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The Inclusiveness Of The Gospel

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ACTS 10:34-48  

This section [10:1-11:18] gives an account of the progress of the gospel across the religious boundary between the Jews and the Gentiles. The gospel vision and Christ’s mission statement was to bring the gospel to: “the uttermost parts of the earth” [1:8]. 

§         This meant the crossing of national and religious boundaries: “Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and uttermost parts” [1:8].

§         Peter had been instrumental to preaching the gospel to the Jews: “Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said to them…” [2:44ff].

§         Peter was instrumental in preaching the gospel to the Samaritans: “when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John…” [8:14]. 

This passage is about the introduction of the Gentiles into the church. When we consider that the Jews looked on the Gentiles as “the dogs” [Mat.15:27] we begin to realise how significant and, in many ways, unacceptable this movement would have been.


1.        Cornelius

Cornelius: “man in Caesarea…” [10:1].

§         30 miles north of Joppa on the Mediterranean coast. 

§         Gentile city of Judea - administrative capital of the province. 

a.        Occupation

Cornelius: “a centurion of the band…” [10:1].

§         ἑκατοντάρχης - “centurion” [10:1], ‘captain’; ‘company commander’.

§         A Roman legion at full strength consisted of 6,000 men, and was divided into ten cohorts of 600 men each. A centurion commanded 100 of these men.

b.        Description

Cornelius: “devout man, and one that feared God…” [10:2].

§         εὐσεβὴς - “devout” [10:2], ‘proper attitude to the gods’;

§         φοβούμενος - “feared” [10:2], ‘reverence’ expressed in ‘worship’;

§         δίκαιος - “just” [10:22], ‘conformity to a norm or standard’;

§         Cornelius had abandoned his pagan religion and had accepted the monotheism & ethical standards of Jews.

c.        Petitionary Prayer

Cornelius in Caesarea: “he prayed to God always” [10:2].

§         δεόμενος - “prayed” [10:2], from basic meaning ‘to lack, be in need of’;

§         Present passive participle – characteristically engaged in prayer.

d.        Preparation & Revelation  

Because of His sovereign election of Cornelius, God moved to prepare him: “he saw in a vision…” [10:3].

§         ὁράματι - “vision” [10:3], ‘revelation’; ‘message from God’.

i.         The Answer to Prayer

Answer to prayer: “your prayers…come for a memorial before God” [10:4].

§         μνημόσυνον - “memorial” [10:4], ‘memorial offering’;

§         Meat offering: “memorial…on altar…sweet savour unto LORD” [Lev.2:2].

ii.       The Instruction  

Cornelius, despite his sincerity and devotion, could not be saved with out the gospel. God was arranging to provide him with that knowledge: “send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon…” [10:5].

§         Exact location: “send men to Joppalodging with one Simon, a tanner” [10:5-6].

§         Individual: “Simon, whose surname is Peter” [10:5].


2.        Peter

Peter: “tarried in Joppa…” [9:43].

§         The nearest seaport to Jerusalem on Med coast

§         Less than 40 miles NW of Jerusalem

a.        Occupation

Peter: “one of the twelve…” [22:47].

§         Office: “I will give unto you the keys of the kingdom…” [Mat.16:19].

§         Pentecost & Jews: “Peter, standing up…Ye men of Judea…” [2:14].

§         Samaria: “they sent for Peter and John…” [8:14].

b.        Prayer

Peter in Joppa: “went up to the housetop to pray…” [10:9].

§         προσεύξασθαι - “pray” [10:9], ‘fact of prayer without denoting its content’;

§         Worship & communion – ‘talk to a deity asking for help

§         Aorist middle – denotes the fact and the occasion.

c.        Preparation & Revelation

Revelation from God: “he saw heaven opened…” [10:11].

i.        The Preparation

The command: “Rise, Peter, kill and eat…” [10:13].

§         Old Testament: “I am the Lord your God: you shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and you shall be holy…” [Lev.11:44]. .

ii.      The Resistance

Peter operates within God-defined boundary: “never eat anything that is common…” [10:14].

