2. The gospel spreads into Palestine, 6:1-12:25

xii] Peter's meeting with a Gentile centurion


Peter is just recovering from his vision when the delegation from Cornelius arrives at Simon's home. They tell Peter of Cornelius' vision and the divine instruction to seek out Peter. After spending the night at Simon's home, Peter, the delegation from Cornelius, along with some of the believers from Joppa, head off to Caesarea. On arriving they find that Cornelius has gathered his extended family and friends to hear what Peter has to say.


iGod plays no favourites, 10:34-35.

iRighteousness is apart from the law


i] Context: See 10:1-16.


ii] Background:

iRighteousness before God apart from the Law: It does seem likely that Luke, Paul's colleague and friend, reflects Pauline theology. Yet today, that theology is in a state of flux. New Perspective commentators (eg., Dunn) propose that Paul is not explaining how a person gets saved / appropriates the full blessings of the covenant / gains a righteous state/standing before God ..... apart from works of the Law, but how a Gentile is included in God's covenant community, and this by the removal of Jewish exclusivism / works of the Law.




Against the New Perspective synthesis, conservative commentators, those who hold to a Reformed view, argue that Paul's fundamental proposition is that "The righteous out of faith will live", Hab.2:4:

The grace of God

realised in his righteous reign

(his setting all things right)

in justification

(in judging right / setting right a people before him),

out of FAITH

(based on Christ's faithfulness + our faith response),

establishes the RIGHTEOUSNESS of God's children

(covenant compliance),

facilitating God's promised covenant BLESSINGS

(full appropriation of his promised new life through the Spirit),

and its fruit, the WORKS of the law

(the application of brotherly love).

cf. Rom.1:16-17




It seems very likely that this aligns with Luke's theological perspective. The only point to note is that whereas the Reformers were arguing against legalism (salvation by works), Paul was arguing against nomism (sanctification by works):






For Paul, justification is the divine gift of eternal right-standing in the sight of God, a state/status where a person is eternally acceptable to God through the instrument of faith in the faithfulness of Christ on our behalf, and this apart from works of the Law.

A second-temple Jew saw law-obedience as the mechanism, not for inclusion in the covenant, but for continued membership, with the full appropriation of the promised covenant blessings. It is only natural that early Jewish believers would tend toward a nomistic understanding of the Law, and this is reflected in the formation of the circumcision party / the Judaizers and their opposition to Paul's gospel of grace. For Paul, the full appropriation of the covenant blessings are found in Christ alone, apart from law-obedience.

This law / grace tension is evident in Acts, particularly in the Jerusalem conference, cf., chapter 15. Yet, even as early as Peter's encounter with Cornelius, 10:1-11:18, this tension is evident. Peter is not just discovering that God has always intended that Gentiles should have full standing in the kingdom, and this apart from the barrier of the law, but that in the present realisation of the kingdom, the Law has fulfilled its task of leading us to Christ, Gal.3:24, and so therefore, in Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentile, Gal.3:28.

Early in the life of the Jerusalem the church, the apostles knew that a person "is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Christ Jesus", Gal.2:15. But it took time to grapple with their state/status of righteousness with respect to law-obedience. They had to discover that law-obedience, of itself, plays no part in a person's standing before God; it does not progress holiness (sanctification) for the full appropriation of the promised covenant blessings. In Christ, a believer is already holy, and so is a rightful recipient of all God's promised blessings.

Paul will technically win this theological battle at the Jerusalem conference, but the heresy of law-obedience for blessing (sanctification by obedience) is never far from the surface, and will be a constant battle for Paul in the years to come, even with an apostle like Peter, cf., Gal.2:11-14 - "after beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?", Gal.3:3.

See From Law to Grace, 10:1-16.


iii] Structure: Peter's meeting with a Gentile centurion:

The Visions:

The Lord directs Cornelius to seek out Peter, v1-8;

Peter's vision, v9-16;

Peter meets with Cornelius' delegation, v17-23a;

Peter's meeting with Cornelius, v23b-29.

