Acts 10:1
There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
X.

(1) There was a certain man in Cæsarea.—We enter on a new stage of expansion in the Church’s growth, the full details of which St. Luke may have learnt either from Philip the Evangelist during his stay at Cæsarea (Acts 21:8; Acts 24:27) or, possibly, from Cornelius himself. His admission into the Church, even if it were not the first instance of the reception of a Gentile convert as such, became, through its supernatural accompaniments and (in the strict sense of that word) its “prerogative” character, the ruling case on the subject. Whether it were earlier or later than the admission of the Gentiles recorded in Acts 11:20, we have no adequate data for determining. (See Note on that passage.)

Cæsarea was at this time the usual residence of the Roman Procurator of Judæa, and was consequently garrisoned by Roman troops. Greeks, Jews, and Romans, probably also Phœnicians and other traders, were mingled freely in its population.

Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band.—The office was a comparatively subordinate one, the centurion commanding the sixth part of a cohort, the sixtieth part of a legion. The Greek implies that he belonged to the cohort, not that he commanded it. The name Cornelius may indicate a connection with the great Cornelian gens which had been made famous by the Gracchi and by Sylla. The bands, or cohorts, stationed at Cæsarea consisted chiefly of auxiliaries levied from the province (Jos. Wars, ii. 13, § 6), who were not always to be relied on in times of popular excitement, and this cohort was accordingly distinguished from the others as Italian, i.e., as being at least commanded by Roman officers. A first Italian legion is repeatedly mentioned by Tacitus (Hist. i. 59, 64; c. 100; iii. 22), but this is said by Dion (lv. 24) to have been first raised by Nero; and the term which St. Luke uses for band (spira) was, strictly speaking, not used of the legions, the latter term being applied exclusively to Roman troops. In Acts 27:1 we meet with another of these cohorts, also at Cæsarea, known as the Augustan.

Acts

WHAT GOD HATH CLEANSED

Acts 10:1 - Acts 10:20
.

The Church was at first in appearance only a Jewish sect; but the great stride is now to be taken which carries it over the border into the Gentile world, and begins its universal aspect. If we consider the magnitude of the change, and the difficulties of training and prejudice which it had to encounter in the Church itself, we shall not wonder at the abundance of supernatural occurrences which attended it. Without some such impulse, it is difficult to conceive of its having been accomplished.

In this narrative we see the supernatural preparation on both sides. God, as it were, lays His right hand on Cornelius, and His left on Peter, and impels them towards each other. Philip had already preached to the Ethiopian, and probably the anonymous brethren in Acts 11:20 had already spoken the word to pure Greeks at Antioch; but the importance of Peter’s action here is that by reason of his Apostleship, his recognition of Gentile Christians becomes the act of the whole community. His entrance into Cornelius’s house ended the Jewish phase of the Church. The epoch was worthy of divine intervention, and the step needed divine warrant. Therefore the abundance of miracle at this point is not superfluous.

I. We have the vision which guided the seeker to the light.

Caesarea, as the seat of government, was the focus of Gentilism, and that the Gospel should effect a lodgment there was significant. Still more so was the person whom it first won,-an officer of the Roman army, the very emblem of worldly power, loathed by every true Jew. A centurion was not an officer of high rank, but Cornelius’s name suggests the possibility of his connection with a famous Roman family, and the name of the ‘band’ or ‘cohort,’ of which his troop was part, suggests that it was raised in Italy, and therefore properly officered by Romans. His residence in Judaea had touched his spirit with some knowledge of, and reverence for, the Jehovah whom this strange people worshipped. He was one of a class numerous in these times of religious unrest, who had been more or less affected by the pure monotheism of the Jew.

