Acts 10:1 to 1:18

Introductory Remarks:

We have given to this section the title, “The Conversion of Cornelius.” And to be sure, that conversion of the Roman centurion is one of the main threads in this narrative. However, as we indicated in connection with the last part of chapter 9 already, there is a broader and greater significance to be seen in these events. The purpose of the Lord of His church was not only the salvation of Cornelius, but also the instruction of the apostle Peter as to the preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles, and, through Peter, the instruction of the whole body of the apostles and the entire church. And therefore we may also say that the purpose of God in the conversion of Cornelius and in the instruction of the church in regard to the evangelization of the Gentiles was ultimately the salvation of the Gentiles. The conversion of Cornelius is the beginning of the salvation of the church from among the Gentiles. And it is that beginning not only in the sense that it is the first instance of the conversion of a Gentile after Pentecost, but also in the sense that it constitutes the principle, the seed, of the spread of the gospel to the Gentile-world. It is the breakthrough out of the confines of Jewry into the broad field of the Gentile world. And in the wisdom of God the way is prepared through these events for the great work of the apostle Paul that is soon to come. To be sure, the world-wide spread of the gospel has been presaged by the sign of the tongues on the day of Pentecost, but heretofore little or nothing had come to pass which might be called a fulfillment of that sign. It is in this light that we must consider the “things that Jesus continued to teach and to do” as they are presented in this chapter. For above all it is evident that the things recorded in this chapter are to be ascribed to the risen Lord Himself.


I. The Revelation to Cornelius.

A. The Person of Cornelius: (vss. 1 and 2)

1. His nationality and status in life:

a. Mentioned are his location, his name, his occupation, and the band of which he was the centurion.

b. What do these four facts indicate concerning Cornelius that is of importance for the narrative?

2. His spiritual disposition:

a. What facts are mentioned concerning Cornelius from the spiritual viewpoint?

b. Was Cornelius a proselyte?

c. What is the significance of these facts in relation to the conversion of Cornelius? Was Cornelius called out of rank heathendom through Peter’s preaching? Are these facts to be interpreted in such a way that Cornelius was worthy of having the gospel preached to him? Or do they mean that Cornelius was already a child of God before Peter preached to him, and that the Lord Himself purposefully prepared this devout and seeking Gentile with a view to Peter’s preaching of the Christ? In this same connection, we may ask whether there is any relation between Cornelius’ spiritual and religious background and the way in which Peter preaches to him after awhile? Does not Peter’s sermon presuppose a good deal of knowledge on Cornelius’ part? And does it not also presuppose a certain spiritual disposition of Cornelius?

B. The Manner of Revelation:

1. In the case of Cornelius, we read of a “vision.” In the case of Peter we read of a “trance” (vs. 10) and of a “vision” (vs. 17). Are they the same mode of revelation,or not? If not, what do the two have in common, and what distinguishes them?

2. Is there any connection between the vision, the time of day at which the vision was received, and the fact that Cornelius “prayed to God alway”?

C. The Vision as Such: (vss. 3-6)

1. Did an angel really come to Cornelius? Could others see him?

2. How did Cornelius know that this was truly a revelation from God?

3. What indications are there in the text which show that these things were all very real for Cornelius?

4. The message of the angel:

a. What does it mean that Cornelius’ prayers and alms were come up for a memorial before God? Was this a reward for some good works of Cornelius?

b. Why does the angel give Cornelius such explicit directions as to whom he is to send for and where he is to go? Why does the Lord put the burden of contacting Peter upon Cornelius? Why not simply send Peter to Cornelius?

c. What is the meaning of “he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do?”

D. Cornelius’ Obedience to the Vision: (vss. 7, 8)

1. What does vs. 7 indicate of the attitude of Cornelius with regard to the vision? What details show clearly the spiritual disposition of Cornelius after the vision?

2. What do we learn here of Cornelius’ household and of his treatment of them? Was he concerned only with himself? Is there any indication here of his previous relationship to his household, and even to the soldiers of his band?

3. How far was Joppa from Caesarea? When did the three messengers leave Caesarea and arrive in Joppa?


II. The Revelation to Peter: (vss. 9-16)

A. The Mode of Revelation:

1. Concerning the subject of visions and trances, cf. I.B. above.

2. We may add here this question: Why did the Lord use this particular means of making known His will to Peter? Was not Peter filled with the Holy Ghost? Why did the Lord not simply prompt His apostle at this time through the Spirit?

B. The Vision, or Trance, as Such:

1. The circumstances:

a. What do the time and the fact that Peter went up to pray have to do with his reception of this vision?

b. What does the fact that he went up to pray indicate of the apostle’s spiritual life? Did he probably have fixed time for prayer? Was this a carry-over fromhis Jewish training? Should we have fixed times for prayer?

c. Has the fact of Peter’s hunger any connection with the trance?

2. The contents of the vision:

a. Whence did the vessel come and whither did it return? Is this a significant part of the vision? Why?

b. What did the vessel contain? What were “clean and unclean” animals?

c. Why did not Peter want to kill and eat? Did he have good reason for his refusal? Was he disobedient to the Lord?

d. How was it possible that whereas formerly God had enjoined His people not to eat unclean animals, He now commands Peter to do so? What does it mean that God had cleansed them? How had God cleansed them?

e. Why is the transaction twice repeated?

f. What is the meaning of the vision? Does the Lord merely mean to teach Peter that from now on it is all right for him to ignore the Mosaic restrictions about food, and such like things? Or is there a fundamental principle taught in this object lesson? If so, what is that principle, and how does the vision teach it?