The Speeches

Cornelius explains the reason for the invitation, v30-33.


iv] Interpretation:

Peter is a man committed to Jesus, God's anointed one, the messiah, but everything he understands about righteousness, holiness, before God, is being swept away before his very eyes. First, there is his vision depreciating his understanding of defilement under the Mosaic Law. Then there is a direct word from the Spirit, instructing him to meet with a delegation which has just arrived at the home where he is staying. Finally, there is the report of the delegation that a man named Cornelius, a Gentile centurion, has had a complementary vision instructing him to meet with Peter. "The conclusion is obvious, Peter's vision of ancient uncleanness nullified by God himself must refer to this God-fearing Gentile who was calling for him at angelic command", Dunn.

Given the realisation of the kingdom, Peter can no longer call anyone impure or unclean, cf., v28. So, he willingly goes back to Caesarea with the delegation "to preach to the Gentiles and offer them salvation on the same basis as Jews, namely through faith in the crucified and risen Lord Jesus", Peterson D, cf., v34-43.

Text - 10:17

Peter's meeting with a Gentile centurion: i] Peter meets with Cornelius' delegation, v17-23a. The vision has left Peter dihporei, "confused, perplexed", but a direct word from the Lord to receive the delegation from Cornelius, along with their report, will explain everything.

wJV "while" - as [peter was confused]. Temporal, rather than comparative, use of the conjunction.

en dat. "-" - in [himself]. The preposition is adverbial, modal, expressing manner; "Peter was inwardly confused."

tiv an + opt. "-" - what [might be the vision which he saw]. This construction introduces an indefinite question reflecting Peter's confusion.

oiJ apestalmenoi (apostellw) perf. mid. part. "sent" - [behold, the men] having been sent. The participle is adjectival, attributive, "who were sent by Cornelius", ESV.

uJpo + gen. "by [Cornelius]" - by [cornelius]. Expressing agency.

dierwthsanteV (dierwtaw) aor. part. "found out where [Simon's house was]" - having learned by enquiry [the house of simon, they stood upon = at the gate]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "to set = stand"; "found out where Simon's house was and stood at the gate" - "asked the way to Simon's house and came and stood at the door."


fwnhsanteV (fwnew) aor. part. "they called out" - [and] having called [they were asking]. It is unclear how this participle relates to the verb "to ask." Quite a few translations ride over the problem with "called out in order to ascertain .....", cf., Phillips, ESV, Berkeley, Barclay, Cassirer. Of course, it is the participle that would be adverbial, not the verb, so for example, a temporal "after calling out they inquired ......", or instrumental, "they inquired ....... by calling out." It could be a redundant attendant circumstance participle, "they called out and asked" = "They had found their way to Simon's house and were asking if Simon Peter was staying there", CEV.

ei "if" - if [simon]. Introducing an indirect question, although given the use of enqade, "here", rather than ekei, "there", the question is obviously direct; "Is there a guest here by the name of Simon Peter?", TEV.

oJ epikaloumenoV (epikalew) pres. mid. part. "who was known as [Peter]" - the one being called [peter, is staying here]. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "Simon", as NIV.


The vision may be ambiguous, but the Lord's directions are clear.

dienqumoumenou gen. pres. part. "while [Peter] was still thinking" - [but/and peter] thinking about [about the vision]. The genitive participle and its genitive subject "Peter", form a genitive absolute construction, temporal, as NIV. The present tense is probably durative, so "while Peter was pondering the vision", ESV.

autw/ dat. pro. "to him" - [the spirit said] to him. Dative of indirect object.

zhtounteV (zhtew) pres. part. "are looking for [you]" - [behold, three men] are seeking [you]. The syntactical function of the participle is unclear, but it is probably part of a periphrastic construction with the verb to-be eisin assumed, so Kellum, as NIV, ESV, etc. The variant, "two men", is rather strange, given v7. Is it referring to the two servants at this point?


