"Showing the way, Teaching the truth,
Experiencing the life in Christ"
Peter & Cornelius
(Acts 10:5-6, NKJV)
“Send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter.
He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea.
He will tell you what you must do.”
When we last saw Peter he was residing at the home of Simon, a tanner, near the sea coast in Joppa. Luke explained that after the evangelistic revival that was ignited when Tabitha was raised from death, Peter remained in Joppa—evidently to disciple the new believers. He wrote, “Many believed on the Lord. So it was that he stayed many days in Joppa with Simon, a tanner” (Acts 10:42b-43, NKJV).
It is significant that Peter chose to reside in Joppa in the home of “a tanner”—a man whose business was preserving animal skins. According to Jewish religious law tanners were “unclean” because they routinely came into contact with dead animals. The fact that Peter was staying in the home of a man that would be considered “unclean” by the Jewish religious leaders indicates that perhaps he was rethinking the prevailing hardline Jewish interpretation of the Old Testament concept of what it meant to be “unclean” and how devout Jews should to respond to those who were.
During the first century the Jewish rabbis had concocted such an extreme version of what it meant to be “unclean” that they considered all Gentiles “unclean” and taught that associating with them in any way was a violation of God’s Law. In today’s story from the Book of Acts, Peter explained that fact to a Roman soldier named Cornelius. He said, “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation” (Acts 10:28a, NKJV).
They overlooked the fact that God didn’t consider Gentiles “unclean.” He valued them and had a plan to save them. God said to the ancient prophet Isaiah, “I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6b, NKJV). It wasn’t just the Jews that God valued and to whom He offered “salvation.” It was also “for the Gentiles”—who lived “to the ends of the earth.” An important spiritual lesson we can learn from the history of the Jews is: “A balanced view of ALL Scripture will prevent God’s people from adopting an extremely false view of God and His plans.”
Since the original members of the church were Jews, who held these same views regarding Gentiles being “unclean,” the church was destined to forever remain a small Jewish sect restricted to the nation of Israel, unless God did something to change their misguided belief regarding Gentiles. So God chose to do something and that something included both “Cornelius & Peter.” Let’s look at the story.
II. An Angel Visits Cornelius
Luke began today’s story by introducing us to Cornelius. He wrote, “There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always” (Acts 10:1-2, NKJV). Cornelius was obviously a man who desperately wanted to please God. He “feared God…gave alms…and prayed.”
Unfortunately, nobody had ever explained to Cornelius what it took to really please God. So God sent an angel to direct Cornelius to Peter who could tell him exactly what he needed to know. Luke wrote, “About the ninth hour of the day [3 p.m.] he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, ‘Cornelius!’ And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, ‘What is it, lord?’ So he said to him, ‘Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God. Now send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter. He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea. He will tell you what you must do’” (Acts 10:3-6, NKJV).
Cornelius responded to the angel’s instruction by doing exactly what he said to do. Luke wrote, “When the angel who spoke to him had departed, Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier from among those who waited on him continually. So when he had explained all these things to them, he sent them to Joppa” (Acts 10:7-8, NKJV). Peter was equipped to give Cornelius the answers he so desperately wanted and needed—so God directed Cornelius to Peter.
An important spiritual lesson to learn from this portion of the story of Peter & Cornelius is: “When God’s people get equipped to share God’s answers to the questions of life, God will direct people to them who need those answers.” Are you equipped to do for others what the angel said Peter would do for Cornelius? The angel said, “He will tell you what you must do” (Acts 10:6b, NKJV).
III. Peter’s Vision
Cornelius was certainly convinced to invite Peter to his home to preach, but now God would have to work on Peter to convince him to go. You see, even though Peter may have been rethinking his hardline interpretation regarding the meaning of “unclean,” it would still be a huge struggle for him to actually go into the home of a Gentile. So God gave him a vision designed to convince him that Gentiles were not “unclean” simply because they were Gentiles. Notice how the story progresses: “The next day, as they [the men sent to Joppa by Cornelius] went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour [noon]. Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth. In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. And a voice came to him, ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’ But Peter said, ‘Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.’ And a voice spoke to him again the second time, ‘What God has cleansed you must not call common.’ This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again” (Acts 10:9-16, NKJV).
