Acts 10

CHAPTER X.

An angel appears to Cornelius, a centurion, and directs him to

send to Joppa, for Peter, to instruct him in the way of

salvation, 1-6.

He sends accordingly, 7, 8.

While the messengers are on their way to Joppa, Peter has a

remarkable vision, by which he is taught how he should treat

the Gentiles, 9-16.

The messengers arrive at the house of Simon the tanner, and

deliver their message, 17-22.

They lodge there that night, and on the morrow Peter accompanies

them to Caesarea, where they find Cornelius and his friends

assembled, waiting the coming of Peter, 23, 24.

Peter makes an apology for his coming, and inquires for what

purpose Cornelius had sent for him, 25-29.

Cornelius answers, 30-33.

And Peter preaches unto him Jesus, as the Saviour of the world,

and the Judge of quick and dead, 34-43.

While he speaks the Holy Ghost descends on Cornelius and his

company; and they speak with new tongues, and magnify God,

44-46.

Peter commands them to be baptized in the name of the Lord,

47, 48.

NOTES ON CHAP. X.

I have already observed (see the conclusion of the preceding

chapter) that hitherto the apostles confined their labours among

the Jews and circumcised proselytes, not making any offer of

salvation to the Gentiles; for they had fully imbibed the opinion

that none could enter into the kingdom of God, and be finally

saved, unless they were circumcised, and became obedient to the

law of Moses. This prejudice would have operated so as finally to

prevent them from preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles, had not

God, by a particular interposition of his mercy and goodness,

convinced Peter, and through him all the other apostles, that he

had accepted the Gentiles as well as the Jews, and would put no

difference between the one and the other, purifying their hearts

by faith, and giving the Gentiles the Holy Ghost, as he had before

given it to the Jews. The means which he used to produce this

conviction in the minds of the apostles are detailed at length in

the following chapter.

Verse 1. There was a certain man in Caesarea] This was Caesarea

of Palestine, called also Strato's Tower, as has been already

noted, and the residence of the Roman procurator.

A centurion] εκατονταρχης, The chief or captain of 100 men, as

both the Greek and Latin words imply. How the Roman armies were

formed, divided, and marshalled, See Clarke on Mt 20:16. A

centurion among the Romans was about the same rank as a captain

among us.

The band called the Italian band] The word σπειρα, which we

translate band, signifies the same as cohort or regiment, which

sometimes consisted of 555 infantry, and 66 cavalry; but the

cohors prima, or first cohort, consisted of 1105 infantry, and

l32 cavalry, in the time of Vegetius. But the cavalry are not to

be considered as part of the cohort, but rather a company joined

to it. A Roman legion consisted of ten cohorts; the first of which

surpassed all the others, both in numbers and in dignity. When in

former times the Roman legion contained 6000, each cohort

consisted of 600, and was divided into three manipuli; but both

the legions and cohorts were afterwards various in the numbers

they contained. As there were doubtless many Syrian auxiliaries,

the regiment in question was distinguished from them as consisting

of Italian, i.e. Roman, soldiers. The Italian cohort is not

unknown among the Roman writers: Gruter gives an inscription,

which was found in the Forum Sempronii, on a fine table of marble,

nine feet long, four feet broad, and four inches thick; on which

are the following words:-

L. MAESIO. L. F. POL.

RVFO. PROC. AVG.

TRIB. MIL. LEG. X.

APPOLLINARIS. TRIB.

COH. MIL. ITALIC. VOLUNT.

QVAE. EST. IN. SYRIA. PRAEF.

FABRVM. BIS.

See Gruter's Inscriptions, p. ccccxxxiii-iv.

This was probably the same cohort as that mentioned here by St.

Luke; for the tenth legion mentioned in the above inscription was

certainly in Judea, A.D. 69. Tacitus also mentions the Italica

legio, the Italic legion, lib. i. c. 59, which Junius Blaesus had

under his command in the province of Lyons. We learn, from the

Roman historians, that the fifth, tenth, and fifteenth legions

were stationed in Judea; and the third, fourth, sixth, and twelfth

in Syria. The Italic legion was in the battle of Bedriacum,

fought, A.D. 69, between the troops of Vitellius and Otho; and

performed essential services to the Vitellian army. See Tacitus,

Hist. lib. ii. cap. 41. The issue of this battle was the defeat of

the Othonians, on which Otho slew himself, and the empire was

confirmed to Vitellius.

Wherever he sees it necessary, St. Luke carefully gives dates

and facts, to which any might have recourse who might be disposed

to doubt his statements: we have had several proofs of this in his

Gospel. See especially Lu 1:1, &c., and Lu 3:1, &c., and the

notes there.

