Sunday, July 12, 2020

Acts Study | Session 22 | 9:36-11:25

Today in our study we look at Acts 9:36-11:25 where we see Dorcas being raised from the dead, the conversion of Cornelius and its significance, and Peter's report to the church at Jerusalem.

VERSE 36: Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did. Joppa is a small port town close to Lydda (2Ch 2:16; Ezr 3:7; Jon 1:3). Interestingly, the name Tabitha or Dorcas means gazelle.

VERSES 37-38: And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber. (38)  And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them. (39)  Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them. (40)  But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up. (41)  And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive. (42)  And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord. (43)  And it came to pass, that he tarried many days in Joppa with one Simon a tanner. In these verses, Peter raised this woman from the dead. Again, we see the pattern, miracles followed by a belief that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. No one can honestly say that God works this way today. This was simply a different dispensation. We do not live under this apostolic dispensation today.

Chapter 10
VERSES 1-2: There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, (2)  A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway. It must first be noted that Cornelius was not a Jew, nor a proselyte into Judaism yet. He was a Roman Centurion. I view this as God preparing Peter for a meeting that he was going to have with Paul twelve years from now. However, make no mistake, Peter is still presenting him with the Gospel of the Kingdom because that is all that he knew.

Notice that even though he was a devout man, and one that feared God, he was still lost. Lest you think that strange, our churches today are filled with them. George Barna said a few years ago that statistically, 70% of the average evangelical church in America is lost. I have no doubt about that.

Peter shared this event in Acts 11:12-14. Of course, Peter is referring to these next verses.

VERSES 3-6: He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. (4)  And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. (5)  And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter: (6)  He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do. Cornelius was praying about 3:00 pm, an angel of God tells him that his prayers have been answered, tells him to call for Peter who is currently at Simon's house, and he would tell him what to do next. Interestingly, only the KJV says he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do. And he does what the Lord tells him to in...

VERSES 7-10: And when the angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually; (8)  And when he had declared all these things unto them, he sent them to Joppa. (9) On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: (10)  And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, So, while these guys are on their way, Peter also receives a vision. He is sitting on the housetop around noon in prayer and apparently very hungry. The ladies may have been cooking at the time. Either way, God uses that hunger sensation to show him something.

VERSES 11-14: And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: (12)  Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. (13)  And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. (14)  But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. In the Old Testament book of Leviticus, chapter 11, God had given the nation a list of what they could and could not eat, foods that were considered clean and unclean, and apparently some of these were on the unclean side of the menu. However, the point of these verses that I had missed for years is why did Peter respond the way that he did? The answer is because he was still very much under the Law almost eight years after Pentecost! If the church began, the age of grace began, why is Peter still observing the Law? Why? Because he is still under the Law! There is no Body of Christ at this point in the book of Acts.

VERSES 15-18: And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. (16)  This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven. (17)  Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made enquiry for Simon's house, and stood before the gate, (18)  And called, and asked whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were lodged there. Just to further makes his point, God repeats himself three times, and Peter still doubted what he had just heard. Some have suggested that this was the revelation of the mystery, no, that was given to Paul, not Peter.

VERSES 19-20: While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee. (20)  Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them. God is now getting ready to demonstrate first hand what He has been trying to tell Peter. Why do you think God used a traumatic vision to speak to Peter? Because, our Lord's entire earthly ministry was to Jews only, and he told his followers the same (Mat 10:5-7; Mat 15:22-24). I have heard for so long that the Jews was bigoted and just did not understand what God was doing and that is why they struggled so hard with taking the gospel to the Gentiles. Not so!

VERSES 21-23: Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come? (22)  And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee. (23)  Then called he them in, and lodged them. And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him. Even though Peter is still obviously confused, he is obedient and goes with them.

VERSES 24-26: And the morrow after they entered into Caesarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends. (25)  And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. (26)  But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man. In preparation for Peter's arrival, Cornelius had gathered his kinsmen and close friends. That fact that Cornelius tried to worshiop him speaks of his spiritual state. Of course, the first pope didn't allow himself to be worshiped, that would come later.

VERSES 27-29: And as he talked with him, he went in, and found many that were come together. (28)  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. (29)  Therefore came I unto you without gainsaying, as soon as I was sent for: I ask therefore for what intent ye have sent for me? Now Peter recounts why he is there and wants to know why he had been sent for. Interestingly, Peter points to the Law to say that a Jew should not keep company with a Gentile; however, the Torah never directly prohibited that. Instead, Peter is most likely referring to the rabbinical teachings of the day. That, or he is referring to Jesus' command that they go not to the Gentiles with the Gospel of the Kingdom; probably the former though. Note: Gainsaying means promptly. In other words, he did not fight it.

No doubt, a transition is taking place which began with Saul's conversion in chapter 9, Cornelius here in chapter 10, when Peter returns to the church in Jerusalem and reports that the Gentiles had received the word of God, then sends Barnabus to Antioch to find Saul where they were first called Christians, in chapters 13 and 14 Barnabus and Paul head out of their missionary journeys, and finally in chapter 15 they are back in Jerusalem explaining God's continued work among the Gentile through the Gospel of Grace that had been revealed to Paul.

I ask therefore for what intent ye have sent for me? indicates to me that Peter still had no idea why he was there. In other words, preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom to them was not what he was thinking of.

VERSES 30-33: And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, (31)  And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God. (32)  Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter; he is lodged in the house of one Simon a tanner by the sea side: who, when he cometh, shall speak unto thee. (33)  Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God. Cornelius then explains that he is still in the dark as well and was only being obedient to the that man in bright clothing and that Peter was supposed to tell him what thou oughtest to do (Acts 10:6).

