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Christian Articles to Edify Folks

Larry's Lines - Christian  Articles to Edify Folks

Peter Defends Proclaiming the Good News to the Gentiles Acts 11:1-18

In the previous chapter the Apostle ·Peter adventured in faith and obedience to Caesarea to proclaim the Good News to the Gentiles. He had overcome, for the present, his hatred of the Gentiles. The chapter ends with the Gentiles :being added to the Body of Christ. As we enter into a study of the first eighteen verses of the eleventh chapter we see that not all of Peter’s fellow-believers were happy with his actions. Peter is glad that he took six witnesses with him on his journey of faith. Please study along with us as we strive to open up the Scriptures.

 

PETER IS CALLED ON THE CARPET: Acts 11:1-3

It seems by the reading of the text that Peter and his fellow-workers spent some time in Caesarea after the conversion of the household of Cornelius. H is also apparent that the news of Peter’s actions preceded him to Jerusalem. Gareth Reese writes the following,

 

“In Acts 8:1 Luke has told us that the apostles stayed in Jerusalem, even though the Church was scattered by the persecution that arose at the time of Stephen’s death. The “brethren who were throughout Judea would be many of those who were dispersed by that persecution.  Throughout Judea is the correct translation, and we are apprised of the fact that news of what happened at Cornelius’ house spread like wildfire across the length and breadth of Judea. It was something the Christians were talking about.”

 

It seems that one of the things the Jewish Christians could not understand was the Gentiles had received the word of God. Gareth Reese further writes,

 

“Gentiles as well as Samaritans! Cornelius and his friends were representatives of Gentiles in general, and their baptism and welcome into the Church was a precedent. Receiving the Word  is equivalent to their belief and obedience. We do not know how long after the conversion of Cornelius and his household it was until the news reached Jerusalem, but the context implies that the news reached Jerusalem while Peter was still staying in Cornelius’ house in Caesarea.”

 

In verse 2 we have the phrase, “And when Peter came up to Jerusalem.”  Was Peter summoned to appear or did he come on his own accord? This is a question that only eternity will yield the answer. In verse 12 were told that Peter was accompanied by the same 6 witnesses he took with him to Caesarea. In the latter half of the verse the brethren of the circumcision took issue with him. This opposition would later evolve into the Judaizing party which would plague Paul later. That fellow-believers were taking issue with a position that Peter favored has caused some problems for those who like to claim that Peter was the first Pope. Barnes wrote the following,

 

“This is  one of the circumstances which show conclusively that the apostles and early Christians did not regard Peter as ·having any particular supremacy over the church, or as being in any peculiar sense the vicar of Christ upon the earth. If he had been regarded as having the authority which the Roman Catholics claim for him, they would have submitted at once to what he thought proper to do. But the primitive Christians had no such idea of his authority. This claim for Peter is not only opposed in this place, but in every part of the New Testament.”

 

in verse  they were more concerned about Peter’s entering and eating with Gentiles than anything else. This apparent violation of ceremonial rules was not based upon the Law of Moses but rather on tradition. When the people should have been giving God the glory for the victories in Peter’s ministry, they were arguing  about “unclean” foods. Do we argue about unimportant things while the world goes to Hell?

 

PETER RECOUNTS THE VISION FROM THE LORD: Acts 11:4-10

Here in the next seven verses, the Apostle Peter recounts the events that transpired to those who have assembled. He tells them what led him to be with the Gentiles. Peter had prejudices based on tradition. Even today we in the Lord’s Body have prejudices based on traditions.

 

He begins to explain about the vision. In verse 4 we’re told that he proceeded to explain to them in an orderly manner what had transpired. In verse 5 Peter relates to them that he was in Joppa praying. He tells them that it was at this time and place that he went into the trance. It was at this time that the object came down to him. In verse 6 Peter says he fixed his gaze upon the object. It was then that he saw the unclean creatures. In verse 7 he heard, ” rise, Peter, kill and eat.” Peter recalls his arrogant answer ‘based hatred and prejudice. Peter said, “By no means, Lord, for nothing unholy or unclean has ever entered my mouth.” In verse 9 Peter recounts what the voice from heaven replies. In verse 10 Peter tells them and us that this event happened three times. Also he tells them that the object was drawn back into the sky.