It is remarkable that the centurions of the New Testament are all more or less favourably inclined towards Christ and Christianity, and the fact has been laid hold of to throw doubt on the narratives; but it is very natural that similarity of position and training should have produced similarity of thought; and that three or four such persons should have come in contact with Jesus and His Apostles makes no violent demands on probability, while there was no occasion to mention others who were not like-minded. Quartered for considerable periods in the country, and brought into close contact with its religion, and profoundly sceptical of their own, as all but the lowest minds then were, Cornelius and his brother in arms and spirit whose faith drew wondering praise from Jesus, are bright examples of the possibility of earnest religious life being nourished amid grave disadvantages, and preach a lesson, often neglected, that we should be slow to form unfavourable opinions of classes of men, or to decide that those of such and such a profession, or in such and such circumstances, must be of such and such a character.

It would have seemed that the last place to look for the first Gentile Christian would have been in the barracks at Caesarea; and yet there God’s angel went for him, and found him. It has often been discussed whether Cornelius was a ‘proselyte’ or not. It matters very little. He was drawn to the Jews’ religion, had adopted their hours of prayer, reverenced their God, had therefore cast off idolatry, gave alms to the people as acknowledgment that their God was his God, and cultivated habitual devotion, which he had diffused among his household, both of slaves and soldiers. It is a beautiful picture of a soul feeling after a deeper knowledge of God, as a plant turns its half-opened flowers to the sun.

Such seekers do not grope without touching. It is not only ‘unto the seed of Jacob’ that God has never said, ‘Seek ye Me in vain.’ The story has a message of hope to all such seekers, and sheds precious light on dark problems in regard to the relation of such souls in heathen lands to the light and love of God, The vision appeared to Cornelius in the manner corresponding to his spiritual susceptibility, and it came at the hour of prayer. God’s angels ever draw near to hearts opened by desire to receive them. Not in visible form, but in reality, ‘bright-harnessed angels stand’ all around the chamber where prayer is made. Our hours of supplication are God’s hours of communication.

The vision to Cornelius is not to be whittled down to a mental impression. It was an objective, supernatural appearance,-whether to sense or soul matters little. The story gives most graphically the fixed gaze of terror which Cornelius fastened on the angel, and very characteristically the immediate recovery and quick question to which his courage and military promptitude helped him. ‘What is it, Lord?’ does not speak of terror, but of readiness to take orders and obey. ‘Lord’ seems to be but a title of reverence here.

In the angel’s answer, the order in which prayers and alms are named is the reverse of that in Acts 10:2. Luke speaks as a man, beginning with the visible manifestation, and passing thence to the inward devotion which animated the external beneficence. The angel speaks as God sees, beginning with the inward, and descending to the outward. The strong ‘anthropomorphism’ of the representation that man’s prayer and alms keep God in mind of him needs no vindication and little explanation. It substitutes the mental state which in us originates certain acts for the acts themselves. God’s ‘remembrance’ is in Scripture frequently used to express His loving deeds, which show that their recipient is not forgotten of Him.

But the all-important truth in the words is that the prayers and alms {coming from a devout heart} of a man who had never heard of Jesus Christ were acceptable to God. None the less Cornelius needed Jesus, and the recompense made to him was the knowledge of the Saviour. The belief that in many a heathen heart such yearning after a dimly known God has stretched itself towards light, and been accepted of God, does not in the least conflict with the truth that ‘there is none other Name given among men, whereby we must be saved,’ but it sheds a bright and most welcome light of hope into that awful darkness. Christ is the only Saviour, but it is not for us to say how far off from the channel in which it flows the water of life may percolate, and feed the roots of distant trees. Cornelius’s religion was not a substitute for Christ, but was the occasion of his being led to Christ, and finding full, conscious salvation there. God leads seeking souls by His own wonderful ways; and we may leave all such in His hand, assured that no heart ever hungered after righteousness and was not filled.

