Cornelius Becomes a Believer
October 24 - Nº 297 Acts 10:23 – 11:18
Several believers from Joppa accompanied Peter on the two-day trip to Caesarea. As they came to the house, Cornelius met them at the door and fell at Peter’s feet in reverence. Peter said, “Stand up. I am only another man!” Once they stepped inside, they were greeted by a large gathering of Gentiles. Cornelius had invited his relatives and friends to be there to hear Peter’s message. “You are aware that it is against our laws for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile,” Peter said as he addressed the group. “But God recently showed me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean. That is why, when Cornelius sent for me, I came without any objection. I now realize that God accepts people from every nation who fear him and want to do what is right. Therefore, I will share with you the same message that was given to Israel. The message is that Jesus the Messiah is Lord of all!” Peter then shared all about Jesus’ life and ministry. He explained how the Holy Spirit had anointed Jesus with power when he was baptized by John. He told them about the many miracles Jesus had performed, yet how he had been rejected by the Jewish leaders. “They killed him, but God raised him from the dead,” Peter declared. “And we are his witnesses. He ate and drank with us after the resurrection. Then he commanded us to preach the same message the prophets proclaimed—that everyone who puts their faith in Jesus as the Messiah will receive forgiveness for their sins.” While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit came on everyone in the room who heard the message. The Jewish believers who had accompanied Peter were astonished that Gentiles received the Holy Spirit just as they had! It wasn’t the fact that God was willing to bless the Gentiles that shocked them. It was the fact that He was willing to bless them while they were still Gentiles! They had not been required to convert to Judaism first. As Gentiles they were speaking in tongues and praising God! “They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have,” Peter stated. “Surely no one can stand in the way of them being baptized with water.” So, they were baptized in the name of Jesus, he was their Messiah too! This news quickly spread to believers all over Israel. When Peter returned to Jerusalem, the Jewish believers criticized him for eating with Gentiles and staying in their homes. Peter started at the beginning and explained everything that had happened. He told them about the vision he had seen on the rooftop and how God had taught him not to call anything unclean that He had made clean (see #296 - Peter's Ministry to the Gentiles). He told them about the crowd at the house of Cornelius and how the Holy Spirit had filled the people as they believed what he was teaching them. He concluded by saying, “God gave them the same gift He gave us when we believed that Jesus was the Messiah. Who am I to think I have the right to stand in God’s way?” When the believers heard this, they did not argue. Instead, they praised God for allowing the Gentiles to repent and have eternal life.
The same Holy Spirit welcomed the Jews (see #287 - The Arrival of the Holy Spirit), the Samaritans (see #292 - The Believers Are Scattered), and now the Gentiles into the kingdom of God. He empowered them all equally. God wants us to be unified in our worship and undivided in our service regardless of our religious heritage and racial background. Is this ‘oneness’ in Jesus Christ something you actively pursue?