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Acts Chapter Ten


Acts 10

The undiminished power of Peter his apostolic authority in the midst of which the entrance of Cornelius into the spiritual house of God takes place in connection with Peter's ministry and that after the calling of Saul which opened a new perspective-all these facts taken together confirmed that which went before. The original work was in no wise set aside to bring in another. Nevertheless Peter's vision did not reveal the assembly as the body of Christ neither did the admission of Cornelius. They only shewed that in every nation he who feared God was acceptable to Him-in a word that the favour of God was not limited to the Jews and that there was no need of becoming a Jew in order to share the salvation that is in Christ. The oneness of the body united to its Head in heaven was not brought out by this event; but it prepared the way for the promulgation of that truth since in fact the Gentile was admitted on earth without becoming a Jew. The thing was done on earth individually although the doctrine itself was not taught. Repentance unto life eternal was granted to the Gentiles as such. The Holy Ghost-the seal of christian blessing among the Jews the fruit of redemption accomplished by Jesus-was given to Gentiles as to Jews. The latter might be astonished at it; but there was no resisting God. Through grace they could praise Him for it.

From chapter 9:32 to 11:18 we find then the power of the Spirit of God with Peter in the midst of Israel and the admission of Gentiles into the earthly assembly without their becoming Jews or submitting to the ancient order which was passing away; the seal of the Spirit put upon them; and the heads of the assembly at Jerusalem and the most ardent of the circumcision accepting the fact as the will of God and praising Him while submitting to it in spite of their prejudices. The door then is open to the Gentile. This was an immense step. The precious doctrine of the assembly had yet to be announced.

Peter had proclaimed the call of the Gentiles in his first discourse; but to realise it and give form to its conditions in connection with that which had already existed historically required the intervention the authority and the revelation of God. Progress is evident through the patient grace of God; for it was not the wisdom of man. Altogether Jewish at the commencement the people of Jerusalem were taught that Jesus would return if they repented. This testimony of grace is rejected and in the person of him who maintained it the firstfruits of the assembly go up to heaven. The Holy Ghost in His sovereign liberty acts in Samaria and among the proselytes. The assembly being scattered by the persecution Saul is brought in by the revelation of a glorious Christ and by a testimony from His mouth which implies the union of saints on earth with Himself their Head in heaven as only one body. After this a pious Gentile converted but still a Gentile receives faith in Christ and the Holy Ghost; so that marked out by this testimony-this seal from God Himself to his faith-the apostle and the disciples who were the most attached to Judaism receive him; Peter by baptising him and the others by accepting Peter's act.

Let us notice here that salvation is not only the fact of being quickened and pious but that of complete deliverance so as to present us to Himself in righteousness which God grants to every one who has life through the operation of God. Cornelius was pious and earnestly so; but he hears words of a work done for him whereby he may be and (as we know) was saved. Finally the seal of the Holy Ghost upon believing in Jesus [1] is the ground on which those whom God accepts are acknowledged. That is to say it is the full evidence for man.


[1] If we examine closely the scriptures in its statements and facts we shall find I think as to detail that it is faith in the work of Jesus for the remission of sins which is sealed.

── John DarbySynopsis of Acts


Acts 10

Chapter Contents

Cornelius directed to send for Peter. (1-8) Peter's vision. (9-18) He goes to Cornelius. (19-33) His discourse to Cornelius. (34-43) The gifts of the Holy Spirit poured out. (44-48)

Commentary on Acts 10:1-8

(Read Acts 10:1-8)

Hitherto none had been baptized into the Christian church but Jews Samaritans and those converts who had been circumcised and observed the ceremonial law; but now the Gentiles were to be called to partake all the privileges of God's people without first becoming Jews. Pure and undefiled religion is sometimes found where we least expect it. Wherever the fear of God rules in the heart it will appear both in works of charity and of piety neither will excuse from the other. Doubtless Cornelius had true faith in God's word as far as he understood it though not as yet clear faith in Christ. This was the work of the Spirit of God through the mediation of Jesus even before Cornelius knew him as is the case with us all when we who before were dead in sin are made alive. Through Christ also his prayers and alms were accepted which otherwise would have been rejected. Without dispute or delay Cornelius was obedient to the heavenly vision. In the affairs of our souls let us not lose time.

Commentary on Acts 10:9-18

(Read Acts 10:9-18)

The prejudices of Peter against the Gentiles would have prevented his going to Cornelius unless the Lord had prepared him for this service. To tell a Jew that God had directed those animals to be reckoned clean which were hitherto deemed unclean was in effect saying that the law of Moses was done away. Peter was soon made to know the meaning of it. God knows what services are before us and how to prepare us; and we know the meaning of what he has taught us when we find what occasion we have to make use of it.

