God didn’t respect persons when it came to rich or poor (II Chron. 9:5-7), but He did respect the person of Jews over Gentiles—until He saved Paul and sent him to the Gentiles in Acts 9. Of course, Peter didn’t find out about this revolutionary change until Acts 10 (Acts 10:34).
But Peter’s reference to working righteousness shows he may have understood that Gentiles were no longer unclean, but he didn’t understand Paul’s new message of grace. Working righteousness is something the Jews had to do under the law (Ps. 15:1) by offering sacrifices of righteousness (Ps. 4:4,5) and keeping the rest of the law, but not us. And that message of the twelve never changed (I Jo. 2:29).
Christ was the prince of peace (Isa. 9:6) but only to the people of Israel (Acts 10:36-39) because He wanted them to get saved “first” (Acts 3:26) to use them to reach the Gentiles later. But the words “ye know” (Acts 10:37) show that Gentiles like Cornelius had heard of the Lord’s ministry to the Jews, and how even John the Baptist only preached to Jews (Acts 13:23,24), despite how many Baptists believe the Body of Christ church of Jews and Gentiles began with John.
The Lord’s anointing by the Spirit (Acts 10:38) is what gave Him the “power” to do miracles (Jo. 14:10; Acts 2:22).
The 12 witnessed the Lord’s resurrection (Acts 1:21; 2:32; 3:12) but didn’t witness that His resurrection paid for their sins as Paul did (Rom. 4:24). It is significant that this didn’t change after Pentecost (Acts 5:30), for many other Baptists believe the church of today began at Pentecost.
It’s tempting to think that if the Lord showed Himself to “all” the people (Acts 10:40,41) that they would have believed, but Luke 16:31 says otherwise. The Lord will show Himself to all Israel and the world (Rev. 1:7), but not to get them to believe. It’ll be to get them to wish they’d believed.
The Lord ate with His witnesses to show He wasn’t a ghost, that He had risen bodily, a truth that is often challenged!
The Lord told the 12 to preach that He rose from the dead to be Israel’s Judge, not her Savior (Acts 10:42). But it’s not like they didn’t have any good news for the Jews. They told them that if they had “faith in His name” they could be saved (Acts 10:43), His name being “Christ” (John 20:31). But that’s not enough to save you today! Our apostle says you have to have “faith in His blood” to be saved (Rom. 3:25). And to receive “the remission of sins” Peter offered the Jews (Acts 10:43) they also had to be baptized (Acts 2:38). That was the only gospel he ever preached (I Pet. 3:21).
But don’t forget, in Acts 10, God is using Peter to introduce Paul’s new message about the dispensation of the mystery, a dispensation that interrupted God’s prophetic program for Israel. And what better way than to interrupt Peter before he got a chance to talk about how baptism was required for the remission of sins—which is what God did in Acts 10:44.
That’s not how it was supposed to happen! People were sup-posed to get the Spirit after they were baptized (Acts 2:38). That’s one of the reasons Peter was “astonished” (Acts 10:45). He was also astonished Gentiles got the Spirit at all—especially because he hadn’t been preaching to them! He’d just been telling them what he preached to the Jews. He did not expect God to save Gentiles before all Israel was saved.
How did Peter know they had the Spirit? They spoke with tongues (Acts 10:46), as the 12 did (Acts 2:4). By the way, the fact that they knew they magnified God when they spoke in tongues proved that tongues in the Bible wasn’t gibberish.
In Acts 10:47,48, Peter thought, “This wasn’t supposed to happen, but it did. So can anyone think of a reason why we shouldn’t baptize them anyway?” No one could, so they did!
But the Jews were given tongues to preach to Gentiles (Zech. 10:23). Why give tongues to Gentiles? It was a sign (I Cor. 14:22) to Jews (I Cor. 1:22) that God was judging them (I Cor. 14:21). Isaiah said, “You didn’t listen when I spoke to you in Hebrew, so I’ll let the Gentiles conquer you and speak to you through them.” When God gave the Jewish gift of tongues to Gentiles, it was a sign God was judging them.
Video of this message is available on YouTube: Cornelius Gets Some Respect! – Acts 10:34-48