Peter is about to be asked to enter the home of an unclean Gentile and so, in line with his vision, he should not be diakrinomenoV, "hesitating, being double-minded", because it is all part of God's plan.

alla "-" - but. Strong adversative standing in a counterpoint construction; "do not hesitate, but arise and go ...."

anastaV (anisthmi) aor. part. "get up" - having arisen [go down]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the imperative verb "to go down"; "Go down and don't hesitate to go with them", Barclay.

sun + dat. "with [them]" - [and go] with [them]. Expressing association / accompaniment.

mhden diakrinomenoV (diakrinew) "do not hesitate" - not hesitating, being double-minded. The participle is adverbial, modal, expressing manner, modifying the verb "to go", as NIV; "travel with them unhesitatingly", Berkeley.

oJti "for" - because [i i have sent them]. Introducing a causal clause explaining why Peter should not hesitate to go with the delegation. Note the emphatic use of egw, "I".


"I think I'm the man you're looking for. What's up?", Peterson.

katabaV (katabainw) aor. part. "[Peter] went down [and said]" - [but/and] having come down [peter said toward the men]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "to say", as NIV. Note again Luke's use of proV, "toward", to introduce a dative of indirect object.

di (dia) + acc. "-" - [behold, i am the one whom you are seeking. what is cause = reason] because of [which you are present]. Causal use of the preposition.


In announcing themselves, Luke has the delegation referring to Cornelius with a set of appositional descriptors: "a company commander (centurion), a good man (a man righteous), and a man who reveres God (and fearing = respecting God)", Barclay. The final appositional descriptor has Cornelius as a man of good-report with his Jewish neighbours. The delegation tells Peter that Cornelius was instructed in a vision to offer lodgings to Peter ("summon you into his house") akousai, "in order to hear", what Peter has to say.

oiJ de "the men [replied]" - but/and they [said]. Transitional, indicating a change in subject from Peter to the delegation.

foboumenoV (fobew) pres. mid. part. "[God]-fearing [man]" - [cornelius, a centurion, a man righteous and] fearing [god]. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "man"; "a man who reveres God", Barclay. See 10:2 on "God-fearer."

te "-" - and. Instead of kai, this coordinating conjunction is probably used for emphasis, something like "morover"; "Moreover, he is a man who is held in high reputation by the Jewish people."

marturoumenoV pres. mid. part. "who is respected" - a man being witnessed to. The participle is probably adjectival, attributive, limiting an assumed "man"; "A man who ...... is liked by the Jewish people", CEV.

uJpo + gen. "by" - by [all the nation of the jews]. The preposition expresses agency. The genitive, twn Ioudaiwn, "of the Jews", is adjectival, partitive / wholative.

metapomyasqai (metapempw) aor. mid. inf. "to ask" - [was directed by a holy angel] to send for = summon [you into the house of him and to hear words]. As with "to hear", the infinitive introduces an object clause / dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what the angel instructed, but note the NIV "so that he could hear", which treats the infinitive akousai, "to hear", as adverbial, final, expressing purpose, "in order to hear."

para + gen. "-" - from [you]. With the genitive, this preposition expresses either source / origin, or means. Source is likely, "words from you" = "to hear your suggestions", Berkeley.


oun "then" - therefore. Inferential, drawing a logical conclusion; "So he invited them in to be his guests", ESV.

eiskalesamenoV (eiskaleomai) aor. part. "invited [the men into the house" - having invited [them] in, [he entertained them as guests]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "to entertain as guests"; "So Peter invited them into the house and received them as his guests", Cassirer.


ii] Peter's meeting with Cornelius, v23b-29. Luke now records the journey to Caesarea and Cornelius' welcome. Six (cf., 10:45) Jewish members of the Christian fellowship in Joppa join Peter and the delegation; they will be able to bear authoritative witness to what is about to occur. On meeting Peter, Cornelius goes a bit overboard in his show of reverence and respect - "an immoderate token of reverence", Calvin. Peter reminds Cornelius that they are both men and that God is the only one deserving of such respect. On entering the home, Peter finds that Cornelius has gathered together his extended family and friends to receive from him some kind of divine blessing. In addressing the gathering, Peter notes that it is against Jewish custom to join in such a gathering of Gentiles (Longenecker suggests it is against Jewish law at that time). There is always the fear that there will be an unclean person in attendance, but as Peter makes clear, he now knows that he "should not call anyone impure and unclean" - Peter has made the connection between the situation he now faces and his recent vision. So, getting to the point, Peter asks Cornelius why he has sent for him.