§         Social and religious separation: “it is unlawful for a Jew to keep company with…” [10:28]. 

§         Revelation: “all manner of four-footed beasts…” [10:12].

§         Strong resistance: “not so Lord…” [10:14].

iii.    The Perplexity

Peter is perplexed with what he has seen: “Peter wondered in himself what this meant…” [10:17].

§         διηπόρει - “doubted” [10:17], ‘be perplexed’; ‘divided between two’;

§         διενθυμουμένου - “thought” [10:17], ‘welling up inside him’;


Factors combine to create a situation:

§         God to Cornelius: “send men to Joppa…” [10:5].

§         New situation; new revelation; Kingdom advancement >>> movement of personnel


3.        The Encounter   

a.        The Submission of Cornelius

Cornelius responded immediately: “when the angel which spoke to Cornelius had departed…” [10:7].

§         Obedience: “when he had declared all things to them, he sent them to Joppa” [10:8].

§         The servants: “made inquiry for Simon’s house…” [10:17].

b.        The Submission of Peter

Peter: “while Peter doubted in himself…” [10:17].

§         διηπόρει - “doubted” [10:17], ‘be perplexed’; ‘divided between two’;

§         διενθυμουμένου - “thought” [10:17], ‘welling up inside him’;

i.        The Invitation 

The arrival of Cornelius’ servants: “Behold, three men seek thee” [10:19].

§         The interview: “I ask for what intent…” [10:29].

§         Cornelius’ explanation: “Four days ago I was fasting…” [10:30].

iii.     The Journey  

Peter: “on the morrow went away with them…” [10:23].

§         The encounter: “Cornelius waited for them…and as Peter was coming in” [10:24-25].


God’s preparation is complete: “immediately, I sent… done well that you have come” [10:33a].

§         A God-enabled response to God’s call


1.        The Boundary of the Kingdom  

Peter must learn that the coming of Jesus Christ has brought the nature of the kingdom of God to a different expression to that taught in the Mosaic Law.

a.        Indiscriminatory Gospel

i.        The Vision

Peter’s conclusion is based on the vision he received: “of a truth I perceive that God is…” [10:34].

§         ἐπʼ- “of” [10:34], ‘on’; ‘based on’;

§         ἀληθείας – “truth” [10:34], ‘fact’; ‘reality’; ‘word of God’;

§         καταλαμβάνομαι – “perceive” [10:34], ‘to seize, arrest’; ‘to lay hold of’;

ii.      No Discrimination

God does not discriminate against anyone in the gospel: “God is no respecter of persons” [10:34].

§         προσωπολήμπτης – “respecter” [10:34], ‘an accepter of a face’; ‘one who shows partiality’; ‘one who treats one person better than another’; “But if ye have respect to persons…” [Jam.2:9];

§         ‘from the Hebraism λαμβάνειν πρόσωπον the noun προσωπολημψία was formed’; λαμβάνειν, ‘to take’, ‘to accept’; and πρόσωπον, ‘face’;

b.        Universal Gospel

The kingdom of God is universal: “but that in every nation he that fears him…” [10:34].

§         παντὶ ἔθνει - “every nation” [10:34], ‘people’; ‘nations’; ‘culture’;

i.        The Cornelius

The kingdom is for people like Cornelius: “he that fears him…” [10:34].

§         φοβούμενος - “fears” [10:34], ‘to show respect, reverence’; ‘to worship’;

§         ἐργαζόμενος - “works” [10:34], ‘labour, expending effort’;

§         δικαιοσύνην - “righteousness” [10:34], ‘right relationship’; ‘behaviour according to a standard’;

ii.      The Acceptance

All such are welcomed into the kingdom: “is accepted with him” [10:34].

