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

xiii] Peter's sermon to Cornelius and friends


On arriving at the home of Cornelius, Peter finds him gathered with his family and friends. Cornelius has just explained why he has invited Peter to his home, so Peter takes the opportunity to preach the gospel to those present.


The important news about the forgiveness of sins for those who believe in Jesus, is news for all humanity.


i] Context: See 10:1. As already noted, 6:1-12:25 covers the beginning of Gentile Christianity and focuses mainly on the ministry of Peter. The story of Cornelius, 10:1-11:18, authenticates the movement of the gospel from Israel to the Gentiles. The gospel has 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] Background:

iThe theological structure of the gospel; 3:11-26;

iContextualising the gospel, 16:1-15;


iii] Structure: Peter's sermon to Cornelius and friends:

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.

Peter's Sermon, v34-43:

Introduction - Peter explains himself, v34-35;

An outline of the gospel, 36-41;

A call to respond - repent and believe, v42-43.


Note again how Peter's presentation of the gospel follows a standard kerygma format:

Introduction, v34-35;

The time is fulfilled, v36-41;

"Jesus Christ ... they killed him ... God raised him ...."

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

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


iii] Interpretation:

In the New Testament, the gospel, the important news from God - "the time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe the gospel" - is always shaped by the needs of the hearers, ie., it is contextualised. This doesn't mean that the message is adulterated to suit the audience, rather it is presented in a way that the audience can understand. So for example, when talking with someone today about the coming kingdom, someone who has never been churched, we may stress the new relationship that 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, a gift in Christ, both now and forever - there is nothing we can do to make God love us more.

In the passage before us, we see the gospel presented to a group of Gentiles, some being God-fearers. Such people may know a bit about the Bible, but it would be limited. Cornelius stands out in this group as a man of prayer, devout and moral, 10:2. Peter therefore presents the gospel in a form that Gentiles would understand, but still within a Biblical framework.

As already indicated, he uses a typical four-part structure:


The time is fulfilled;

The kingdom of God is at hand;

Repent and believe the gospel.

In Peter's gospel presentation to Cornelius, and his family and friends, part four, the response, never quite eventuates because the "Holy Spirit fell on them that heard the word." All other 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 realises that God shows no partiality; all humanity is 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.

"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. Of course, 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.

"The kingdom of God is at hand", v42-43. Addressing the issue of the coming kingdom, 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 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

Peter proclaims the gospel to Cornelius, his family and friends, v34-43. i] 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" - [but/and, peter] having opened [the mouth, he said]. Attendant circumstance expressing action accompanying the verb "to say"; "Peter opened [his mouth] and said". The aorist is probably inceptive, pointing to the beginning of the action, "Peter began to speak", Barclay.

ep (epi) "how true it is" - upon [truth]. The preposition is adverbial, forming the expression, "truly, certainly"; "In truth I realise", TNT, = "I am now certain ......"

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

proswpolhmpthV (hV ou) "favouritism" - [god is not] one who shows favouritism, partiality, treats one person better than another. Predicate nominative. A hapax legomenon, once only use in the NT. God, unlike us, does not respect persons. Here of Gentile and Jew.


alla "but" - but. Strong adversative standing in a counterpoint construction, "not .... (v34), but ...."

en + dat. "from [every nation]" - in [every nation]. Local, expressing space; "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. "the one who fears [him]" - the one fearing [him]. This participle, along with "the one working", serves as a substantive, subject of the verb to-be estin. Those who respect God, reverence him.

ergazomenoV (ergazomai) pres. part. "do [what is right]" - [and] the one working [righteousness is acceptable to him]. The participle serves 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. So, best translated, "if you want God and are ready to do what he says (ie., believe on the Lord Jesus Christ)", Peterson. 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, a fruit of faith. As for the dative autw/, "to him", it is probably adverbial, reference / respect; "anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable as far as He is concerned."


ii] 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 Aramaisms, 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 there is a tendency to stress the theology of the atonement when presenting 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 honours, 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" - you know the word. The difficulty we have in translating this verse often prompts an assumed verb "you know", so NIV. "The word" then serves as the accusative object of this assumed verb, "you know the word / message / report 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 lose 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 favouritism, 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]" - [which he sent] to the sons [of israel]. Dative of indirect object / interest, advantage; "for".

euaggelizomenoV (euaggelizw) pres. part. "telling the good news" - proclaiming, communicating 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" - peace. Accusative object of the participle "proclaiming". Peter sees the message "communicating peace." Possibly an accusative of respect, "a message concerning peace."

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

ou|toV "who" - this one [is]. Nominative subject of the verb to-be.

pantwn gen. adj. "[Lord] of all" - [lord] of all. The genitive is adjectival, idiomatic / 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 blessing or cursing / forgiveness or judgment.

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

genomenon (ginomai) aor. part. "[what] has happened" - [the thing, event / word, report] having happened. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "thing / word". The phrase may be read "the saying which was published" or "the thing which took place." "The message spread", NRSV.

kaq (kata) + gen. "throughout" - throughout. Distributive use of the preposition; "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]" - from [galilee]. Expressing source / origin; "events which took their rise in Galilee", Cassirer.

meta + acc. "after" - after. Temporal use of the preposition, as NIV.

to baptisma (a atoV) "the baptism" - the immersion [which john preached]. It is 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 = teaching " 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 teaching of truth, "the word / gospel."


