Jesus said, “…But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” ( Acts 1:8).
The promise has come true. We are a testament. The gospel has come to the Gentiles. God was faithful to keep his promise. His disciples were faithful to fulfill their responsibility. They spread the gospel to the Gentiles and to “the ends of the earth.” Acts 10 marks the beginning of this kingdom expansion (at least figuratively).
Cornelius Had a Vision
A God-fearning Gentile had a vision from God in which God told him to send for Peter who was to explain the mystery of Christ to him. Cornelius was a “sort of” Jewish convert — he believed in the God of Jews and served him, but he hadn’t fully submitted to the religious rites, especially circumcision. However, he did follow the two other “expressions” of Jewish piety — prayers and almsgiving. Further, he led his whole household in seeking after the God of Israel.
Peter Had a Vision
While on his journey to the city (Joppa), Peter went onto a housetop to pray. There he had a vision from God in which God revealed two things to him. First, God declared all animals clean and acceptable to eat. (Eating BBQ is now pleasing to the Lord. PRAISE THE LORD!) Peter was hesitant to believe the promise, but God affirmed and reaffirmed it three times. Second, God told Peter about Cornelius. God had a plan for Cornelius, and Peter was part of that plan.
Peter Preached Good News to the Gentiles
Peter boldly stood and proclaimed the good news of Christ before the Cornelius and those he had gathered around him. Peter’s messages was simple (as it has been throughout Acts), and it centered on Jesus. Jesus lived perfectly; he worked graciously; he died unjustly; and he rose mightily from the grave. He reconciled men and women to God through his life death and resurrection. That is the gospel. Nothing else compares. Don’t be fooled.
The Holy Spirit Descended Upon the Gentiles
Before Peter finished preaching, the Holy Spirit descended upon the Gentiles. The people were filled with faith and the Holy Spirit to the amazement of those with Peter. Peter commanded that they be baptized in the name of Jesus. The Gentiles didn’t need to be circumcised; they needed to be baptized. They weren’t becoming Jews; they became Christians. They received the blessings of the New Covenant in Christ, and its sign is baptism, not circumcision.
Walls of Hostility are Destroyed By God in Christ
Jesus destroyed the wall of hostility that existed between Jew and Gentile. He destroyed any and all ethnic or religious walls of divisions between men and women. He brings all those who would come to him in faith together in his new life — Jew, Gentile, white, black, male, female, slave, free. “But now in Christ Jesus you who were once far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility…” (Eph. 2:13-14).
How does this truth reshape the way you think about other people, especially those with whom you’ve previously erected or had erected a wall of hostility?
Praise God today for bringing you into his covenant people through Christ. You were once far off, but you’ve been brought near in Christ.
Are there any Corneilus’s in your life to whom God is calling you to go and proclaim the good news? If so, will you be like Peter and go?