Acts 10 shares an occurrence that changed the early church. Up until this point the church only was for Jews (and we saw one occurrence of Samaritans reached). This is a turning point that we can all be grateful for.
Cornelius, the roman centurion (officer), is described…
- devout man – he was devoted and dutiful to God
- feared God – had a reverence for God
- everyone in his household feared God – his reverence was real enough to influence all those under his roof
- gave alms generously – lived a generous life
- prayed to God always – man of prayer
An angel appeared to Cornelius. He said his prayers and giving had been received by God as an offering. Wow when we give to the poor we are giving to God. Jesus said if we’ve done it unto the least of these we’ve done it to Him. Thats one of the defining phrases I love my life by. However I treat others is how I treat Christ. The angels tells him to send for Peter.
At the same time Peter is in a trance having a vision. He sees a great sheet let down with all manner of animals that were unlawful for a devout Jew to eat. He is told to rise and eat and he protests. He has never eaten anything unclean. The voice then delayers that Peter should not call unclean what God calls clean. This happens there times and Peter wonders what it could mean. I find when God speaks to me about something He often repeats Himself so that it isn’t a fluke thing. I see this happening throughout scripture.
Just about this time the men sent from Cornelius arrive at the house where Peter is staying. The Holy Spirit speaks to Him about them. There is always a confirmation when God speaks. Peter goes with them to Cornelius’ house. It would be unlawful for Peter to go into a gentile’s house, and you can imagine what he would think about a Roman officer’s home.
Cornelius explains what the angel told him. Peter starts to preach Jesus to the Gentiles and while he’s speaking they believe and receive the Holy Spirit. The Jewish believers who came with Peter were amazed. They heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Afterwards they were water baptized.
The church was forever changed that day. The church went from a Jewish organization only to a global one. God showed that we all could be His children. Salvation was available to all who would call upon His name.