Verse 2. A devout man] ευσεβης, from ευ, well, and

σεβομαι, I worship. A person who worships the true God, and is

no idolater.

One that feared God] φοβουμενοςτονθεον, One who was acquainted

with the true God, by means of his word and laws; who respected

these laws, and would not dare to offend his Maker and his Judge.

This is necessarily implied in the fear of God.

With all his house] He took care to instruct his family in the

knowledge which he himself had received; and to establish the

worship of God in his house.

Gave much alms] His love to God led him to love men; and this

love proved its sincerity by acts of beneficence and charity.

Prayed to God alway.] Felt himself a dependent creature; knew he

had no good but what he had received; and considered God to be the

fountain whence he was to derive all his blessings. He prayed to

God alway; was ever in the spirit of prayer, and frequently in the

act. What an excellent character is this! And yet the man was a

Gentile! He was what a Jew would repute common and unclean:

see Ac 10:28. He was, therefore, not circumcised; but, as he

worshipped the true God, without any idolatrous mixtures, and was

in good report among all the nation of the Jews, he was

undoubtedly what was called a proselyte of the gate, though not a

proselyte of justice, because he had not entered into the bond

of the covenant by circumcision. This was a proper person, being

so much of a Jew and so much of a Gentile, to form the connecting

link between both people; and God chose him that the salvation of

the Jews might with as little observation as possible be

transmitted to the Gentiles. The choice of such a person, through

whom the door of faith was opened to the heathen world, was a

proof of the wisdom and goodness of God. The man who was chosen to

this honour was not a profligate Gentile; nor yet a circumcised

proselyte. He was a Gentile, amiable and pure in his manners; and,

for his piety and charitableness, held in high estimation among

all the nation of the Jews. Against such a person they could not,

with any grace, be envious, though God should pour out upon him

the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Verse 3. He saw in a vision evidently] The text is as plain as

it can be, that an angel of God did appear to Cornelius. This was

in a vision, i.e. a supernatural representation; and it was

φανερως, manifestly, evidently made; and at such a time too as

precluded the possibility of his being asleep; for it was about

the ninth hour of the day, answering to our three o'clock in the

afternoon, (See Clarke on Ac 3:1,) the time of

public prayer, according to the custom of the Jews, and while

Peter was engaged in that sacred duty. The angelic appearance to

Cornelius was something similar to that made to Daniel,

Da 9:20-23, and that especially to Zachariah, the father of

John Baptist, Lu 1:11, &c.

Verse 4. Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial]

Being all performed in simplicity and godly sincerity, they were

acceptable to the Most High.

Come up for a memorial: This form of speech is evidently

borrowed from the sacrificial system of the Jews. Pious and

sincere prayers are high in God's estimation; and therefore are

said to ascend to him, as the smoke and flame of the

burnt-offering appeared to ascend to heaven.

These prayers and alms came up for a memorial before God: this

is a manifest allusion to the meat-offering, which, in Le 2:16,

is said to be azkerah, a memorial, (speaking after the

manner of men,) to put God in remembrance that such a person was

his worshipper, and needed his protection and help. So the prayers

and alms of Cornelius ascended before God as an acceptable

sacrifice, and were recorded in the kingdom of heaven, that the

answers might be given in their due season.

Verse 6. Simon a tanner] See Clarke on Ac 9:43.

What thou oughtest to do.] From this it appears that matters of

great moment had occupied the mind of Cornelius. He was not

satisfied with the state of his own soul, nor with the degree he

possessed of religious knowledge; and he set apart a particular

time for extraordinary fasting and prayer, that God might farther

reveal to him the knowledge of his will. Perhaps he had heard of

Jesus, and had been perplexed with the different opinions that

prevailed concerning him, and now prayed to God that he might know

what part he should take; and the answer to this prayer is, "Send

to Joppa for Simon Peter, he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to

do." This clause, so explanatory, is wanting in almost every MS.

and version of note. Griesbach and some others have left it out of

the text. But see Ac 11:14, where it stands in substance.

Verse 7. And a devout soldier] It has already been remarked that

Cornelius had taken care to instruct his family in Divine things;

and it appears also that he had been attentive to the spiritual

interests of his regiment. We do not find that it was then, even

among the Romans, considered a disgrace for a military officer to

teach his men lessons of morality, and piety towards God, whatever

it may be in some Christian countries in the present time.

Verse 8. He sent them to Joppa.] It has been properly remarked,

that from Joppa, Jonah was sent to preach to the Gentiles of

Nineveh; and from the same place Peter was sent to preach the

Gospel to the Gentiles at Caesarea.

