Acts 11:1

Gettysburg Address, Utah capitol

Tuesday, 18 October 2022

Now the apostles and brethren who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. Acts 11:1

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen).

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

The last verse of Chapter 10 ended with the baptism of the new believers and then a note saying, “Then they asked him to stay a few days.” This was referring to Peter. With that, Chapter 11 starts with, “Now the apostles and brethren.”

More appropriately, it reads, “Now the apostles and the brethren.” They are two distinct categories. Of these two groups, it next reads, “who were in Judea.”

The sense of the Greek is “throughout Judea.” Also, the verb is a present participle. Thus, it reads, “Now the apostles and the brothers being in Judea.” In other words, the word spread throughout all of the believers, and Luke is writing it as if it is happening. What must be the case is that the Jews who were with Peter left immediately to tell of what had occurred. As they traveled from Caesarea, they stopped at the houses of believers and shared with them news of what happened. As it next says, they “heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God.”

The clear and obvious meaning is that these were uncircumcised, non-proselyte Gentiles. They had never observed a day of the Mosaic Law in their lives, their stomachs were filled with the morning’s bacon, they had not received any ceremonial purifications, and so on. They were, to the Jews, essentially unclean dogs. The thought of what occurred may have been repugnant to them and yet it occurred. Therefore, it was not – nor could it be considered – repugnant to God. While this message is being conveyed, it is to be remembered that Peter remained in Caesarea, living for a span among these Gentiles.

Also, note how Luke phrased his words. These Gentiles “had also received the word of God.” What does this mean? The books of Moses? No, of course not. Does it mean that they were instructed in the law, the history of Israel, and the prophets? Nothing specific is said of that in Luke’s analysis of what Peter said.

Go back and read Acts 10:34-43. Other than the last sentence which merely confirms that Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophets, the words are about Jesus and His ministry. The implication of the vision given to Cornelius, as well as the trance in which Peter was in, is that Jesus’ ministry is the fulfillment of those prophets, and what He has done is now also offered to the Gentiles. It is a new direction, a New Covenant, and it is based on the word of God which is the testimony of Jesus. As Paul says in Romans 10:17, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

Life application: What is it that you find out of place in your church? Do you get queasy when someone comes to church after having worked all night at a dirty job and is still wearing his dirty uniform? What about someone who is from a different culture and whose mannerisms are different than everyone else? Maybe someone shows up at church with biker’s clothes on. Maybe he doesn’t (perish the thought!) wear shoes. Maybe he wears sandals and kicks them off while in church. Well, maybe he grew up on the beach and never really left it.

The point is that people are different. As long as the people that come into a church building are respectful of the way the church is normally run, why should you worry about appearances? If someone comes in and is noisy or belligerent in his behavior, that is a different issue. However, if he is a believer, he is in the same state as the Jews before Cornelius’ conversion, and the same as Cornelius and those with him after their conversion. In other words, God has accepted him. As this is so, how can you not do so as well?

Once unbiblical legalism creeps into a church, the church will become arrogant and self-serving. As stated in an earlier commentary, this is not necessarily the same as a cultural standard. If you go to a church filled with people from the Philippines, they will have a way of worshiping that may be different. There is nothing wrong with that. As long as you respect their cultural distinctions and enjoy their fellowship, stick it out and enjoy the Baluts. If not, then go find another church. They have a right to worship the Lord in a manner that satisfies their cultural standards.

Be accepting of those who are different when they come into your midst. At the same time, be respectful of the ways of others when you go into their midst. Seek harmony, not division, within the body of believers.

Lord God, how wonderful it is! The grace You have bestowed on us means that we can rest in what You have done. Works for salvation are excluded. We have the door to heaven opened to us by a simple act of faith. Thank You, O God, for the wonderful thing You have done. Thank You for Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.