October 31.—Morning. [Or August 29.]
“What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.”
WE have now to read a chapter peculiarly interesting to us Gentiles, because it shows how the middle wall of partition between Jews and Gentiles, which our Lord broke down by his death, was in due time practically removed by the calling of a Gentile household to the faith of Jesus. Before this time only Jews, proselytes, and Samaritans, all branches of the older family, had been converted, but now a Roman captain and his house were to be saved.
1, 2 There was a certain man in Cæsarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.
3 He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius.
4 And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. (Yet something more was wanted, and he must send for one who would tell him of Jesus, the Saviour.)
5, 6 And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter: he lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.
7, 8 And when the angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually; And when he had declared all these things unto them, he sent them to Joppa. (The tanner’s trade was greatly despised, but this did not prejudice the centurion. Better to learn the way of God from one who lodged with a poor tanner than remain in ignorance. Meanwhile God was preparing Peter to comply with the centurion’s request.)
9–13 On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: Wherein were all manner of four-footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.
14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.
The same Peter who formerly would not permit his Lord to wash the feet of his sinful servant now doubts whether that can be cleansed which, by the Jewish law, was unclean. How the old self comes up, even in the regenerated.
15, 16 And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven.
Do not wonder if you have to teach children many times the same thing, for even an apostle needed to have his lesson repeated three times.
17, 18 Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made enquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate, And called, and asked whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were lodged there. (See the hand of Providence. How well-timed were the vision and the arrival of the messengers!)
19, 20 While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee. Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them.
21 Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come?
22 And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee.
These servants spoke well of their master, and that fact speaks well for them. God will surely bless those families in which the heads of the house and the servants love one another because they all love the Lord.
23 Then called he them in, and lodged them.
Humble as the lodging was, he offered it to them, and they accepted it. Christians should be hospitable even if they are poor.
October 31.—Evening. [Or August 30.]
“That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body.”
Acts 10:23–29; 33–48
THE messengers of Cornelius were not long detained by the apostle, for On the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him.
24 And the morrow after they entered into Cæsarea. (It was a journey of thirty miles, but no doubt the apostle and his six brethren had sweet fellowship on the road, and found kind companions in the three attendants.) And Cornelius waited for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends.
25, 26 And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man.
Had he been like his pretended successor, he would have bidden him kiss his toe.
27 And as he talked with him, he went in, and found many that were come together.
28, 29 And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean. Therefore came I unto you without gainsaying, as soon as I was sent for: I ask therefore for what intent ye have sent for me? (Note how he longs to be at work, he wastes no time in idle compliments. Soul matters are weighty and should be at once attended to. Cornelius was ready at once to tell Peter how the Lord had appeared to him, and directed him to send to Joppa, and he added:)—
33 Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.
The best kind of congregation a preacher can have. Bogatzky says, “These words should be inscribed on all our church-doors and pulpits, that men may consider well wherefore they ought to be in the house of God.” Peter’s congregation was unbroken—“we are all here;” it was devout—“present before God;” it was attentive—“to hear all things;” it was teachable, for they desired to know “all things that are commanded thee of God.” We should always go to divine service in this spirit.
34, 35 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. (Not in such a way as to supersede the gospel, but to secure them the privilege of hearing it. If there are among the heathen any like Cornelius, the Lord will be sure to send a Peter to them, for he has accepted them.)
36–41 The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:) That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judæa, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead.
42, 43 And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.
44, 45 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out of the gift of the Holy Ghost.
46, 47 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?
48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. (The fact that they had already received the Holy Spirit so abundantly did not set aside the divine ordinance, it was rather the ground of their right to it. This passage is instructive to those who wish to learn.) Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.
 Spurgeon, C. H. (1964). The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible (pp. 647–648). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.