Verse 9. On the morrow, as they went on their journey] From

Joppa to Caesarea was about twelve or fifteen leagues; the

messengers could not have left the house of Cornelius till about

two hours before sunset; therefore, they must have travelled a

part of the night, in order to arrive at Joppa the next day,

towards noon.-Calmet. Cornelius sent two of his household

servants, by way of respect to Peter; probably the soldier was

intended for their defence, as the roads in Judea were by no means

safe.

Peter went up upon the house-top to pray] It has often been

remarked that the houses in Judea were builded with flat roofs, on

which people walked, conversed, meditated, prayed, &c. The

house-top was the place of retirement; and thither Peter went for

the purpose of praying to God. In Bengal, some of the rich Hindoos

have a room on the top of the house, in which they perform worship

daily.

Verse 10. He became very hungry] It seems that this happened

about dinner-time; for it appears that they were making ready,

παρασκευαζοντων, dressing the victuals for the family. The

dinner among the ancients was a very slight meal; and they had

no breakfast: their supper was their principal meal. And, in very

ancient times, they ate only once in the day. Supper was the meal

at which they saw their friends, the business of the day being

then finished.

He fell into a trance] επεπεσενεπαυτονεκστασις, An ecstasy

fell upon him. A person may be said to be in an ecstasy when

transported with joy or admiration, so that he is insensible to

every object but that on which he is engaged. Peter's ecstasy is

easily accounted for: he went up to the house-top to pray: at

first he felt keen hunger; but, being earnestly engaged with God,

all natural appetites became absorbed in the intense application

of his soul to his Maker. While every passion and appetite was

under this Divine influence, and the soul, without let or

hinderance, freely conversing with God, then the visionary and

symbolical representation mentioned here took place.

Verse 11. And saw heaven opened] His mind now entirely

spiritualized, and absorbed in heavenly contemplation, was capable

of discoveries of the spiritual world; a world which, with its

πληρωμα, or plenitude of inhabitants, surrounds us at all times;

but which we are incapable of seeing through the dense medium of

flesh and blood, and their necessarily concomitant earthly

passions. Much, however, of such a world and its economy may be

apprehended by him who is purified from all filthiness of the

flesh and spirit, and who has perfected holiness in the fear of

God. But this is a subject to which the enthusiast in vain

attempts to ascend. The turbulent working of his imagination, and

the gross earthly crudities which he wishes to obtrude on the

world as revelations from God, afford a sufficient refutation of

their own blasphemous pretensions.

A great sheet, knit at the four corners] Perhaps intended to be

an emblem of the universe, and its various nations, to the four

corners of which the Gospel was to extend, and to offer its

blessings to all the inhabitants, without distinction of nation,

&c.

Verse 12. All manner of four-footed beasts, &c.] Every species

of quadrupeds, whether wild or domestic; all reptiles, and

all fowls. Consequently, both the clean and unclean were present

in this visionary representation: those that the Jewish law

allowed to be sacrificed to God, or proper for food; as well as

those which that law had prohibited in both cases: such as the

beasts that do not chew the cud; fish which have no scales;

fowls of prey and such others as are specified in Le 11:1, &c.,

where see the notes.

Verse 13. Rise, Peter, kill and eat.] θυσονκαιφαγε, Sacrifice

and eat. Though this verb is sometimes used to signify the slaying

of animals for food, yet, as the proper notion is to slay for the

purpose of sacrifice, it appears to me to be better to preserve

that meaning here. Animals that were offered in sacrifice were

considered as given to God; and, when he received the life, the

flesh was given to those who offered the sacrifice, that they

might feed upon it; and every sacrifice had in it the nature of a

covenant; and covenants were usually made by eating together on

the flesh of the sacrifice offered on the occasion, God being

supposed to be invisibly present with them, and partaking of the

feast. The Jews and Gentiles are certainly represented by the

clean and unclean animals in this large vessel: these, by the

ministry of the Gospel, were to be offered up a spiritual

sacrifice to God. Peter was to be a prime instrument in this work;

he was to offer them to God, and rejoice in the work of his hands.

The spirit of the heavenly direction seems to be this: "The middle

wall of partition is now to be pulled down; the Jews and Gentiles

are called to become one flock, under one shepherd and bishop of

souls. Thou, Peter, shalt open the door of faith to the Gentiles,

and be also the minister of the circumcision. Rise up; already a

blessed sacrifice is prepared: go and offer it to God; and let thy

soul feed on the fruits of his mercy and goodness, in thus showing

his gracious design of saving both Jews and Gentiles by Christ

crucified."

Verse 14. Common or unclean.] By common, κοινον, whatever was

in general use among the Gentiles is to be understood; by

ακαθαρτον, unclean, every thing that was forbidden by the Mosaic

law. However, the one word may be considered as explanatory of the

other. The rabbins themselves, and many of the primitive fathers,

believed that by the unclean animals forbidden by the law the

Gentiles were meant.