Commentary on Acts 10:19-33

(Read Acts 10:19-33)

When we see our call clear to any service we should not be perplexed with doubts and scruples arising from prejudices or former ideas. Cornelius had called together his friends to partake with him of the heavenly wisdom he expected from Peter. We should not covet to eat our spiritual morsels alone. It ought to be both given and taken as kindness and respect to our kindred and friends to invite them to join us in religious exercises. Cornelius declared the direction God gave him to send for Peter. We are right in our aims in attending a gospel ministry when we do it with regard to the Divine appointment requiring us to make use of that ordinance. How seldom ministers are called to speak to such companies however small in which it may be said that they are all present in the sight of God to hear all things that are commanded of God! But these were ready to hear what Peter was commanded of God to say.

Commentary on Acts 10:34-43

(Read Acts 10:34-43)

Acceptance cannot be obtained on any other ground than that of the covenant of mercy through the atonement of Christ; but wherever true religion is found God will accept it without regarding names or sects. The fear of God and works of righteousness are the substance of true religion the effects of special grace. Though these are not the cause of a man's acceptance yet they show it; and whatever may be wanting in knowledge or faith will in due time be given by Him who has begun it. They knew in general the word that is the gospel which God sent to the children of Israel. The purport of this word was that God by it published the good tidings of peace by Jesus Christ. They knew the several matters of fact relating to the gospel. They knew the baptism of repentance which John preached. Let them know that this Jesus Christ by whom peace is made between God and man is Lord of all; not only as over all God blessed for evermore but as Mediator. All power both in heaven and in earth is put into his hand and all judgment committed to him. God will go with those whom he anoints; he will be with those to whom he has given his Spirit. Peter then declares Christ's resurrection from the dead and the proofs of it. Faith has reference to a testimony and the Christian faith is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets on the testimony given by them. See what must be believed concerning him. That we are all accountable to Christ as our Judge; so every one must seek his favour and to have him as our Friend. And if we believe in him we shall all be justified by him as our Righteousness. The remission of sins lays a foundation for all other favours and blessings by taking that out of the way which hinders the bestowing of them. If sin be pardoned all is well and shall end well for ever.

Commentary on Acts 10:44-48

(Read Acts 10:44-48)

The Holy Ghost fell upon others after they were baptized to confirm them in the faith; but upon these Gentiles before they were baptized to show that God does not confine himself to outward signs. The Holy Ghost fell upon those who were neither circumcised nor baptized; it is the Spirit that quickeneth the flesh profiteth nothing. They magnified God and spake of Christ and the benefits of redemption. Whatever gift we are endued with we ought to honour God with it. The believing Jews who were present were astonished that the gift of the Holy Ghost was poured out upon the Gentiles also. By mistaken notions of things we make difficult for ourselves as to the methods of Divine providence and grace. As they were undeniably baptized with the Holy Ghost Peter concluded they were not to be refused the baptism of water and the ordinance was administered. The argument is conclusive; can we deny the sign to those who have received the things signified? Those who have some acquaintance with Christ cannot but desire more. Even those who have received the Holy Ghost must see their need of daily learning more of the truth.

── Matthew HenryConcise Commentary on Acts


Acts 10

Verse 2

[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.

Who gave much alms to the people — That is to the Jews many of whom were at that time extremely poor.

Verse 3

[3] 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.

He saw in a vision — Not in a trance like Peter: plainly so as to leave one not accustomed to things of this kind no room to suspect any imposition.

Verse 4

[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.

Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God — Dare any man say 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: though in strictness what is not exactly according to the Divine rule must stand in need of Divine favour and indulgence.

Verse 8

[8] And when he had declared all these things unto them he sent them to Joppa.

A devout soldier — How many such attendants have our modern officers? A devout soldier would now be looked upon as little better than a deserter from his colours.

Verse 10

[10] And he became very hungry and would have eaten: but while they made ready he fell into a trance

And he became very hungry — At the usual meal time. The symbols in visions and trances it is easy to observe are generally suited to the state of the natural faculties.

Verse 11

[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:

Tied at the corners — Not all in one knot but each fastened as it were up to heaven.

Verse 14

[14] But Peter said Not so Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.

But Peter said In nowise Lord — 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 St. Peter had several good effects. Hereby the will of God in 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 etc.

Verse 15

[15] And the voice spake unto him again the second time What God hath cleansed that call not thou common.

What God hath purified — Hath made and declared clean. Nothing but what is clean can come down from heaven. St. Peter well remembered this saying in the council at Jerusalem Acts 15:9.

