May 25th Acts, 10
1: There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, 2: A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always. 3: He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. 4: And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. 5: And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter: 6: He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do. 7: And when the angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually; 8: And when he had declared all these things unto them, he sent them to Joppa. 9: On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: 10: And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, 11: And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: 12: Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. 13: And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. 14: But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. 15: And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. 16: This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven. 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 inquiry 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. 23: Then called he them in, and lodged them. And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him. 24: And the morrow after they entered into Caesarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends. 25: And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. 26: But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man. 27: And as he talked with him, he went in, and found many that were come together. 28: And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean. 29: Therefore came I unto you without gainsaying, as soon as I was sent for: I ask therefore for what intent ye have sent for me? 30: And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, 31: And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God. 32: Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter; he is lodged in the house of one Simon a tanner by the sea side: who, when he cometh, shall speak unto thee. 33: Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.
Luke next records a notable event in the life of the early Church - The first Gentile christian. In Luke’s characteristic was he says there was ‘a certain man’. He was called Cornelius. He was a centurion belonging to the Italian band. So he was a middle ranking soldier. He had 50 men under his charge. Then we learn that he was a devote man one who feared God with all his family and servants and he gave charity and he was a man of prayer. So he was a christian then! No - he was not a Christian. He was a proselyte. He was a law-keeping God-fearing Gentile. An angel came to him saying, don’t be afraid – God has heard your prayers and God recognises your charity deeds. Now Cornelius, send two of your men to Joppa to find a man called Simon Peter. And then God gave the address. Then the angel said, he will tell you what you are to do next. Cornelius sent two servants and a God-fearing soldier to Joppa (presumably to protect them). The next day Peter is on the house top in prayer when he has a vision from the Lord at midday. Peter became hungry and the Lord let down from heaven a great sheet with all sorts of unclean animals in it. Then God said to Peter get up Rise Peter kill and eat. Peter said, not so Lord. l have never eaten unclean meat. Then the Lord asked him two more times. (It seems that Peter was a man who had to be told everything three times) God’s response to his refusal was to say, what l have cleansed you must not call unclean. While Peter was thinking about what this meant the servants of Cornelius was standing at the gate outside Peter’s house. They called to ask if Peter was logging there. Then the Spirit of God said to peter three men are seeking for you at your gate, don’t doubt that l have sent them. Peter went down and the servants explained who their master was and why they were sent. They stayed the night and then in the morning they set off for Cornelius’s house. Some of the men of Joppa went with him. Cornelius when they arrived had gathered his family and close friends to meet Peter. Cornelius’s first reaction was to fall down and worship Peter he Peter refused it saying stand up l am a man like you. When Peter went in he explained that it was illegal for a Jew to have conversation with Gentiles, however God has showed him that no man should be called common or unclean. Then Cornelius related his story. The stage is set what will happen next?