 

PETER IS INSTRUCTED TO GO TO CAESAREA: Acts 11:11-12

Here in verse 11, Peter tells those assembled that it was at that time three Gentiles appeared before him. In verse 12 Peter says that he was commanded by the Holy Spirit to go with the Gentiles without any misgivings. Gareth Reese writes the following,

 

“The verb translated “without misgivings” is the same verb translated “took

issue” in verse 2.  Peter, guided by the Holy Spirit, raised no such opposition

as the Jewish Christians were raising.”

 

Further on n this verse Peter tells of the six brethren that accompanied him Caesarea. He makes it clear that both he and the six entered into the house of Gentiles. Reese writes further on the subject,

 

“.. Here we see that the six that accompanied Peter from Joppa to Caesarea have also accompanied him to Jerusalem. Perhaps we have now learned the purpose for which Peter had these brethren accompany him to Caesarea. They were witnesses with him of what had been done. Not only Peter, but the six brethren too had broken traditional rules, because they had been instructed to do so, without any misgivings in their hearts about

what they were doing. The six brethren have learned from Peter’s instruction; it is implied can the  brethren in Jerusalem also learn?”

 

PETER RECOUNTS CORNELIUS’ EXPERIENCE: Acts 11:13-14

Peter tells those assembled of what Cornelius had told him happened in his life. Cornelius had been instructed to send for Peter. Why had Cornelius been instructed to send for Peter? In verse 14 we have the answer, “And he shall speak words to you by which you will be saved, you and your household.”

 

PETER RECOUNTS THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT: Acts 11:15-17

Peter relates that he had begun to speak to Cornelius and his household. This message appears in Acts 15:34-44. Peter says that as he was speaking, “The Holy Spirit fell upon them, just as He did upon us at the ‘beginning.” What does “at the beginning” mean? It is here  that we ‘have the only date of the beginning of the church, the Day of Pentecost.

 

In verse 16 Peter recalls the words of Jesus in Acts 1:5. In verse 17 is the phrase “If God therefore gave to them the same gift as He gave to us also.” The same gift is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and “us” has reference to the apostles. Further in the verse Peter says that since they believed in the Lord Jesus Christ he felt that he could not stand in God’s way. Gareth Reese writes the following,

 

“Peter is saying that to take issue with what was done, as his opponents in Jerusalem were doing, was an attempt to oppose or resist God. Who wants to do that? Peter’s presentation causes .the other apostles and Christians in Jerusalem to withdraw their opposition to Peter and to begin to commend him for what he did, and they rejoice with him for what he did in the conversion of the Gentiles.”

 

THE RESPONSE OF THE FELLOW CHRISTIANS: Acts 11:18

Luke tells us that when they heard this, they quieted down, and glorified God. They were, as Peter was, convinced that the Lord was behind it all and they were ready to praise Him. In our next essay we’re going to study about the beginning of the

work in Antioch. The events took place prior to the events that we have been studying about. It is believed that they fit into the narrative after Acts 8:1-4. Please read Acts 11:19-30. Until next time

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June 2016 Daily Bible Reading Schedule

