In part 2 of this study, Shi’mon Petros (Peter) and a small group of Jewish disciples of Yeshua (Jesus) has arrived to the home of Cornelius. Shi’mon Petros (Peter) has explained how unlawful it was for a Jew to associate or come into the home of a Gentile, and as we discussed, the law he was referring to was not God’s law but the Oral Law, or what has come to be known as the Mishnah. It is after this, that we now pick up our study.
THE RETELLING OF CORNELIUS’ EXPERIENCE
Cornelius then proceeds to retell his experience to Shi’mon Petros (Peter) and his small group of what happened when he was praying.
And Cornelius said, “Four days ago to this hour, I was praying in my house during the ninth hour; and behold, a man stood before me in shining garments, and he said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God. Send therefore to Joppa and invite Simon, who is also called Peter, to come to you; he is staying at the house of Simon the tanner by the sea.’ And so I sent to you immediately, and you have been kind enough to come. Now then, we are all here present before God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord.” (Acts 10:30-33)
In his retelling of the events, we are told that Cornelius was praying in his home at one of the same hours that Jews also prayed in the Temple – the ninth hour (3 pm), which is also at this same that Yeshua (Jesus) died on Passover. It was at this same time that an angel was dispatched to Cornelius to tell him to invite Peter to speak to him and where to find him.
PETER’S RESPONSE & PRESENTATION
In response to Cornelius’ recent experience with God, Peter responds to this wondrous news by saying,
I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him. (Acts 10:34-35)
When looking at the Scriptures, one must wonder why Shi’mon Petros (Peter) and others of his time did not realize this before.
ONE LAW – FOR JEW AND GENTILE?
For example, there are numerous times in the Torah where God specifically states that His laws are both for the native born Israelite and the stranger [non-Jew] that sojourns among them. For example, in regard to the Passover, we are told,
Seven days there shall be no leaven found in your houses; for whoever eats what is leavened, that person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is an alien [a non-Jew] or a native of the land. (Exodus 12:19)
And further on, God re-emphasizes that these laws about Passover are not for the Jewish people alone, but they are for all people within the Community of Israel:
The same law shall apply to the native as to the stranger who sojourns among you. (Exodus 12:49)
Also, in regard to the sacrifices, God says,
As for the assembly, there shall be one statute for you and for the alien [non-Jew] who sojourns with you, a perpetual statute throughout your generations; as you are, so shall the alien be before the LORD. There is to be one law and one ordinance for you and for the alien who sojourns with you. (Numbers 15:15-16)
Throughout the Torah, we see this consistency of God stating that these laws are both for the native-born Israelite and the non-Jew who decides to sojourn with them. ONE LAW, ONE MANNER OF LIFE. The idea that God has one manner of the life for the Jews and one manner of life for Gentiles [non-Jews] just doesn’t have any support for that idea when we look at what God says in His Torah. In fact, God again makes this clear, even when it comes to unintentional and intentional sins:
You shall have ONE LAW for him who does anything unintentionally, for him who is native among the sons of Israel and for the alien [non-Jew] who sojourns among them. But the person who does anything defiantly, whether he is native or an alien, that one is blaspheming the LORD; and that person shall be cut off from among his people. Because he has despised the word of the LORD and has broken His commandment, that person shall be completely cut off; his guilt shall be upon him. (Numbers 15:29-31; emphasis added)
And there are many more examples like this throughout the Torah. So when we compare the Scriptures with Shi’mon Petros’ (Peter’s) attitude, we have to wonder why that realization is not there. Unless, in his mind, Roman soldiers, even if they were “God-fearers” (see part 1 of this series), did not fall under the classification of “an alien who sojourned with Israel.” However, due to his vision and what Cornelius has told him, he is beginning to see that all Gentiles [non-Jews] who submit and obey the God of Israel, regardless of who they are, do fit under this category.
HOW DID CORNELIUS KNOW?
