ACTS - CHAPTERS 10-11: 1-18 - CHRIST IS NOT PREJUDICE
ACTS – CHAPTERS 10-11:1-18 –
CHRIST IS NOT PREJUDICED
Tuesday Morning Bible Study
April 5, 2022, the Year of Our Lord
Pastor Carolyn Sissom
Acts 10:34: God is no respecter of persons.
The whole scenario of Acts 10-11 is a lesson about prejudice. God does not show favoritism, but He accepts people from every nation who fear Him. Peter’s vision and the unprecedented outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon Cornelius’ household teach us that God’s heart is toward all humankind. Prejudice is hate, and hate is learned behavior.
Peter had all his preconceived ideas and his formula from Acts 2:38 down pat. But God knew how to shake him up!
Acts 10: 1-2: There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always.
Caesarea, a Gentile city on the Mediterranean coast was sometimes called Caesarea Palestine to distinguish it from Caesarea Philippi. It boasted a fine harbor, many splendid temples, palaces and other buildings. It was the headquarters of the Roman governor of Palestine. Elements of the Roman army were garrisoned there. It was inhabited chiefly by pagans, but a few thousand jews also lived there. Cornelius was an officer who belonged to a battalion made up of Italians, perhaps natives of Rome. There were sixty centurions in a Roman legion.
Cornelius was deeply religious, but not a Jewish proselyte.
10: 3-6: About the ninth hour of the day, he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, “Cornelius!” When he observed him, he was afraid, and said, “what is it lord? The angel said to him, “your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God. Send mento Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter. He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea. He will tell you what you must do.”
He saw clearly – this is the description of an open-eye vision of an angel of God. The glory of the angel was so great that Cornelius was afraid, but not so afraid that he addresses him. This also is a reminder to us that our alms giving to the poor and needy as well as our prayers come up before God as a memorial. This verse alone should deliver Christians from selfishness as well as increase our prayers to our Lord and Savior.
The heavenly visitor gives Cornelius names and addresses. Let us also keep in mind that heaven knows our name and address.
10: 7-8: When the angel who spoke to him had departed, Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier from among those who waited on him continually. When he had explained all these things to them, he sent them to Joppa.
Immediately, Cornelius dispatches his servants to find Peter. One commentator comments: “could the angel have not told Cornelius what he must do to receive Jesus Christ? No, the gospel is to be preached by men who have been redeemed. Angels know nothing of that experience.”
But the Lord is working a duality of the advancement of the Kingdom. Not only is Cornelius to be redeemed, filled with the Holy Spirit and baptized; but Peter is to be commissioned to embrace the Gentile race into the Kingdom of God.
To this point in our Act’s story, Peter’s ministry has been confined to Israelites and Samaritans. Nothing could be more repulsive to him than offering the gospel to Gentiles, unconverted heathens---no matter how religious they were. So far, he is convinced there are only two classes of people in the world, Jews and gentiles. To his mind, for a Gentile to be saved, he must first be circumcised, place himself under the Law, and become a Jew. As yet, he knows nothing of how Christ’s death destroyed the wall of partition between Jews and Gentiles, slave and free, male and female, creating one new man, one body, the Church.
10: 9-13: The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour. Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth. In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. A voice came to him, “rise, Peter; kill and eat.”
The Spirit realm opened as Peter behold a “vessel” descending unto him.
Vessel “skeuos” (G4632): σκεῦος skeûos, skyoo'-os; of uncertain affinity; a vessel, implement, equipment or apparatus (literally or figuratively [specially, a wife as contributing to the usefulness of the husband]): —goods, sail, stuff, vessel.
The Apostle witnessed a picture of the Bride of Christ, the Church. It was knit at the four corners, showing the universality of the Body of Christ. Within were all “manner” (custom or habit) of beasts and “creeping things,” representing all kinds of people from every nation.
Peter is to learn that what God has cleansed or purified by the shed blood of His son is neither common nor defiled.
10: 14-16: Peter said, “Not so, LORD! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.” A voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.” This was done three times. The object was then taken up into heaven again.
