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Part 42: The Eunuch — Cornelius — Sergius Paulus

Philip preached to the eunuch. Acts 8:30.

Peter preached to Cornelius. Acts 10:25.

Paul preached to Paulus. Acts 13:7.

What kind of a Gentile was the eunuch? What kind of a Gentile was Cornelius? What kind of a Gentile was Sergius Paulus?

Before we answer these questions it is interesting to note that during the years of the earthly ministry of Jesus of Nazareth, as recorded in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, we find mentioned only one Gentile man to whom the Lord Jesus ministered. He was the Roman official, mentioned in Matthew 8:1 to 12 and in Luke 7:1 to 10. That centurion asked the Jews to ask the Saviour for the healing of his loved one. Luke 7:3. Note what the Jews told Jesus concerning that Roman official. “For he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue.” Luke 7:5.

CORNELIUS

Then note that Cornelius was a Roman official that loved the Jews. “And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nations of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee.” Acts 10:22.

“There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band. A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.” Acts 10:1 and 2.

SERGIUS PAULUS

Then note that Sergius Paulus was a Roman official.

“Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man.” Acts 13:7.

THE EUNUCH

Then note concerning the eunuch.

“And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship.” Acts 8:27.

All of these men were servants of kings and queens.

During the years that Jesus of Nazareth was preaching on earth, and at the time Philip preached to the eunuch, and Peter preached to Cornelius, what was the status of the Gentiles with God?

1. “Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.” Ephesians 2:11 and 12. “Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.” Ephesians 4:18. “And came and preached peace to you which were afar off:” Ephesians 2:17.

2. “No people”—a “foolish nation.” Romans 10:19.

3. “A wild olive tree:” Romans 11:17.

4. “But He answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread and cast it to dogs:” Matthew 15: 26.

THE STATUS OF GENTILES WITH JEWS

Note what happened when Jesus of Nazareth, in the synagogue of the Jews, told how God had blessed two Gentiles “But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian. And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath. And rose up, and thrust Him out of the city, and led Him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast Him down headlong.” Luke 4:26 to 29.

Although these Jews were assembled in their synagogue to worship God, murder was in their heart because One Who claimed to be their Messiah told that the Lord had blessed two Gentiles.

Then more than thirty years later Paul was in the Jewish temple at Jerusalem, and the worshipping Jews rushed upon him because they held him responsible for the presence of a Gentile in their temple. “Men of Israel, help: This is the man, that teacheth all men everywhere against the people, and the law, and this place: and further brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath polluted this holy place. (For they had seen before with him in the city, Trophimus an Ephesian, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple.)” Acts 21:28 and 29.

In the year 60 A. D., more than 25 years after the death of Christ on the cross, a Gentile in the Jerusalem temple meant that their religious temple was polluted. “And they went about to kill him (Paul).” What a great sin for a Jew to be responsible for the presence of a Gentile in the Jerusalem temple.

But note Paul’s defense, and the new outbreak against him.

“And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance.” Acts 22:17 “And He said unto me, Depart; for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles. And they gave him audience unto his word, and then lifted up their voices, and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth; for it is not fit that he should live.” Acts 22:21 and 22.

“And they came to the chief priests and elders, and said, We have bound ourselves under a great curse, that we will eat nothing until we have slain Paul.” Acts 23:14.

What a guilty criminal was Paul in their estimation! Why? Because he declared that Jesus, their Messiah, appeared to him in their holy temple to send him to the despised Gentiles. He was not fit to live. He must be murdered.

This shows us something of the attitude of the non-Christian Jews against the Gentiles. Now let us consider the attitude of the Jewish disciples of Christ against the Gentiles.

“And. He said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.” Acts 10:28.

“Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the Word to none but unto the Jews only.” Acts 11:19.

“But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and besought Him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us:” Matthew 15:23.

“These Twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Matthew 10:5 and 6.

“But He answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Matthew 15:24.

“Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. Unto you first God, having raised up His Son Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.” Acts 3:25 and 26.

“And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the Word of God. And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision, contended with him, Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them.” Acts 11:1 to 3.

“Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the Word of God should first have been spoken to you; but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.” Acts 13:46.

“But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles; but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.” Galatians 2:11 to 13.

“I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall, salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.” Romans 11:11.