Peter then begins his presentation by saying,
The word which He sent to the sons of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ [Heb. Yeshua HaMoshiach] (He is Lord of all) – you yourselves know the thing which took place throughout all Judea, starting from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed. (Acts 10:36-37)
How did Shi’mon Petros (Peter) know that Cornelius knew about these things that had happened all throughout Judea? Had he seen Cornelius before at various locations, did he receive a word of knowledge from God telling him this, or is this something he is assumes he knew because of his position within the Roman army? He seems confident in his statement, but we don’t know how he knew this to be true. He then goes on to tell him,
You know of Jesus [Heb. Yeshua] of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good, and healing all who were oppressed by the devil: for God was with Him. (Acts 10:38)
What I find interesting about this statement and others in the New Covenant Scriptures is that there is a clear distinction made between God and Yeshua (Jesus).
A DISTINCTION BETWEEN GOD AND YESHUA (JESUS)
Throughout the writings of the New Covenant Scriptures, there is a clear distinction between God and Yeshua (Jesus). This was a distinction that Yeshua (Jesus) Himself made, even after His resurrection, when He tells Mir’yam:
Stop clinging to Me, for I have not ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren, and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.'” (John 20:17)
It seems odd to think of God being the God of Yeshua (Jesus), but clearly this is what Yeshua (Jesus) said here. But also notice, that Yeshua (Jesus) places His relationship with God and ours on the same level after His resurrection: “My Father and your Father” and “My God and your God.” Clearly, in saying this, Yeshua (Jesus) is viewing Himself as a man, like us, rather than as God.
YESHUA (JESUS) – THE ANOiNTED MAN
When we look at Acts 10:38, Shi’mon Petros (Peter) in this verse is likewise continuing the clear distinctive between God and Yeshua (Jesus). In this verse, he does not say that Yeshua did these things because He was God, nor even “the Son of God,” but because “God was with Him.” Now we know before Yeshua’s crucifixion, Shi’mon Petros (Peter) confessed that Yeshua (Jesus) is “the Messiah, the Son of the Living God” (Matthew 16:16). But here, like in many other places in the New Covenant Scriptures, the focus is NOT on His Divinity, but on His HUMANITY.
I am NOT trying to raise any doubt to the fact that “Yeshua (Jesus) is fully God,” because there are verses that does communicate this idea, like the following:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, the same was in the beginning with God…And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-2, 14)
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; But made himelf of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. (Philippians 2:5-7)
God, who are sundry times and in divers manners spoke in time past unto the fathers by the prophets. Has in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, who he has appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. (Hebrews 1:1-3)
So no, I am NOT attempting to deny in any way His Divinity, but what I am trying to do is to highlight the importance of the part of Messiah that we tend to minimize – His HUMANITY since it is His HUMANITY that makes Yeshua (Jesus) distinct and separate from God. For example, in I Timothy 2:5, we read,
For there is one God and one mediator also between God and man, the MAN Christ Jesus [Heb. Moshiach Yeshua]. (Emphasis added)
Notice here that Sha’ul Paulus (Paul) does not write “the God Christ Jesus,” nor does he write “the Son of God Christ Jesus,” focusing on the divinity of Yeshua (Jesus), but instead, he writes, “the MAN Christ Jesus,” because what makes Yeshua (Jesus) our perfect mediator (as well as our perfect Advocate and High Priest) is not His divinity, but His HUMANITY.
For example, God (i.e., God the Father) does not have a human body or a human nature, like Yeshua (Jesus) does. Therefore, although Yeshua (Jesus) is fully God spiritually, He is also fully human, and it is His HUMANITY that distinguishes Him from God.
I know when I was growing up in church, the focus was so much on His Divinity that it became hard to view Him as a human being. I have heard people say, “Well, of course Jesus can heal all these diseases and sickness, walk on water, and raise the dead; after all, He is God. He can do whatever He wants.” But what we miss in saying this is that Yeshua (Jesus) put aside His divinity, and He lived His life as a normal human being. In fact, we do not see Him do any miracles at all until He receives the anointing of the Holy Spirit at His baptism (Heb. mikvah).
