From Acts 9-10
The gospel heads out from Jerusalem to the Samaritans and now to the Gentiles. Peter after receiving three visions is told to share the good news of Jesus with some highly respected Gentiles. The Gentiles hear and believe. The Holy Spirit falls on them and they are forgiven. This is one of the best and clearest gospel messages in the book of Acts.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
Today’s passage involves the first instance where full blown Gentiles are included into the people of God. The Gentiles are God fearing Italians and have heavens respect for their alms giving to the poor and their prayers. They see an angel who commanded them to invite the apostle Peter in and have him share the good news about Jesus (Acts 10.1-8).
Meanwhile Peter has been having visions of all kinds of animals, reptiles and birds being let down on a sheet with the command to eat. Peter a law abiding Jew, refuses. These foods are forbidden in the law of Moses and are considered unclean. The vision happens several times and Peter is told not to call what God has made clean, common. While Peter is pondering the meaning of the vision he is invited into a Gentile’s house. Peter realises the LORD sent the vision to help him understand he is beginning to accept the Gentiles into his kingdom (Acts 10.9-33).
This is where our passage starts.
34 So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. (Acts 10.34-35)
Peter realises what the visions he has been having have really been on about. God has sent the visions to help Peter understand the Gentiles are acceptable in his sight. This is a massive revelation and many Jews will struggle with this development.
But he doesn’t say any Gentile. He says those who ‘fear Him’ and ‘do what is right’. Normally these would be called ‘the righteous’. But now Gentiles can be considered righteous in God’s sight as well.
God shows no partiality. Non-Torah observant Gentiles are acceptable to him.
36 As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), 37 you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: (Acts 10.36-37)
Peter moves on to share the gospel. The beginning of his message highlights the ‘word’, or the gospel message was sent to Israel. The gospel started at Jerusalem with the Jews, now it has moved out to all the nations (Lk 24.47).
He then refers to his message as ‘good news of peace’.
The gospel brings peace to all those who receive it gladly.
Peace normally refers to a cessation of hostilities between parties. We could assume Peter refers to rebellion against God. Peace also on occasion has covenantal overtones. God is now obligated to look after and protect them.
This peace comes through Jesus Christ. Jesus is named as the Christ. The Gentiles probably didn’t know Jesus was the Christ and it is important Peter names him this way. In the Gospel, Jesus must be declared the Christ.
Peter then begins to tell the story of Jesus. John the baptist is at the beginning of all the gospels and this is appropriate because Peter’s story is a condensed version of the whole gospel narrative.
Here is the gospel of salvation (cf. Acts 15.7).
38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power.
He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39 And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem.
They put him to death by hanging him on a tree,
40 but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, 41 not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. (Acts 10.38-41)
God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit and with power (Lk 4.1,14).
Throughout most of the gospel he went about doing good and winning victory after victory over the powers of darkness (Lk 4-21).
He did this because God was with him. Peter is describing a movement of God.
Then they crucified Jesus (Lk 23). They put him to death. Note, Peter says they hung him on a tree. In Deuteronomy, Moses writes those who are hung on a tree are under a curse (Dt 21.23; cf. Gal 3.13). Peter doesn’t shy away from saying Jesus died the death of one who is cursed by God.
But then just as quickly Peter says God raised him on the third day. God raised him as only he could, highlighting his approval and exaltation of Jesus as the Christ (cf. Acts 2.36; Rom 1.4). God raised him on the third day as the scriptures and Jesus had been predicting all along (Lk 9.22; 18.31-33; 24.44-46).
God made him appear. The apostles are witnesses to his appearances (1 Cor 15.5f).
The narrative stops and this is where the gospel message stops. But now Peter goes on to explain all the good things that come with what Jesus and God have done.
42 And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. 43 To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” (Acts 10.42-43)
Peter and the apostles were commanded to gospel the people and tell them about Jesus. They are to say Jesus is the judge. Perhaps the Gentiles already knew there would be a judgement. This was common Jewish belief (cf. Isa 66.15-18; Dan 12.2; Lk 3.7-9; Acts 24.15; Rom 2.2). But they didn’t know who would judge them. As king, Jesus will judge the living and the dead (cf. Rev 20.11-15; Rom 2.16; Acts 17.31). This puts all those who have turned to Jesus in a good place.
He will judge all people, including you and me according to how we have lived.
Forgiveness of sins is given to those who believe in his name. Those who believe he is the Christ. This is part of the reason why people who have turned to Jesus will stand when they are judged (cf. Rom 14.4). They have been forgiven. Note Peter does not tie forgiveness to the death of Jesus. Rather it is associated with his name and authority.
44 While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. 45 And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. (Acts 10.44-46)
Luke records that while Peter was saying these things the Holy Spirit fell on them. This gives the impression they didn’t all receive the Holy Spirit at the end of his message. Rather one by one, the Holy Spirit fell on them throughout the whole message.
The circumcised believers (Jewish Christians) with Peter are amazed. This is exactly what happened to them at Pentecost (Acts 2). Now God had accepted these Gentiles and they didn’t have to become Jews to gain his acceptance. The tongues and praise is an important element in their conversion. Without this indicator, they may not have known God had accepted them as they were.
God knows what he is doing.
Then Peter declared, 47 “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days. (Acts 10.46-48)
In Acts 2 Peter instructs his audience to repent of their sin and be baptised. This audience does not need to repent of their sin (Acts 10.2,5,22). They do believe and turn to Christ (Acts 11.18) however and like many who turned to Christ they are baptised. New Christians should be baptised.
Peter stays a few days with these new born Christians. Sharing more of the gospel of Jesus Christ with them I bet.
God speaks and teaches Peter through visions. This is not normal, but we should be open to God doing amazing things in our lives to teach us. Perhaps we should ask God to do that for us. We all need to be taught by God to remove major blocks in our thinking.
Peter has to reach out to people he would not normally associate with. The gospel message must go out to all nations and today’s passage is another reminder to be open to share the gospel with anyone.
Peter shares the gospel by telling the story of Jesus. What do you know about Jesus’ story that you can share with others? Are you a good story teller?
Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2015. All Rights Reserved.