, a man stood before me in shining garments, and he said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God. Therefore send to Joppa and invite Simon, who is also called Peter, to come to you; he is staying at the house of Simon the tanner by the sea.’So I sent for you immediately, and you have been kind enough to come. Now then, we are all here present before God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord.” He was not fasting as some translations say, but he was praying, and obviously his type of prayer was one in which he was seeking God. This would be about three o’clock. The Jews had a prayer hour three times a day and he was observing the Jewish prayer hour.There were two things manifesting the positive volition of Cornelius, his prayer life and his generosity in helping the poor. “Alms” is a technical expression referring to money given to the poor and has nothing to do with Christian giving as such.The key to the whole situation lies with Peter and now very simply Cornelius explains to Peter what had happened.Cornelius’ decisive attitude comes from the fact that he was seeking God.These are Gentiles with positive volition like himself were ready to hear all things that were commanded by God for Peter to communicate.
Verses 34-37, “Opening his mouth, Peter said: “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him. The word which He sent to the sons of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all)—you yourselves know the thing which took place throughout all Judea, starting from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed.” “Opening his mouth”is actually an idiom in Greek meaning a speech is coming, not a conversation as such. Peter now gives a formal public message to these people. I most certainly is an idiom of clarification. Peter’s vision had now been clarified in his own mind. This was a real breakthrough for Peter because he had listened to Jesus’ teaching for three years and didn’t understand very much, but now he was beginning to get a point or two. He had an understanding of this doctrine. Understand is an interesting word in Greek —“katalambano.” This is a compound verb: kata is the preposition of norm or standard; lambano means to receive. When you put it together it means to receive information according to a norm or standard. The norm or standard was Bible doctrine and Peter received information which he recognized as the Word of God. So he had now taken the doctrine which he had received and he recognized it through application as being a part of Christianity. The application is that God is no respecter of persons (not one to show partiality).
The human-side of God being no respecter of persons is that anyone who has positive volition at God-consciousness like Cornelius is welcomed by God to know the truth. Fearing God and doing what is right is another way of saying that a person wants to know God. Fears God means to be in awe of Him and His great power. Doing what is right means wanting to know God as a result, which is the right thing to do. Peter concluded with the fact that the Jews had the responsibility for dissemination of this Word, and what the Jews actually preached was peace. Peace is the removal of the barrier between man and God. This barrier is removed by Christ. Peace with God is made possible by the work of Christ on the Cross. Peace is the doctrine of reconciliation. (Ephesians 2:14-17)
He is Lord of all is the Greek word “kurios” for Lord, which is a word for deity and it means that Jesus Christ is sovereignty, absolute righteousness, justice, love, eternal life, omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, immutability, and veracity. The baptism which John preached was simply salvation by faith in Christ with emphasis on the fact that Christ was here and John was His forerunner.
Verses 38-43, “You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.We are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross.God raised Him up on the third day and granted that He become visible, not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead. Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.”
One thing is quite evident and that is that in the human ministry of Jesus Christ He was indwelt and filled with God the Holy Spirit. Everything that Jesus did was in the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ, during His earthly ministry, relied upon the Holy Spirit rather than on the utilization of His own deity. He surrendered the independent use of His attributes in order to fulfill the plan of the Father. The humanity of Christ actually operated in the power of the Spirit and set the precedent for us in the Church Age for us.
Peter was was present during the earthly ministry of Christ including His crucifixion. There were three involvements in the Crucifixion. First, the religious Jews were involved because of hatred. Second, the Romans were involved under the guise of Pontius Pilate because of political expediency. Third, God the Father was involved because of love. But regardless of hatred, regardless of political expediency, regardless of these negative factors in the human race God’s plan was accomplished.
Moses wrote about Christ, Hosea wrote about Christ, Isaiah wrote about Christ, David wrote about Christ. So all of the Old Testament writers witnessed concerning Christ “that through his name” this is what they said in the Old Testament “whosoever believeth in him shall receive the remission of sins.” Peter was beginning to see something himself that he had never seen before. He was beginning to see a fantastic principle, that anyone who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ has forgiveness of sins, that Moses talked about this, that there was witnessing about Christ among the patriarchs. Abraham believed in the Lord and from Abraham right down to Peter (Peter is a child of Abraham) there has been a long line of clear declaration of the Person and the work of Jesus Christ.
Verses 44-48, While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God. Then Peter answered,“Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?”And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay on for a few days.”
Peter was still going on with his message but he was interrupted by the ministry of the Spirit to these Gentiles. Peter made the message and the issue very clear, and then when he got to the mechanics of salvation, “whosoever believeth,” that was all they needed. Right then and there while Peter was speaking they began to believe in Christ. Every unbeliever there actually responded to the Gospel. In the course of maybe a couple of minutes they had all responded by believing in Christ and at that particular moment the “Gentile Pentecost” occurred. So in a moment of time each person present was definitely saved, and at that moment of salvation the Holy Spirit came to indwell them just as He does with us. The Gentile pattern of salvation, then, is the pattern of salvation for the Church Age. These Gentiles were saved by faith in Christ.
The Jews who were there were utterly astounded by the ministry of the Holy Spirit. They were seeing exactly what they saw on the day of Pentecost and they were absolutely taken back by it. There are two things to notice: a) the baptism of the Spirit whereby they are entered into union with Christ. b) the indwelling of the Spirit. For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God. They heard exactly what was heard on the day of Pentecost. Speaking in foreign languages not previously learned and they were baptized in water as evidence of their faith in Christ.