Summary: Events in the house of Cornelius of Caesarea prove the Gospel of Christ is meant for everyone.
Good News for Everyone Acts 10:1-8
INTRO.: Jesus told His disciples they would witness for Him in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8) We can trace the Gospel’s progress through the pages of the Book of Acts. Chapter nine relates the story of Saul’s conversion. God has chosen Saul of Tarsus to be the apostle to the Gentiles. By the tenth chapter, the stage is set for the Good News to go to the Gentile world. Without the events recorded in chapter 10, we Gentiles would not be here
The Apostle Peter was God’s choice to open the doors of the Church, first to the Jews in chapter 2, and now to the Gentiles. Matthew 16:18, 19.
The tenth chapter of Acts records the story of the first Gentiles to enter the Body of Christ. They are a Roman noncommissioned officer by the name of Cornelius and members of his family. The story unfolds as a play in three acts:
I. Act one occurs in the seaport town of Caesarea. A soldier is praying.
A. Cornelius is a most unusual man:
1. A career Roman soldier, he is part of an occupation force. Veteran of many battles
2. Yet, he is influenced by the religious beliefs of those he came to help rule.
3. He has adopted some of their customs and evidently believes in the God of the Jews even though his background is idolatrous.
4. His character is described in Acts 10:2. Even good people need Jesus.
B. He is a good man:
1. Generous with his resources in helping the poor.
2. Devout in his prayer life. 3 PM was an appointed hour of prayer for Jews.
3. His witness was such that his entire family practiced the Jewish customs as he did.
C. An angel makes an appearance:
1. Cornelius is frightened. The angel must have been awesome.
2. His instructions are to send for Peter to learn what God expects of him. God deals with men through men, not angels. Angels don’t preach the Gospel.
3. God has commissioned His Church to preach His message to the world. He could have chosen another way, but we should feel deeply honored He chose us.
A. He is in a most unusual location:
1. The house of Simon, a tanner. Tanners were despised by the Jews because they handled dead bodies. Jews ranked tanners with gamblers, prostitutes, tax collectors.
2. Yet, Peter, a Jewish Christian, is living with Simon, a tanner. Evidently, he has already abandoned some Jewish traditions.
3. Now he is on the roof praying, not knowing Cornelius’ messengers are on their way.
B. He receives a revelation from God in the form of a vision:
1. He’s hungry and asks for food. Now the food comes from an unexpected source. 11-13
2. The Jewish diet is very restrictive and some creatures on the sheet are unlawful for Jews to eat, they are not kosher. Jews only ate certain animals and they had to be killed in a certain way with certain tools.
3. Naturally, Peter objects to eating the animals on the sheet.
4. The vision is repeated three times. God is very serious about it.
C. Messengers from Cornelius arrive and God’s Spirit advises Peter not to hesitate about going with them.
1. Peter has just been told three times that Jewish covenant law no longer applies.
2. He can now eat formerly forbidden food and visit Gentile homes, also formerly prohibited.
3. Peter may not fully understand the meaning of the vision, but God is telling Peter He wants His salvation to be enjoyed by all people everywhere.
4. He wastes no time in departing for Caesarea. As soon as the messengers have time to rest, he leaves and takes six Jewish Christians with him.
III. Act 3 takes place in Cornelius’ house. Peter and Cornelius come together: 34-48
A. Peter enters the house and explains why he is there. 28, 29
1. He has obviously by this time figured out what God was trying to teach him with the vision. He should not call any man impure or unclean. All are objects of God’s love.
2. Cornelius explains why he sent for Peter. Both men have received a very special revelation from God.
B. Cornelius presents Peter to an ideal audience. Any preacher would be envious. 33
1. We are all here. No absentees.
2. In the Presence of God. Aware God is amidst them.
3. To hear everything God has commanded. The purest of motives.
C. Peter preached to them of the life, death, resurrection of Jesus.
1. His message is interrupted by an outpouring of the Holy Spirit resembling what happened on Pentecost when 3000 were baptized into Christ.