Life-Study of Actsby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
By the end of chapter nine the Lord had done many things to prepare the way for Peter to open the door for the Gentiles to come into the kingdom of God. Acts 9:31 points to the success of Peter’s ministry: “The church throughout the whole of Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace, being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it was multiplied.” Here we see that churches had been strongly established in the three provinces of Judea, Galilee, and Samaria. This indicated that Peter’s ministry in the propagation of the resurrected Christ was very successful in the Jewish land. This land included not only Judea but also Galilee and Samaria, a region in between Judea and Galilee. Through Peter’s ministry the territory called the holy land was filled with churches.
According to 9:32-43, Peter was moved by the Lord toward Caesarea, which was a strong center of the Roman government. In Caesarea lived a man named Cornelius. Here we see the Lord’s preparation for the opening of the door for the Gentiles to come into the church life.
In Matthew 16:19 the Lord Jesus gave Peter the keys of the kingdom. On the day of Pentecost Peter used the first of these keys to open the door for the Jewish people to come into the kingdom of God. As we shall see, in Acts 10 Peter used the second key to open the door of the kingdom of God to the Gentiles.
Acts 10:1 and 2 say, “Now there was a certain man in Caesarea named Cornelius, a centurion of what is called the Italian cohort, devout and fearing God with all his household, giving many alms to the people, and beseeching God continually.” The word “cohort” signifies one of the ten divisions of an ancient Roman legion. It was composed of six hundred men. Cornelius, the Roman centurion, like the Ethiopian eunuch, was seeking God, as mentioned in 17:27.
In 10:1 we see that the Lord now took a further step in His evangelical work. By this He reached another total Gentile, a man of Italy of the Roman Empire in Europe. Thus the door of the gospel was opened to all the Gentiles. It was a difficult thing for the Jewish apostles and disciples with their Jewish background and habit to approach the Gentiles (v. 28). Hence, it was an extraordinary move, needing an angel of God to take part in it (v. 3), just as an angel did in the case of Philip approaching the Ethiopian from Africa in 8:26. And in both cases the Spirit spoke to Philip and Peter particularly (8:29; 10:19).
The Lord is sovereign over the entire situation of the world. What happened in Acts 10 was surely according to the Lord’s sovereignty. In Caesarea, an important city for the Roman government, there was a certain centurion named Cornelius. Cornelius was not only a good man and a moral man, but was also a devout man, one seeking after God. From the beginning of mankind, there have always been devout men who sought God. Cornelius was in this category. He and all those of his household feared God and were devout. Acts 10:7 even speaks of a devout soldier. This indicates that in Cornelius’ household there was a devout atmosphere. In Acts 10 we see the kind of person used by God to open the way for the kingdom of God to the Gentile world.
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