de "-" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the narrative.

th/ ... epaurion "the next day" - in = on the tomorrow. The article serves as a nominalizer turning the adverb "tomorrow" into a substantive, with the dative being adverbial, temporal; "on the following day", ESV.

anastaV (anisthmi) aor. part. "started out" - having got up [he went out]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "to go out"; "he got up and went with them."

sun + dat. "with [them]" - with [them]. Expressing association / accompaniment.

twn adelfwn (oV) gen. "of the believers" - [and certain] of the brothers. The genitive is adjectival, partitive.

twn gen. "-" - the ones [from joppa]. The article serves as an adjectivizer turning the prepositional phrase "from Joppa" into an attributive modifier of "the brothers"; "some of the brothers who were from Joppa."

autw/ dat. pro. "-" - [went together with] him. Dative of direct object after the sun prefix verb "to go together with."


For the gathering, Cornelius has brought together his close friends and extended family, his kinsmen (suggeneiV), probably including the oiketai, "household servants." It is unlikely that Cornelius has invited anyone who would offend a pious Jew.

th/ .... epaurion "the following day" - on the tomorrow. See v23b.

prosdokwn (prosokaw) pres. part. "was expecting [them]" - [he entered into caesarea but/and cornelius was] waiting for [them]. The present participle with the imperfect verb to-be h\n, forms a periphrastic imperfect construction, possibly emphasising durative aspect.

sugkalesamenoV (sunkalew) aor. mid. part. "had called together" - having called together [the relatives of him and the close friends]. Rogers Gk., and Kellum classify the participle as adverbial, temporal, modifying the periphrastic construction "was waiting", although causal is more likely; "Cornelius was waiting for them because he had invited in the kinsmen and close friends." None-the-less, it is usually translated as attendant on the periphrastic construction, as NIV, so Culy; "Cornelius was expecting them and had invited together all his relations and intimate friends", Phillips.


The Western text expands on the account somewhat; "As Peter was approaching Caesarea, one of his slaves ran on ahead and announced he had come. Cornelius got to his feet and met him." It also expands on Peter's response to Cornelius' obeisance - adoration is due only God.

wJV "as [Peter entered the house]" - [but/and] when [it happened peter the to enter]. The conjunction is obviously temporal here, rather than comparative. It does not sit easily with the transitional de egeneto, "but/and it happened", a construction Luke uses to introduce a new scene, nor with the genitive articular infinitive, tou eiselqein, "the to enter", which is usually either final, expressing purpose, or epexegetic. If we take the articular infinitive as epexegetic, it serves to specify the temporal sense of "it happened"; "When it happened (as the events of the day unfolded), that is, as Peter entered (when Peter was set to enter the home), Cornelius met him ........" As with the NIV, most translations treat this construction as a simple temporal clause, "When Peter arrived, Cornelius ....", REB.

sunanthsaV (sunantaw) aor. part. "met" - [cornelius] having met [him, having fallen upon the feet, worshiped him]. Along with peswn, "having fallen", we have two attendant circumstance participles expressing action accompanying the verb "to do obeisance to"; "Cornelius met him, fell at his feet and worshipped him." Note that the sun prefix verb "to meet, come upon" takes a dative of direct object, here autw/, "him".