The instruction to send for Peter tested Cornelius’s willingness to be taught by an unknown Jew, and his belief in the divine origin of the vision. The direction given by which to find this teacher was not promising. A lodger in a tan-yard by the seaside was certainly not a man of position or wealth. But military discipline helped religious reverence; and without delay, as soon as the angel ‘was departed’ {an expression which gives the outward reality of the appearance strongly}, Cornelius’s confidential servants, sympathisers with him in his religion, were told all the story, and before nightfall were on their march to Joppa. Swift obedience to whatever God points out as our path towards the light, even if it seem somewhat unattractive, will always mark our conduct if we really long for the light, and believe that He is pointing our way.

II. The vision which guided the light-bearer to the seeker.-

All through the night the messengers marched along the maritime plain in which both Caesarea and Joppa lay, much discussing, no doubt, their strange errand, and wondering what they would find. The preparation of Peter, which was as needful as that of Cornelius, was so timed as to be completed just as the messengers stood at the tanner’s door.

The first point to note in regard to it is its scene. It is of subordinate importance, but it can scarcely have been entirely unmeaning, that the flashing waters of the Mediterranean, blazing in midday sunshine, stretched before Peter’s eyes as he sat on the housetop ‘by the seaside.’ His thoughts may have travelled across the sea, and he may have wondered what lay beyond the horizon, and whether there were men there to whom Christ’s commission extended. ‘The isles’ of which prophecy had told that they should ‘wait for His law’ were away out in the mysterious distance. Some expansion of spirit towards regions beyond may have accompanied his gaze. At all events, it was by the shore of the great highway of nations and of truth that the vision which revealed that all men were ‘cleansed’ filled the eye and heart of the Apostle, and told him that, in his calling as ‘fisher of men,’ a wider water than the land-locked Sea of Galilee was his.

We may also note the connection of the form of the vision with his circumstances. His hunger determined its shape. The natural bodily sensations coloured his state of mind even in trance, and afforded the point of contact for God’s message. It does not follow that the vision was only the consequence of his hunger, as has been suggested by critics who wish to get rid of the supernatural. But the form which it took teaches us how mercifully God is wont to mould His communications according to our needs, and how wisely He shapes them, so as to find entrance through even the lower wants. The commonest bodily needs may become avenues for His truth, if our prayer accompanies our hunger.

The significance of the vision is plain to us, though Peter was ‘much perplexed’ about it. In the light of the event, we understand that the ‘great sheet let down from heaven by four corners,’ and containing all manner of creatures, is the symbol of universal humanity {to use modern language}. The four corners correspond to the four points of the compass,-north, south, east, and west,-the contents to the swarming millions of men. Peter would perceive no more in the command to ‘kill and eat’ than the abrogation of Mosaic restrictions. Meditation was needful to disclose the full extent of the revolution shadowed by the vision and its accompanying words. The old nature of Peter was not so completely changed but that a flash of it breaks out still. The same self-confidence which had led him to ‘rebuke’ Jesus, and to say, ‘This shall not be unto Thee,’ speaks in his unhesitating and irreverent ‘Not so, Lord!’

The naive reason he gives for not obeying-namely, his never having done as he was now bid to do-is charmingly illogical and human. God tells him to do a new thing, and his reason for not doing it is that it is new. Use and wont are set up by us all against the fresh disclosures of God’s will. The command to kill and eat was not repeated. It was but the introduction to the truth which was repeated thrice, the same number of times as Peter had denied his Master and had received his charge to feed His sheep.

That great truth has manifold applications, but its direct purpose as regards Peter is to teach that all restrictions which differentiated Jew from Gentile are abolished. ‘Cleansing’ does not here apply to moral purifying, but to the admission of all mankind to the same standing as the Jew. Therefore the Gospel is to be preached to all men, and the Jewish Christian has no pre-eminence.

Peter’s perplexity as to the meaning of the vision is very intelligible. It was not so plain as to carry its own interpretation, but, like most other of God’s teachings, was explained by circumstances. What was next done made the best commentary on what had just been beheld. While patient reflection is necessary to do due honour to God’s teachings and to discover their bearing on events, it is generally true that events unfold their significance as meditation alone never can. Life is the best commentator on God’s word. The three men down at the door poured light on the vision on the housetop. But the explanation was not left to circumstances. The Spirit directed Peter to go with the messengers, and thus taught him the meaning of the enigmatical words which he had heard from heaven.

