Bible Study 35 - Acts 10:1-8 - Cornelius

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Bible Study 35 - Acts 10:1-8 - Cornelius

At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort, 2 a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God. 3 About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God come in and say to him, “Cornelius.” 4 And he stared at him in terror and said, “What is it, Lord?” And he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God. 5 And now send men to Joppa and bring one Simon who is called Peter. 6 He is lodging with one Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea.” 7 When the angel who spoke to him had departed, he called two of his servants and a devout soldier from among those who attended him, 8 and having related everything to them, he sent them to Joppa.

1. We are here, importantly, introduced to Cornelius, who was a Gentile by birth and background: At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort, 2 a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God.

a) Cornelius was from Caesarea… An important seaport and garrison city that was the capital of the Roman province of Judea at that time… You will recall the Lord Jesus’ commission to his church to go into all the world and proclaim the gospel, beginning to Jerusalem and all Judea, and Samaria, and all the world. The good news is for Jew and Gentile alike…

b) Cornelius was a Centurion… He was a Gentile by birth, possibly a Roman as he served the Italian Cohort. He was commander or officer in the army of the Roman Empire. He was a man of integrity who commanded respect not simply by office but by example. He exercised authority over others while being subject to a higher authority… Not only Caesar and his commanding officers but more crucially he served God the Lord.

c) Cornelius was committed to God and good works… a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God. Cornelius revered God and enjoyed a relationship with God. He wisely led his household by precept and example. He loved God and his neighbour which was evident in his prayer life and generosity and care for others….

2. Cornelius invokes the name of the Lord after receiving a heavenly vision: About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God come in and say to him, “Cornelius.” 4 And he stared at him in terror and said, “What is it, Lord?” And he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God.

a) Cornelius received a messenger from God… The word ‘angel’ literally means messenger. Cornelius was visited in a vision by a heavenly messenger with a word from God. God was communicating his will to Cornelius who was receptive to God’s word.

b) Cornelius revered God. He enjoyed a positive relationship with God. He is nevertheless here naturally terror-struck by the visitation of the angel. The angel is a perfectly pure and a holy heavenly being. Cornelius is not. He is struck by the ‘otherness’ of the heavenly visitor.

c) Cornelius however was being rewarded for his devotion… While he was a beneficiary of God’s grace, God had taken notice of his faithfulness in the manner of his prayers and alms-giving… The example of Cornelius reminds us of the words of the Apostle Paul: whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work (2Cor.9:6b-8).

3. Cornelius is instructed to send for the Apostle Peter: And now send men to Joppa and bring one Simon who is called Peter. 6 He is lodging with one Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea.” 7 When the angel who spoke to him had departed, he called two of his servants and a devout soldier from among those who attended him, 8 and having related everything to them, he sent them to Joppa.

a) Cornelius is given specific instructions to send for the Apostle Peter who was still at Joppa… And we are reminded here of how God is overseeing the affairs of his people. God is all-seeing and all-knowing, as well as omnipresent and omnipotent… God has a plan, programme, and purpose…

b) Cornelius trusts and obeys God’s instruction and in turn instructs servants to go fetch Peter…

c) Cornelius’ servants similarly receive the message and respond by faithfully heading off to summon the Apostle Peter…

Questions

1. What can we learn from the example of Cornelius?

2. What evidence is there in our lives that we enjoy a positive relationship with God like Cornelius did?

3. How does God communicate his will to us today?

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