Yeshua (Jesus) lived His life as a human being, so that He could be our example of how to live life in a way that would be pleasing to God. So if He had to be baptized, we need to be baptized; if He needed to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and be dependent on Him, then we need to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and dependent on Him.. If He needed to pray all night before making a big decision, then we need to pray all night before making a big decision. We need to follow His example of how we need to live our lives.
My concern, though, is that we have so focused on His divinity in churches that we have blinded people to Yeshua (Jesus) being our example of how to properly live out the Torah and the rest of the Scriptures. And even though He now possesses a glorified human body, He has never lost His clear human distinctive. He is still a human being, although one with a glorified body, but He is still restricted to being in one place at a time, just as we are. This is why it was so important for Him to send back to us the Holy Spirit, who does not possess those restrictions.
THE TRADITIONAL GOSPEL PRESENTED BY SHI’MON PETROS (PETER)
Shi’mon Petros (Peter) now presents the gospel as we have traditionally come to know it.
And we are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. And they also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross. God raised Him up on the third day, and granted that He should become visible, not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us, who ate and drank with Him after He rose from the dead. (Acts 10:39-41)
Eye-witnesses were considered to be the most credible evidence possible throughout most of history. But it has only been recently in our technological world with the development of DNA evidence being used to prove the wrongful conviction of people that this belief has been called into question.
Shi’mon Petros (Peter) then tells them that He and the other disciples have been commanded to take spread the message of the gospel to all people.
And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been anointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead. Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him has received forgiveness of sins. (Acts 10:42-43)
THE GENTILES ALSO RECEIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT
And it is while he is speaking these words that the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) fell upon all of the people who were there listening him.
While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. And all the circumcised believers who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out upon the Gentiles also. For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God. (Acts 10:44-46)
When the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) falls on the Gentiles (non-Jews), the Jewish believers who are there with Shi’mon Petros (Peter) are “amazed” because the Spirit came on the Gentiles just as it did them. It was physically evident that the Spirit came upon them because they heard Cornelius, his family and friends all speak in tongues, just as the Jewish disciples had done in the Upper Room. Since the tongues in Acts 2 were actually languages spoken all over the empire, then it would be logical to conclude, since the tongues here were the same as theirs, that the Gentiles here were also speaking languages from different parts of the empire. But in either case, the language they were speaking was not known or understood by the speaker. And by the Gentiles also speaking in tongues, then this was further confirmation that God treats all people the same, whether they are a Jew or a Gentile.
THE GENTILES ARE BAPTIZED IN WATER
Once the Jews see Cornelius, his family and friends speak in tongues, then Shi’mon Petros (Peter) argues that these new believers should likewise be immersed in water.
Then Peter said, “Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?” And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. They they asked him to stay on for a few days. (Acts 10:47-48)
This lines up with what Yeshua (Jesus) taught and Shi’mon Petros (Peter) taught in Acts 2:
And he [Yeshua] said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be damned. (Mark 16:15-16)
Yeshua (Jesus) makes it clear here that it is those who “believe and [are] baptized” who “shall be saved.” But most American churches only teaches half of this. They say that you only need to believe, and that baptism – although a sacrament – is not required for salvation. In saying this, they are directly contradicting Yeshua (Jesus). They base their contradiction on the next line: “but he that believes not shall be damned.” They say if Yeshua (Jesus) also required water immersion for salvation, then He would have said, “but those who believe not and are baptized not shall be damned.”
But what they do not realize is that salvation is a process, not an event. Therefore, if you do not do the first part of the process, then obviously, you are not going to do the next part of the process. As a result, there argument is superficial at best. And then if we look at what Shi’mon Petros (Peter) tells the crowds in Acts 2, we will see that it lines up with what Yeshua (Jesus) says in Mark 16.
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. (Acts 2:38-39)
Therefore, throughout the book of Acts, we find that there are four things that we are to do to follow Yeshua (Jesus): they must put their faith and trust in Yeshua (Jesus) as their Lord (Romans 10:9-10); they must repent, they must be immersed in water, and they are to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.