The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Acts 10

Act 10:1

CAESAREA: Caesarea was the capital of Judea under the Roman procurators (eg, Pilate). It had been rebuilt and renamed from Strato's Tower to Caesarea Sebaste (in honor of Augustus) by Herod the Great. Located on the coast about 30 miles north of Jaffa (old Joppa) and about 30 miles nw of Jerusalem, it was a magnificent city containing many palaces and lavish public buildings, and a seaport. It was here that King Herod Agrippa I, in Luke's account, "was eaten of worms, and died" (Acts 12:19-23). A city of mixed population, leading to frequent Jewish-Gentile friction, it is connected in Acts with various preaching efforts. Philip (one of the seven deacons, Acts 6:5), lived there, together with his four daughters who prophesied (Acts 21:8-9).

CENTURION: Every NT ref shows centurions in a good light: Luk 7:1-10; 23:47; Act 10:1,2; 22:25,26; 23:17,18; 27:43.

CORNELIUS: Sig "beam of light". Poss Cornelius was also the centurion of Luk 7 (see v 2n).

ITALIAN REGIMENT: A special legion associated with the emperor.

Act 10:2

DEVOUT AND GOD-FEARING: A proselyte, an outer-court worshiper (Elp 203), like the eunuch (Acts 8:27): Exo 12:48; Num 9:14; 15:14.

There were 2 types of proselytes: (1) a "proselyte of righteousness": a full proselyte, circumcised, admitted to all aspects of worship, and (2) a "proselyte of the gate": who worshiped the God of Israel, but had not submitted to circumcision, and was denied the closest association with other Jews. Was the Ethiopian the first, and Cornelius the second? (SB 13:61).

Were the centurion of Luke 7 and Cornelius the same person? A comparison: Each was a lover of Israel (Luke 7:5; Acts 10:2,22). Each was a lover of God (Luke 7:4; Acts 10:2,22). Each was a lover of Christ (Luke 7:6; Acts 10:37,38).

Act 10:3

THREE IN THE AFTERNOON: "Ninth hour" (RSV). Time of evening sacrifice (Act 3:1; Dan 9:21) and afternoon prayer (Psa 141:2). Time of death of Christ (Mat 27:46).

HE DISTINCTLY SAW: Being awake, and not in a trance.

Act 10:4

HAVE COME UP: Ascended, like incense (Rev 5:8; 8:3,4).

God hears one NOT "in covenant" (here), and He does not hear one "IN covenant" (1Sa 28:6).

Act 10:5

The angel has no commission to give instruction to potential converts. This is reserved for other mortal men. (Even Christ does not first instruct Paul.)

JOPPA: The first prospective convert from among the Gentiles calls on Peter (or Simon son of JONAH: Mat 16:17) at JOPPA, the very place where the original Jonah had boarded a ship to run away from his call (Jon 1:3). This "son of Jonah", though, does not ignore the call, and so the sign of Jonah (Mat 12:39-41) is finally and completely fulfilled in the repentance of the Gentiles.!

Act 10:6

WHOSE HOUSE IS BY THE SEA: Across which Peter could look toward the lands of the Gentiles!

KJV adds: " he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do."

Act 10:7

A DEVOUT SOLDIER: Poss the same servant who was healed of his illness in Mat 8:6?

Act 10:9

THE ROOF: A flat area, protected by a parapet (Deu 22:8), accessible by outside staircase (Act 20:10; Mat 24:17; Luk 5:19; 12:3; 17:31), suitable for privacy (1 Sam 9:25), used for various purposes (Neh 8:16; 1Sa 9:26; Jer 19:13).

Act 10:11

A LARGE SHEET: Recalling an image most familiar to Peter's early life: the wind-swept canvas of a craft on the lake of Galilee.

FOUR CORNERS: Lit, 4 beginnings (archais).

Act 10:13

KILL: Elsewhere translated "sacrifice": Act 14:13,18; 1Co 10:20.

AND EAT: Cp John 6:53-58: "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you..." This too was the eating of that which the orthodox Jew saw as an abomination! Cp Acts 10:41.

Act 10:14

SURELY NOT, LORD: Expressing a Jewish ceremonial revulsion: cp v 39: the one who hangs on a tree is "unclean".

Act 10:16

THIS HAPPENED THREE TIMES: Suggesting completeness, finality (vv 19,40). Also suggesting the testimony of three witnesses (Deu 17:6).

TAKEN BACK TO HEAVEN: As Christ, who was first unclean, then made clean, and finally taken into heaven!

