News travels quickly. The news of the Holy Spirit’s coming on the Gentiles reaches Jerusalem before Peter does. The church there is horrified by reports of Peter mixing with Gentiles (v. 3).
Peter vividly describes what happened, especially the coming of the Holy Spirit upon Cornelius and his household (v. 15), noting he had six witnesses who can testify to the fact (v. 12).
Earlier in Acts, Peter asked the Sanhedrin to judge if it is right to obey them, or to obey God (Acts 4:19)Here, as Peter tells his Christian Jewish brothers in Jerusalem about the events at Cornelius’s house, he applies the same principle. Peter wasn’t about to oppose God by denying water baptism (Acts 10:47–48) to those whom God had baptised in the Spirit (v. 17).
All objections are dropped (v. 18) and the Jerusalem church praises God that He has given the gift of repentance that leads to life (salvation) to non-Jews.
This is an important turning point in the church’s life. Luke indicates its importance by reporting it three times (see Acts 10; 11; 15:1–11).
Luke again shows us people “warts and all”. Tanning was considered an unclean activity and although Luke tells us Peter was staying at Simon the tanner’s house, Peter makes no mention of this in his report to his Jewish brothers (Acts 11:5). We see that Peter is human after all. He was happy to accept hospitality from an unclean Jew (Acts 9:43), but to do so from an unclean Gentile was unthinkable. It required a vision from God to arrest his prejudice (Acts 10:9–20). This is a stark reminder that the best of men are men, at best.
How does the account of the Gentile experience in Acts 11:18 help us in our evangelistic efforts?
Peter was reluctant to share the gospel with Gentiles. How do Acts 10–11 challenge your limited perspective about God’s interest in the lost?