Verse 15. What God hath cleansed] God, who made at first the

distinction between Jews and Gentiles, has a right to remove it,

whenever and by whatever means he pleases: he, therefore, who made

the distinction, for wise purposes, between the clean and the

unclean, now pronounces all to be clean. He had authority to do

the first; he has authority to do the last. God has purposed that

the Gentiles shall have the Gospel preached to them: what he

therefore has cleansed, "that call not thou common."

Verse 16. This was done thrice] For the greater certainty, and

to make the deeper impression on the apostle's mind.

And the vessel was received up again into heaven.] Both Jews and

Gentiles came equally from God; and to him, both, by the preaching

of the Gospel, shall again return.

Verse 17. While Peter doubted-the men-stood before the gate] In

all this we find an admirable display of the economy of

Providence. Cornelius prays, and has a vision which prepares him

to receive instruction from Peter: Peter prays, and has a vision

which prepares and disposes him to give instruction to Cornelius.

While he is in doubts and perplexity what the full meaning of the

vision might be, the messengers, who had been despatched under the

guidance of an especial Providence, came to the door; and the Holy

Spirit gives him information that his doubts should be all cleared

up by accompanying the men who were now inquiring for him. How

exactly does every thing in the conduct of Providence occur; and

how completely is every thing adapted to time, place, and

occasion! All is in weight, measure, and number. Those simple

occurrences which men snatch at, and press into the service of

their own wishes, and call them providential openings may, indeed,

be links of a providential chain, in reference to some other

matter; but unless they be found to speak the same language in all

their parts, occurrence corresponding with occurrence, they are

not to be construed as indications of the Divine will in reference

to the claimants. Many persons, through these misapprehensions,

miscarrying, have been led to charge God foolishly for the

unsuccessful issue of some business in which their passions, not

his providence, prompted them to engage.

Verse 21. Which were sent unto him from Cornelius] This clause

is wanting in almost every MS. of worth, and in almost all the

versions.

Behold, I am he whom ye seek] A sudden, unexpected speech, like

the address of AEneas to Dido; when the cloud in which he was

involved suddenly dissipated, and he appeared with the

exclamation,

__________coram, quem quaeritis, adsum!

AEn. lib. i. 595.

What is the cause therefore ye are come?] He still did not know

the full import of the vision; but being informed by the Holy

Spirit that three men were seeking him, and that he should go with

them, without scruple, he instantly obeyed; and finding them at

the door, desired to know why they sought him.

Verse 22. Cornelius the centurion, &c.] They gave him the simple

relation which they had received from their master. For the

character of Cornelius, see the comment, See Clarke on Ac 10:2.

To hear words of thee.] But of what kind they could not as yet

tell.

Verse 23. Then called he them in, &c.] They had already walked a

long journey in a short time, and needed refreshment; and it was

thought expedient they should rest that night with Simon the

tanner.

Certain brethren from Joppa] They were six in number, as we

learn from Ac 11:12. It was necessary that there should be

several witnesses of the important transactions which were about

to take place; as on no slight evidence would even the converted

Jews believe that repentance unto life, and the Holy Spirit,

should be granted to the Gentiles.

Verse 24. His kinsmen and near friends.] συγγενεις, His,

relatives, and αναγκαιουςφιλους, his necessary friends; but the

Syriac makes αναγκαιους an epithet as well as συγγενεις, and thus

the passage may be read, his kinsmen, his domestics, and his

friends. It appears that he had collected the whole circle of his

intimate acquaintance, that they also might profit by a revelation

which he expected to come immediately from heaven; and these

amounted to many persons; see Ac 10:27.

Verse 25. Fell down at his feet, and worshipped him.] As Peter's

coming was announced by an angel, Cornelius might have supposed

that Peter himself was an angel, and of a superior order; seeing

he came to announce what the first angel was not employed to

declare: it was, probably, in consequence of this thought that he

prostrated himself before Peter, offering him the highest act of

civil respect; for there was nothing in the act, as performed by

Cornelius, which belonged to the worship of the true God.

Prostrations to superiors were common in all Asiatic countries.

The Codex Bezae, and the later Syriac in the margin reads this

verse differently from all other MSS. and versions; thus, But as

Peter drew nigh to Caesarea, one of the servants ran before, and

told that he was come: then Cornelius leaped up, and met him, and,

falling at his feet, he worshipped him. This is a very remarkable

addition, and relates circumstances that we may naturally suppose

did actually take place.

Verse 26. I myself also am a man.] "I am not an angel; I am come

to you simply, on the part of God, to deliver to you the doctrine

of eternal life."

Verse 27. And as he talked with him] Cornelius had met Peter at

some short distance from his house, and they conversed together

till they went in.

