Inside senate, Utah state capitol.
Tuesday, 27 September 202
and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your alms are remembered in the sight of God. Acts 10:31
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The previous verse began Cornelius’ explanation of how it came to be that he had summoned Peter to come and speak to him. He noted the coming of the man in bright clothing. The man stood before Cornelius “and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard.’”
In verse 4, at the time of the visitation, it said, “your prayers.” Now, Cornelius says, “your prayer.” No contradiction needs to be assumed here. Rather, Cornelius is most likely focusing his mind on the single most important aspect of his prayers, meaning how to be righteous before God.
Cornelius, as previously noted in earlier commentaries, understood that there was a disconnect between him and God. He understood his sinful nature, he grasped God’s perfection and realized that He could not abide with his sin. He also knew that condemnation was his default position. This can all be deduced from Cornelius’ attitude, habits, and lifestyle. He sought out the truth that could set him free from the burden his soul felt laid upon him.
Because of this heart attitude, and because this was certainly his most consuming thought and his most constant prayer, he notes it in the singular. This prayer was issued again and again, making it one prayer repeated many times. With this surely being the reason for his words, he continues with the words of the messenger, saying, “and your alms.”
It is the same word spoken by the messenger. Cornelius repeats this portion exactly as it was conveyed to him. Together, his prayer and his alms “are remembered in the sight of God.”
In verse 10:4, the messenger said, “have come up for a memorial before God.” Cornelius uses terminology that explains rather than repeats the words of the messenger. His prayers had ascended as a memorial before God. As such, they are remembered in the sight of God. A memorial is something to bring to remembrance. To be “before” someone is to be “in the sight of” that person.
Cornelius has clearly explained the matter to Peter. For those who would say his words are not the words of the angel and are a fabrication, the fact is that those same people would say of an exact repeat of his words, “Luke just copied the words from verse 10:4. This is just a fabrication.” But the words spoken by Cornelius now are reasonable, they fully explain the matter, and they are how any normal person would explain the events they had experienced a few days earlier.
Life application: In Isaiah, there is an excellent connection to the words of Cornelius as spoken to Peter –
“Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened,
That it cannot save;
Nor His ear heavy,
That it cannot hear.
2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God;
And your sins have hidden His face from you,
So that He will not hear.” Isaiah 59:1, 2
Sin is what keeps our prayers from being heard by God. As all people have sinned, there is a disconnect between us and God that keeps our prayers from being heard. In the case of Cornelius, he had faith that God existed. He also knew that if the infinite gap that stood between us and God was to be bridged, it would have to be from the top down.
This is the prayer that God can hear because it removes us (meaning our attempts at reconciliation) from the equation. This is why Jesus gave this parable to Israel –
“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ 13 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 18:10-14
The tax collector removed himself from the equation as far as reconciliation is concerned. He threw himself at the mercy of God and begged His forgiveness. God can deal with such a person. The arrogant Pharisee placed himself before God as if they were equals, expecting God to see his self-righteousness and reward him. God cannot deal with such arrogance.
This explains the worthy or unworthy manner in which one takes the Lord’s Supper as explained in 1 Corinthians 11. The purpose of taking the Lord’s Supper is “to proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes” (vs. 26). It is an acknowledgment that Christ had to die for our sins, and only because we are in Christ are we found acceptable to God. The fact is, that without Jesus, there is nothing in us worthy of salvation or even an explanation from God about anything. But thanks be to God for Jesus Christ who alone makes us worthy. Yes, thanks be to God for our Lord Jesus.
Lord God, praises alone belong to You. Without Your glorious hand of reconciliation and restoration through Jesus, we would be utterly swept away. But because of Him, we have been brought near to You. Thank You. We praise You forever and ever because of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.