Verse 16

[16] This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven.

This was done thrice — To make the deeper impression.

Verse 17

[17] 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 enquiry for Simon's house and stood before the gate

While Peter doubted in himself behold the men — Frequently the things which befall us within and from without at the same time are a key to each other. The things which thus concur and agree together ought to be diligently attended to.

Verse 19

[19] While Peter thought on the vision the Spirit said unto him Behold three men seek thee.

Behold three men seek thee arise therefore and go down and go with them doubting nothing — How gradually was St. Peter prepared to receive this new admonition of the Spirit! Thus God is went to lead on his children by degrees always giving them light for the present hour.

Verse 24

[24] And the morrow after they entered into Caesarea. And Cornelius waited for them and had called together his kinsmen and near friends.

Cornelius was waiting for them — Not engaging himself in any secular business during that solemn time but being altogether intent on this one thing.

Verse 26

[26] But Peter took him up saying Stand up; I myself also am a man.

I myself also am a man — And not God who alone ought to be worshipped Matthew 4:10. Have all his pretended successors attended to this?

Verse 28

[28] 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.

But God hath showed me — He speaks sparingly to them of his former doubt and his late vision.

Verse 29

[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?

I ask for what intent ye have sent for me? — St. Peter knew this already. But he puts Cornelius on telling the story both that the rest might be informed and Cornelius himself 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

Verse 30

[30] 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

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 St. Peter set out; and on the fourth came to Cesarea.

Verse 31

[31] And said Cornelius thy prayer is heard and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God.

Thy prayer is heard — Doubtless he had been praying for instruction how to worship God in the most acceptable manner.

Verse 33

[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.

Now therefore we are all present before God — The language of every truly Christian congregation.

Verse 34

[34] Then Peter opened his mouth and said Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:

I perceive of a truth — More clearly than ever from such a concurrence of circumstances.

That God is not a respecter of persons — Is not partial in his love. The words mean in a particular sense that he does not confine his love to one nation; in a general that he is loving to every man and willeth all men should be saved.

Verse 35

[35] But in every nation he that feareth him and worketh righteousness is accepted with him.

But in every nation he that feareth God and worketh righteousness — He that first reverences God as great wise good the cause end and governor of all things; and secondly 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 St. Peter.

Verse 36

[36] The word which God sent unto the children of Israel preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:)

This is the word which God sent — When he sent his Son into the world preaching - Proclaiming by him-peace between God and man whether Jew or Gentile by the God-man. He is Lord of both; yea Lord of and over all.

Verse 37

[37] That word I say ye know which was published throughout all Judaea and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached;

Ye know the word which was published — You know the facts in general the meaning of which I shall now more particularly explain and confirm to you.

The baptism which John preached — To which he invited them by his preaching in token of their repentance. This began in Galilee which is near Cesarea.

Verse 38

[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.

How God anointed Jesus — Particularly at his baptism thereby inaugurating him to his office: with the Holy Ghost and with power - It is worthy 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 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.

Verse 41

[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.

Not now to all the people — As before his death; to us who did eat and drink with him - That is conversed familiarly and continually with him in the time of his ministry.

Verse 42

[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.

It is he who is ordained by God the Judge of the living and the dead — Of all men whether they are 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.

Verse 43

[43] To him give all the prophets witness that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.

To him give all the prophets witness — Speaking to heathens he does not quote any in particular; that every one who believeth in him - Whether he be Jew or Gentile; receiveth remission of sins - Though he had not before either feared God or worked righteousness.

Verse 44

[44] While Peter yet spake these words the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.

The Holy Ghost fell on all that 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.

Verse 45

[45] 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.

The believers of the circumcision — The believing Jews.

Verse 47

[47] Can any man forbid water that these should not be baptized which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?

Can any man forbid water that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Ghost? — 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 rule! Either men have received 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?

Verse 48

[48] And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.

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 the 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 apostle administered the ordinances in that very form which Christ himself had prescribed.

── John WesleyExplanatory Notes on Acts


Chapter 10. Remove the Barrier

What God Has Made Clean
Do not Call it Impure

I. Cornelius the Centurion

  1. Devout and God-fearing
  2. Give Generously to the Needy
  3. Have a Vision

II. Peter's Vision

  1. Pray on the Roof
  2. A Large Sheet
  3. Get up and Go Downstairs

III. The Holy Spirit Confirms Everything

  1. In the Presence of God
  2. Lord of All
  3. The Holy Spirit Came
── Chih-Hsin ChangAn Outline of The New Testament