Acts 11:18

Friday, 4 November 2022

When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.” Acts 11:18

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Peter just noted that the Gentiles had been given the same gift as the Jews by simple belief. Because of this, he asked how he could withstand God by not accepting them. The obvious but unstated answer was that he could not. As such, it now says, “When they heard these things, they became silent.”

The clause in the Greek begins with an aorist participle and a conjunction, “And they, having heard these things, became silent.” In other words, they held their tongues in accusation against Peter. They had accused him of wrongdoing in verse 11:3, saying, “You went in to uncircumcised men and ate with them.” That is what they now are silent over. Because of how Peter described the events, and especially with the note concerning the coming of the Spirit upon the Gentiles, there could no longer be any accusation against Peter. He stood innocent of any transgression. As such, and in this state of understanding, it next says, “and they glorified God.”

The verb is now aorist. Once they ceased their accusation, they next broke forth in acknowledgment of the works of God. What else could they do? The Gentiles had received the Spirit in the middle of Peter’s words, cutting off the need for anything else to be said. The simplicity of the gospel had been conveyed, the Gentiles believed what they heard, and the Spirit came upon them. The work of Jesus Christ was proven to be all-sufficient for the conversion of a person who had never spent a moment of his existence living out the Law of Moses. The fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah had come to pass –

“Indeed He says,
‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant
To raise up the tribes of Jacob,
And to restore the preserved ones of Israel;
I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles,
That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.’” Isaiah 49:6

This is openly noted by them in their next words, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.” It must be remembered what transpired at the house of Cornelius. Peter spoke, the Gentiles heard, the Gentiles believed (with no record of them saying a single word), and the Holy Spirit came down upon them. That is all that Luke recorded, and that is all that God, therefore, wants us to know.

It also needs to be remembered what the word “repentance” means. It signifies “to change the mind.” As such, the words “repentance to life” mean a changing of the mind leading to salvation (eternal life as noted in John 3:16). The speaking forth of the gospel, when accepted, leads to a changing of the mind about God. If these believers thought that they needed to do good stuff in order to be saved, they no longer needed to believe that. If they believed that praying to Artemis was what was needed, they changed their mind about that. And so on.

The word “repentance” here does not mean “stopping sinning and making oneself right.” It means “to change the mind” and nothing more. Until these now-saved people are instructed on what it means to be pleasing to God, they cannot change in the right direction. One must first come to believe in the finished work of Jesus and be saved. He is what we change our minds to accept. He is God’s provision for restoration. This is what Peter conveyed to the house of Cornelius in Acts 10:43, saying, “To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.”

These Gentiles changed their mind about God and what He expects, they believed in Jesus as the One to provide restoration, and they were saved. Deal done.

Life application: The gospel is an amazingly simple thing that God has laid out for us. And yet, it is one of the most mis-explained or totally ignored things imaginable. Paul details in 1 Corinthians 15:3, 4 –

“For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.”

How can we add to that and not cause damage to the message? We cannot. Let us present this life-changing news in the simple form in which it is presented in Scripture. We can talk around it as Peter did in Acts 10 by providing other truths about Jesus, but we must clearly provide the substance of the gospel without addition or deletion. It is by faith in this provision of God that man is saved. Let us thank God for the simplicity of this glorious message!

Yes, Lord God, how thankful we are to You for what You have done for us. You have saved us through the giving of Your Son. He died to pay our sin debt, He was buried, and He rose again. All glory to You for this wonderful word of restoration. Thank You, O God, for Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.