Evidently some of the “animals…beasts…creeping things…and birds” in the “great sheet” were animals Peter—because of his Jewish training—would have considered “unclean” and therefore not to be eaten. So when commanded to “Rise…and eat” (Acts 10:13b, NKJV), Peter refused, saying, “Not so, Lord… I have never eaten anything common or unclean” (Acts 10:14, NKJV). The reason for Peter’s refusal was that he viewed some of the contents of the “great sheet” as “unclean.”
God responded by addressing Peter’s reason for refusing to “eat.” He said, “What God has cleansed you must not call common” (Acts 10:15b, NKJV). An important spiritual lesson to learn from this experience in the life of Peter is: “Misguided religious beliefs can actually motivate God’s people to blatantly disobey Him.” God said to Peter, “Rise…and eat,” and Peter said to God, “Not so…Lord.” That was blatant disobedience!
In order to emphasize the importance of His message to Peter in this vision, God repeated the vision three times. Luke wrote, “This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again” (Acts 10:16, NKJV).
Maybe Peter was a slow learner, but he finally understood God’s message. Later, when explaining this vision to Cornelius, Peter said, “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation [not just the Jewish nation] whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him” (Acts 10:34b-35, NKJV).
Once Peter understood the profound truth that God accepts those who come to Him “in every nation,” he could then more fully comprehend the magnitude of Jesus’ final instructions to him and the other disciples just before He ascended back to heaven. Jesus had said, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NIV).
Because of the profound impact this vision from God had on Peter, he is not prepared to share the “Good News” beyond the borders of Israel and influence other Jews to do the same. As a result, the church was no longer destined to remain a small Jewish religious sect, but was now destined to become a global influence! That’s what Jesus had in mind when He said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15, NKJV).
God Sends Peter to Caesarea
(Acts 10:20, NKJV)
“Arise therefore, go down and go with them,
doubting nothing; for I have sent them.”
During our last lesson from the Book of Acts we watched as God worked in Peter’s heart to prepare for an assignment Peter would otherwise not be willing to accept. He did so by giving Peter a vision containing a strategic message. The fact that Peter comprehended the message contained in the vision was later evidenced when he said to a Roman soldier named Cornelius, “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him” (Acts 10:34b-35, NKJV). In this statement Peter revealed that God had used the vision Peter had received to radically change his hardline Jewish religious beliefs regarding how Jews should view and respond to Gentiles.
Peter had believed all his life that Gentiles were “unclean,” and therefore unimportant to God and to be avoided at all costs by devout Jews, just because they were Gentiles. In this lesson we will watch as Peter confesses that in the past he had possessed these misguided religious beliefs about God’s plan for the Gentiles when he said to Cornelius, “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation” (Acts 10:28, NKJV).
Fortunately, Peter also confessed that he had made the journey from Joppa to Caesarea and actually entered the home of a Gentile soldier because he learned a valuable lesson from the vision God had given him. He said, “But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean. Therefore I came without objection as soon as I was sent for” (Acts 10:28-29a, NKJV). An important spiritual lesson to learn from Peter’s confession in this statement is: “God often has to work on us before He can work through us.”
God had prepared Peter to be a key component in His plan to move His church beyond the borders of Israel into the rest of the world—and Peter would be the first church leader to effectively preach the gospel to Gentiles and establish the first Gentile church! He later made this claim when there was an argument in the church at Jerusalem regarding how Jews should view Gentile believers. Peter said to the apostles and elders at Jerusalem, “Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith” (Acts 15:7b-9, NKJV).
When we last saw Peter, he was pondering the meaning of the vision God had given him. So that’s where we will start in today’s lesson.
II. Messengers from Caesarea Arrive
The Roman soldier named Cornelius had an angelic visitation during which he was instructed to send men to Joppa to invite Peter to his home for a sermon. Cornelius had obeyed the angel and his messengers arrived at the residence where Peter was lodging immediately after Peter had received this vision from God and was pondering its meaning. Luke wrote, “Now while Peter wondered within himself what this vision which he had seen meant, behold, the men who had been sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate. And they called and asked whether Simon, whose surname was Peter, was lodging there” (Acts 10:17-18, NKJV). Cornelius’ messengers couldn’t have arrived at a better time—with a divine vision fresh on Peter’s mind! Who do you think engineered the precise time of their arrival?