Peter recognized the voice of the LORD. He had heard it many times. Jesus had already required of him the impossible multiple times. Now this!
When the Lord wanted to wash his feet, Peter said, “never.”
When the LORD said he would deny Him, he said, ‘never.”
How could the One whose Law forbid the eating of anything but kosher order him to eat unclean animals? He is rebuked by the reply. What God has cleansed, call not thou common.
God has changed the program. As long as Israel was the custodian of His Word and the seed of the Messiah, God wanted to keep them separated from the Gentiles. He wanted that nation isolated from others. The Levitical laws served to accomplish it. But with the advent of the church, composed of both Jews and Gentiles, those separating laws become obsolete. This was done three times to place a seal upon the vision.
Christ Is not prejudiced! Christ, the Seed of God, is and always has been a spiritual seed. The new nature has nothing to do with gender, race, or nationality.
10: 17-21: While Peter wondered within himself what this vision which he had seen meant, behold, the men who had been sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate. They called and asked whether Simon, whose surname was Peter, was lodging there. While Peter thought about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “behold, three men are seeking you. Arise, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them.” Peter went down to the men who had been sent to him from Cornelius, and said, “Yes, I am he whom you seek. For what reason have you come?”
Peter didn’t have time to figure out this “new program.” He is soon to find out what it meant. The first clue will come when he learns the reason for the messengers’ visit.
10:22-24: They said, “Cornelius, the centurion, a just man, one who fears God and has a good reputation among all the nation of the Jews, was divinely instructed by a holy angel to summon you to his house, and to hear words from you.” Peter invited them in and lodged them. On the next day, Peter went away with them, and some brethren from Joppa accompanied him. The following day they entered Caesarea. Cornelius was waiting for them, and had called together his relatives and close friends.
Let us be compassionate to Peter. Consider what is happening to him. He has just been told by His Savior, Jesus Christ, to eat unclean animals because God has cleansed them. Now he is gold to accompany these men to a Gentile (unclean) home. In doing so, he would be defiled, that is, ceremonially unclean.
The strangeness of the event requires witnesses. He takes some of the Hebrew Christians of Joppa to go with him. Obviously, these Christians were moved on by the Holy Spirit as well as Peter for they were certain to go into a Gentile home. It was a one-day journey. They found Cornelius waiting their arrival with his whole family plus friends.
10:25-29: As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I myself am also a man.” As he talked with him, he went in and found many who had come together. He said to them, “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean. Therefore, I came without objection as soon as I was sent for. I ask, then, for what reason have you sent for me?”
God performed a miracle, using two supernatural communications to arrange this gathering. Four days have passed since Cornelius received the visitation of an angel in bright clothing (Vs. 30). Cornelius describes the vision to Peter. It occurred at that very same hour, the hour in which he is now speaking. He goes into detail about the angel’s message.
10:33-34: So, I sent to you immediately, and you have done well to come. Now therefore, we are all present before God. To hear all the things commanded of you by God. Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “in truth, I perceive that God shows no partiality.
Acts 10:34 TLB: I see very clearly that the Jews are not God’s only favorites.
Acts 10:34: TPT: Now I know for certain that God doesn’t show favoritism with people, but treats everyone on the same basis.
This powerful statement summarizes this entire chapter and God’s New Testament program to the “whole world.”
To show respect of persons (face) in any form, be it gender, race, or nationality is ungodliness. God does not embrace one face above another. He is not motivated by or judges according to surface appearances. The will of God for every believer is to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, and Jesus did not regard or look at the external qualities of man.
1 Sa. 16:7: …The Lord sees not as man sees, for man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.
Ro. 2:11: For there is no respect of persons with God.
Acts 10:35: But, in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.
Rejection is the evil root of all prejudice. However, in Christ, this dilemma is solved. Through the blood of the Lamb, we have received the forgiveness of sins. Paul announced in Ephesians 1:6 that we have been “made accepted” in the Beloved.
Fearing rejection, men and women are ever seeking approval. Because of fleshly insecurities, they continuously perform for one another. In the church world, this motive is often especially evident among preachers, singers, and musicians. Yet, every human performance is also accompanied by an awful things---a grade based on comparisons.