Day Date Old New
    Testament Testament
Wed. 6/1/2016 2 Kings 6-7 John 9:13-41
Thur 6/2/2016 2 Kings 8-9 John 10:1-21
Fri 6/3/2016 2 Kings 10-11 John 10:22-42
Sat 6/4/2016 2 Kings 12-14 John 11:1-27
Sun 6/5/2016 2 Kings 15-16 John 11:28-57
Mon 6/6/2016 2 Kings 17 John 12:1-26
Tue 6/7/2016 2 Kings 18-19 John 12:27-50
Wed. 6/8/2016 2 Kings 20-21 John 13:1-20
Thur 6/9/2016 2 Kings 22-23 John 13:21-38
Fri 6/10/2016 2 Kings 24-25 John 14:1-14
Sat 6/11/2016 1 Chronicles 1-2 John 14:15-31
Sun 6/12/2016 1 Chronicles 3-5 John 15
Mon 6/13/2016 1 Chronicles 6 John 16
Tue 6/14/2016 1 Chronicles 7-8 John 17
Wed. 6/15/2016 1 Chronicles 9-10 John 18:1-24
Thur 6/16/2016 1 Chronicles 11-12 John 18:25-40
Fri 6/17/2016 1 Chronicles 13-15 John 19:1-16
Sat 6/18/2016 1 Chronicles 16-17 John 19:17-42
Sun 6/19/2016 1 Chronicles 18-19 John 20:1-18
Mon 6/20/2016 1 Chronicles 20-21 John 20:19-31
Tue 6/21/2016 1 Chronicles 22-23 John 21
Wed. 6/22/2016 1 Chronicles 24-25 Acts 1
Thur 6/23/2016 1 Chronicles 26-27 Acts 2:1-21
Fri 6/24/2016 1 Chronicles 28-29 Acts 2:22-47
Sat 6/25/2016 2 Chronicles 1-3 Acts 3
Sun 6/26/2016 2 Chronicles 4-6 Acts 4:1-22
Mon 6/27/2016 2 Chronicles 7-8 Acts 4:23-37
Tue 6/28/2016 2 Chronicles 9-11 Acts 5:1-16
Wed. 6/29/2016 2 Chronicles 12-14 Acts 5:17-42
Thur 6/30/2016 2 Chronicles 15-17 Acts 6
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Acts 10:23-48 – Story of Cornelius-Part 2

INTRODUCTION

The tenth chapter of the Book of Acts is one of the most important in the narrative of Luke. Before the events in this chapter, Christianity had, for all practical purposes, been a Jewish religion. The followers of Jesus had not gone into the entire world. Now the time has come for Gentiles to hear and respond to the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Cornelius had been instructed by an angel of the Lord to send to Joppa and get Simon Peter to come and tell him what he must do to be saved. To read the narrative about the character of Cornelius, one might think that he was already a saved man. No doubt he possessed more good qualities than some who were already in the Body. But being a good and moral person will not make it. Concerning the salvation of Cornelius, he was saved the same way that you and I were saved. God does not depart from His plan to redeem man. We have left the messengers of Cornelius in Joppa. We encourage all to follow along in your Bible and try to learn more about the Book of Books as we continue our studies in the Book of Acts.

PETER’S JOURNEY TO THE CITY OF CAESAREA: ACTS 10:23-24

In the 23rd verse we’re told that Peter followed the command of the Holy Spirit and went with the messengers from Cornelius. Verse 24 tells us that the journey from Joppa to Caesarea took more than one day. While his trusted servants were away, Cornelius was busy assembling an audience to hear the Apostle of the Lord proclaim a message from the One True God. He cared enough of his relatives to invite them to share with him in this joyous occasion.

THE APOSTLE ARRIVES IN CAESAREA: ACTS 10:25-27

Verse 25 tells us of the first meeting of Peter and Cornelius. The narrative tells of the response of Cornelius to Peter’s arrival. Gareth Reese writes the following,

“Does Cornelius meet Peter at the city limits, or are we to picture what Lukenext records as another  place at the door of Cornelius’ home? Probably the latter. Picture the commander of 100 men, in full dress uniform, bowing down to Peter. In Eastern countries, it was usual for persons to prostrate themselves on the ground before one of rank and honor. Cornelius first would have knelt, and then bowed forward until his forehead touched the ground. The word translated ‘worshiped’  (proskuneo) is the one that tells us that Cornelius bowed before Peter in an act of extreme homage. It is possible, by such an act, to express worship to God, but Cornelius’ knowledge of the true God probably keeps us from thinking he looked upon Peter as a deity.”

In the next verse Peter makes sure that Cornelius harbors no thoughts of him  being more than a man. He helps him to his feet and assures him that he is only a servant of the Most High God. In verse 27 Peter enters into the house of Cornelius to find many people assembled to hear a message from God.

