2. The gospel reaches into Judea and Samaria, 6:1-12:25

xiii] Peter's sermon to Cornelius and friends


Following Peter's vision in Joppa of a large mat with unclean animals on it associated with a divine command to "kill and eat", he is invited to visit a God-fearer named Cornelius who lives in Caesarea. On arriving, Peter finds Cornelius gathered with his family and friends and so takes the opportunity to preach the gospel to them. At the conclusion of the sermon the Holy Spirit comes upon the assembled congregation, they speak in tongues "extolling God", and Peter responds by baptizing them. The significance of the event lies in the evidential move of God's mercy toward the Gentiles. The passage before us is Luke's record of Peter's sermon.


The good news of forgiveness of sins for those who believe in Jesus, the Lord of all, is news for all.


i] Context: See 6:1-7. Acts 9:32-12:25 covers the beginning of Gentile Christianity and focuses mainly on the ministry of Peter. The story of Cornelius, 10:1-11:18, illustrates the movement of the gospel from Israel to the Gentiles. The gospel had already touched the Samaritans and a eunuch, those estranged from Israel, and now it moves to God-fearers (Gentiles associated with the Jewish faith), to Cornelius and his Gentile family and friends.


ii] Structure: This passage, Peter's sermon to Cornelius and friends, presents as follows:

Peter's inclusive vision of the way, v1-16;

Peter's meeting with Cornelius, the Gentile centurion, v17-27;

Peter's gospel sermon to Cornelius and friends, v28-43:

Cornelius explains to Peter why he sent for him, v28-33;

Peter proclaims the gospel, v34-43:

Introduction, v34-35;

The time is fulfilled, v36-41;

"Jesus Christ who is Lord of all ...... they killed him ... but God raised him from the dead."

The kingdom of God is at hand, v42-43;

"everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins ...."

The Holy Spirit came upon them, v44-48.


iii] Interpretation:

In the New Testament, the gospel message ("the time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand") is always shaped by the needs of the hearers, ie., it is contextualized. This doesn't mean that the massage is adulterated to suit the audience, rather it is presented in a way that the audience can understand. So today, for example, in talking about the "kingdom... at hand" to a person who has never been churched, we would stress the new relationship which is possible with God through the risen Christ - because he lives we can live also. When speaking with a Churchie we may want to stress the perfect standing we have in the presence of God both now and forever - nothing we do can add to the standing we have in the sight of God on the basis of Jesus' death and resurrection.

In the passage before us we see the gospel presented to a group of God-fearers. They are Gentiles who have attached themselves to the Jewish faith. Such people would know a bit about the Bible, but would be on the edge of the Jewish community because, for some reason or other, they were unwilling to become full proselytes. Cornelius was a man of prayer, devout and obviously lived a moral life, 10:2. Peter therefore presents the gospel in a form that this Gentile would understand, but still within a Biblical framework since his hearers did have some understanding of the Bible.

Biblical gospel presentations tend to have a simple three part structure, sometimes with an introduction applicable to the audience, eg., In Paul's gospel presentation at the Areopagus he introduces the gospel by establishing the existence of the unknown God who is the creator of everything. So, the structure presents in four parts:


Part 1: The time is fulfilled;

Part 2: The kingdom of God is at hand;

Part 3: Repent and believe the gospel.

In Peter's gospel presentation to Cornelius, part three, the response, never quite eventuates because the "Holy Spirit fell on them that heard the word." The other three elements are present:

• The introduction. The introduction to Peter's gospel presentation comes in v34-35. Here Peter speaks of the character of God. Peter now realizes that God shows no partiality; all are acceptable to him. This truth is quite a revelation to Peter, and it has taken some fairly heavy visions for it to sink in, cf., v10-16.

• Part 1, "the time is fulfilled", v36-41. In this element of his gospel presentation Peter outlines the life of Jesus with particular emphasis upon his resurrection. Interestingly, Peter doesn't get into showing how Jesus has fulfilled Old Testament prophecy. When the gospel is presented to Jews the emphasis is always on fulfilled prophecy, but here Peter is dealing with a Gentile audience.