"This is no way to treat an apostle, who, though entrusted with a divine message, is in himself a human being and nothing more", Barrett.

oJ de "but [Peter]" - but/and the [peter]. Transitional, indicating a change in subject from Cornelius to Peter.

legwn (legw) pres. part. "he said" - [raised him] saying [arise]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "to raise, lift up", here serving also to introduce direct speech. For the classification adverbial, manner, see legonteV, 1:6.

egw autoV "I [am]" - i myself [i am]. The unnecessary use of the personal pronoun egw is emphatic, while autoV, "he", is intensive; "I, just like you, am nothing more than a man."

kai "-" - and = also [a man]. Adverbial, ascensive; "I too am a man", ESV.


Peter eishlqen, "entered the home", sunomilwn, "talking, conversing", with Cornelius, and on entering, he discovers a large gathering awaiting him. Haenchen notes that Luke mentions the conversing "to show Peter's affability."

sunomilwn (sunomilew) pres. part. "while talking with" - talking with. The participle is adverbial, best treated as temporal, as NIV; "And as he talked with him", ESV.

autw/ dat. pro. "him" - him. Dative of direct object after the sun prefix verb "to talk with."

sunelhluqotaV (sunercomai) perf. part. "a [large] gathering of people" - [he entered and finds many people] having assembled. The participle serves as the accusative complement of the substantive adjective, "many people", direct object of the verb "to find", standing in a double accusative construction and asserting a fact about the object "many people."


The degree to which it was aqemitoV, "lawless = unlawful", to associate with an allofuloV, "Philistine = foreigner", depended on what Jewish sect a person belonged to, eg., the Essenes practised total separation, the Pharisees were moderate, and the common people just got on with life as best they could. Anyway, Peter has now made the connection between his vision and the situation he now finds himself in; God has now edeixen, "shown", him that no person is koinon h] akaqarton, "common or unclean", or more to the point, that, when it comes to purity before God, no person is better than another - "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God."

te "-" - and. Again used with kai, "and", to form a correlative construction; "kai talking with him he entered kai finds many having assembled te said to them ...." Culy suggests it signals that we have come to a culminating event.

proV "to [them]" - [he said] toward [them]. The preposition is used here instead of a dative to introduce the indirect object "them"

uJmeiV pro. "you [are well aware]" - you [you know]. Emphatic by use and position.

wJV "that" - that [it is unlawful]. Rather than either comparative, or temporal, the conjunction is used here to introduce an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what the guests would know, as NIV.

andri (hr roV) dat. "for a Jew" - for a [jewish] man. The dative is adverbial, reference / respect; "for a Jew."

kallasqai (kallaw) pres. inf. "to associate" - to join to, associate with [or to come to, approach, visit]. This infinitive, along with the infinitive "to come to", serves as the subject of the impersonal verb "it is unlawful"; "to join to and come to a foreigner is unlawful for a Jewish man." "You know, I'm sure, that this is highly irregular. Jews just don't do this - visit and relax with people of another race", Peterson.

allofulw/ adj. "a Gentile" - foreigner. The adjective serves as a substantive, dative of direct object after the infinitives "to join to" and "to come to."

kamoi dat. "me" - [god showed] to and me = to even me. The crasis kai moi, with an ascensive kai, "even", is a dative of indirect object. "God has just shown me, even me, that ..."

legein (legw) pres. inf. "[I should not] call" - [no one] to call [a man common or unclean]. The infinitive introduces an object clause / dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what God has revealed to Peter. The accusative subject of the infinitive is mhdena, "no one", and the accusative object of the infinitive is anqrwpon, "man".


dio kai "so" - and therefore = consequently. Inferential, introducing a self-evident inference, so Culy; "And that is why ....", Cassirer.

metapomfqeiV (metapempw) aor. pas. part. "when I was sent for" - having been summoned [i came without objection]. The participle is adverbial, temporal, as NIV.

oun "-" - therefore [i ask]. Inferential, drawing a logical conclusion.

tivni logw/ "why" - for what word = reason. The dative is adverbial, reference / respect; "in respect to what reason did you send for me?" = "What purpose did you have in mind when you sent for me?"


