From God’s word – The first Gentile received into the Church

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This past month I have been reading the Book of Acts. Talk about a dynamic book in the Bible! I love how the Bible never gets old, for I have read Chapter 10 of Acts numerous times. However, this time the Holy Spirit revealed so much more to me from this chapter that I keep going back to it almost every other day. It is too long for me to walk you through every detail, so I encourage you to take time to read this chapter in its entirety and read it more than once.
The Lord spoke to me specifically regarding a Gentile named Cornelius, a Roman army officer of the Italian Regiment, and Peter, a Jew who was a disciple of Jesus. Here are a few revelations the Lord revealed to me regarding these two men.

The reputation of Cornelius. Acts 10:2-3 says, “He was a devout, God-fearing man, as was everyone in his household. He gave generously to the poor and prayed regularly to God. One afternoon about three o’clock, he had a vision in which he saw an angel of God coming toward him.”

The first thing I noticed was Cornelius’ reputation and the words used to describe him. I had to ask myself if that is how others would describe me or would I even define myself in this way, as devout, God-fearing, giving generously to the poor, and praying regularly. We also see that Cornelius had a love and respect for the Jewish customs. Scripture tells us he prayed regularly, and the next verse goes on to say the time he was praying (at about 3 p.m.) when he was given the vision. The Jews prayed three times a day – morning, afternoon and evening, and the time for the afternoon prayer was 3 p.m. By this we know that Cornelius was familiar with the Jewish laws and traditions, which he respected enough to practice them in his own life.

The obedience of Cornelius. When an angel of God came to Cornelius in a vision, the angel gave specific instructions to Cornelius, telling him to send men to Joppa to summon Peter, who was staying with Simon, a tanner who lived near the seashore. This was a huge deal because Cornelius was a Gentile and Peter was a Jew. Jews and Gentiles did not associate with one another, much less go into each other’s homes.

Regardless, Cornelius obeyed the instructions he was given. The next day, he sent his men to find Peter and ask him to come to his home. I love verse 24, which says, “Cornelius was waiting for them and had called together his relatives and close friends.” Cornelius must have been nervous and worried about what others would think with him having a Jew in his home, not knowing if Peter would even come to his home and not knowing what Peter would say or do once he arrived. However, none of these fears stopped Cornelius from gathering his relatives and friends in anticipation of what Peter’s arrival. Am I a gatherer of people, inviting them to hear more about the Lord?

The obedience of Peter. Scripture tells us in verse 9, “The next day as Cornelius’s messengers were nearing the town, Peter went up on the flat roof to pray. It was about noon, and he was hungry. But while a meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance.” As we continue to read, we see that the Lord speaks to Peter while he is in that trance and tells him, “Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.” For years I thought this had to do with food, for that is the visual God gave Peter while in this trance. In reality, God was preparing Peter for his visit with Cornelius and his family. God was telling Peter that the Gentiles are not unclean and it was okay to visit a Gentile in his home. Jews and Gentiles intermingling and associating together was such a foreign concept that the Lord had to tell Peter that three times while he was in the trance. Even when Peter arrives at the home of Cornelius, he says in verse 28, “Peter told them, ‘You know it is against our laws for a Jewish man to enter a Gentile home like this or to associate with you. But God has shown me that I should no longer think of anyone as impure or unclean.” In spite of his fears of what might happen to him for breaking Jewish laws and fear of what the other disciples might think of him, Peter obeyed the Lord and went to the home of Cornelius.

The rewards of obedience then and still today. As a result of both men’s obedience to the Lord, Peter shares the Gospel with Cornelius along with his relatives and friends, and they all become saved and were baptized! Acts 10:44-45 says, “Even as Peter was saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the message. The Jewish believers who came with Peter were amazed that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles, too.” Not only were they saved, but Cornelius and his family were the first Gentiles received into the church, thus opening the door for the Gentiles to receive the Gospel. As a result, we continue to be recipients of what happened that day when Peter shared the Gospel with Cornelius!

Thank You, Lord, for Your Word! It is still just as active, relevant and alive today as it was thousands of years ago! To You be all the glory!!

 

If you would like me to join you in prayer, please e-mail me at tonif77@gmail.com. I would love to pray for you!

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