Act 10:21

WENT DOWN: The classic language of theophany, or Yahweh-manifestation, occurs often in Acts in the context of gospel preaching, as if the witness to the gospel were another manifestation of the Yahweh-Name: Act 8:5; 10:21; 13:4; 14:25; 15:30; 16:8; 18:22.

WHY HAVE YOU COME?: Did he think, perhaps, that they had come to arrest him?

Act 10:22

Did Peter now recall the other request, made by a centurion to Jesus (Luke 7)?

Act 10:23

TO BE HIS GUESTS: "Practice hospitality to one another without grumbling" (1Pe 4:9). Peter had already begun to eat with Gentiles.

SOME OF THE BROTHERS: Six of them (Act 11:22). Brethren from the local ecclesias, to act as witnesses.

Act 10:26

I AM ONLY A MAN MYSELF: Cp experiences of Paul and Barnabas (Act 14:15). Also cp Luk 5:8; Rev 19:10; 22:8,9. By ct, Christ accepted all homage.

Act 10:28


Act 10:30

FOUR DAYS AGO: Cornelius sym the Gentiles -- dead in their sins for 4,000 years until the death of Christ. Cp Joh 11:39: Lazarus dead for four days.

Act 10:33

WE ARE ALL HERE TO LISTEN: Cornelius had gathered together others also to hear Peter.

Act 10:34

GOD DOES NOT SHOW FAVORITISM: "God is no respecter of persons" (AV). A good and righteous ancestry is by itself no recommendation to God. A Chicago bank once asked for a letter of recommendation upon a young Bostonian being considered for employment. The Boston investment house to which the bank applied could not say enough about the young man. His father, they wrote, was a Cabot; his mother was a Lowell. Further back was a happy blend of Saltonstalls, Peabodys, and other of Boston's first and foremost families. His recommendation was given without hesitation. Several days later, the Chicago bank sent a note saying the information supplied was altogether inadequate. It read: "We are not contemplating using the young man for breeding purposes. Just for work."

Act 10:36

YOU KNOW THE MESSAGE GOD SENT TO THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL: They possessed considerable familiarity with gospel already.

PEACE: Actually, the breaking down of the middle wall of partition (Eph 2:15-17). Peter is preaching "peace" to a professional soldier!

WHO IS LORD OF ALL: He is so much more than another prophet!

Act 10:38

HOW GOD ANOINTED JESUS...: Cp Isa 42:1; 60:1.

HE WENT AROUND DOING GOOD: "Few words, but yet an exquisite miniature of the Lord Jesus Christ. There are not many touches, but they are the strokes of a master's pencil. Of the Saviour and only of the Saviour is it true in the fullest, broadest, and most unqualified sense. From this description it is evident that he did good personally. The evangelists constantly tell us that he touched the leper with his own finger, that he anointed the eyes of the blind, and that in cases where he was asked to speak the word only at a distance, he did not usually comply, but went himself to the sick bed, and there personally wrought the cure. A lesson to us, if we would do good, to do it ourselves. Give alms with your own hand; a kind look, or word, will enhance the value of the gift... Our Lord's mode of doing good sets forth his incessant activity! He did not only the good which came close to hand, but he 'went about' on his errands of mercy. Throughout the whole land of Judea there was scarcely a village or a hamlet which was not gladdened by the sight of him. How this reproves the creeping, loitering manner, in which many professors serve the Lord. Let us gird up the loins of our mind, and be not weary in well doing. Does not the text imply that Jesus Christ went out of his way to do good? 'He went about doing good.' He was never deterred by danger or difficulty. He sought out the objects of his gracious intentions. So must we. If old plans will not answer, we must try new ones, for fresh experiments sometimes achieve more than regular methods. Christ's perseverance, and the unity of his purpose, are also hinted at, and the practical application of the subject may be summed up in the words, 'He hath left us an example that we should follow in his steps' [1Pe 2:21]" (CHS).

Act 10:39


Act 10:40

See VL, Christ's resurrection, reality.

Act 10:43

Sins forgiven only through Jesus: Act 5:31; 13:38; 3:19.

Act 10:44

THE HOLY SPIRIT CAME ON ALL...: Showing that the admission of Gentiles was the will of God.

Act 10:45

THE CIRCUMCISED BELIEVERS... WERE ASTONISHED: In other words, they now see that it is not necessary to circumcise Gentiles before admitting them to the fellowship of the saints.

Act 10:47

These words are addressed to the 6 brethren who had accompanied Peter (Act 11:12); none of them objected.

Act 10:48

See Lesson, Acts, conversions.

HE ORDERED: It is a command to be baptized; to refuse is to disobey: 1Pe 4:17; 2Th 1:8.

...PETER TO STAY... FEW DAYS: During this time he ate with Gentiles (Act 11:3).

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