iii] Cornelius explains the reason for the invitation, v30-33. Luke tells us that Cornelius' heavenly visitor is an angel from the Lord, but for Cornelius, he is a shining-man, a spiritual apparition. As to when Cornelius sees the vision, the received text is confusing. What we have before us is "from (temporal use of apo) the fourth day, up to / until (mecri, possibly "at") this hour, I was praying at the ninth hour." The use of mecri is awkward, given that Cornelius has not been praying up to / until the present time. So, it is usually taken to mean "at"; "Four days ago, exactly to this very hour", Barclay. It is generally accepted that what we have here is a temporal statement indicating the time when Cornelius saw the vision, namely, four days ago (three by inclusive reckoning), about the very same hour, he was at prayer during a ninth hour prayer-time / his afternoon prayer-time / "saying nones", Haenchen.

en + dat. "[a man] in [shining clothing]" - [and cornelius said, from = on fourth day, until = at this hour, i was praying the ninth hour in the house of me, and behold a man stood before me] in [shining clothing]. Local, here expressing a state or condition.


Cornelius reports the message given by his shiny-man - God has heard his prayers and remembered his benevolence. Often understood in the terms of God acting in response to human actions - human benevolence prompts divine benevolence. Yet, it is God who mimnhskomai, "remembers" (he is a covenant keeping God who remembers his promises), and in response, we offer a mnhmosunon, "remembrance, memorial offering" (v4) of loving service, cf., Lk.7:47.

sou gen. pro. "[God has heard] your [prayer]" - [and he says, cornelius, the prayer] of you [was heard and the alms] of you [are remembered before god]. The genitive pronoun is adjectival, classified as either possessive, identifying the possession of a derivative characteristic, "your prayers", or verbal, subjective, "God has heard the prayers offered by you."


Repeating information found in v1-6.

oun "-" - therefore. Inferential, establishing a logical connection to v31.

PetroV (oV) "[who is called] Peter" - [send into joppa and call = summon simon who] peter [is called]. This proper name is the nominative complement of the subject o}V, "who", standing in a double nominative construction and asserting a fact about the subject.

SimwnoV (oV) gen. "of Simon" - [this one = he is lodging, staying as a guest, in house] of simon. The genitive is adjectival, possessive, identifying the possession of a dependent status, "a house that belongs to Simon."

bursewV (euV ewV) gen. "the tanner" - tanner, [beside the sea]. Standing in apposition to "Simon", genitive in agreement.


It is clear that, as far as Cornelius is concerned, he views Peter's visit as extremely important, so important that he has gathered together his friends and extended family so that they too can hear what oJ kurioV, "the Lord", has put in Peter's heart to tell him.

oun "so" - therefore. Inferential, drawing a logical conclusion; given the instruction of the shiny-man ..... "I sent for you."

te "and" - [i immediatly sent toward you] and [you did good]. The use of this particular coordinating conjunction here is unclear, possibly strengthening the link between the two elements; "I invited and you did good" = "you kindly obliged" = "you kindly accepted my invitation." Note the emphatic use of su, "you", "you dropped what you were doing and accepted my invitation"

paragenomenoV (paraginomai) aor. part. "to come" - having come. The participle is adverbial, instrumental, expressing means; "by coming", so Culy.

oun "-" - therefore. Inferential, drawing a logical conclusion; given the willingness of Peter to accept Cornelius' invitation, "we are all here in the presence of God."

akousai (akouw) aor. inf. "to listen to" - [we are now all present] to hear. The infinitive is adverbial, final, expressing purpose; "in order to hear ...."

ta prostetagmena (prostassw) perf. mid. part. "[everything the Lord] has commanded" - [all] the things having been commanded. The participle serves as a substantive, direct object of the infinitive "to hear." Of course, if we read the adjective panteV, "all", as a substantive, "everything", then the participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting the object "everything"; "to hear everything that has been commanded you by the Lord."

soi dat. pro. "you" - to you. Dative of indirect object.

uJpo + gen. "-" - by [the lord]. Here expressing agency.


Acts Introduction

Exegetical Commentaries


[Pumpkin Cottage]