• Part 2, "the kingdom of God is at hand", v42-43. Moving to the central statement of his gospel presentation, Peter outlines the implications of Christ's resurrection - because he lives we can live also, although here in the terms of forgiveness of sins. The proclamation that "the kingdom of God is at hand", that the risen Christ is now Lord of all, serves as the central element of the gospel message. The dawning of the kingdom of God is both a blessing and a curse. The down side, the bad news, has to do with judgement. The up side, the good news, has to do with forgiveness.


iv] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

Text - 10:34

ii] Peter proclaims the gospel to Cornelius and his family and friends, v34-43. a) Introduction, v34-35. Peter's God is a sovereign God who acts as he chooses, cf. Rom.9-11. God chose Israel in an act of grace and now again, in an act of grace, his special love is extended to all. This is a revolutionary idea for a Jew like Peter, but one warmly accepted by Cornelius and friends.

anoixaV (anoigw) aor. part. "then [Peter] began to speak" - having opened [the mouth]. The participle is adverbial, forming a temporal clause, as NIV, although strictly attendant circumstance expressing action accompanying "said", "opened [his mouth] and said". The aorist is probably inceptive, pointing to the beginning of the action, "Peter began to speak", Barclay.

ep alhqeiaV "how true it is" - truly, certainly. Adverbial expression; "In truth I realize", TNT, = "I am now certain."

oJti "that" - Introducing a dependent statement of perception expressing what Peter understands; "I have come to understand that ...."

proswpolhmpthV (hV ou) "favoritism" - respecter of persons, treat one person better than another. The only use of this word in the NT. God, unlike us, does not respect persons. Here of Gentile and Jew.


alla "but" - Adversative, as NIV.

autw/ "[accepts]" dat. pro. - [is acceptable] to him. Dative of reference / respect; "anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable as far as he is concerned."

en + dat. "from [every nation]" - in [every nation]. Expressing space/sphere; "those resident in every nation / throughout the world who respect him and do what is right / put their trust in him."

oJ foboumenoV (fobew) pres. part. "men [from every nation] who fear [him]" - the ones fearing. The articular participle serves as a substantive. Those who respect God, reverence him.

ergazomenoV (ergazomai) pres. part. "do [what is right]" - the one working [righteousness]. The participle, although without an article, is substantival, serving as the second substantive of an associated pair, "the one fearing and the one working", cf. Granville Sharp's Rule. Possibly referring to ethics in a general sense, although we are incapable of doing what is right and therefore God's acceptance, on the basis of faithfulness, is but a theoretical possibility. Peter is not into developing a salvation by works theology here, but is rather making the point that God is impartial. In Jewish piety the word refers to almsgiving.


b) The time is fulfilled, v36-41. C.H. Dodd says, that "the speech before Cornelius represents the form of kerygma (gospel presentation) used by the primitive church in its earliest approaches to a wider audience." Interestingly, it follows closely the scope of Mark's gospel. Also, it is filled with Aramaisims, that is, it looks very much like a message originally preached by a person whose native language is Aramaic, a person like Peter. Although Peter doesn't make the point explicitly, Jesus' anointing with the Holy Spirit at his baptism represents his appointment by God as the long awaited Messiah, Isa.61. It is most likely that the sermon is only a summary of what Peter said and so he may well have filled it out with stories of healings, etc. Peter goes on in v39-41 to claim that he and the other apostles were witnesses of what happened to Jesus, both his death and resurrection. Although we tend to want to stress the theology of the atonement when we present the gospel, the emphasis in the New Testament is upon the resurrection of Christ. The reference to "hanged on a tree" comes from Deut.21:23. The point is simple enough, "he that is hanged (on a tree) is accursed of God." So, Jesus was condemned by his own people and made the lowest of the low, but God overturned this disgrace and through his resurrection bestowed on him the greatest of honors, investing him with authority to rule. Jesus is Lord, and as Lord he has the authority to bless or curse. Note how Peter is able to bear witness to the bodily resurrection of Jesus because he not only saw him alive, but he ate and drank with him.

