It’s been such an amazing journey so far through the book of Acts! Today we find Peter defending the fact that the Gentiles got the Holy Ghost to the Jews who were waiting on him.
You think you “know” the Bible, having read through certain parts of it all your life. But there’s just SOMETHING about going chapter by chapter, word by word, and reading it as a historical depiction of the very days of the early church. And to me, it’s amazing!
In this chapter, we’ll hear about the aftermath of Peter’s preaching to the Gentiles. He has to contend with the Jews about that, so let’s see what happens…
If you missed the first ten chapters, you can find them in order here:
If you’d like to stay up to date with new posts, feel free to use the subscription box below to subscribe! Your information is always safe with me and I don’t send out frivolous emails.
Conversion of the Gentiles Gets Back to the Jews
(Vs. 1) And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God.
(Vs. 2) And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him,
(Vs. 3) Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them.
You’ve heard the old saying that good news travels fast, and bad news travels faster. Well, this whole “Gentiles get the Holy Ghost” thing was bad news for the Jews.
Of course, the first thing Peter said when he entered Cornelius’s house, in the previous chapter, was that Jews and those from other countries weren’t supposed to eat with together. So Peter already knew that.
Still, the Jews were waiting, ready to “contend” with him about this misguided adventure he’d been on. But Peter was ready for them too.
Peter Defends the Himself & the Gentiles
(Vs. 4) But Peter rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it by order unto them, saying,
Apparently, since the whole thing had started, Peter knew this was a conversation he was going to have to have. He’d even rehearsed it, right from the beginning, and was ready to expound it by order. In other words, Take it from the top, Peter!
Peter Recounts the Story
(Vs. 5) I was in the city of Joppa praying: and in a trance I saw a vision, A certain vessel descend, as it had been a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came even to me:
(Vs. 6) Upon the which when I had fastened mine eyes, I considered, and saw fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.
(Vs. 7) And I heard a voice saying unto me, Arise, Peter; slay and eat.
(Vs. 8) But I said, Not so, Lord: for nothing common or unclean hath at any time entered into my mouth.
(Vs. 9) But the voice answered me again from heaven, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.
(Vs. 10) And this was done three times: and all were drawn up again into heaven.
The Gentiles Sought for Peter
(Vs. 11) And, behold, immediately there were three men already come unto the house where I was, sent from Caesarea unto me.
(Vs. 12) And the Spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered into the man’s house:
(Vs. 13) And he shewed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter;
(Vs. 14) Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.
(Vs. 15) And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning.
There is SO MUCH confirmation here! From the angel telling Cornelius specifically where Peter was, and what his name was, to Peter’s vision and contemplation about what it meant. Then you add in that the “salvation plan” is solidified here.
Cornelius had conferred to Peter that the angel had told him to find Peter. He went on to say that the angel had said Peter would “tell thee words” – in other words, Peter would preach to them – “whereby thou and all thou house shall be saved.”
Peter Considers the Salvation Plan
I don’t believe Peter revisited the Acts 2:38 model of salvation in the house of a Gentile for nothing. In fact, I don’t believe God allowed ANY KJV words for generations to read over and over “for nothing”. The Bible says this:
And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen. (John 21:25)
If Jesus said that much, and all we wound up with were the words in this edition, specifically, then there is a reason for that! It must be that THESE words are the words He wanted us to have. Each of them must mean something so precious that they were protected above all the others.
So when the angel tells Cornelius that Peter would preach the words that would save him and his house, it meant something. First, Peter preached the word:
How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? (Romans 10:14)
Then, the Holy Ghost falls on all in attendance. Just like in the Upper Room, in the not too distant past, at this point:
And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:4)
After that, the disciples baptized them all into the Name of the Lord (Jesus). This fulfilled the angel’s prophecy.
Peter Wraps Up His Argument
(Vs. 16) Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.
(Vs. 17) Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?
We will meet many people along our faith walk that will, like these Jews, contend with us about what we know of the Doctrine. But, just like Peter did, we can shift the argument from our own shoulders by simply referring back to the Scriptures. It is GOD who gives the Doctrine. Jesus spoke of it time and again. But he also said the road is narrow, and the gate is straight. Not everyone will find it.
When people contend with us, it’s not a time to argue or “plead your case.” If you can back up your words with Scripture, there is no more case to be made. If you can’t, then you need to revisit them for yourself.
Having faith in God without knowing WHY creates the danger of being swayed by the world and every voice in it. Just as the serpent beguiled Eve, he can do the same thing to us when we are not grounded and rooted in the Word!
The Eyes of the Jews are Opened
(Vs. 18) When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.
The Jews listened to Peter. They actually listened to hear, and didn’t simply bide their time waiting for an opportunity to retort. What’s more, when they listened, then considered the Scriptures and Jesus’ own words. They considered the fact that the Gentiles had received the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in tongues reiterating, again, that they had been granted “repentance unto life.”
Remembering Hints of Gentile Conversion
(Vs. 19) Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.
(Vs. 20) And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the LORD Jesus.
Stephen had only preached to the Jews. But even then, the Gentiles were hearing and in turn, preaching the Lord Jesus. Not what they “thought” His Words to mean… they preached HIM… THE Word. The same Word spoken of in John chapter 1… In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
This was the pure church, the early church, as Jesus meant it from the start. And they continued doing all that they knew to do: preach Jesus and Him crucified and resurrected, baptism in His Name for the remission of sins, and tarrying for the Baptism of the Holy Ghost.
Continuing to Preach to the Gentiles
(Vs. 21) And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned to the Lord.
(Vs. 22) Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch.
(Vs. 23) Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.
(Vs. 24) For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord.
(Vs. 25) Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul:
(Vs. 26) And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.
Sending Barnabas to Antioch had proved to be a joyous decision. Once there, he found those who had turned to Jesus and so he encouraged them further.
In fact, he went on to get Saul and they went back to Antioch where they spend an entire year with the church there. They taught lots of people the Words of Jesus, and it was here that the disciples were first called Christians.
Prophets, Famine, and the Apostles
(Vs. 27) And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch.
(Vs. 28) And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar.
(Vs. 29) Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea:
(Vs. 30) Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.
Knowing that a drought was coming sent the disciples and brethren into a mission-minded situation. Those able to send relief to the elders sent it through Barnabas and Saul.
In much the same way, we are seeing a drought in THESE DAYS. It is up to us, as we are able, to send relief to the brethren who are on the front lines! God will reveal what you must do. Pray to receive Holy Ghost guidance and He will not be slack in sending out His Word!
Please feel free to share your thoughts below! And thank you for reading!
Ever In His Service,