Verse 28. Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing, &c.] He

addressed the whole company, among whom, it appears, there were

persons well acquainted with Jewish customs; probably some of them

were Jewish proselytes.

But God hath showed me, &c.] He now began to understand the

import of the vision which he saw at Joppa. A Gentile is not to be

avoided because he is a Gentile; God is now taking down the

partition wall which separated them from the Jews.

Verse 29. I ask-for what intent ye have sent for me?] Peter had

been informed of this by the servants of Cornelius, Ac 10:22;

but, as all the company might not have been informed of the

circumstances, he, as it were, invites him to tell his story

afresh, that his friends, &c., might be the better prepared to

receive the truth, which he was about to dispense, in obedience to

his Divine commission.

Verse 30. Four days ago I was fasting until this hour] It was

then about three o'clock in the afternoon; and it appears that

Cornelius had continued his fasts from three o'clock the preceding

day to three o'clock the day following; not that he had fasted

four days together, as some supposes for even if he did fast four

days consecutively, he ate one meal on each day. It is however

necessary to remark that the word νηστευων, fasting is wanting in

ABC, one other; the Coptic, AEthiopic, Armenian, and Vulgate;

but it has not been omitted in any edition of the Greek Testament.

Verse 31. Thy prayer is heard] See Clarke on Ac 10:4.

Cornelius prayed, fasted, and gave alms. It was in this way he

looked for salvation; not to purchase it: a thought of this kind

does not appear to have entered into his mind; but these were the

means he used to get his soul brought to the knowledge of the

truth. The reader must recollect that in the case of Cornelius

there was no open vision; he used the light and power which God

had already given; and behold how mightily God increased his

gifts! He that hath, i.e., that uses what he has, shall receive;

and no man can expect any increase of light or life, who does not

improve the grace already given.

Verse 33. Are we all here present before God] Instead of before

GOD, the Codex Bezae, Syriac, AEthiopic, Armenian, and Vulgate,

read before THEE. The people were all waiting for the preacher,

and every heart was filled with expectation; they waited as before

God, from whose messenger they were about to hear the words of

life.

Verse 34. God is no respecter of persons] He does God esteem a

Jew, because he is a Jew; nor does he detest a Gentile because

he is a Gentile. It was a long and deeply rooted opinion among the

Jews, that God never would extend his favour to the Gentiles; and

that the descendants of Jacob only should enjoy his peculiar

favour and benediction. Of this opinion was St. Peter, previously

to the heavenly vision mentioned in this chapter. He was now

convinced that God was no respecter of persons; that as all must

stand before his judgment seat, to be judged according to the

deeds done in the body, so no one nation, or people, or

individual, could expect to find a more favourable decision than

another who was precisely in the same moral state; for the phrase,

respect of persons, is used in reference to unjust decisions in a

court of justice, where, through favour, or interest, or bribe,

a culprit is acquitted, and a righteous or innocent person

condemned. See Le 19:15; De 1:16, 17; 16:19. And as

there is no iniquity (decisions contrary to equity) with God, so

he could not shut out the pious prayers, sincere fasting, and

benevolent alms-giving of Cornelius; because the very spring

whence they proceeded was his own grace and mercy. Therefore he

could not receive even a Jew into his favour (in preference to

such a person) who had either abused his grace, or made a less

godly use of it than this Gentile had done.

Verse 35. But in every nation he that feared him, &c.] In every

nation he who, according to his light and privileges, fears God,

worships him alone, (for this is the true meaning of the word,)