Ihsoun (oV) acc. "Jesus" - [you know the word / thing having happened ......... (v37)], jesus [the one from nazareth]. "Jesus" stands in apposition to rJhma, "word / thing", v37, accusative of reference / respect; "you know about the message which spread ......., namely concerning Jesus who was from Nazareth." Note the adjectivizer ton turning the prepositional phrase "from Nazareth" into an attributive modifier of "Jesus".

wJV "how" - how [god anointed him]. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what they know. The use of wJV, rather than say oJti, brings an adverbial sense of manner to their knowing, possibly in a general, rather than specific sense, so Culy. "You know, well enough, how God anointed him ....." The verb criw, "to anoint", both cultic and prophetic in origin, is used in the sense of being set apart and resourced by God for a special task, here through the Spirit.

dunamei (iV ewV) dat. "power" - [with 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. Both "Spirit" and "power" go naturally together, cf., Lk.1:17, 4:14, 24:49.

dihlqen (diercomai) aor. "and how he went around" - [who = and how he] passed through. The aorist is interesting, given that 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" - doing good [and healing]. The verb means "to do good as a benefactor." This participle, as with ijwmenoV, "healing", is adverbial, modal, expressing manner; how the action "went about" is accomplished. Possibly 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. Possession is usually expressed 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]. Introducing a causal clause explaining why Jesus was able to heal those under the power of the evil-one; "because he had God by his side", Cassirer.


The core record of the kerygma, as born witness by the apostles, concerns Jesus' life, death and resurrection.

pantwn gen. adj. "of everything" - [and we are witnesses] of these things. The genitive is adverbial, reference / respect; "with reference to everything he did."

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

te ...... kai " ... and ..." - both ..... and ... Both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. A correlative construction.

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

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

o]n pro. "[they killed] him" - whom [and = also they killed]. Introducing a headless relative clause. "In the end they put him to death", Cassirer.

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 emphasise 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. "By hanging him on a gibbet", Cassirer.


en + dat. "on [the third day]" - [this one god raised up] on [the third day]. Variant. Adverbial use of the preposition, temporal, point of time. By now, a common way of identifying the resurrection, even though the time period is not actually three days.

genesqai (gimomai) aor. inf. "to be [seen]" - [and gave = granted him] to become [visible]. The infinitive serves as the direct object of the verb "to give" / dependent statement of cause expressing what is given, namely, "him to be seen." The accusative subject of the infinitive is auton, "him"; "he granted him to be seen" = "God ..... let him be clearly seen", Phillips. "God brought him back to life again, in such a way that he was plainly and unmistakably seen", Barclay.


The fact of the resurrection is reinforced by the evidence of the "designated / appointed" witnesses who actually ate with Jesus after his resurrection, as recorded in the gospels.

panti dat. adj. "[he was] not seen by all [the people]" - [not him to be visible] to all = everyone. Dative of indirect object. "Him to be visible" is assumed, carried over from v40. "He was plainly and unmistakably seen, not by the whole people, but ....", Barclay.

alla "but" - but. Strong adversative standing in a counterpoint construction, "not ....., but .....", 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 appointed, designated, chosen beforehand. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "witnesses", as NIV. "Beforehand" indicates a divine plan to assemble witnesses for 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. Dative, standing in apposition to "witnesses"; "was granted to be visible, not to all people, but to witnesses ...... namely, to us."

autw/ dat. pro. "with him" - [who ate together and drank toegether] with him. Dative of accompaniment / association.

meta to + inf. "after [he rose]" - after the [to rise again]. This construction forms a temporal clause, antecedent time; "after his resurrection", Moffatt.


ii] The kingdom of God is at hand, v42-43. We now come to the core of the gospel, namely, the announcement that the kingdom of God is upon us, which announcement the witnesses are parhggeilen, "commanded, ordered", to communicate. The coming kingdom is realised in the person of Jesus, now risen from the dead and ascended on high, in that Jesus has taken up his throne beside the Ancient of Days in fulfilment of Daniel 7:13-14 - he is Lord. This news is both good and bad; good for those who believe it, for theirs is forgiveness and life, but bad for those who don't believe it, for theirs is judgment and death. Peter's audience is onside, so he leaves out the bad news - see 17:31 for the bad news.

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

hJmin dat. pro. "us" - us. Dative of direct object after the para prefix verb "to command."

khruxai (khrussw) aor. inf. "to preach" - to preach [to the people and to testify]. This infinitive, along with "to testify", introduces an object clause / dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what is commanded, namely "to proclaim to the people and solemnly declare", TNT. The dative tw/ law/, "to the people", serves as a dative of indirect object.

oJti "that" - that. Also serving to introduce a dependent statement of indirect speech expressing the content of what was preached and testified.

oJ wJrismenoV (oJrizw) pas. part. "appointed" - [this one is] the one having been appointed [by god]. The participle serves as a substantive, predicate nominative. 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. The preposition uJpo + dat. expresses agency, "by [God]"

zwntwn (zaw) gen. pres. part. "of the living" - [judge] of the ones living [and dead]. The participle serves as a substantive, while the genitive is adjectival, probably verbal, objective, where "of the ones living and of the dead" receive the action of the "judge"; "God appointed to be judge over both the living and the dead", Cassirer.


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

toutw/ dat. "about him" - [all the prophets bear witness] to this one. The dative is adverbial, reference / respect; "All the prophets testify about this person." 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, forming a nominal phrase, accusative subject of the infinitive labein, "to receive"; "all the ones believing into him receive ...."

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

labein (lambanw) aor. inf. "receives" - to receive. Kellum classifies the infinitive as adverbial, final, expressing purpose, and Culy treats it as introducing a dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what the prophets testify. Of course, Luke may have an epexegetic sense in mind where the infinitival clause explains / defines toutw/, "this (the information testified by the prophets), namely that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through him."

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

aJmartiwn (a) gen. "of sins" - 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. Expressing agency, as NIV; Jesus "is the means to the forgiveness of sins", Peterson.

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


Acts Introduction.


Exegetical Commentaries


[Pumpkin Cottage]