Cornelius and Divine Coincidence
by Bobby Bruno 3/23/2014 / Christian Apologetics
God had to perfectly dovetail his working in Cornelius and in Peter because since we know that since Peter was Jewish, he didn't like Gentiles very much simply because they weren't of God's chosen nation or people. Stott (1990) says in his book entitled "The Message of Acts" that "although the vision challenged the basic distinction between clean and unclean foods , which Peter had been brought up to make, the Spirit related this to the distinction between clean and unclean people, and told him to stop making it" (p. 187). Just like the Apostle Paul, God had to shake Peter out of his long-time belief that anything not Jewish was unclean, in dramatic fashion and in a way that Peter, like Paul, could have made no mistake that it was God who was speaking to him. Also, Stott's reiterating that other scholars believe (p. 186-187) that Peter actually saw a ship's sail passing by him as he lay on the tanner's roof seems ridiculous since the vision included an audible voice in Peter's mind that Peter had no doubt was from God because Peter got up when God said to and went down to meet the people God had sent from Cornelius. God had to make sure that these two men met so that the Kingdom of God could finally include the Gentile nations.
The divine coincidence I have experienced recently was when I started going to a new church and found out that they needed another drummer for their worship team. I didn't know this beforehand, but it certainly made my day to know that this new church was now where God wanted for this time in my life. Since I was saved in 1999 there have been many divine coincidences that always left me amazed at God's timing and faithfulness. A time when money came that was sorely needed that I didn't know was coming. Even things as simple as someone paying for my lunch the day I couldn't find the money I thought I had brought to work with me. God has been good to me many, many, as He had been to Cornelius and his friends and family by answering Cornelius' prayers for understanding and truth.
In his address to Cornelius' friends and family, Peter included his confession that he never believed that God would ever include Gentiles in His plan of salvation, but that God sent him to speak to Cornelius, because Cornelius was a God-fearing man and a generous giver to the poor. Peter told Cornelius about the vision, admitted his guilt, and began to tell of what he and the other disciples had seen while they were with Jesus Christ. Since the Holy Spirit had already gone ahead and softened Cornelius' and his family and friends hearts towards love and belief in God, they were immediately baptized after they began to speak in tongues, amazing the Jewish believers that Peter had brought with him that God now included Gentiles in His plans for the salvation of humanity. Stott also says that "It was 'a type of the reconciliation between Jew and Gentile, whose alienation had for ages been secured and symbolized by differences of language'" (p. 192). No longer were Jews and Gentiles separate people in the eyes of God. The Church of Christ would now include anyone from any race or nation that wanted to be a part of it through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
John Stott goes on to say that "The emphasis is that Cornelius' Gentile nationality was acceptable so that he had no need to become a Jew, not that his own righteousness was adequate so that he had no need to become a Christian" (p. 190). This statement is important because, if the Gentiles were forced to follow Judaism and had to be circumcised, this would have said to them that Christianity was a still Jewish religion that finally decided that Gentiles could be a part of it. It would have said that Jesus died for the Jews only, but that the Jews would be nice to them and include them in God's Kingdom thereby making the decision to include them in the Kingdom a Jewish decision and not a Christly decision. Peter made sure that they knew that it was faith in Christ by telling them what Jesus had done (Acts 10:39-43) on their, and all of humanity's, behalf by giving up His life on the cross for everyone's sins. It wasn't the righteousness of the Jews which allowed the Gentiles to come into the Kingdom of God, it was the righteousness and obedience of Jesus Christ that did all of the work for them. Thus, all men can be saved by the power of the blood of Jesus Christ.
Stott, J. (1990). The message of acts. Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.
Bobby Bruno was saved 15 years ago in a way that left him no doubt that Jesus wanted him to reach others with His great and abounding love. He started writing at the age of 12 and hasn't stopped since. He achieved Associates Degree in Biblical Studies from Ohio Christian University in early 2014.