An important spiritual lesson to learn from this part of the story of Peter & Cornelius is: “God has a perfect sense of timing.” He’s never early and He’s never late! A wonderful example of God doing the right thing at just the right time is found in Paul’s letter to the believers at Galatia. He wrote, “When the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law” (Galatians 4:4, NLT).
As Peter mused over the message of the vision, his thoughts were suddenly interrupted by the voice of the Holy Spirit. Luke wrote, “While Peter thought about the vision, the Spirit said to him, ‘Behold, three men are seeking you” (Acts 10:19, NKJV). Rather than thinking about the vision, maybe Peter should have simply been listening for the voice of the Holy Spirit!
I must confess at this point that I often do way too much thinking about such things as how to solve problems, how to answer questions, or how to lead effectively…and not enough listening for the Spirit to speak. I find myself doing this in spite of the fact that Jesus said, “The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26, NIV). If you just listen to Him, the Holy Spirit will “teach you” and “remind you” of what Jesus has said!
The Holy Spirit said to Peter, “Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them” (Acts 10:20, NKJV). The Holy Spirit knew that the messengers waiting at the gate were Gentiles, yet He told Peter to “go with them” to Caesarea to the home of a Gentile soldier. So Peter had two choices. He could act on the new truth he had just learned about Gentiles, obey God and “go with them,” or he could revert to his old belief about Gentiles being “unclean” and disobey God by refusing to “go with them.” What a test! An important spiritual lesson to learn from this episode in Peter’s life is: “When we learn new truth, God often tests our obedience to it.” That’s exactly what God did to Peter after he had comprehended the message in the vision—that Gentiles were not “unclean.” God often tests His people as part of the process of preparing them for greater ministry opportunities!
Fortunately, Peter passed the test! Luke wrote, “Peter went down to the men who had been sent to him from Cornelius, and said, ‘Yes, I am he whom you seek. For what reason have you come?’ And they said, ‘Cornelius the centurion, a just man, one who fears God and has a good reputation among all the nation of the Jews, was divinely instructed by a holy angel to summon you to his house, and to hear words from you.’ Then he invited them in and lodged them. On the next day Peter went away with them, and some brethren from Joppa accompanied him” (Acts 10”21-23, NKJV). God said, “Go with them,” and Peter “went…with them.” Peter certainly passed the test!
What we believe will have a definite effect on how we behave. Therefore, it is crucial that what we believe is “truth.” That is exactly why Paul wrote to his young disciple Timothy, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Timothy 2:15, KJV).
When Peter believed that all Gentiles were “unclean” and any contact with them was a violation of God’s Law and would make even the most devout Jew “unclean,” he would never have journeyed to Caesarea and entered Cornelius’ house. But Peter had learned “truth” that had changed his view of Gentiles. He explained to Cornelius, “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him” (Acts 10:34b-35, NKJV).
The truth Peter had learned affected his behavior. Luke wrote, “And the following day they entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting for them…And as he [Peter] talked with him, he went in and found many who had come together. Then he said to them, ‘You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean. Therefore I came without objection as soon as I was sent for. I ask, then, for what reason have you sent for me?’” (Acts 10:24a…27-29, NKJV). Did you get that? Peter said, “God has shown me…Therefore I came” (Acts 10:28b…29a, NKJV). I want to say it one more time—what we believe will have a definite effect on how we behave!
Peter Preaches at Cornelius’ House
(Acts 10:43, NKJV)
“To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name,
whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.”
When we closed our last lesson from the Book of Acts, Peter had arrived at Caesarea and entered the home of Cornelius, the Roman soldier who had sent for him inviting him there. Immediately after his arrival Peter explained why a devout Jew like him would do the unthinkable—enter the home of a Gentile. He said, “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean. Therefore I came without objection as soon as I was sent for” (Acts 10:28-29a, NKJV).