ton logon "[You know] the message" - the word. The difficulty we have in translating this verse often prompts the restatement of the verb "you know" from v37, so NIV. "You know" then serves as the subject and the verb of the accusative "the word" which is followed by the accusative pronoun o}n, "which", (a well attested variant) = "you know the word/message which God sent ..." Without the addition of "you know" it is necessary to classify the accusative "the word" as an example of inverse relative attraction where the noun is attracted to the pronoun, here the accusative ton logon to the accusative o}n. The pronoun is missing in quite a few texts and may be a mistaken repetition of the ending of "word"; ton logon o}n. If we treat the pronoun as an addition to the original text and so leave it out, we get "He (God) sent the message to the children of Israel ...", so REB. Barrett suggests that the parenthesis, "who is Lord of all", has caused Luke to loose track of his syntax, ie. an anacoluthon. Fitzmyer feels that the sentence is in apposition to v34b, 35. This works quite well. Either way, Peter is certain that God shows no favoritism, namely that the important message conveyed to Israel through Jesus Christ was a message of peace; person to person, person to God.

toiV uiJoiV (oV) dat. "to the people [of Israel]" - to the sons [of Israel]. Dative of indirect object / interest, advantage; "for".

euaggelizomenoV (euaggelizw) pres. part. "telling the good news" - preaching, communicating (an important message). The participle is adverbial, temporal; "when he preached (communicated) the gospel of peace", Moffatt. Again, our love of the phrase "good news" prejudges the effect of the message. It is good news for those who believe, but bad news for those who don't.

eirhnhn (h) "of peace" - Peter sees the message "communicating peace", presumably accusative of respect, "a message concerning peace."

dia + gen. "through [Jesus Christ]" - Instrumental, expressing means; "by means of Jesus Christ."

ou|toV "who" - this one.

pantwn gen. adj. "[Lord] of all" - The genitive is adjectival, of subordination; "Lord over all."


We now come to the gospel proper, or better, the kerygma, the apostolic preaching-formula, a formula used by all four gospel writers, and based on the gospel message communicated by Jesus, namely, "the time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe." The fulfilment of scripture is detailed in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, on which basis the nowness of the kingdom / of the reign of Christ is proclaimed, the consequences of which are either judgment, or forgiveness.

uJmeiV "you [know]" - Emphatic by use and position.

to genomenon (ginomai) rJhma aor. part. "what has happened" - thing/word having happened. The participle serves as a substantive. The phrase may be read "the saying which was published" or "the thing which took place." "The message spread", NRSV.

kaq (kata) + gen. "throughout" - Spacial; "throughout".

thV IoudaiaV (a) gen. "the province of Judea" - [all] of Judea. The genitive is adjectival, partitive / wholative. Probably Palestine is intended rather than just Judea.

arxamenoV (arcw) aor. part. nom. "beginning" - having begun. The participle may be adverbial, modal, "initially, to begin with", Zerwick, or as introducing a dependent statement of perception expressing what they know, namely, "that the word began in Galilee after the baptism which John preached." Moffatt opts to bring forward the conjunction wJV, "how", from v38, to form a perception statement after the verb "to know". The participle may then be treated as adjectival, attributive, limiting the assumed ton logon, "the word"; "you know ..... how the word which began in Galilee after the preaching of John ...." The nominative case is interesting. Barrett suggests sloppy Greek, but Fitzmyer suggests "a frozen pre-Lukan formula" for the nominative, rather than accusative case, given that the participle should agree with the accusative ton logon, "the word." What began in Galilee, after the baptism of John, was the preaching of the gospel, which fact "you know."

apo + gen. "in [Galilee]" - Expressing source/origin; "events which took their rise in Galilee", Cassirer.

meta + acc. "after" - Temporal, as NIV.

to baptisma (a atoV) "the baptism" - the immersion. It's interesting to note that Codex B uses the word "proclamation", meaning "gospel", "the gospel that John preached", which gospel was the same as the one preached by Jesus, namely, "the kingdom of God is at hand." The idea of preaching water baptism is strange indeed, but preaching an "immersion of divine truth = gospel" certainly makes sense. The Gk. word baptisma, "immersion", constantly leads us to think of water baptism, but the word is often used figuratively. It seems likely that the "immersion" that John preached, even if related to water dunking, concerns "the word / gospel."


wJV "how" - [you know what has happened .....] how [(God) anointed Jesus, the one from Nazarath]. The conjunction is being used adverbially, modal, expressing manner, here after the verb "to know", and so serves to introduce a dependent statement of perception; "you know ....... in what manner / how", as NIV.

ecrisen (criw) aor. "anointed" - As in confirming kinship and here of the divine confirming of messiahship. "God appointed Jesus of Nazareth as Messiah ....."