It is to be remembered that the Apostle had no need of fresh illumination as to the world-wide preaching of the Gospel. Christ’s commission to ‘the uttermost parts of the earth’ ever rang in his ears, as we may be sure. But what he did need was the lesson that the Gentiles could come into the Church without going through the gate of Judaism. If all peculiar sanctity was gone from the Jew, and all men shared in the ‘cleansing,’ there was no need for keeping up any of the old restrictions, or insisting on Gentiles being first received into the Israelitish community as a stage in their progress towards Christianity.

It took Peter and the others years to digest the lesson given on the housetop, but he began to put it in practice that day. How little he knew the sweep of the truth then declared to him! How little we have learned it yet! All exclusiveness which looks down on classes or races, all monkish asceticism which taboos natural appetites and tastes, all morbid scrupulosity which shuts out from religious men large fields of life, all Pharisaism which says ‘The temple of the Lord are we,’ are smitten to dust by the great words which gather all men into the same ample, impartial divine love, and, in another aspect, give Christian culture and life the charter of freest use of all God’s fair world, and place the distinction between clean and unclean in the spirit of the user rather than in the thing used. ‘Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled. . . is nothing pure.’Acts 10:1-2. There was a certain man in Cesarea — That is, Cesarea of Palestine, (of which see note on Acts 8:40,) where Philip had been and preached before, and where, therefore, the doctrine of salvation by faith in Christ was not quite unknown. It had been preached, however, by him, as it was now at Jerusalem and elsewhere, only to the Jews, Samaritans, and such Gentiles as were circumcised, and complete proselytes to Judaism. But God was now determined to open a way for the publication of it to the uncircumcised Gentiles, and to admit them into his church by baptism, on the terms of true repentance and faith in Christ, without obliging them to be circumcised, or proselyted to the Jewish religion. This remarkable change in the economy of divine grace toward mankind; this discovery of the gospel to the Gentiles; and the bringing of them, who had been strangers and foreigners: to be fellow-citizens with the saints and of the household of God, without laying them under any obligation of observing the ceremonial law, was such a mystery to the apostles themselves, and such a surprise, (Ephesians 3:3; Ephesians 3:6,) that it concerns us carefully to observe all the circumstances of the beginning of this great work, this part of the mystery of godliness, Christ preached to the Gentiles, and believed on in the world, 1 Timothy 3:16. No doubt, before this time, some Gentiles had occasionally entered into the synagogues of the Jews, which Christ and his apostles continually visited, and had heard the gospel preached by them; but the gospel had not yet been designedly preached to the uncircumcised Gentiles, nor had any of them been baptized; the person here mentioned was the first. Of the conversion of this man, the first-fruits of the Gentiles in the Christian Church, we are here presented with a most interesting and edifying account. We are informed that before his conversion, although a Roman soldier, (a centurion, or commander of one hundred men, in what was called the Italian band, or cohort, the soldiers composing it, it seems, being Italians,) and although an uncircumcised heathen: he was a devout man — A man of real piety, as ευσεβης, the expression here used, signifies; one that feared God — Who believed in the one living and true God, the Creator of heaven and earth, reverenced his glory and authority, and had a dread of offending him by sin. Yea, he feared him with all his house — Had not an idolater or profane person in his family; but took care that not himself only, but all his, should serve the Lord. He was also a very charitable man, one who gave much alms to the people — Namely, the people of the Jews, notwithstanding the singularities of their religion. Though he was a Gentile, he was ready to contribute to the relief of any one that was a real object of charity, whatever his religious sentiments or mode of worship might be. Add to this, he spent much time in prayer; yea, he prayed to God alway — Living continually in the spirit of prayer; and having, and constantly observing, stated times for prayer in private and in his family, esteeming it an important part of his daily business and pleasure to employ himself in such sacred exercises. Observe, reader, wherever the fear of God rules in the heart it will show itself in works both of piety and charity; both equally necessary, and neither of which will excuse our neglecting the other.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.In Cesarea - See the notes on Acts 8:40.

