23 And on the next day he got up and went away with them, and some of the brethren from Joppa accompanied him.
24 On the following day he entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting for them and had called together his relatives and close friends.
25 When Peter entered, Cornelius met him, and fell at his feet and worshiped him.
26 But Peter raised him up, saying, " Stand up; I too am just a man."
27 As he talked with him, he entered and found many people assembled.
28 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.
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."
30 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,
31 and he said, 'Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God.
32'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.'
33 "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." NASU
While Peter was reflecting on the vision that God had given him, the messengers from Cornelius arrived. Peter learned from the messengers that Cornelius had sent for him and wanted to hear a message from him. Peter invited the men to lodge with them. This brings us to the fourth of seven scenes (Acts 10:1-11:18) in this story.
The next day Peter arose, took six (Acts 11:12) believers with him, and started on the journey to Caesarea. Luke says that "on the following day" the company arrived in Caesarea. Bruce (p. 222) says that "according to the natural sense" of this phrase, they did not arrive until the day after their departure from Joppa.
Upon their arrival, Cornelius and his relatives and close friends were waiting for Peter. Cornelius met Peter, fell at his feet, and reverenced or worshiped him. Whether we interpret the term as reverence or worship, it was more homage than Peter would allow. Peter lifted Cornelius up and quickly declared (Acts 10:26): "Stand up; I too am just a man."
As Peter talked with Cornelius, he entered and found many people assembled. Peter spoke to the crowd, making several points. First, he reminded them how unlawful it was for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him. Robertson (p. 141) says: "there is no O.T. regulation forbidding such social contact with Gentiles, though the rabbis had added it and had made it binding by custom. There is nothing more binding on the average person than social custom."
Second, he told them "God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean. These are the same words used in Acts 10:14. No man is common (koinon) or unclean (akatharton). As Bruce (p. 222) says:
Actually, the terms of his vision on the housetop at Joppa taught him to call no food common or unclean if God pronounced it clean; but he was quick to grasp the analogy between ceremonial food-laws and the regulations affecting intercourse with non-Jews. It was largely because of their carelessness in food matters that Gentiles were ritually unsafe people for a pious Jew to meet socially.
Third, Peter told them how he had come without raising any objection when he was sent for. As the Spirit directed, he had acted without misgiving. This was an enormous forward step for the church. The restrictions concerning Gentiles would be overcome. History was in the making!
Now, Cornelius spoke. He tells about his vision that he had experienced "four days ago." This would be inclusive of the day he was speaking and the day that he had the vision. As he tells the story, a man in "shining garments" spoke to him. This man (Acts 10:3) was an angel. The angel instructed him to send for Peter, and he immediately obeyed. By telling this story, he helped the audience to understand that God was truly at work.
Cornelius complimented Peter for coming. Then, he concluded with this comment: "Now then, we are all here present before God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord." The stage was set for Peter's message and the outpouring of the Spirit.
George M. Flattery
Arndt, William F. and Gingrich, F. Wilbur. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. Cambridge: The University of Chicago Press, 1957.
Bruce, F. F. The Book of Acts. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1975.
Fernando, Ajith. The NIV Application Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998.
Gangel, Kenneth O. Acts: Holman New Testament Commentary. General Editor: Anders, Max. Nashville: Holman Reference, 1998.
Robertson, A. T. Word Pictures in the New Testament, Vols. 1-6. Nashville: Broadman Press, 1930.
© Copyright 2003. GMF.