and worketh righteousness, abstains from all evil, gives to all

their due, injures neither the body, soul, nor reputation of his

neighbour, is accepted with him. It is not therefore the nation,

kindred, profession, mode or form of worship, that the just God

regards; but the character, the state of heart, and the moral

deportment. For what are professions, &c., in the sight of that

God who trieth spirits, and by whom actions are weighed! He looks

for the grace he has given, the advantages he has afforded, and

the improvement of all these. Let it be observed farther, that no

man can be accepted with this just God who does not live up to the

advantages of the state in which providence has placed him. Why

was Cornelius accepted with God while thousands of his countrymen

were passed by? Because he did not receive the grace of God in

vain; he watched, fasted, prayed, and gave alms, which they did

not. Had he not done so, would he have been accepted? Certainly

not; because it would then appear that he had received the grace

of God in vain, and had not been a worker together with him. Many

irreligious men, in order to get rid of the duties and obligations

of Christianity, quote this verse in their own favour, while they

reject all the Gospel besides; and roundly assert, as they think

on the authority of this text, that they need neither believe in

Jesus Christ, attend to his Gospel, nor use his ordinances; for,

if they fear God and work righteousness, they shall be infallibly

accepted with him. Let such know that if they had been born and

still were living in a land where the light of the Gospel had

never shone, and were there conscientiously following the

glimmering ray of celestial light which God had granted, they

might, with some show of reason, speak in this way; but, as they

are born and live under the Gospel of Jesus Christ, God, the just

Judge, will require that they fear him, and work righteousness,

ACCORDING to the LIGHT afforded by that very GOSPEL. The

sincerity, watching, praying, fastings and alms-giving of

Cornelius will not be sufficient for them who, as it may be justly

said, live in splendours of Christianity. In such a state, God

requires that a man shall love him with all his heart, soul, mind,

and strength; and his neighbour as himself. In the face of such a

requisition as this, how will the poor heathen virtue of one born

in the pale of Christianity appear? And if God requires all this,

will not a man need all the grace that has been brought to light

by the revelation of Jesus Christ to enable him to do it?

Verse 36. The word which God sent, &c.] Few verses in the New

Testament have perplexed critics and divines more than this. The

ancient copyists seem also to have been puzzled with it; as the

great variety in the different MSS. sufficiently proves. A foreign

critic makes a good sense by connecting this with the preceding

verse, thus: In every nation he that feared him and worketh

righteousness is accepted with him, according to that doctrine

which God sent unto the children of Israel, by which he published

peace (i.e. reconciliation between Jews and Gentiles) by Jesus

Christ, who is Lord of all; and, because Lord of all, both of Jews

and Gentiles, therefore he must be impartial; and, because

impartial, or no respecter of persons, therefore, in every nation,

whether Judea, Greece, or Italy, he that feareth God, and worketh

righteousness, is accepted with him.

I believe τονλογου, the word, in this verse, should be

translated, that doctrine; and probably ρημα, which we translate

that word in Ac 10:37, should be omitted as it is in the

Codex Bezae, and its Itala version; and if ον, which is in

Ac 10:36, be even left out, as it is in ABC,

Coptic and Vulgate, the whole may be literally read thus: As to

the doctrine sent to the children of Israel, preaching the glad

tidings of peace (ευαγγελιζομενοςειρηνην) by Jesus Christ, he is

Lord of all, ye know what was done (τογενομενον) through all

Judea, beginning after the baptism which John preached. Jesus, who

was from Nazareth, whom God anointed with the Holy Ghost, and with

mighty power (δυναμει) went about doing good, and healing all that

were tyrannically oppressed (καταδυναστευομενους) by the devil,

for God was with him. Critics have proposed a great variety of

modes by which they suppose these verses may be rendered

intelligible; and the learned reader may see many in Wolfius,

Kypke, Rosenmuller, and others. Kypke contends that the word

κυριος, Lord, is to be understood adjectively, and ought to be

referred to λογος, and the 36th verse will then stand thus: The

word which he sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace by

Jesus Christ, that word has authority over all. This amounts

nearly to the same sense with the expositions given above; and all

proclaim this truth, which the apostle laboured to establish,

namely, that God intended the salvation of all men by Jesus

Christ; and therefore proclaimed reconciliation to all, by him who

is Lord, maker, preserver, redeemer, and judge of all. And of this

the apostle was now more convinced by the late vision; and his

mission from him who is Lord of all to Cornelius, a heathen, was a

full illustration of the heavenly truth; for the very meeting of

Peter, once a prejudiced Jew, and Cornelius, once an unenlightened

Gentile, was a sort of first fruits of this general

reconciliation, and a proof that Jesus was LORD of ALL.

Verse 37. That word-ye know] This account of Jesus of Nazareth

ye cannot be unacquainted with; because it has been proclaimed

throughout all Judea and Galilee, from the time that John began to

preach. Ye have heard how he was anointed with the Holy Ghost, and

of the miracles which he performed; how he went about doing good,

and healing all kinds of demoniacs and, by these mighty and

beneficent acts, giving the fullest proof that God was with him.

This was the exordium of Peter's discourse; and thus he begins,

from what they knew, to teach them what they did not know.

St. Peter does not intimate that any miracle was wrought by

Christ previously to his being baptized by John. Beginning at

Galilee. Let us review the mode of Christ's manifestation. 1.

After he had been baptized by John, he went into the desert, and

remained there forty days. 2. He then returned to the Baptist, who

was exercising his ministry at that time at Bethany or Bethabara;

and there he made certain disciples, viz., Andrew, Bartholomew,

Peter, and Philip. 3. Thence he went to the marriage at Cana, in

Galilee, where he wrought his first miracle. 4. And afterwards he

went to Capernaum in the same country, by the sea of Galilee,

where he wrought many others. This was the manner in which Christ

manifested himself; and these are the facts of which Peter

presumes they had a perfect knowledge, because they had been for a

long time notorious through all the land.

