Acts 10:24-The next day Peter goes to the home of Cornelius, which was in Caesarea. He had gathered together his family and friends, there were ”many people” present. Cornelius falls at Peter’s feet and “worshiped him”…but Peter tells him to stop because he is just a man. Peter then explains the Jewish law concerning associating with Gentiles. But, he tells them that God had told him to call no man unholy, or unclean. When Peter asked why he has been sent for, Cornelius told him that an angel had appeared to him and told him to do so…and that Peter was to tell them “all that you have been commanded by the Lord”. The details of this vision are astounding: he was told what city Peter would be in, whose house he was staying in, where the house was located in the city, Peter’s full name, and even Simon’s vocation. Peter realizes that this is a unique moment and that God is revealing His plan for salvation to be extended to all men…”I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right, is welcome to Him” (:34-35). He tells them that they already have some knowledge about the things that had recently transpired concerning Jesus. Then he briefly recounted the ministry, death, burial, resurrection, and post-resurrection appearances of Jesus…and verified that they had been witnesses of it all. Peter told them that God had instructed the disciples to be witnesses to tell all of the people about Jesus and to show them that He is the one that the prophets were speaking about. Then he said that everyone who believes in Him would be forgiven of their sin. At that moment, as Peter was telling them about the forgiveness of sin, the Holy Spirit “fell upon those who were listening” (:44)…and they began to speak in tongues and giving praise to God (:46).
Ryrie Study Bible 10:44 the Holy Spirit fell upon all. In the case of these Gentile converts, the gift of the Spirit came before they were baptized in water (v. 48). The authentication of the gift was the speaking in tongues (v. 46), entirely apart from the laying on of hands. All this demonstrated, especially to the Jewish brethren who accompanied Peter, that God had received these Gentiles into the church on an equal basis with Jewish believers because they have believed in Christ (v. 43).
Luke's description of the Spirit's coming lets us know that the Gentiles' salvation is divinely worked, complete and authentic. It is all of God, for Peter has not even finished his speech. He has not given an invitation. God, the knower of all hearts, has chosen to cleanse their hearts by faith (15:8-9). He demonstrates that these Gentiles have indeed been given "repentance unto life" (11:18) by pouring out the gift of his Spirit on them, as he did on Jewish believers at Pentecost (2:4, 17, 33; compare 2:38; 8:20; 11:17). That the Spirit came on them (literally, "falling on," 8:16; 11:15) points not only to arrival but also to suddenness and intensity (Turner 1981:49). By combining this description with the imagery of "pouring out on," inundating with as with an overwhelming tidal wave (10:45), Luke highlights the completeness of the salvation experienced. Its authenticity is manifested by the Gentiles' speaking in tongues.
As the NIV marginal note indicates, there is some uncertainty about what the word tongues refers to and hence how it is to be translated. The literal translation tongues here would refer to Spirit-inspired ecstatic utterances of "heavenly languages" that require an equally inspired interpreter (1 Cor 14; compare Acts 19:6; Longenecker 1981:394: Haenchen 1971:354). The marginal reading other languages (note that other is not present in the Greek text) points to human languages (2:4-8). If we opt for the "ecstatic utterances" interpretation, we have to explain the claims that the experience paralleled that of Acts 2 (10:47; 11:15, 17). Williams says they need to be similar though not identical to satisfy the claims of the text (1985:184). If we opt for the "foreign languages" explanation, we must account for the lack of the term other and how such an outburst of foreign languages could have been convincing to the Jewish believers. It would have been convincing if these Gentiles spoke in languages including Hebrew and Aramaic, which the Joppa believers could follow.
Though it is difficult to be certain about the nature of the "tongues" (Kistemaker 1990:400), what the early believers conclude from this manifestation is certain: salvation blessings have been poured out on uncircumcised Gentiles. This challenges the Jews' basic assumption that a holy and pure God would not pour out his Holy Spirit on profane, common and unclean Gentiles, unless they became holy and ritually pure through becoming Jews. No wonder that Jewish Christians with a commitment to circumcision showed the same "astonishment" at this phenomenon as the Pentecost crowd did (2:7, 12; compare 8:13; 9:21).
(IVP New Testament Commentary Series,
Peter had brought some other Jews with him. When they saw what had happened, they were amazed that the Holy Spirit had been given to Gentiles (:45). Peter says that surely no one would refuse baptism to them since the Holy Spirit had fallen upon them…and they were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ (:48).
Prayer: Father, please help me to always see people through your eyes. Don’t let me judge them by my own prejudices, or even by my own standards. Help me to see people as You do…and please use me, even as You used Peter, to proclaim the Gospel to them…and to see them come to salvation through Christ.