PETER TELLS THE GROUP ASSEMBLED WHY HE CAME TO SPEAK: ACTS 10:28-29

Peter then informs those who have come to hear him of why he was willing to come to speak to them. He tells them that according to his upbringing it was unlawful for a Jew to mingle with Gentiles. Gareth Reese writes

“When Peter  says “foreigner,”  he uses a word (allophulos) which is carefully and kindly selected to avoid the use of “Gentile.” There is no such delicacy of feeling in Acts 10:45 and 11:3. Such social segregation as Peter here says is ‘unlawful’ was not explicitly commanded by Moses; but it did seem to be implied in his law, and was the common understanding of the Jews. Moses did forbid intermarriage with the pagan nations in the land of Canaan, and he did discourage participation in their idolatrous practices. This prohibition the Jews (especially as the Pharisees interpreted the Old Testament) extended to social activities of all  kinds, and     understood they were to have no friendly relationships or commercial transactions with Gentiles. The strict Jew would not enter a Gentile’s house, nor sit at the same couch, nor eat or drink out of the same vessel. Now God had not commanded such segregation as the Jews interpreted; but Peter had been so taught that he feels a bit uncomfortable entering the strange surroundings he just has, so that he goes on to explain why his conduct is so different from what the ordinary Jew’s would be.”

The Apostle then relates that God has shown him that these practices were wrong. God has hold him that he should call no man unholy or unclean. Peter has learned that all men can come to saving relationship with  the Lord. Peter then asks Cornelius to explain why he sent for him.

CORNELIUS  EXPLAINS WHY HE SENT FOR PETER TO COME: ACTS 10:30-33

Starting in verse 30, Cornelius relates the events of the previous four days. Reese gives us a breakdown of the events in his book, New Testament History: Acts,

“Four days and parts of four different days, have passed between the visit of the angel to Cornelius and Peter’s arrival at Caesarea. On the first day the angel messenger arrived at Joppa, about noon. On the third, Peter and the rest started for the city of Caesarea. On the fourth, they arrived  at the  home of Cornelius.”

Cornelius further explains to those present that it was four days ago at the same time as now, i.e. 3:00 p.m. that the angel appeared to him. In verse 31 he relates what the angel said to him. The angel has told him that his prayer has been heard. Verse 32 tells us that he  was told by the angel to send for Simon Peter. In verse 33, Cornelius expresses the fact that he appreciates that Peter took the time to come relay the message of God to him and his friends. Peter had overcome his prejudice and  had been willing to be with Gentiles in order to obey the Lord. Cornelius then tells him that they have assembled to hear what the Lord has to say through His servant Peter.

PETER’S PROCLAMATION OF THE GOOD NEWS: ACTS 10:34-43 

In verse 34 Peter begins his message before the assembled household of Cornelius. Peter says that he has come to realize that God is not one to show partiality. This implies that before Peter felt and believed otherwise. In verse 35 Peter tells us that wherever there is one who is seeking after God, God is willing to accept him. That person is a candidate to become a Christian.

In verse 36 Peter tells those assembled that God’s message to man was preached through Jesus Christ. He tells Cornelius that Jesus is Lord of all. Peace is available to all through the personage of Jesus Christ.

Starting in verse 37, Peter reminds them of the events of the life of Jesus Christ. He tells  them that they are aware of what has happened. Peter is speaking from first-hand knowledge since he was present with the Lord of Glory when these events transpired. Peter begins with the first miracle, that of changing the water towine at Cana of Galilee. Peter then reminds his hearers of the ministry of John the Baptist. Peter takes us from the baptism of John to the resurrection and the post-resurrection appearance of the Christ. In verse 38 Peter tells them that it was God who anointed His Son with the Holy Spirit. He tells them that in all the good He did, the Father was with Him. Dale has written these words,

“Peter has presented each of the members of the Godhead. God anointed orset apart Jesus for the work he was to do, and he imparted to Him the power ofthe Holy Spirit. Thus in the work of redemption the three are present, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.”

In verse 39 Peter says that we are witnesses of these events. We were present when they happened. What I am telling you comes from firsthand knowledge. F.F. Bruce writes the following,

“Peter emphasizes that he and his colleagues are eyewitnesses of all these things, which took place all over the land of Israel. Yet Jesus’ acts of mercy and deliverance, he goes on, did not prevent Him from being put to death, and put to death by the means upon which the O.T. scriptures pronounced a curse, for they killed Him by ‘hanging Him on a tree.’”

