April 27, 2014

Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles

By: Tom Lowe

 

Lesson III.D.5: Peter Goes with the Men from Cornelius (10:17-22)   


Scripture (Acts 10:17-22)

 

17 Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made enquiry for Simon's house, and stood before the gate,

18 And called, and asked whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were lodged there.

19 While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee.

20 Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them.

21 Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come?

22 And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee.

 

 

Introduction

While Peter was pondering in his heart the vision he had received from the Lord, the servants of Cornelius arrived at the gate and asked for him. Directed by the Spirit he went down from the housetop to greet them.

 

Commentary


17 Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made enquiry for Simon's house, and stood before the gate,


At this point, Peter was still in the dark about the meaning of his vision. What possible point could this implied nullification of the food laws have? At that very moment, in marvelous timing and by the coordination of the sovereign God, the answer to his puzzle was beginning to emerge, as Cornelius’ messengers arrived at Simon the tanner’s gate. This is no longer a vision. This is one of those almost amazing declarations of this book, revealing the intimacy of those early disciples and the Lord Jesus.


18 And called, and asked whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were lodged there.

19 While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee.

20 Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them.


Now the Spirit spoke to Peter directly. With Cornelius it had been an angel. With Peter’s vision, a voice from heaven.  Now it was the Spirit. The Spirit becomes “I” in verse 20 and is believed to be God the Holy Spirit. Previously (vs. 13-15), Peter addressed the voice as “Lord.” [Does Luke intend to distinguish between the “angel” who spoke to Cornelius (v. 3) and the “Spirit” who spoke to Peter?] All three represent the same reality—the direction of God. Nothing was left to chance. All was coordinated by the divine leading. The Spirit directed Peter to the three messengers standing at the gate and identified them as men He had sent.


The expression “doubting nothing” is not forceful enough. “Without hesitation” is another possible meaning, but it means literally “not discriminating.” You will find this expression used again in Acts 11:12{1]. Peter, almost certainly, without the direction of the Spirit, would have allowed his Jewish prejudice and exclusiveness to shut him off from associating with Cornelius.


21 Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come?


In accordance with the Spirit’s direction, Peter descended the outside staircase that led from the roof to the courtyard below, identified himself, and eagerly enquired why they were seeking him. By now he had a good notion that they were a key piece in the puzzle of his vision.


“I am he whom ye seek” seems to have been said without any communication being made to Peter regarding the men and their errand.


22 And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee.


The men replied with the information Peter needed, which is the material the reader has already encountered in previous lessons:

·         Lesson III.D.3: Cornelius’ Vision

·         Lesson III.D.4: Peter’s Vision

Luke could have summarized by simply noting that they told him of Cornelius’ vision. Instead, by employing dialog he repeated and thus underlined the important points of the vision.


Two things in particular are emphasized—the devoutness of Cornelius and the leading of God. There is a slight improvement over the original account of Cornelius’ vision in verses 4-6. The messengers informed Peter that Cornelius was “to hear words of thee” (hear what you have to say).” They also said that Cornelius was “. . . a just man that feared God, and was respected by the Jewish people.” Peter began to see the ramifications of his vision. He was to witness to this centurion whom God had directed to him. That Peter was beginning to understand is demonstrated by him asking them to spend the evening as guests (v. 23). Already he was beginning to have fellowship with gentiles he formerly considered unclean.


scripture reference and special notes:

{1] (Acts 11:12) The Spirit told me to have no hesitation about going with them. These six brothers also went with me, and we entered the man's house. 

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