The battle of the sexes, hatred between the races, strife among the nations (or denominations) ---all are manifestations of Adam’s inward restlessness. Until an individual is secure in his Christlikeness, there can be no peace.
Spiritual adolescents in our churches say and do dumb things to get attention. “Look at me!” One they begin to understand that they are already somebody in Christ, “accepted in the beloved” through His finished work, their immature antics will cease.
Acts 10:36: The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus-Christ---He is Lord of all.
Together, male, female, Jew, Greek, slave or free, we are the new creation man in Christ Jesus. The L.G.B.Q and trans-gender culture is Satan’s attempt to steal the identify of the new creation man. Our identity is not measured or determined by gender, race of nationality. Our identity as the new creation is completely defined “in Christ.” He is the sum total of our existence. In the mirror of His Word, we behold our “natural face---the face of a new heart received by new birth---His nature. In Christ, there is no prejudice.
Peter Preaches the gospel:
10:37-43: That word was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached; how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. We are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree. Him, God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly; not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.
The judge of the living and the dead refers to all mankind of every age. He is the judge of every soul who appears on earth. The “whoever” is Peter’s current revelation that this gospel of the Kingdom embraces everyone and anyone who through faith in the NAME of Jesus Christ shall be saved.
10: 44-48: While Peter was till speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. Those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered. “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” He commanded them to be baptized in the name of the LORD. Then they asked him to stay a few days.
For the Jewish Christians accompanying Peter, without such evidence, it is not likely they would have regarded them as genuinely saved. “For Jews require a sign.”
Notice the Holy Spirit “fell upon them” and was “poured out” before they were baptized in water. Even while Peter was preaching, the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out on them. They had not yet prayed the sinner’s prayer.
We can say they received the gift when they believed and their hearts had been cleansed by God through faith.
This battle is to be debated going forward as there will be some to dispute this validity of salvation.
Acts 15: 8-9: God knows people’s hearts, and he confirmed that he accepts Gentiles by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us. He made no distinction between us and them, for he cleansed their hearts through faith.
Battle on and it continues today in some denominations.
Acts 11:1-4: Soon the news reached the apostles and other believers in Judea that the Gentiles had received the word of God. But when Peter arrived back in Jerusalem, the Jewish believers criticized him. “You entered the home of Gentiles and even ate with them” they said. Then Peter told them exactly what had happened:
In verses 5-16, Peter retells the story point-by-point and verse-by-verse.
11:17: He said, “Since God gave these Gentiles the same gift, he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to stand in God’s way?”
I remember during the Charismatic Renewal; Pentecostals were just this amazed that denominational Christians were receiving the baptisms of the Holy Spirit with speaking in tongues and the gifts of the Spirit. Many refused to believe that we could receive the Holy Ghost out-poured and in-filled.
11:18: When the others heard this, they stopped objecting and began praising God. They said, “We can see that God has also given the gentiles the privilege of repenting of their sins and receiving eternal life.”
The grumbling was silenced for the moment. The council at Jerusalem rejoiced with Peter. However, 1400 years of national prejudice cannot be tuned off like a faucet. It took a visitation of the LORD to change Peter’s mind. The rest of the church will die hard. The circumcision party will later try to block Paul’s work when he begins preaching to the Gentiles. In theory, the church is here acknowledging the gospel is for the whole world, but the disciples will be in no hurry to put that theory into practice.
God used tongues to convince the Jewish Christians he had opened the door to the Gentiles. 1 Co. 14:21-22: In the law it is written, with men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that they will not hear me, says the LORD. Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not; but prophesying serves not for them that believe, not, but for them which believe.
Mankind has been stifled by the spirit of fear. To compensate for their insecurities and instabilities, men and women judge each other and put each other down. Races and nationalities constantly compare themselves among themselves, which is not wise.
We the church must still be delivered from our prejudices.
Carolyn Sissom, Pastor
Eastgate Ministries Church
Scripture from N.K.J.V. – I entered into the labors of Dr. C. S. Lovett’s Light’s on Acts and Kelly Varner, The Three Prejudices.