Verse 38. God anointed Jesus of Nazareth] Here the apostle

refers to Christ as the promised Messiah; for, as Messiah

signifies the anointed one, and Christ has the same signification

in Greek, and the Messiah, according to the prophets, and the

expectation of the Jews, was to work miracles, Peter proclaims

Jesus as the Messiah, and refers to the miracles which he wrought

as the proof of it. This delicate, but forcible allusion is lost

by most readers.

Verse 39. We are witnesses of all] In this speech St. Peter may

refer, not only to the twelve apostles, but to the six brethren

whom he had brought with him.

Whom they slew] As the truth of the resurrection must depend on

the reality of the death of Christ, it was necessary that this

should be stated, and shown to rest on the most indubitable

evidence.

Verse 40. Him God raised up the third day] He lay long enough

under the power of death to prove that he was dead; and not too

long, lest it should be supposed that his disciples had time

sufficient to have practiced some deceit or imposture; and, to

prevent this, the Jews took care to have the tomb well guarded

during the whole time which he lay there.

Verse 41. Not to all the people] In the order of Divine

providence, the public were to be no longer instructed by Jesus

Christ personally; but it was necessary that those who were to

preach redemption in his name should be thoroughly furnished to

this good and great work; therefore, the time he spent on earth,

after his resurrection, was devoted to the instruction of his

disciples.

Witnesses chosen before of God] That is, God chose such men to

attest this fact as were every way best qualified to give evidence

on the subject; persons who were always to be found; who might at

all times be confronted with those, if any such should offer

themselves, who could pretend to prove that there was any

imposture in this case; and persons who, from the very

circumstances in which they were placed, must appear to have an

absolute conviction of the truth of all they attested. The first

preachers of the Gospel must be the witnesses of its facts; and

these first preachers must be put in such circumstances as to

demonstrate, not only that they had no secular end in view, nor

indeed could have any, but also that they should be able to evince

that they had the fullest conviction of the reality of the eternal

world, and of their Master's existence in glory there; as they

carried their lives continually in their hands, and regarded them

not, so that they might fulfil the ministry which they had

received from their Lord, and finish their course with joy.

But why was not Christ, after his resurrection, shown to all the

people! 1. Because it was impossible that such a thing could be

done without mob and tumult. Let it only be announced, "Here is

the man who was dead three days, and who is risen from the dead!"

what confusion would be the consequence of such an exposure! Some

would say, This is he; others, He is like him; and so on; and the

valid testimony must be lost in the confusion of the multitude. 2.

God chose such witnesses whose testimony should be unimpeachable;

the men who knew him best, and who by their depositions in proof

of the fact should evidently risk their lives. And, 3. as

multitudes are never called to witness any fact, but a few

selected from the rest, whose knowledge is most accurate, and

whose veracity is unquestionable, therefore, God showed not Christ

risen from the dead to all the people, but to witnesses chosen by

himself; and they were such as perfectly knew him before, and who

ate and drank with him after his resurrection, and consequently

had the fullest proof and conviction of the truth of this fact.

Verse 42. And he commanded us to preach] By thus assuring them

that Jesus Christ was appointed to judge the world, he at once

showed them the necessity of subjection to him, that they might

stand in the day of his appearing.

The Judge of quick and dead.] The word quick we retain from our

ancient mother tongue, the Saxon [Anglo-Saxon], to live, hence

[A.S.] and [A.S.], life, and [A.S.], grass; and from this our

quicks, quick-set hedges, fences made of living thorns, &c. By

quick and dead we are to understand: 1. All that had lived from

the foundation of the world till that time; and all that were then

alive. 2. All that should be found alive at the day of judgment,

as well as all that had died previously.

Verse 43. To him give all the prophets witness] See

Isa 9:6; 52:7; 53:5, 6; 59:20; Jer 31:34; Da 9:24;

Mic 7:18, &c.; and Zec 13:1. As Jesus Christ was the

sum and substance of the law and the Mosaic dispensation, so all

the prophets bore testimony, either directly or indirectly, to

him; and, indeed, without him and the salvation he has promised,

there is scarcely any meaning in the Mosaic economy, nor in most

of the allusions of the prophets.

Remission of sins.] The phrase, αφεσιςαμαρτιων, means simply

the taking away of sins; and this does not refer to the guilt of

sin merely, but also to its power, nature, and consequences. All

that is implied in pardon of sin, destruction of its tyranny, and

purification from its pollution, is here intended; and it is

wrong to restrict such operations of mercy to pardon alone.

