In this message we shall cover three matters: Peter’s message to those gathered together in the house of Cornelius (vv. 34-43); the falling of the Holy Spirit on the house of Cornelius—the Gentile believers’ baptism in the Holy Spirit (vv. 44-46); and the water baptism of the house of Cornelius (vv. 47-48).
Acts 10:34-36 says, “And opening his mouth, Peter said, I surely perceive that God is not a respecter of persons, but in every nation he who fears Him and works righteousness is acceptable to Him. The word which He sent to the sons of Israel, bringing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ (this One is Lord of all).” First, Peter says that God is not a respecter of persons. Then he goes on to say that in every nation those who fear God and work righteousness are acceptable to Him. Those who fear God and work righteousness in every nation are still a part of fallen mankind. God accepts them in view of the redemption of Christ. Without Christ, no fallen man is justified by his works (Rom. 3:20; Gal. 2:16).
In Acts 10:36 Peter declares that Jesus Christ is Lord of all. Some readers of Acts may understand the word “all” in this verse to mean both all things and all persons. However, strictly speaking the word “all” here denotes only persons, not things. This “all” refers to men (1 Tim. 2:4), not only Jews but also Gentiles. Peter’s word here indicates that he now realizes that God has made Christ the Lord of both the Jews and the Gentiles. With Him there is no respect of persons.
In his message Peter also spoke concerning the living and ministry of the Lord Jesus when He was on earth. He said to those in the house of Cornelius that they knew the word which God “sent to the sons of Israel, bringing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ...the word which came throughout the whole of Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism which John proclaimed: Jesus, the One from Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and power, who went about doing good and healing all those who were oppressed by the Devil, for God was with Him” (vv. 36-38). The Greek word rendered “word” in verse 37 is rhema. In these verses Peter points out that the Lord Jesus performed miracles to rescue and set free those who were under the oppression of the Devil.
In verses 39 through 41 Peter speaks concerning Christ’s resurrection: “And we are witnesses of all things which He did, both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem; whom also they did away with, hanging Him on a tree. This One God raised on the third day and made Him manifest, not to all the people, but to witnesses appointed beforehand by God, to us, who ate and drank with Him after He rose from among the dead.” The Greek word rendered “manifest” in verse 40 literally means “to become visible.” In verse 40 Peter says that God raised this One, but in verse 41 he says that the Lord rose from among the dead. Regarding the Lord as a man, the New Testament tells us that God raised Him from the dead (Rom. 8:11). But considering Him as God, the New Testament tells us that He Himself rose from the dead (Rom. 14:9).
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