§         δεκτὸς - “accepted” [10:34], ‘acceptable’, ‘welcomed’; from déchomai ‘to decide favourably for’;


2.        The Essence of the Gospel

a.        The Gospel

The gospel given to Peter: “and the word which God sent unto the children of Israel…” [10:36].

§         τὸν λόγον - “word” [10:36], ‘statement’; ‘content of what is said/preached’;

§         ἀπέστειλεν - “sent” [10:36], ‘send someone out, implying for a particular purpose’;

§         εὐαγγελιζόμενος - “preaching” [10:36], ‘announce good news’;

b.        The Christ-centred Gospel

The gospel is Christ-centred: “peace by Jesus Christ” [10:36].

§         εἰρήνην - “peace” [10:36], ‘harmony’; OT shalom, ‘wellbeing, good health’;

§         διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ - “by Jesus Christ” [10:36], ‘by way of’;

i.        The Reconciliation

The gospel of reconciliation: “whosoever believes in him…” [10:43].

§         πιστεύοντα - “believes” [10:43], present active participle, ‘to trust’; ‘knowledge, assent, trust’;

§         ἄφεσιν - “remission” [10:43], ‘to send off’; ‘dismissal’; ‘to release’; ‘figurative of pardon’;

§         ἁμαρτιῶν - “sins” [10:43], ‘wrongdoing’; ‘the act of wrongdoing/rebellion and the resultant guilt’


3.        The Theology of the Objective Salvation

a.        The Reconciling Work

The reconciling work is done in Christ: “for he is our peace…” [2:14].

§         ἐστιν - “is” [2:14], present active, ‘to be’;

§         εἰρήνη ἡμῶν - “our peace” [2:14], ‘wellbeing’; ‘end of hostility’; ‘wholeness in personal relationships’;  

b.        The Reconciliation – Horizontal

i.        The Horizontal Separation

The national and religious barrier: “the middle wall of partition…” [2:14].

§         μεσότοιχον - “middle wall” [2:14], ‘dividing wall’; ‘barrier of status or class’;

§         φραγμοῦ - “partition” [2:14], ‘fencing in’;

§         The phrase is ‘the dividing wall which is the fence’.

§         ἔχθραν - “enmity” [2:15], ‘hostility’;

§         The barrier was the Mosaic Law: “the law of commandments contained in ordinances” [2:15].

ii.      The Reconciliation

The barrier: “has broken down the middle wall…” [2:14].

§         λύσας - “broken down” [2:14], ‘to destroy’; ‘to dissolve’;

iii.    The Abolition

The enmity: “having abolished in his flesh…” [2:15].

§         καταργήσας - “abolished” [2:15], ‘to render inoperative’; ‘to invalidate’; ‘to render as no longer binding’;

§         ἐν τῇ σαρκὶ αὐτοῦ - “in his flesh” [2:15], “in the body of his flesh, through death…” [Col.1:22].

§         ἔχθραν - “enmity” [2:15], ‘hostility’;

§         Christ neutralised the effects of the law terminating that old order dominated by the Law: “blotting out the hand-writing of ordinances…” [Col.2:14].

c.        The New Humanity

i.        The New Unity

The unity: “has made of both one...” [2:14].

§         ποιήσας - “made” [2:14], ‘to make’; ‘to create’;

§         τὰ ἀμφότερα - “both” [2:14], ‘both’; ‘total of two’;

§         ἓν - “one” [2:14],

ii.      The New Creation

The creation of one people: “for to make in himself of two…” [2:15].

§         κτίσῃ - “make” [2:15], ‘to build’; ‘to create’;

§         ἕνα καινὸν ἄνθρωπον - “one new man” [2:15], νέος is new in time or origin, i.e., young, with a suggestion of immaturity or of lack of respect for the old. καινός is what is new in nature, different from the usual, impressive, better than the old, superior in value or attraction’;

§         ἐν αὐτῷ - “in himself” [2:15], Christ is the ‘inclusive representative of the new order’;

§         There is nothing now left to keep the ‘two elements of humanity apart’.