But the story does not end here. Jesus was unlike any other religious leader in the fact that He conquered death. He was raised from the dead on the third day. Peter then tells his hearers of the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus. He appeared to many witnesses,  indeed to people at large,  but to those selected by God. to see the Risen Savior Peter and his fellow-disciples. They could bear certain witness to his  resurrection, for they had not only seen Him alive again after His passion but had even eaten and drunk with Him. This  was decisive proof that it was no bodiless  phantom that appeared to them.

Peter tells them that Jesus commanded them to preach the good news to the people. They were to “solemnly testify that this is the One  who has been  appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead.”  In verse 43 Peter says that the prophets bear witness to Jesus.  He says  that all who come to Jesus in true obedience will receive the forgiveness of his or her sins. God does not depart from His plan to redeem man.

THE RESULTS OF THE PROCLAMATION OF GRACE: ACTS 10:44-48

It was while Peter was proclaiming the good news that the following event occurred. Luke refers to it in these words, “The Holy Spirit fell on those who were listening to the message.” Gareth Reese writes the following,

“Those who are intended are Cornelius, his relatives and close friends. This is a second example in Acts  where we are specifically told that it is a case of baptism with the Holy Spirit. This does not seem to be comparable to the Acts 2:38, i.e., ‘the gift” of the Holy Spirit’, for that comes when a penitent believer is immersed for the forgiveness of his sins; and these men at Caesarea in Cornelius’ house have no yet been immersed. Nor does the Holy Spirit come, in this case, by the laying on of  an apostle’s hands, which suggests that this is not what we have called ‘spiritual gifts.’ In the case of Cornelius, the Holy Spirit came as He did on the Day of Pentecost, Acts 11:15 tells us.

F. Bruce writes also of this event,

“Peter had not yet finished his address when the ‘Pentecost of the Gentile World’ took place. The Holy Spirit fell on all his listeners. But the order of events differed markedly from that which was seen on the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem, so far at least as the hearers of the apostolic message were concerned. The hearers in Jerusalem were exhorted to repent and be baptized in order to receive the remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit. But the experience of the hearers in Caesarea reproduced rather that of the original company of disciples at Jerusalem, on whom the Spirit descended suddenly. Peter indeed, draws a parallel  between the household of Cornelius and the original disciples than between the household of Cornelius and the three thousand who believed on the day of Pentecost.”

We’re told  of the amazement that came upon the believers who came with Peter. They were surprised that God would grant this to Gentiles. J W. McGarvey wrote the following remarks,

“If Peter had finished his discourse, promising them the indwelling gift of the Holy Spirit on the terms which he had laid down on Pentecost, and  had baptized them, these brethren would have taken it as a matter of course that they had received the indwelling gift of the Holy Spirit, Acts 2:38. And if, after this, Peter had laid his hands on them and imparted to them the miraculous gift of the Holy Spirit, as in the case of the Samaritans, ,they would not have been greatly surprised. The considerations which caused the amazement were: first, that the Holy Spirit was ‘poured out’ upon them directly from God, as it had never been before on any but the apostles, and, secondly, that this unusual gift was bestowed upon Gentiles.”

In verse 46 those present heard the Gentiles speaking with tongues and exalting God. In the last part of the 46th verse and continuing into the 47th Peter asks the following question: Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did,  can he?J. W.  McGarvey comments on this verse,

“Let us now recall the fact that Cornelius had been directed to send for Peteand hear the words whereby he and his house should be saved. Peter has come and spoken those words. He has told the company of the Christ, in whom they now believe. He has told them to be baptized, and in the next verse we shall see it done. What the pious, prayerful and almsgiving Cornelius had lacked of being a Christian has now been supplied, and nothing has been required of him but to believe in Christ and be baptized.

In verse 48 we have the Apostle Peter commanding them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.  He is then asked to stay on for a while. In our next essay, we will strive to cover the first eighteen verses of the 11th chapter of Acts. The lesson will be called Peter Defends his actions in Caesarea.”

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