Cornelius - This is a Latin name, and shows that the man was doubtless a Roman. It has been supposed by many interpreters that he was "a proselyte of the gate"; that is, one who had renounced idolatry, and who observed some of the Jewish rites, though not circumcised, and not called a Jew. But there is no sufficient evidence of this. The reception of the narrative of I Peter Acts 11:1-3 shows that the other apostles regarded him as a Gentile. In Acts 10:28, Peter evidently regards him as a foreigner - one who did not in any sense esteem himself to be a Jew. In Acts 11:1, it is expressly said that "the Gentiles" had received the Word of God, evidently alluding to Cornelius and to those who were with him.

A centurion - One who was the commander of a division in the Roman army, consisting of 100 men. A captain of 100. See the notes on Matthew 8:5.

Of the band - A division of the Roman army, consisting of from 400 to 600 men. See the notes on Matthew 27:27.

The Italian band - Probably a band or regiment that was composed of soldiers from Italy, in distinction from those which were composed of soldiers born in provinces. It is evident that many of the soldiers in the Roman army would be those who were born in other parts of the world; and it is altogether probable that those who were born in Rome or Italy would claim pre-eminence over those enlisted in other places.

CHAPTER 10

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 [1981]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 [1982]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 [1983]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.]Acts 10:1-8 Cornelius, a devout centurion, being commanded by an

angel, sendeth for Peter,

Acts 10:9-16 who in the mean time is prepared by a heavenly vision,

Acts 10:17-24 and, receiving a command from the Spirit, goeth with

the messengers to Caesarea.

Acts 10:25-33 Cornelius receiveth him with great respect, and

showeth the occasion of his sending for him.

Acts 10:34-43 Peter preacheth Christ to him and his company.

Acts 10:44-48 The Holy Ghost falleth on them, whereupon they are baptized.

In Caesarea; in Caesarea Palestine, as it was called in contra distinction to Caesarea Philippi.

Cornelius; a Roman by his name; which name was ordinarily to be found amongst the families of the Scipios and Syllas.

A band answers either to a regiment amongst us, or to a legion amongst the Romans (this latter was far greater than the former).

It was called the Italian band, as being composed of Italian soldiers, and might be used as a guard of the proconsul, who dwelt at Caesarea, who was that Felix we read of, Acts 23:24.

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.

There {1} was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band,

(1) Peter consecrates the first fruits of the Gentiles to God by the means of two miracles.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Acts 10:1-2. Καισαρείᾳ] See on Acts 8:40.

The centurion was of the Italian cohort, which, stationed at Caesarea, consisted of Italians, not of natives of the country, like many other Roman troops in Syria. Such a Roman auxiliary corps was appropriately stationed at the place where the procurator had his residence, for the maintenance of tranquillity. See Schwarz, de cohorte Italica et Augusta, Altorf. 1720; Wieseler, Chronol. p. 145, and Beiträge z. Würdig. d. Evangelien, 1869, p. 327 f.

