|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
10:1-8 Hitherto none had been baptized into the Christian church but Jews, Samaritans, and those converts who had been circumcised and observed the ceremonial law; but now the Gentiles were to be called to partake all the privileges of God's people, without first becoming Jews. Pure and undefiled religion is sometimes found where we least expect it. Wherever the fear of God rules in the heart, it will appear both in works of charity and of piety, neither will excuse from the other. Doubtless Cornelius had true faith in God's word, as far as he understood it, though not as yet clear faith in Christ. This was the work of the Spirit of God, through the mediation of Jesus, even before Cornelius knew him, as is the case with us all when we, who before were dead in sin, are made alive. Through Christ also his prayers and alms were accepted, which otherwise would have been rejected. Without dispute or delay Cornelius was obedient to the heavenly vision. In the affairs of our souls, let us not lose time.
Verse 1. - Now there was (two last words in italics) for there was (in roman), A.V. and T.R.; Cornelius by name for called Cornelius, A.V. A glance at the map will show that Caesarea (see note to Acts 9:30) was but a short distance, some thirty miles, from Joppa. It was doubtless with a view to Peter's momentous errand to Caesarea that Luke recorded his previous visit to Lydda and his residence at Joppa, consequent upon the restoring of Dorcas to life: the origines of Gentile Christianity being the prime object of the Acts (see Introduction to the Acts). The Italian band; or, cohort (σπείρα). The σπείρα, or cohort, was used in two senses. When spoken of strictly Roman troops, it meant the tenth part of a legion, and consisted of from four hundred and twenty-five to five hundred or six hundred men, according to the strength of the legion. Its commander was called a chiliarch, and it was divided into centuries, each commanded by a centurion. But when spoken of auxiliary provincial troops, it meant a regiment of about a thousand men (Josephus, 'Bell. Jud.,' 3:42). It is in this last sense probably that it is used here. Josephus, in the passage above quoted, speaks of five such auxiliary cohorts coming from Caesarea to join Vespasian's army, and he tells us in another place ('Bell. Jud.,' 2:18, 7) that the principal portion of the Roman army at Caesarea were Syrians. It is pretty certain, therefore, that the Italian cohort here spoken of were auxiliaries, so called as being made up in whole or in part of Italians, probably volunteers or velones (Farrar, vol. 1:278, note). Another reason for this conclusion is that it does not seem likely that one of the divisions of a legion should have a name (though it was very common for the legions themselves to be distinguished, in addition to their number, prima, secunda, decima, etc., by such names as Italics, Parthica, Augusta, etc.), but that separate regiments would naturally have appropriate names for the same reason that the legions had. Thus, besides the Italian cohort here named, we have the Augustan cohort in Acts 27:1. It might be important for the security of the procurator, in so turbulent a province as Judaea, to have at least one cohort of Italian soldiers at the seat of government. Renan ('Apotres,' p. 202) thinks the full name of the cohort may have been "Cohors prima Augusta Italica civium Romanorum;" and adds that there were in the whole empire not fewer than thirty-two cohorts bearing the name of Italian.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
There was a certain man in Caesarea,.... This was the Caesarea formerly called Strato's tower, not Caesarea Philippi; for the former, and not the latter, lay near Joppa:
called Cornelius; which was a Roman name, and he himself was a Roman or an Italian:
a centurion of the band called the Italian band; which consisted of soldiers collected out of Italy, from whence the band took its name, in which Cornelius was a centurion, having a hundred men under him, as the name of his office signifies.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Ac 10:1-48. Accession and Baptism of Cornelius and His Party; or, The First-fruits of the Gentiles.
We here enter on an entirely new phase of the Christian Church, the "opening of the door of faith to the Gentiles"; in other words, the recognition of Gentile, on terms of perfect equality with Jewish, discipleship without the necessity of circumcision. Some beginnings appear to have been already made in this direction (see on Ac 11:20, 21); and Saul probably acted on this principle from the first, both in Arabia and in Syria and Cilicia. But had he been the prime mover in the admission of uncircumcised Gentiles into the Church, the Jewish party, who were never friendly to him, would have acquired such strength as to bring the Church to the verge of a disastrous schism. But on Peter, "the apostle" specially "of the circumcision," was conferred the honor of initiating this great movement, as before of the first admission of Jewish believers. (See on Mt 16:19). After this, however, one who had already come upon the stage was to eclipse this "chiefest of the apostles."
1, 2. Cæsarea—(See on Ac 8:40).
the Italian band—a cohort of Italians, as distinguished from native soldiers, quartered at Cæsarea, probably as a bodyguard to the Roman procurator who resided there. An ancient coin makes express mention of such a cohort in Syria. [Akerman, Numismatic Illustrations of the New Testament.]
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