The significance of Acts 10:1-11:18 is massive. Since the time of Abraham (Gen 12) up until this point, “salvation is of the Jews” as Jesus said (John 4:22). This does not mean that non-Jews (Gentiles) were not saved, for many were. However, those who did trust in the Lord for salvation necessarily came into the nation of Israel which involved being under the jurisdiction of the Mosaic Law. However, Israel rejected Jesus who came to save them from their sins (Acts 3:13-15; 4:8-11), and after his resurrection Jesus commanded his disciples to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15), to preach repentance and remission of sins “to all nations” (Luke 24:47), “make disciples of all the nations” (Matt 28:20), and be his witnesses “to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
In Acts 10:1-11:18 a Gentile centurion, Cornelius, was very religious toward the true and living God but was yet unsaved (11:14) and needed to hear the gospel and trust in Christ for his sins to be forgiven (10:6, 22, 32). For this to happen, God caused Peter to see a vision communicating to him that Christians should not view anyone—even Gentiles—from a Jewish perspective (note 10:28; cf. Mark 7:19). Peter thus directly went in among Gentiles (something he would not have done as a faithful Jew in Israel) and told them the gospel of Jesus Christ (10:34-43). Cornelius and those listening trusted in Christ and were immediately made part of the body of Christ through Spirit baptism (vv. 44-46; cf. 2:1; 8:14-17). The significance of this was that Jewish and Gentile believers had equal standing in Christ before God without coming under the Mosaic Law. This was a radical change from before in the Old Testament, when saved Gentiles had to become Jewish and obey the Mosaic Law.
Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On
- Because God does not judge sinners based on externals Christians must not.
- Jesus is the judge of the living and the dead. Regardless of external differences, Jesus will judge based on one point: belief in him (John 3:18).
- We must spread the gospel as Jesus commanded to everyone. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom 10:17).