apo + gen. "[Jesus] of [Nazareth]" - Expressing source/origin; "from".

pneumati aJgiw/ kai dunamei dat. "with the Holy Spirit and power" - Instrumental dative expressing means, or accompaniment / association. Probably power is being used in the sense of miraculous power. Probably not "with the power of the Holy Spirit", Phillips, but "with the Holy Spirit and with power", or means, "by the Holy Spirit and power." The point being that Jesus is set apart / appointed as an "inspired prophet", Dunn.

dihlqen (diercomai) aor. "and how he went around" - [who] passed through. The aorist is interesting as the action of this verb seems to be durative. The sense of the word may be of coming to a point, moving to, so "he appeared on the scene and set about doing good."

euergetwn (euergetew) pres. part. "doing good" - This participle, as with iwmenoV, "healing", is adverbial, modal, expressing manner, how the action "went about" is accomplished. Possibly just attendant circumstance, expressing action accompanying the action "went about / arrived"; "he arrived and did good and healed all ...."

touV katadunasteuomenouV (katadunasteuw) pres. part. "[all] who were under the power" - [all] the ones being oppressed. The participle serves as a substantive. Probably not just exorcisms, but a general reference to sickness, death, possession ... all of which are seen to originate with the Devil. Usually possession, as such, is termed as "possessed by an evil spirit."

uJpo + gen. "of [the devil]" - by [the Devil]. Expressing agency, as NIV.

oJti "because" - because [God was with him]. Here expressing cause/reason; "because he had God by his side", Cassirer.


pantwn gen. adj. "of everything" - Genitive of reference, "with reference to everything he did."

w|n gen. pro. "-" - which [he did]. Note case attraction to "everything"; should be the accusative, a{.

te ...... kai " ... and ..." - both ..... and [in Jerusalem]. A coordinative construction.

en + dat. "in" - Local, expressing space/sphere.

twn Ioudaiwn (oV) gen. "[the country] of the Jews" - The genitive is adjectival, idiomatic, limiting "country", "the country where the Jews live" = "the Jewish lands" = "Israel", CEV, or possibly in the more narrow sense, "in Judea", Barclay.

o]n pro. "[they killed] him" - whom [also they killed].

kai "-" - and. Possibly adjunctive, "whom also they killed", although usually not after a relative pronoun, so best not read, as NIV.

kremasanteV (kremannumi) aor. part. "by hanging him [on a tree]" - having hung [on a tree]. The participle is adverbial, usually read as instrumental, expressing means, as NIV. Possibly a piece of wood is intended, even a stake, to emphasize a humiliating death, a cursed death in the view of Deuteronomy 21:23. Of course, the phrase may be a colloquial way of describing crucifixion, "it became a way of referring to crucifixion in Judea", Fitzmyer.


"but" - The adversative is not in the Gk.; "this one (= Jesus of Nazareth) God raised up."

th/ trith/ hJmera dat. "on the third day" - The dative is adverbial, temporal. By now, a common way of identifying the resurrection, even though the time period is not actually three days.

edwken (didwmi) aor. "caused [him]" - gave = granted. Lit. "he granted to him to become visible"; "God brought him back to life again, in such a way that he was plainly and unmistakably seen", Barclay.

genesqai (gimomai) aor. inf. "to be [seen]" - The infinitive is epexegetic explaining what was "granted", namely, to become visable. Syntacticly it forms an object clause, which with the accusative auton,"him", forms a double accusative of person and thing construction; "he granted him to be seen" = "God ..... let him be clearly seen", Phillips.


ou panti dat. adj. "[he was] not seen by all [the people]" - not to all [the people]. "He was seen" is assumed, being carried over from v40. The dative is expressed as if instrumental, identifying the agent / "the people" by whom the action of seeing is performed, so NIV, although properly a dative of indirect object after the verb "granted"; "God ... granted him to be visible, not to all the people." "He was plainly and unmistakably seen, not by the whole people, but ....", Barclay.

alla "but" - Strong adversative, as NIV.

martusin (tuV turoV) dat. "by witnesses" - to witnesses. Dative of indirect object, as above.