“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God.” Ephesians 2:19.

Surely we shall learn from all that we have said that Jesus Christ was not preaching the gospel of the grace of God to Jews and Gentiles while He was on earth. In this connection compare Paul’s two statements

“NOW I SAY THAT JESUS CHRIST WAS A MINISTER OF THE CIRCUMCISION FOR THE TRUTH OF GOD, TO CONFIRM THE PROMISES MADE UNTO THE FATHERS.” Romans 15:8.

“THAT I SHOULD BE THE MINISTER OF JESUS CHRIST TO THE GENTILES, MINISTERING THE GOSPEL OF GOD, THAT THE OFFERING UP OF THE GENTILES MIGHT BE ACCEPTABLE, BEING SANCTIFIED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT.” Romans 15:16.

What a difference! Now remember that the first, if not the only Gentile man to whom Jesus of Nazareth ministered, while on earth, was a Roman official who built a synagogue for the Jews.

The next Gentile man was a centurion at the cross of Jesus Christi who said, “Truly this was the Son of God.” Matthew 27:54.

The next Gentiles who received the Lord’s message are called proselytes, in Acts 2:10. But the “proselyte” Gentiles are called “Jews” in Acts 2:5. The word “Jew”, as used in Acts and the Epistles, refers to the religion of the people rather than the race or nationality. Note in Esther 8:17: “Many people (Persians) became Jews.”

But note carefully Genesis 17:14—“And the uncircumcised man-child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken My covenant.”

THE EUNUCH—A PROSELYTE

Now let us think of this command of God when we ask what kind of a Gentile was the eunuch? Where had he been? To Jerusalem to worship. Then what? He was circumcised. Therefore he was a proselyte. Consider the eunuch in the light of Acts 11:19—Acts 10:28 and Acts 11:1 to 3.

“Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the Word to none but unto the Jews only.”

“And He said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.”

“And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the Word of God. And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision, contended with him, Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them.”

CORNELIUS FEARED GOD-LOVED THE JEWS

Now note carefully a statement of the apostles, some months after Philip preached to the eunuch: “When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.” Acts 11:18.

Let us remember what kind of a Gentile Cornelius was. Acts 10:2 and 22.

What must we decide? We must decide that Cornelius was the first uncircumcised Gentile, in the “Acts” period, to receive salvation, so far as there is any record in Acts. Note what Peter preached to Cornelius. “In every nation he that feareth God and worketh righteousness.” Acts 10:34 to 36.

Then note the agreement of Paul and Peter concerning their different ministries:

“But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; (For He that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles;) And when James, Peter, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.” Galatians 2:7 to 9.

Then note Paul’s testimony: “For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office.” Romans 11:13.

“Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.” I Timothy 2:7.

“Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.” II Timothy 1:11.

PETER FEARED THE CIRCUMCISION

Then note again Peter’s attitude toward saved Gentiles: “For before that certain (Peter) came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles; but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself fearing them which were of the circumcision.” Galatians 2:12.

Peter was the only one of the Twelve who preached to Gentiles, so far as there is any record in Acts. And do we suppose that the Lord would have kept Peter in that ministry with such an attitude toward the Gentiles, no fellowship with Christian Gentiles, because he was afraid of Christian Jews? The answer is Galatians 2:9—“And when James, Peter, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.”

But later on they all learned the blessed truth of Ephesians 2:13 to 18 and Colossians 3:11.

“But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For He is our peace, Who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in Himself of twain One New Man, so making peace; And that He might reconcile both unto God in one Body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby; And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.”

“Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.”

But let us, as Gentiles, see what we were by nature. “Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience; Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others,” Ephesians 2:2 and 3.

Let us see what we received because of the Jews’ unbelief: “For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief.” Romans 11:30.

Let us note Paul’s message to Gentiles, “To him that worketh not (righteousness) but believeth.” Romans 4:5.

And now God’s desire for us is recorded in Ephesians 4:17 and 18: “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.”

Then let us learn of the great turning-point in God’s program, when Saul became Paulus, when he preached to Paulus the Gentile: “Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.” Acts 13:12.

Something happened to a Jew—blindness. Something happened to a Gentile—salvation. That is the story of the great dispensational chapter, the eleventh of Romans, and Acts 28:25 to 28. It’s a great story. More of the blind Jew in another lesson.