§         Christ brought them both together in what was nothing less than a new creation.

d.        The Reconciliation – Vertical

i.        The Reconciliation

The same work of reconciliation: “that he might reconcile both unto God…” [2:16].

§         ἀποκαταλλάξῃ - “reconcile” [2:16], ‘to reunite’; from apó, ‘from’, indicating the state to be left behind, and katallássō, ‘to reconcile’;

§         ἀμφοτέρους - “both” [2:16], ‘a total of exactly two’;

§         τῷ θεῷ - “unto God” [2:16],

§         ἐν ἑνὶ σώματι - “one body” [2:16],

ii.      The Cross

Reconciliation through the cross: “by the cross, having slain…” [2:16].

§         διὰ - “by the cross” [2:16],

§         τοῦ σταυροῦ - “the cross” [2:16],

§         ἀποκτείνας - “slain” [2:16], ‘to kill’; ‘put to death’;

§         ἔχθραν - “enmity” [2:16], ‘hostility’;



1.        The Holy Spirit

a.        The Gift 

The blessing: “the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word” [10:44].

§         ἐπέπεσεν - “fell” [10:44], ‘come upon from above’;

§         Pentecost: “Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning” [11:15].

§         ἐκκέχυται - “poured” [10:44], ‘to lavish’; ‘pour out in abundance

§         Pentecost: “promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this…” [2:33].

§         The amazement: “they that were of the circumcision which believed were astonished because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost” [10:45].

b.        The Theology  

i.        The Access

Jesus Christ is the access point:  “through him we both have access by one Spirit…” [2:18].

§         διʼ αὐτοῦ - “through him” [2:18],

§         ἔχομεν - “have” [2:18], ‘to possess, own’;

§         προσαγωγὴν - “access” [2:18], ‘a bringing to’; ‘the term was commonly used for the audience or right of approach granted to someone by high officials and monarchs’;

§         ἐν - “by” [2:18],

§         ἑνὶ πνεύματι - “one Spirit” [2:18],

ii.      The Father

The access is to God’s family: “unto the Father” [2:18].

§         πρὸς - “unto” [2:18], ‘motion up to, towards’;

§         τὸν πατέρα - “the Father” [2:18],

2.        The Theology of the Personal Salvation

a.        The Past Alienation

Paul lists five deficiencies of their past: “at that time you were without Christ…” [2:12].

§         χωρὶς Χριστοῦ - “without Christ” [2:12], ‘separate from’; ‘independent of’; ‘outside of’; the “Christ” is the King of Israel.

§         ἀπηλλοτριωμένοι - “aliens” [2:12], from apó, ‘from’, and allotrióō, ‘to alienate’; ‘a foreigner’; ‘an outsider’;

§         πολιτείας - “commonwealth” [2:12], ‘citizenship’; ‘socio-economic group’;

§         ξένοι - “strangers” [2:12], ‘not of one’s family’; ‘not belonging to the Christian community’;

§         ἐλπίδα μὴ ἔχοντες - “no hope” [2:12], ‘to have, hold, possess’; the “hope” is the expectation that God would fulfil his promises to “save his people”;

§         ἄθεοι - “without God” [2:12], ‘without God’; ‘godless’; ‘ungodly’;

b.        The Dramatic Change 

i.        The New Position

There has been a dramatic change: “but now in Christ Jesus…” [2:13].

§         ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ - “in Christ Jesus” [2:13],

§         ἐν τῷ αἵματι τοῦ Χριστοῦ - “by blood of Christ” [2:13],

ii.      The Exchange of Places

They were brought near to God in Christ: “you were once far off…” [2:13].

§         μακρὰν - “far off” [2:13], ‘far away’; ‘long distance’;

§         ἐγενήθητε - “made” [2:13], ‘to come to exist’; ‘to happen to be’;

§         ἐγγὺς - “nigh” [2:13], ‘close to’; ‘alongside’;


When the heart hungers and thirsts for God it is the “favourable” time for salvation.

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