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Peter and Cornelius


In Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of the Italian Cohort, as it was called. 2He was a devout man who feared God with all his household; he gave alms generously to the people and prayed constantly to God. 3One afternoon at about three o’clock he had a vision in which he clearly saw an angel of God coming in and saying to him, “Cornelius.” 4He stared at him in terror and said, “What is it, Lord?” He answered, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God. 5Now send men to Joppa for a certain Simon who is called Peter; 6he is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the seaside.” 7When the angel who spoke to him had left, he called two of his slaves and a devout soldier from the ranks of those who served him, 8and after telling them everything, he sent them to Joppa.

9 About noon the next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10He became hungry and wanted something to eat; and while it was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11He saw the heaven opened and something like a large sheet coming down, being lowered to the ground by its four corners. 12In it were all kinds of four-footed creatures and reptiles and birds of the air. 13Then he heard a voice saying, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat.” 14But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is profane or unclean.” 15The voice said to him again, a second time, “What God has made clean, you must not call profane.” 16This happened three times, and the thing was suddenly taken up to heaven.

17 Now while Peter was greatly puzzled about what to make of the vision that he had seen, suddenly the men sent by Cornelius appeared. They were asking for Simon’s house and were standing by the gate. 18They called out to ask whether Simon, who was called Peter, was staying there. 19While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Look, three men are searching for you. 20Now get up, go down, and go with them without hesitation; for I have sent them.” 21So Peter went down to the men and said, “I am the one you are looking for; what is the reason for your coming?” 22They answered, “Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and to hear what you have to say.” 23So Peter invited them in and gave them lodging.

The next day he got up and went with them, and some of the believers from Joppa accompanied him. 24The following day they came to Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. 25On Peter’s arrival Cornelius met him, and falling at his feet, worshiped him. 26But Peter made him get up, saying, “Stand up; I am only a mortal.” 27And as he talked with him, he went in and found that many had assembled; 28and he said to them, “You yourselves know that it is unlawful for a Jew to associate with or to visit a Gentile; but God has shown me that I should not call anyone profane or unclean. 29So when I was sent for, I came without objection. Now may I ask why you sent for me?”

30 Cornelius replied, “Four days ago at this very hour, at three o’clock, I was praying in my house when suddenly a man in dazzling clothes stood before me. 31He said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God. 32Send therefore to Joppa and ask for Simon, who is called Peter; he is staying in the home of Simon, a tanner, by the sea.’ 33Therefore I sent for you immediately, and you have been kind enough to come. So now all of us are here in the presence of God to listen to all that the Lord has commanded you to say.”

Gentiles Hear the Good News

34 Then Peter began to speak to them: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, 35but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all. 37That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: 38how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; 40but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, 41not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. 43All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Gentiles Receive the Holy Spirit

44 While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word. 45The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, 46for they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter said, 47“Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48So he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they invited him to stay for several days.

28. Ye know that it is not lawful. This seemeth to be no friendly preface, and such as may rather harden 681681     “Exasperet,” exasperate. than win their hearts, when as they hear that they are accounted so unclean, that with their familiarity and conference they pollute the saints; which must needs be a great reproach for them. But it was needful for Peter thus to speak, lest they should suspect that he had an evil conscience, because, contrary to the custom delivered by the fathers, he came. 682682     “Quasi legis contemptor,” as if he had been a despiser of the law, omitted. But when as he affirmeth that he was sent of God, all such suspicion is taken away and purged. Moreover, he mitigateth very well by these words the offense which did stick in their minds, by reason of an old grudge which was between the Jews and the Gentiles, so that he could by no means have entered his speech better, For he pronounceth that those are now clean who were before unclean, so that they have mutual fellowship now with the saints. Furthermore, whereas he said that it was wickedness for the Jews to go in unto the Gentiles, we must know that this came not so much from the law, as from the observation of the fathers. God had forbidden, indeed, that they should (not) entangle themselves with marriages or covenants, (Deuteronomy 7:3;) they were never forbidden to eat with them, or to use the common businesses of life. But lest that familiarity might entice them into that which was forbidden, they observed the custom delivered by the fathers, so that they did not company together. It is to no end to dispute here whether that tradition did bind men’s consciences; for Peter doth not teach 683683     “Ex professo,” professedly, omitted. what is lawful according to God, but what was commonly used.

No man. He maketh the sum and end of the vision more plain, when he referreth that unto men which was spoken of meats. And whereas he saith, that no man is unclean, it may not be understood of (all) particular persons; for it is certain that all unbelievers are polluted with uncleanness of conscience, so that they pollute those things which are otherwise pure, when as they do but touch them. Paul also saith that their children remain unclean until they be cleansed by faith. Finally, if faith alone do purge and purify the hearts of men, unbelief doth make the same profane. But Peter 684684     “Tantum,” only, omitted. compareth the Jews and the Gentiles together in this place; and because the wall of separation was pulled down, and the covenant of life 685685     “Et salutis,” and salvation, omitted. is now common to them both alike, he saith that those are not to be counted aliens who are made partakers of God’s adoption.

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