Aeneas, Dorcas, & Cornelius (Acts 9:32-10:23)
Paralytic Healed and Tabitha Raised (9:32-43)
Though Aeneas had been bedridden for around 3,000 days, he was raised in a moment and was able to walk immediately. Peter knew that Christ had healed Aeneas, and therefore he simply announces it to him, and then commands him to get up and make his bed. It wasn’t Peter’s power that raised him, but the power of Peter’s Lord, and those around him saw him recognized that it was the Lord that raised him. The language Luke uses to describe their response is the language of conversion: “they turned to the Lord.”
Alongside the account of Aeneas’ healing, in typical Lucan style he also records the story of a woman being healed. Though Tabitha had died, the fact that her friends had put her body in the upper room, which was an unusual thing to do, likely expresses the fact that they had faith and hope that the Lord would raise her. In both of these instances, the healings led to conversions (verses 35, 42). Surely, not only can Christ heal paralysis and resuscitate the dead, but he is also able to heal the spiritually lame (Hebrews 12:12-13).
Pious God-Fearer (10:1-8)
The vision from the angel happened while he was praying during the ninth hour (i.e. 3pm), which was a prayer time for the Jews. Though Cornelius was a devout, God-fearing, generous, prayerful man, he was not a Christian. He was still practicing the Jewish religion and he still needed to hear “words by which [he] will be saved” (11:14). Though he was pious, his piety was not enough. His salvation could only come through the Messiah.
We might expect the angel himself to deliver to him the message of Christ as the Messiah who has been raised from the dead, but that is not what the angel does. Instead, God has graciously determined that the privileged messengers of the good news of Christ will not be angels, but men and women who have been changed by the gospel.
Pork & People are Clean (10:9-16)
Peter’s vision and God’s response are meant to show him that there are no second class citizens. Israel had twisted the doctrine of election into favoritism and pride, even to the point of considering Gentiles to be “dogs.” But the Lord shows that such thinking is counter to the gospel, and Peter is instructed that he should not only eat with the Gentiles, but also that he should eat what they eat.
The food itself is not what made it defiling to the Jews, but it was the prohibition by God that made it defiling. Therefore, when God removed the prohibition, it could now be eaten with a clear conscience. Though Peter would have never eaten with Cornelius, and therefore would have never led him to Christ, God intervened and made it abundantly clear that Christianity is drastically different than Judaism. Not only was Peter now free to mix and mingle with sinners, but he should even expect to do so for the sake of the taking the gospel to them.
Planning a Gospel Encounter (10:17-23)
The detailed orchestration of these events shows that God has one primary purpose: establishing His church and ushering in His kingdom. In much the same way that he fashioned the salvation of Saul of Tarsus, so also he is coordinating the salvation of Cornelius, a mere gentile sinner. As the first signs of Peter’s growing understanding of the vision, Peter receives the messengers into his home and shows them hospitality. He is beginning to understand that the barrier between Jew and Gentile has been broken down through the death and resurrection of Christ.
– Peter had to readjust his preconceived notions regarding what types of people could be saved. He had to realize that the gospel is for all kinds of people, without discrimination. Do you have any preconceived notions about certain types of people that make you reluctant to take the gospel to them or spend time with them? How should a proper understanding of the gospel’s scope affect the way you interact with particular individuals or specific groups of people in your own life?