Peter then asked Cornelius, “For what reason have you sent for me?” (Acts 10:29b, NKJV). It is apparent from Peter’s question that he didn’t know why he was commanded by God to go to Caesarea to the home of this Gentile soldier. He simply knew he was commanded to go. So he went! An important spiritual lesson to learn from this episode in Peter’s life is: “We should obey God’s commands, even when we don’t understand why the command is given.” Often we will understand why the command is given after we have obeyed it.
Peter didn’t understand why God commanded him to go to Caesarea until he arrived and Cornelius explained why he had sent for him. Cornelius said, “Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour [3:00 p.m.] I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your alms are remembered in the sight of God. Send therefore to Joppa and call Simon here, whose surname is Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea. When he comes, he will speak to you.’ So I sent to you immediately, and you have done well to come. Now therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God” (Acts 10:30-33, NKJV).
At this point Peter understood why he was commanded to travel to the home of this Gentile. God wanted him to “speak to” Cornelius and the other Gentiles gathered in his home. Talk about an attentive audience! Cornelius said, “We are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God” (Acts 10:33b, NKJV). Peter knew an opportunity to preach when he saw it, so that is exactly what he did.
II. Peter’s Sermon
Peter knew an opportunity to preach when he saw it, so that is exactly what he did. Luke wrote, “Then Peter opened his mouth and said: ‘In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him’” (Acts 10:34-35, NKJV). He began his sermon by explaining why he would even bother preaching to a houseful of Gentiles.
Then Peter immediately transitioned to the message he now understood that God wanted both Jew and Gentile alike to hear. He said, “The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ—He is Lord of all— that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree. Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:36-43, NKJV).
At this point Peter fully understood that Jesus did not come to be “Lord of the Jews.” He came to be “Lord of all” (Acts 10:36b, NKJV). Therefore, he must preach “Jesus” to these Gentiles! So he did. He preached, “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree. Him God raised up on the third day” (Acts 10:38-40a, NKJV). The theme of Peter’s message to the Gentiles was the same as his message to the Jews —the death and resurrection of Jesus!
An important spiritual lesson we should learn from Peter’s sermon is: “The central theme of our message to everyone should be the death and resurrection of Jesus.” Without hearing and believing that message people simply cannot be saved. Paul later wrote, “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9, NKJV).
Peter concluded his sermon with a wonderfully simple theological statement. He said, “To Him [Jesus] all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:43, NKJV).
Peter’s theology was based on the fact that people were saved by “believing,” not by “behaving.” Jesus taught this same theology of salvation when He said, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16, NKJV).
Paul also taught that people were saved by “faith”—by believing God, not by good behavior. He wrote, “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works [good behavior], so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9, NIV). An important spiritual lesson we can learn from Peter, from Jesus, and from Paul is: “Being saved is a gift received by “faith,” not a reward earned by good behavior.”
God sent Peter to preach to a houseful of Gentiles because He wants everyone to be saved, Jew and Gentile alike. Peter evidently understood that fact when he said, “To Him [Jesus] all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:43, NKJV).
God wants everyone to be saved. He doesn’t want anyone to perish. Peter more fully explained this great truth when he later wrote, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (II Peter 3:9, NIV). If anyone misses heaven and ends up in hell, it won’t be because God sent them there. It will be because they stubbornly walked around everything God has done to keep them out of that horrible place!
Next week we will examine something else God did at Cornelius’ house to ensure that as many people as possible hear about Jesus and have the opportunity to be saved.
The Holy Spirit Empowers a Gentile Church
(Acts 10:45b, NKJV)
“The gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out
on the Gentiles also.”
At the conclusion of last week’s lesson from the Book of Acts, I explained that God had sent Peter to Caesarea to the home of a Roman soldier to preach to him because He wants everyone to be saved—not just Jews, but Gentiles too! That’s why Peter finished his sermon at Cornelius’ house with the wonderfully simple theological statement, “To Him [Jesus] all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:43, NKJV). The term “whoever” includes not only Jews, but Gentiles as well!
The fact that God sent Peter to preach to a houseful of Gentiles illustrates that fact that God wants everyone to be saved. Jesus wants to be “Lord of all” (Acts 10:36b, NKJV)—not just “Lord of the Jews.” That’s why Peter later wrote, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (II Peter 3:9, NIV).
