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THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 10 - Verse 1
: This chapter commences a very important part of the history of the transactions of the apostles. Before this, they had preached the gospel to the Jews only. They seem to have retained the feelings of their countrymen on this subject, that the Jews were to be regarded as the peculiarly favoured people, and that salvation was not to be offered beyond the limits of their nation. it was important, indeed, that the gospel should be offered to them first; but the whole tendency of the Christian religion was to enlarge and liberalize the mind; to overcome the narrow policy and prejudices of the Jewish people; and to diffuse itself over all the nations of the earth. In various ways, and by various parables, the Saviour had taught the apostles, indeed, that his gospel should be spread among the Gentiles. He had commanded them to go and preach it to every creature, Mr 16:15. But he had told them to tarry in Jerusalem until they were endued with power from on high, Lu 24:49. It was natural, therefore, that they should receive special instructions and Divine revelation on a point so important as this; and God selected the case of Cornelius as the instance by which he would fully establish his purpose of conveying the gospel to the Gentile world. It is worthy of observation, also, that he selected Peter for the purpose of conveying the gospel first to the Gentiles. The Saviour had told him, that on him he would build his church; that he would give to him first the key of the kingdom of heaven; that is, that he should be the agent in opening the doors of the church to both Jews and Gentiles. See Barnes "Mt 16:18, See Barnes "Mt 16:19".
Peter had, in accordance with these predictions, been the agent in first presenting the gospel to the Jews, Ac 2; and the prediction was now to be completely fulfilled in extending the same gospel to the Gentile world. The transaction recorded in this chapter is one, therefore, that is exceedingly important in the history of the church; and we are not to be surprised that it is recorded at length. It should be remembered, also, that this point became afterwards the source of incessant controversy in the early church. The converts from Judaism insisted on the observance of the whole of the rites of their religion; the converts from among the Gentiles claimed exemption eruption from them all. To settle these disputes, and to secure the reception of the gospel among the Gentiles, and to introduce them to the church with all the privileges of the Jews, required all the wisdom, talent, and address of the apostles. See Ac 11:1-18 Ac 15; Ro 14; Ro 15; Ga 2:11-16.
Cornelius. This is a Latin name, and shows that the man was doubtless a Roman. It has been supposed by many interpreters that this man 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 Peter, Ac 11:1-3, shows that the other apostles regarded him as a Gentile. In Ac 10:28, Peter evidently regards him as a foreigner; one who did not in any sense esteem himself to be a Jew. In Ac 11:1, it is expressly said that "the Gentiles" had received the word of God; evidently alluding to Cornelius and those who were with him.
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.
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