toiV prokeceirotonhmenoiV (proceirotonew) dat. perf. pas. part. "whom [God] had already chosen" - the ones chosen beforehand. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "witnesses", so NIV, although possibly substantival in an appositional relationship to "witnesses", further defining "witnesses"; "[seen by] witnesses, namely, those whom God had previously selected." "Beforehand" indicating a divine plan to assemble witnesses to the resurrection. Obviously a larger group than the apostles is intended, but not just anyone; "he was not seen by all."

uJpo + gen. "[God]" - by [God]. Expressing agency.

hJmin dat. pro. "by us" - to us. Again a dative of indirect object standing in apposition to "witnesses"; "was granted to be visible, not to all people, but to witnesses ...... namely, to us."

oi{tineV pro. "who" - the ones who.

sunefagomen kai sunepiomen "ate and drank" - ate together and drank together. That is, Jesus was not a ghost.

autw/ dat. pro. "with him" - Dative of association.

meta to + inf. "after [he rose]" - Expressing antecedent time; "after his resurrection", Moffatt.


c) The kingdom of God is at hand, v42-43. Here we have the substance of the gospel, the message the witnesses are ordered to preach. The coming kingdom is realized in the person of Jesus, now risen from the dead, in that Jesus has taken up his throne beside the Ancient of Days in fulfillment of Daniel 7:13-14. This news is both good and bad news; good for those who believe, for their's is forgiveness and life, but for those who don't believe, their's is judgment and death. Note the negative side of the message in Acts, 17:31.

parhggeilen (paraggellw) aor. "He commanded" - The subject is not identified, but probably God, although possibly Jesus.

hJmin dat. pro. "us" - Dative of indirect object.

khruxai ..... diamarturasqai aor. inf. "to preach ..... [and] to testify" - The infinitives "to preach" and "to testify" form dependent statements of indirect speech expressing what is commanded, namely "to proclaim to the people and solemnly declare", TNT.

oJti "that" - This conjunction also serves to introduce a dependent statement of indirect speech expressing the content of was is preached and testified.

uJpo + gen. "[whom God]" - by [God]. Expressing agency.

oJ wJrismenoV (oJrizw) pas. part. "appointed" - the one/man having been appointed. The participle serves as a substantive, while the perfect tense indicates that at the point of speaking Jesus has already been appointed as judge and is presently performing this role, cf. Dan.7:13. "Marked out", Barrett.

zwntwn kai nekrwn gen. "[judge] of the living and the dead" - The genitive is usually treated as verbal, objective, where "the living and the dead" receive the action of the "judge", but adjectival seems more likely, possibly of subordination; "God appointed to be judge over both the living and the dead", Cassirer.


Now the good news: those who rely on the person ("name") of Jesus receive forgiveness of sins, and thus, the right to dwell with God.

toutw/ dat. "about him" - to this one. Best taken as a dative of indirect object, but possibly reference / respect. Barrett suggests that toutw/ is best read as neuter, "this = this information", rather than masculine, "this = this man = Jesus"; "all the prophets bear witness to this, namely, that everybody who believes in him receives....

ton pisteuonta (pisteuw) pres. part. "[everyone] who believes" - [all] the ones believing. The participle serves as a substantive and forms a participial clause accusative subject of the infinitive labein, "to receive."

eiV + acc. "in [him]" - to, into. Spacial, of movement toward. When used of believing into / in Jesus this preposition is interchangeable with en, "in".

labein (lambanw) aor. inf. "receives" - to receive. The infinitive forms an infinitival epexegetic / appositional clause explaining / defining the substance of toutw/, "this = the information testified by the prophets, namely, that ....

afesin (iV ewV) "forgiveness" - forgiveness, release, remission. Beside Christ's authority to judge is his authority to forgive, to apply God's mercy to all who put their trust in him.

aJmartiwn (a) gen. "of sins" - The genitive is usually treated as verbal, objective, ie. the genitive noun "sins" receives the action of the verbal noun "forgiveness"; "all who have faith in Jesus will have their sins forgiven", CEV.

dia + gen. "through [his name]" - through, by means of [the name]. Expressing agency, as NIV; Jesus "is the means to the forgiveness of sins", Peterson.

tou onomatoV (a atoV) "his name" - the name. "The name" often means little more than "person", but may carry something of that person's authority such that forgiveness is authorized under Jesus' authority; "Everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through him", Barclay.


Acts Introduction.



[Pumpkin Cottage]