Acts 10:28,44 – And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean…the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word.
Prior to Acts 10, to be a Christian, you had to become Jewish. If you were a Gentile, you had no choice but to be circumcised, change your diet, your schedule, and your holidays, and learn Hebrew to study the Old Testament. But in Acts 10, everything changed, and a subsequent battle over many years broke out between the Jews and Gentiles.
A man named Cornelius, who was a Gentile, or a non-Jew, and a high-ranking government official called a centurion, saw a vision of an angel who told him to send men to a place called Joppa to get Simon Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples, who was traveling and preaching throughout the region. The next day, Peter was praying and saw his own vision of killing and eating animals that would’ve previously been considered unclean by Jewish law. At first, he fought against the idea, but when Cornelius’ men showed up to bring him to Caesarea, he accepted God’s plan for him and went.
Upon arriving to Cornelius’ house, he found a large group gathered together and he preached the good news of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. Hearing his words, the first Gentiles were converted, and the Holy Spirit fell upon non-Jews for the first time. It’s incredible that, just as the Holy Spirit fell upon Jews in Acts 2, the Holy Spirit fell upon Gentiles once again in a house. The worship of God in home and households is central to the history of our Christian faith.
As you can imagine, this didn’t sit well with all Jews. They had lived their entire lives believing their worship of God was intrinsically tied to their rules and regulations. Throughout the remainder of the New Testament, the religious Jews continued trying to impose Jewish rules on the newly converted Gentiles. However, the Gentiles recognized that they were saved by grace, not their works or the law, and there wasn’t this laundry list of rules they needed to follow to believe in Jesus. This is largely the entire reason Paul wrote a book like Galatians.
Oftentimes, God loves and saves people we wouldn’t necessarily choose, and He shows up in places we don’t think He belongs. But we can see from the example of Peter preaching to the first Gentile Christians that, many times, God’s plan does not line up with our own. By Him, those from many nations, tribes, and tongues are saved and we will all worship God together forever because of His grace.
Are there any rules you’ve tried to add to God’s saving grace? Ask Him for forgiveness and remember that Jesus + nothing = everything we need for salvation.
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