Acts 10: 1 – 8 Cornelius calls for Peter
At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, ‘Cornelius!’
Cornelius stared at him in fear. ‘What is it, Lord?’ he asked.
The angel answered, ‘Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon, who is called Peter. He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea.’
When the angel who spoke to him had gone, Cornelius called two of his servants and a devout soldier who was one of his attendants. He told them everything that had happened and sent them to Joppa.
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Let’s start by looking at Cornelius. He was not a Jew by birth. He was not a Jew by conversion. He was a God-fearing person. This meant that he acknowledged the Jewish God as the one, true God, and he obeyed a number of Jewish laws. The Hellenistic Jews of the first to third centuries A.D. recognised such people and welcomed them into the synagogue.
Being a God-fearer made a real difference to Cornelius’ life. He prayed regularly to God, and gave generously to those in need. Furthermore, his example was such that his whole family were God-fearing.
Nevertheless, because Cornelius was not a convert, he remained a Gentile. This meant that any Jew entering his house would become ritually unclean.
Having been introduced to Cornelius, we are told that, “He distinctly saw an angel of God.” Furthermore “Cornelius stared at him in fear.” Now Cornelius was a centurion. He would not have been easily frightened. There must have been something very striking about the angel to frighten him.
‘What is it, Lord?’ he asked.
“The angel answered, ‘Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God.’ ”
I’m not completely sure what this means. It may be a way of recording that God was pleased that Cornelius had been generous in his giving to those in need. To put it another way, perhaps this was said to make it clear that Cornelius had been chosen for this miracle because he was obedient to God, and had shown this in the way he had led his life.
The angel then instructed Cornelius to “send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon, who is called Peter. He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea.”
Cornelius obeyed; and it’s a good thing that he did, because over in Joppa, another part of God’s plan was being brought to fruition…
Thank you for this opportunity to learn more about you. Please help me to be obedient as Cornelius was obedient.
In Jesus’ name, Amen