THE ACTS 19
THE DRAMA AT THE HOUSE OF CORNELIUS
The scene at the house of Cornelius is an extremely important historical event. It is the first time Gentiles are admitted into the church. Today they form the majority of church members, but this was the beginning, and the incident here is of great importance. It is obvious that God is in charge of the events here, and it places His absolute approval, not only on the events, but on the people involved.
Cornelius had called together a group of people to be there when Peter came. Undoubtedly they were believers in God, as he was, and
were eager to hear more from the emissary that the orders from God had caused to come to them. That emissary was the Apostle Peter. Peter was stepping into a Gentile’s house for the first time in his life. He had undergone many changes because of his relationship with Jesus Christ. The power of his faith and the strength of his character made him a fit subject for God to use to take the important message of the Gospel not only to the Jews on Pentecost but now, also, to the Gentiles.
Having been assured by Cornelius that they were all ready to listen to what the Lord has to say to them, Peter preaches the same things he preached on Pentecost. The story never changes, and it has not in twenty centuries of time. However, in this speech, Peter pointed out that the appearance of Jesus after His resurrection was only to the
ones God had chosen. They were the ones who would take the message of salvation to the world. Again, God is directly ordering the events in these early days, to assure the accuracy of the message and
that it reaches all mankind without exception.
While he was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon those who were listening to him. The Holy Spirit, as we have said before, was the very Spirit of God Himself. God had said, “I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh”. On Pentecost the Spirit appeared in dramatic fashion by tongues of fire, and a mighty wind and gave to those who received it the power to speak in other tongues. All of this had to be done to make them realize that the promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit was really fulfilled. On Pentecost it was pointed out that the “tongues” they were given were other languages, not meaningless ecstatic utterances. The text says every man there heard them “in his own language”.
The arrival of the Spirit here brought a visible sign, and they were all given the power to speak in other tongues. These people are going to be the vanguard to take the Gospel to their fellow Gentiles. They,
therefore, were given the power to speak in any language so that they would be able to tell to anyone the story of the Cross. Also the visible sign was necessary, not only to convince Peter that God had accepted them, just as He had the audience of Jews on Pentecost, but to give Peter the proof of the acceptance of the Gentiles by God, which he needed to take back to his people .
The Holy Spirit of God is still received by those who accept by faith Jesus Christ as the Son of God and as Lord. It does not come visibly, nor does it give the recipient the power to speak other languages. Those things are no longer necessary. The written Word gives us the assurance that God gives us His Spirit when we accept by faith Jesus Christ, and the message has already been preached in all languages in the civilized world. Those who claim to “speak in tongues” have no
Biblical support for such practice. Meaningless ecstatic utterances were condemned by Paul in I Corinthians 14.
The final act of Peter was to baptize all of them in the name of Jesus Christ. This act of submission to the Will of God accompanied every act of conversion in the New Testament. It is never questioned nor explained and defended. The fact that all the Apostles took it for granted is one of the most powerful arguments for it. They simply knew that God wanted it and so they did it. Jesus did the same thing at the beginning of His ministry. Who can deny it?