Summary: a sermon on Pentecost and the household of Cornelius
For centuries the children of Israel held a select place in the favor of God, so they began to think that God’s covenant was bound to them alone and to those of their blood. They boasted: We are Abraham’s seed. They considered themselves a godly aristocracy and that God would not dare to step out of their race and lineage to chose a people unto Himself. Even after Christ came and gave His apostles the direct command to preach the gospel into all the world, they were still somewhat timid at first in following this command, because the prejudices of their race still held them somewhat in bondage. Therefore God performed this special miracle in the home of Cornelius, the Gentile to show that -
The Gentiles are also included in the Blessing of Pentecost
First the Gospel is preached to the Gentiles. What we just read is the last part of a sermon that Peter delivered in the house of Cornelius, the Roman Centurion. Peter was at first somewhat timid in going to the house of Cornelius because it was considered unclean for a Jew to eat or commune with Gentiles, but God showed him by infallible proofs that He Himself was calling and sending Him to the house of Cornelius to speak the Word of Truth there. Peter refers here to this command of God Himself when he says, “And He commanded us to preach unto the people.” The Gentiles are people as well as the Jews and therefore included in the command of the Lord, that the gospel should be preached to them.
What it is that Jesus commanded them to preach he states by saying, “and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.” This word relieves us from any doubt as to whether the command of Christ is authoritative enough to bring us safely by the judgment seat of God. God has given everything into Christ’s hand. Jesus Himself will be judge of living and dead and therefore there is no word or command as powerful or important or as trustworthy as the command of Christ. Peter need not fear judgment because he preaches to the Gentiles, nor the Gentiles fear judgment because they receive such message, even though the Jews stand and judge and condemn, for it is the highest and supreme Judge who gave the command and all cases must finally and in the last instance be settled before His judgment seat and not before the judgment seat of any man or nation.
The command of Jesus is also corroborated by the testimony of the people of God that went before. They had already proclaimed beforehand, as Peter here says, that through Jesus name whoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins. This witness of Peter is true, for what else does the prophet Isaiah mean when he says, “By His stripes are we healed?” The promise of forgiveness of our sins and everlasting salvation includes both Jew and Gentile: “Whoever believeth, etc.” Whoever is a broad word and means: No matter who the person is, of what color or race or nation, no matter how great his sin: Whoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins, and total cancellation of all his debts.