εὐσεβὴς κ. φοβούμενος τ. Θεόν] pious and fearing God. The latter is the more precise definition of the more general εὐσεβής. Cornelius was a Gentile, who, discontented with polytheism, had turned his higher interest towards Judaism, and satisfied a deeper pious want in the earnest private worship of Jehovah along with all his family. Judaism (as Stoicism and the like in the case of others) was for him the philosophical-religious school, to which he, although without being a proselyte, addicted himself in his heart and devotional life. Hence his beneficence (Acts 10:2) and his general esteem among the Jews (Acts 10:22). Comp. the centurion of Capernaum, Luke 7. Others consider him, with Mede, Grotius, Fecht (de pietate Cornelii, Rostoch. 1701), Deyling, Hammond, Wolf, Ernesti, Ziegler, Paulus, Olshausen, Neander, Lechler, and Ritschl, as a proselyte of the gate.[254] But this is at variance with Acts 10:28; Acts 10:34-35; Acts 11:1; Acts 11:18; Acts 15:7, where he is simply put into the class of the Gentiles,—a circumstance which cannot he referred merely to the want of circumcision, as the proselytes of the gate also belonged to the communion of the theocracy, and had ceased to be non-Jews like absolute foreigners. See Ewald, Alterth. p. 313; Keil, Archäol. I. p. 317. And all the great importance which this event has in a connected view of the Book of Acts, has as its basis the very circumstance that Cornelius was a Gentile. Least of all can his proselytism be proved from the expression φοβούμενος τὸν Θεόν itself, as the general literal meaning of this expression can only be made by the context (as Acts 13:16; Acts 13:26) to apply to the worship of proselytes; but here we are required by Acts 10:35 to adhere to that general literal meaning without this particular reference. It is to be considered, moreover, that had Cornelius been a proselyte of the gate, it would have, according to Acts 15:7, to be assumed that hitherto no such proselyte at all had been converted to Christianity, which, even apart from the conversion of the Ethiopian, chap.8., is—considering the many thousand converts of which the church already consisted—incredible, particularly as often very many were admitted simultaneously (Acts 2:41, Acts 4:4), and as certainly the more unprejudiced proselytes were precisely the most inclined to join the new theocracy.

Accordingly the great step which the new church makes in its development at chap. 10. consists in this, that by divine influence the first Gentile, who did not yet belong to the Jewish theocratic state, becomes a Christian, and that directly, without having first made the transition in any way through Mosaism. The extraordinary importance of this epoch-making event stands in proportion to the accumulated miraculous character of the proceedings. The view, which by psychological and other assumptions and combinations assigns to it along with the miraculous character also a natural instrumentality (Neander, p. 115 f.), leads to deviations from the narrative, and to violences which are absolutely rejected by the text. See, on the other hand, Zeller, p. 179 ff., and Baumgarten. The view which rejects the historical reality of the narrative, and refers it to a set purpose in the author (Baur, Zeller), seeks its chief confirmation in the difficulties which the direct admission of the Gentiles had for long still to encounter, in what is narrated in chap, 15., and in the conduct of Peter at Antioch, Galatians 2:11 ff. (comp. also Schwegler, nachapostol. Zeitalt. I. p. 127 ff.; Gfrörer, heil. Sage, I. p. 415; Holtzmann, Judenth. u. Christenth. p. 679 f.). But, on the other hand, it is to be observed, that not even miracles are able at once to remove in the multitude deeply rooted national prejudices, and to dispense with the gradual progress of psychological development requisite for this end (comp. the miracles of Jesus Himself, and the miracles performed on him); that further, in point of fact the difficulties in the way of the penetration of Christianity to the Gentiles were exceedingly great (see Ewald, p. 250 ff.; Ritschl, althath. K. p. 138 ff.); and that Peter’s conduct at Antioch, with a character so accessible to the impressions of the moment (comp. the denial), is psychologically intelligible as a temporary obscuration of his better conviction once received by way of revelation, at variance with his constant conduct on other occasions (see on Galatians 2:14), and therefore by no means necessitates the presupposition that the extraordinary divine disclosure and guidance, which our passage narrates, are unhistorical. Indeed, the reproach which Paul makes to Peter at Antioch, presupposes the agreement in principle between them in respect to the question of the Gentiles; for Paul designates the conduct of Peter as ὑπόκρισις, Galatians 2:13.