As Peter was uttering the final words of His sermon, God did something else that clearly demonstrates that He wants everyone to hear His gospel, believe it, and be saved. By the way, it is necessary to hear God’s Word in order to believe it. That’s what Jesus indicated when He said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life” (John 5:24, NKJV). Notice the order—hearing comes before believing!
Paul taught that people can’t believe in Jesus to be saved if they have never heard of Him. He wrote, “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?” (Romans 10:13-14a, NKJV). The Greek word used by Paul that is translated “heard” means “to hear with understanding.” The fact is—you must be able to understand what is said in order to believe it. Therefore, in order for the maximum number of people to “hear” the Good News, believe it, and be saved, God did something incredible at Cornelius’ house.
II. Something Incredible at Cornelius’ House
What God did was so incredible that it astonished the Jewish Christians who were present that day. Let’s read about it. Luke wrote, “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God” (Acts 10:44-46, NKJV).
To the Jewish Christians who traveled to Caesarea with Peter this event at Cornelius’ house was astonishing. It was one thing to believe that Gentiles could be saved, but who among them would have ever dreamed that the Holy Spirit would be “poured out on the Gentiles?” However, that’s exactly what had happened; and Luke recorded the scene when he wrote, “The gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also” (Acts 10:45b, NKJV).
A few moments later, as he concluded that these Gentiles believers needed to be baptized, Peter declared that the Holy Spirit had done the same thing for this new Gentile church at Caesarea that He had done a few months earlier for the Jewish church at Jerusalem. He must have been thinking out-loud when he said, “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” (Acts 10:47, NKJV). Did you get that? From Peter’s perspective these new Gentile Christians had received the same empowering of the Holy Spirit that the Jewish Christians had received on the Day of Pentecost.
Therefore, in order to understand what has just happened to these Gentile Christians at Cornelius’ house, we need to go back and review what had happened to the Jewish Christians on the Day of Pentecost at Jerusalem. Luke described the events at Jerusalem on Pentecost when he wrote, “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: ‘Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!’” (Acts 2:1-11, NIV).
On the Day of Pentecost in Jerusalem God empowered the Jewish church to witness for Him on a global scale—enabling them to overcome all language barriers with the “Good News” about Jesus. Luke described the scene when he wrote, “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them” (Acts 2:4, NIV). The Greek word translated “tongues” literally means “languages.”
The testimony of the crowd who spoke at least sixteen different languages indicated that the gift of “tongues” was actually the gift of “languages.” It was the God-given ability to speak the “Good News” in the language of someone who was present—a language the speaker had never learned! Look at the testimony of this linguistically mixed crowd: “Utterly amazed, they asked: ‘Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues’” (Acts 2:7-11, NIV).
Because God wants as many people as possible to be saved, He gave the church at Jerusalem and the new Gentile church in Cornelius’ house the supernatural ability to move the “Good News” across the language barriers of their day! That’s what Luke was talking about when he wrote, “The gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God” (Acts 10:45b-46a, NKJV).
God obviously wants as many people as possible to be saved, but that isn’t all He wants. He wants everyone who is authentically saved to publicly declare their personal belief in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus through baptism. So Peter “commanded”—not suggested—that the new Gentile believers at Cornelius’ house get baptized. Luke wrote, “He commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord” (Acts 10:48a, NKJV).
If you are a genuine believer and have not been baptized, you are living in direct violation of God’s first command for a believer. When the Jews in Jerusalem believed that Jesus—God’s Son whom they had murdered—was the Savior of the world, they asked, “What shall we do?” (Acts 2:37b, NKJV). Peter’s answer was direct and to the point. He said, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38, NKJV).
Therefore, I “command” every one of you who is a believer but has not been baptized to do so immediately! That’s what Peter did: “He commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord” (Acts 10:48a, NKJV).
You must be “baptized” in order to receive “the gift of the Holy Spirit,” which is the gift of His power that enables you to effectively present the “Good News” to non-believers. Peter said, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38, NKJV).
That’s exactly what happened at Cornelius’ house. Luke wrote, “The gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also” (Acts 10:45b, NKJV).
Sunday Service Times
Morning Worship: 10:00 a.m.
M*PACT Kidz: 10:00 a.m.
Helping Hands: 6:00 p.m.
ONE WAY Youth: 6:00 p.m.