Verse 44. While Peter yet spake] It in not very likely that the

words recorded by St. Luke are all that the apostle spoke on this

occasion; but, while he continued to discourse with them on this

subject, the Holy Ghost fell on all them that heard the word; and

his descent was known by their being enabled to speak with

different kinds of tongues. In what manner this gift was bestowed

we cannot tell; probably it was in the same way in which it had

been given on the day of pentecost; for as they spake with

tongues, which was the effect of the descent of the Spirit as

flaming tongues on the heads of the disciples on the day of

pentecost, it is very likely that the same appearance now took

place.

Verse 45. They of the circumcision-were astonished] Because it

was a maxim with them that the Shechinah or Divine influence could

not be revealed to any person who dwelt beyond the precincts of

the promised land. Nor did any of them believe that the Divine

Spirit could be communicated to any Gentile. It is no wonder,

therefore, that they were amazed when they saw the Spirit of God

so liberally given as it was on this occasion.

Verse 46. And magnify God.] They had got new hearts as well as

new tongues; and, having believed with the heart unto

righteousness, their tongues made confession unto salvation; and

God was magnified for the mercy which he had imparted.

Verse 47. Can any man forbid water] These had evidently received

the Holy Ghost, and consequently were become members of the

mystical body of Christ; and yet St. Peter requires that they

shall receive baptism by water, that they might become members of

the Christian Church. In other cases, they received baptism first,

and the Spirit afterwards by the imposition of hands: see

Ac 19:4-6, where the disciples who had received only the

baptism of John were baptized again with water in the name of the

Lord Jesus; and, after even this, the apostles prayed, and laid

their hands on them, before they were made partakers of the Holy

Ghost. So we find that Jesus Christ had his water baptism as well

as John; and that even he who gave the baptism of the Holy Ghost

required the administration of water baptism also. Therefore the

baptism of the Spirit did not supersede the baptism by water;

nor indeed can it; as baptism, as well as the supper of our Lord,

were intended, not only to be means of grace, but standing,

irrefragable proofs of the truth of Christianity.

Verse 48. To be baptized in the name of the Lord.] That is, in

the name of Jesus Christ; which implied their taking upon them the

public profession of Christianity, and believing on Christ Jesus

as their Saviour and Sovereign; for, as they were baptized in his

name, they professed thereby to be his disciples and followers.

Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.] They felt the

necessity of farther instruction, and prayed him to continue his

ministry a little longer among them; and to this he no doubt

consented. This was properly speaking, the commencement of the

Christian Church, as composed of Jews and Gentiles, partaking of

the same baptism, united under the same Head, made partakers of

the same Spirit, and associated in the same aggregate body. Now

was the middle wall of partition broken down, and the Gentiles

admitted to the same privileges with the Jews.

1. GOD is wonderful in all his works, whether they be works of

creation, providence, or grace. Every thing proclaims his power,

his wisdom, and his goodness. Every where we learn this truth,

which is indispensably necessary for all to know who desire to

acknowledge God in all their ways that "there is nothing which

concerns their present or eternal welfare in which God does not

interest himself." We often, to our great spiritual detriment,

lose sight of this truth, because we think that the MAJESTY of God

is too great to be occupied with those common occurrences by which

we are often much affected, in things which relate, not only to

our present, but also to our eternal interests. This is

impossible; for God is our father, and, being every where present,

he sees our state, and his eye affects his heart.

2. Let the reader examine the chain of Providence (composed

indeed of very minute links) brought to light in the conversion of

Cornelius, the instruction of Peter, and opening the door of faith

to the Gentiles, and he will be convinced that "God has way every

where, and that all things serve the purposes of his will." We

have already seen how particularly, both by gracious and

providential workings, God prepared the mind of Cornelius to

receive instruction, and the mind of Peter to give it; so that the

receiver and giver were equally ready to be workers together with

God. This is a general economy. He who feels his want may rest

assured that, even then, God has made the necessary provisions for

his supply; and that the very sense of the want is a proof that

the provision is already made. Why then should we lose time in

deploring wretchedness, for the removal of which God has made the

necessary preparations? Mourning over our miseries will never

supply the lack of faith in Christ, and very seldom tends even to

humble the heart.

3. As the eye of God is ever upon us, he knows our trials as

well as our wants; and here, also, he makes the necessary

provision for our support. We may be called to suffer, but his

grace will be sufficient for us; and, as our troubles increase, so

shall the means of our support. And even these trials and

temptations will be pressed into our service, for all things work

together for good to them that love God, Ro 8:28.

4. We must beware neither to despise outward rites in religion,

nor to rest in them. Most people do either the one or the other.

God gives us outward helps, because he knows we need them. But do

we not sometimes imagine ourselves to be above that which, because

of our scantiness of grace, is really above us? We certainly may

over-rate ourselves, and under-rate God's bounties. He who is

taught by the Spirit of God will be saved from both.

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