[254] Selden, de jure nat. ii. 3 (whom de Wette follows), has doubted, but without sufficient reason, the existence of נֵּרֵי הַשַּׁעַר, in the proper sense, after the Captivity.Acts 10:1. ἀνήρ τις: on the expression see Ramsay, St. Paul, p. 202.—ἐν Κ., see Acts 8:40.1. There was a certain man in Cesarea] The oldest MSS. omit the verb was here, and make the sentence read, “Now a certain man in Cæsarea … a devout man … which gave much alms … saw in a vision, &c.” Cæsarea is the same place which is mentioned Acts 8:40, and was usually the residence of the Roman Procurator (see Acts 23:23-26, Acts 25:1-4). The soldiers over whom Cornelius was centurion were the necessary troops to support the state and authority of the Roman representative, who at this time was Herod Agrippa, whom Claudius had made king over Judæa and Samaria.

called Cornelius] Lit. “Cornelius by name.” The name shews he was a Roman, and perhaps he may have been of the famous Cornelian Gens. But there were also many plebeians of this name, for Sulla (Appian B. C. i. 100) bestowed the Roman franchise on 10,000 slaves and called them after his own name, “Cornelii.”

a centurion] This was not a distinguished office. He was commander of the sixth part of a cohort, i.e. of half a maniple. The name must have been given to such officer when his command was over a hundred men. The Roman legion in these times was divided into ten cohorts, and each cohort into three maniples, so that the nominal strength of the legion would be 6000 men.

of the band] i.e. the cohort. Such a troop was stationed in Jerusalem at the time of the Crucifixion (Matthew 27:27).

called the Italian band] The name at first would be given to it from the country in which it was raised, but no doubt it would afterwards be recruited from other parts, and yet still retain its original title. Tacitus (Hist. i. 59 &c.) mentions an Italian legion. A centurion of a similar band, which was styled “Augustan,” is mentioned (Acts 27:1) below.

Acts 10:1-8. Cornelius is divinely warned to send for Peter

St Luke now brings to our notice the circumstances which attended the first preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles. The Apostles, though informed by Christ’s commission that they were to “teach all nations,” yet tarried the Lord’s leisure, and waited till the Spirit, who was their constant guide, shewed them a door opened for such extension of their labours. The first Gentile converts seem to have been living in some sort of communion with the Jews of Cæsarea, for Cornelius, the representative figure among them, was “of good report among all that nation,” but yet from the complaints of the brethren at Jerusalem, when they heard what Peter had done, we can see that Cornelius was one of the “sinners of the Gentiles.” “Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised and didst eat with them” expresses the shock, which the strict observers of the Law experienced in this new development of the Church, and even Peter himself, though chosen to inaugurate the preaching to the Gentiles, was not always proof against the scruples and remonstrances of his brethren of the circumcision (Galatians 2:12).Acts 10:1. Ἀνὴρ, a man) Heretofore all the facts described took place among the circumcised: now we come also to the Gentiles.—ἐν Καισαρείᾳ, at Cæsarea) Already the doctrine of salvation was not unknown there: ch. Acts 8:40. Comp. below, Acts 10:37. For which reason Peter quotes the prophets, Acts 10:43. Jerusalem was at that time the seat of the ecclesiastical government of the Jews: Cæsarea, of the civil government. The Gospel, preached as it was by those divinely taught, though unlearned men, took hold of each metropolis, which was followed by the other towns: it was so afterwards in the case of Philippi, Athens, Corinth, Ephesus, and Rome itself.—Κορνήλιος, Cornelius) A frequent name among the Romans.—Ἰταλικῆς, the Italian) A considerable portion of these soldiers were alive at the time when these things were written; and they could bear witness of their truth. Οἱ τῆς σπείρης τῆς Ἰταλικῆς πεζοἰ, the foot-soldiers of the Italian Band, are mentioned also by Arrian, as C. G. Schwarzius observes in his dissertation on the Italian and Augustan cohort or band, p. 42.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. Centurion

See on Luke 7:2.

Band (σπείρης)

See on Mark 15:16.

Italian

Probably because consisting of Roman soldiers, and not of natives of the country.

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