The “Gentile ‘Pentecost’”
1 At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment.
2 He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God frequently.
3 One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him saying, "Cornelius!"
4 Cornelius stared at him in fear. "What is it, Lord?" he asked. The angel replied, "Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God.
5 Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter.
6 He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea."
7 When the angel who spoke to him had gone, Cornelius called two of his servants and a devoted soldier who was one of his attendants.
8 He told them everything that had happened and sent them to Joppa.
9 About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray.
10 He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance.
11 He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners.
12 It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as birds of the air and reptiles of the earth.
13 Then a voice told him, "Get up, Peter. Kill and eat."
14 "Surely not, Lord!" Peter replied. "I have never eaten anything impure or unclean."
15 The voice spoke to him a second time- "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean."
16 This happened three times and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.
17 While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simon's house was and stopped at the gate.
18 They called out, asking if Simon, known as Peter was staying there.
19 While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, "Simon, three men are looking for you.
20 So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them."
21 Peter went down and said to the men, "I'm the one you're looking for. Why have you come?"
22 The men replied, "We have come from Cornelius the centurion. He is a righteous and God-fearing man, who is respected by all the Jewish people. A holy angel told him to have you come to his house so that he could hear what you have to say."
23 Then Peter invited the men into the house to be his guests. The next day Peter started out with them, and some of the brothers from Joppa went along.
24 The following day he arrived in Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his close friends and relatives.
25 As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence.
26 But Peter made him get up. "Stand up," he said, "I am only a man myself."
27 Talking with him, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people.
28 He said to them: "You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean.
29 So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection. May I ask why you sent for me?"
30 Cornelius answered: "Four days ago I was in my house praying at this hour, at three in the afternoon. Suddenly a man in shining clothes stood before me
31 and said, `Cornelius, God has heard your prayer and remembered your gifts to the poor.
32 Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. He is a guest in the home of Simon the tanner, who lives by the sea.'
33 So I sent for you immediately, and it was good of you to come. Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us."
34 Then Peter began to speak: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism
35 but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.
36 You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.
37 You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached--
38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
39 "We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree,
40 but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen.
41 He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen--by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.
42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead.
43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."
44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message.
45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles.
46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said,
47 "Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have."
48 So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.
1 The apostles and the brothers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God.
3 and said, "You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them."
4 Peter began and explained everything to them precisely as it had happened:
5 "I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. I saw something like a large sheet being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to where I was.
6 I looked into it and saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, reptiles, and birds of the air.
7 Then I heard a voice telling me, `Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.'
8 "I replied, `Surely not, Lord! Nothing impure or unclean has ever entered my mouth.'
9 "The voice spoke from heaven a second time, `Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.'
10 This happened three times, and then it was all pulled up to heaven again.
11 "Right then three men who had been sent to me from Caesarea stopped at the house where I was staying.
12 The Spirit told me to have no hesitation about going with them. These six brothers also went with me, and we entered the man's house.
13 He told us how he had seen an angel appear in his house and say, `Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter.
14 He will bring you a message through which you and all your household will be saved.'
15 "As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning.
16 Then I remembered what the Lord had said: `John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.'
17 So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God?"
18 When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, "So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life."
This passage is often referred to as the “Gentile ‘Pentecost’”. As of this time the Gospel had been preached only to Jews. And from the vision God gave Peter, God was telling Peter the Gospel was for the whole world to hear, that is, for the Gentiles as well. Notice the same thing happened to these Gentiles as happened to the Jews in Acts 2. We see the exact same pattern, which was intended to fulfill Christ’s prophesy and confirm that God was indeed the one at work and which He confirmed by this miracle
Cornelius is a very interesting character. Here is what the Bible tells us about him:
Cornelius was a Gentile.
Cornelius worshipped the Jewish God.
Cornelius was devout and God fearing.
Cornelius prayed regularly.
Cornelius gave to the poor and did good deeds.
God heard and answered Cornelius’ prayers. God even sent an angel to him.
Although Cornelius had a very strong faith and it could be argued he had a “relationship” with God, he was still not yet saved. (Acts 11:14 confirms this)
Cornelius is like many people today.
Cornelius still needed further instruction. Notice Cornelius did not argue with Peter about the need to be baptized. Cornelius (and his household) responded by being obedient and by being baptized.
And in so doing, God blessed them and they became the first group of Gentiles to inherit eternal life.
See also this page: What About Cornelius And His Household?
This page updated: Sept 29, 2005