The Conversion of Cornelius

Today's Bible reading: Acts 10:1 - 11:1

The story of the conversion of Cornelius is arguably the turning point in the Book of Acts.  Cornelius belongs to the Roman Garrison at Caesarea – headquarters of Roman rule in Palestine.  He is also a pious “God-fearer” and respected by the local Jews – but still he is a Roman!

It’s interesting to contrast the behavior of Cornelius with the behavior of Peter.  Cornelius receives a vision to send for Simon Peter, and acts promptly.  Peter also receives a vision, but needs to be given more than once – and even then, it’s not certain that he really “gets it.”  The apostle is still scratching his head - puzzling what the cloth filled with unclean animals and the command to eat them might mean - when Cornelius’s men knock at the door.  It takes a special word from the Spirit to set him in motion.

By the time the group gets back to Caesarea, the truth has at last sunk in for Peter.  God is removing the barriers which divide Jew and non-Jew – “God shows no partiality.”  At this point, Peter needs no further urging to preach Jesus.  His short sermon is a beautiful summary of the Gospel and its origins – not only with regard to Jesus ministry, death, and resurrection … but also in connection with the promises made through the prophets of the Old Testament. As if unable to wait for Peter to finish preaching, the Spirit falls on all the Gentiles gathered in the home of Cornelius.  Peter and his six Jewish-Christian companions now have proof that these Gentiles are clean.  Their speaking in tongues clearly shows that they have received the same gift of the Holy Spirit as Jewish believers did at Pentecost.  There can be no objection to any Gentile being considered as a full member of the Church once he or she has come to faith and been baptized.  That’s also the lesson of Peter’s last words in the Book of Acts: all people are one in Christ by the power of His Spirit.

Prayer: Lord, give us Your Word, that our thankfulness points many to Your grace.  Amen