VERSES 34-35: Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: (35)  But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. Now Peter is putting it all together, the Vision + Cornelius = Gospel. As such, many will say at this point that Cornelius was the first Gentile Christian. However, the content of Peter's message simply does not bear that out.

VERSES 36-37: The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:) (37)  That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; He is simply sharing what had been and was going on in regards to the nation of Israel and the preaching of Christ. Apparently, it was so well known that he assumes that even the Gentiles had already heard of it. Again, nothing new here. Jesus' ministry began in Galilee after the baptism of the John the Baptist.

VERSE 38: How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. Again, referring to Jesus' baptism at the hands of John and his ministry thereafter that only proved that he was indeed their Messiah.

VERSE 39: And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: In other words, we were there throughout his ministry and are witnesses to everything that he did in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem, before they slew him and hanged him on a tree. Again, our Lord's ministry was exclusively to the nation of Israel.

VERSES 40-42: Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; (41)  Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. (42) And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. Of course, his resurrection from the dead was the ultimate proof that he was their Messiah. And they were witnesses chosen before of God. That doesn't mean that others did not see him (1Cor 15:6), but that they were chosen to be the ones who would bear witness of that resurrection as seen in v.42.

VERSES 43-48: To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. (44)  While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. (45)  And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. (46)  For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, (47)  Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? (48)  And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days. This is the Kingdom Gospel and Cornelius' response in the next verse is a Kingdom response in that it was followed by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and baptism. So far we have seen the Holy Spirit come upon the Twelve, the other Jewish believers, the Samaritan believers, and now upon Gentile believers. Therefore, it must be concluded that the filling of the Holy Spirit is not a mark of the church, but an empowerment to preach the Kingdom Gospel (Acts 1:8).

Again, some will say that Peter was preaching and Cornelius was responding to the Grace Gospel, if that was truly the case, nobody told Paul, because he consistently argued that he was the first to hear about it and receive it (Gal 1:11-12;  Eph 3:2-4; Rom 2:16; Rom 16:25; Gal 1:15-17; Gal 2:2; 1Ti 1:16). Paul even said that when he did preach to the Jews prior to the revelation he only spoke of what the prophets and Moses said should come (Act_26:22).

Under the Kingdom Gospel, they only believed in the Messiah for eternal life and national salvation, but under the Grace Gospel, we believe in the completed work of Christ on the cross and thus receiving immediate and personal salvation outside of any Kingdom promises or requirements. This is not the message that Peter taught in this chapter.

Notice also that Peter commanded them to be baptized. Why? It was required. On the other hand, Paul said that he was not sent to baptize but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, let the cross of Christ should be made of none effect (1Cor 1:17).

Chapter 11
VERSES 1-3: And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. (2)  And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him, (3)  Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them. Notice Peter's reception when he returned to Jerusalem! Why were they upset with him if he was only obeying Matt 28:19? Obviously, it is because Mat 28:19 does not mean what we have been taught that it means.

VERSES 4-17: But Peter rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it by order unto them, saying, (5)  I was in the city of Joppa praying: and in a trance I saw a vision, A certain vessel descend, as it had been a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came even to me: (6)  Upon the which when I had fastened mine eyes, I considered, and saw fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. (7)  And I heard a voice saying unto me, Arise, Peter; slay and eat. (8)  But I said, Not so, Lord: for nothing common or unclean hath at any time entered into my mouth. (9)  But the voice answered me again from heaven, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. (10)  And this was done three times: and all were drawn up again into heaven. (11)  And, behold, immediately there were three men already come unto the house where I was, sent from Caesarea unto me. (12)  And the Spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered into the man's house: (13)  And he shewed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter; (14)  Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved. (15)  And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. (16)  Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. (17)  Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God? These verses do not really contain any new information as that they are just Peter recounting the whole event with Cornelius. Some have speculated why Luke would be so repetitive in recounting the entire episode again, but I believe that he is just being true to the events as they happened. Peter's only conclusion for the naysayers was, what was I, that I could withstand God?

VERSE 18: When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life. When Peter finished his summation, they glorified God recognizing God had granted repentance unto life to the Gentiles as well. However, please understand that what Cornelius and those who were with him had accepted was the Kingdom Gospel. This was not a grace through faith not of works salvation, but instead a grace through repentance and baptism salvation.

VERSE 19: 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. Here we see that even though Peter had taken the Kingdom Gospel to the Gentiles, the others who had been scattered after the stoning of Stephen did not. Just for context, the stoning of Stephen occurred in 33 AD and we are now in 41 AD. That is eights years gone by and they were still only preaching to Jews only. They were simply being obedient to Acts 1:8.

VERSES 20-21: And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus. (21)  And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord. These that were scattered from Jerusalem from v.19 came into contact with Grecians, or hellenistic Jews, who were part of the diaspora. We first saw these Jews in Acts 6. They were simply non-Palestinian Jews whose ancestors had been carried away by Babylon and never returned. Therefore, they grew up outside of Jerusalem. These are those spoken of in Acts 2 at Pentecost (Acts 2:7-8). And to these Jews, they preached the Kingdom Gospel.

Interestingly, the modern translations do not call these Grecians, but Greeks which would make them Gentiles. Again, I believe that bias has worked its way into the translations. Again, the issue is the underlying texts. The KJV comes from the Received Text which uses the word Hellenistes which is a Greek speaking Jew, while the modern versions use a manuscript that uses the word Hellen which is simply a Greek speaking person.

VERSE 22: Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch. It is worthwhile to mention here that it is obvious that the church in Jerusalem is in charge. A model that the Roman Catholic Church modeled from Rome.

VERSE 23-24: Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. (24)  For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord. Upon his arrival, Barnabas confirmed that what they had heard was true.

VERSE 25: Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: Remember that Saul had been sent out in Acts 9:30 and not heard from since.

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