Uttermost Part of the Earth
The Account of Cornelius
Matthew 28 gave clear directions from Jesus to his apostles: teach all nations (Gentiles), “whatsoever I have commanded you.” Acts chapter 1 phrased it as be witnesses of me to the uttermost part of the earth. Baptism was also clarified as to holy spirit verses water.
These directions seem clear to us with 20/20 hindsight and not having a Jewish mindset. But to the Jewish mind there are some hurdles to overcome. Overcoming going to Samaria is an easy hurdle since Jesus mentions Samaria in Acts chapter 1. Overcoming being a witness of Jesus to the diaspora is again an easy hurdle since they experience a diaspora in Acts chapter 8. But being a witness of Jesus to the Gentiles took more of an effort.
There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people and prayed to God alway.
Cornelius is a Roman centurion; he is a Gentile. There is no mention here of the law of Moses nor of the Covenant. But he is a “devout” man that “feared” God; therefore, he is what Israel would call a proselyte at the gate.
Remember a proselyte at the gate was a man who looked to the God of Israel as the One True God but did not act on the Law given to Moses. The Tabernacle was set up with only one way to enter, it was referred to as the gate. It was symbolic of the Messiah. It basically states the same Truth as John 14:6.
And for the gate of the court shall be an hanging of twenty cubits of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, wrought with needlework: and their pillars shall be four, and their sockets four.
A proselyte was a person not born in the nation of Israel. He was called a stranger. To be allowed into the covenant relationship between God and Israel he needed to be circumcised and to follow the Law given to Moses. This type of Gentile could go through the gate and enter the courtyard of the Tabernacle.
A proselyte at the gate agreed that the God of Israel was the One True God, but he did not get circumcised and thus could pass no further than the gate of the Tabernacle.
Cornelius was a proselyte at the gate. He was a devout man who feared God and his household stood with him. One of the first things to recognize about the Revealing Administration and a proselyte at the gate; is that it is a term that applies to every Gentile that will come to God through Israel in the Revealing Administration. There will be no proselytes who are circumcised and following the Law given to Moses because the Law given to Moses is finished as a doctrine to follow. It was completed in Christ.
For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth.
Understanding the magnitude of this statement, even in light of present-day Christianity, let alone in light of the twelve tribes of the Revealing Administration, would shatter theology to its core. Following the Law of Moses after the completed work of Christ is comparable to chiseling out your message on a rock slab rather than using your smart phone to send a text.
I understand some who do not believe will continue to follow the Law given to Moses. But the only aspect of the Law given to Moses still to be fulfilled in the Revealing Administration is the judgment of God against unrighteousness and unholiness.
The doctrine given to Moses, in the Law, is completed with the accomplished work of Christ. Christ fulfilled the Law; its doctrine is as finished as the commands given to Adam in the Garden. Jesus Christ gave command to be witnesses of him to the world, to all nations. He gave this command to his apostles, to Judeans. The beginning of the lesson concerning reaching the Gentiles is in Acts chapter 10.
What Acts chapter 10 declared unto us is that Cornelius is “devout.” Devout is a compound Greek word eusebes which comes from eu and sebo. Eu means good or acting well and sebo means to adore or to revere. Most Lexicon’s define eusebes as pious or devout, or God-fearing. I would define it as godly. By that I mean Cornelius was focused on God in his thoughts and actions.
The Greek word translated “feared” is phobeo. You can see the origins of our word phobia in this Greek word.
The Cambridge English Dictionary defines phobia as, “an extreme fear or dislike of a particular thing or situation, especially one that is not reasonable.” This is how we view the word phobia and so this is how we view the Koine Greek phobeo.
But that is a mistake.
In the Bible the word phobeo can mean fear, some reasonable and others not so much. But it can also mean reverence, venerate, or respect.
But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?
And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; Saying, there was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:
In both examples a better translation would be reverence rather than fear.
In the second example Jesus is talking about men needing to pray always. If a man reverenced God, he would pray always. Acts 10:2 says Cornelius, “…prayed to God alway.”
Cornelius was a godly man that reverenced God and gave alms to many people. Alms means Cornelius gave of his abundance or out of his need to help others. As he saw need, he helped if he could.
Misunderstanding this entire introduction to Cornelius and his household, then misaligned with other mistranslations of God’s Word has given mankind an overwhelming fear, paranoia if you will, of Almighty God.
Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?
This is one of the most ignored verses in God’s Word!
Cornelius did not come to God because he was afraid of God! Cornelius saw the goodness, and the love, and the mercy, and the grace of God! “…the goodness of God leads you to repent.”
1 John 4:18-19
There is no fear [phobos] in love; but perfect love casteth out fear [phobos]: because fear [phobos] hath torment. He that feareth [phobeo] is not made perfect in love. We love him because he first loved us.
Phobeo is the verb form and phobos is the masculine noun of the same word. We do not love God because we are afraid of Him but because we have seen His love for us. We should have reverence for God, not fear. Cornelius had reverence for God, he saw God’s grace and mercy, he saw God’s love and had great awe, great reverence for God.
He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius.
Cornelius saw “in a vision,” about the ninth hour, 3 PM, an angel of God. The ninth hour is an hour of prayer. While praying, God gave Cornelius a vision. Peter taught in Acts 2 there would be visions after God’s spirit was poured out. But Cornelius does not yet have God’s gift of holy spirit. The question then becomes, how can Cornelius have a vision before receiving holy spirit?
There is a thing in God’s Word called phenomena. Phenomena is when God goes above and beyond what He has promised in His written or revealed Word. What I mean about written Word is obvious. What I mean by revealed Word is that which God has spoken or revealed, as in God’s Word proclaimed in the stars.
And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, here am I. And he said, draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. Moreover, he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.
God never promised to talk with any person through a burning bush that did not burn. It was phenomena for Moses. In Acts 10 Cornelius receiving a vision while not yet having holy spirit, was phenomena for Cornelius.
And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, what is it, Lord? And he said unto him, thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.
“…a memorial before God.” Memorial is a remembrance.
Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, there came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat. But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, to what purpose is this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for much and given to the poor. When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me. For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial. Verily I say unto you, wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.
What this woman did in anointing Jesus remains in the Gospel today. It is a memorial, a remembrance of her good work upon Jesus. The prayers Cornelius prayed were a memorial before God, the compassionate actions, alms, and prayers of Cornelius were a remembrance before God of the life of Cornelius. What an amazing witness from God of Cornelius.
And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter: He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the seaside: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do. And when the angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually; And when he had declared all these things unto them, he sent them to Joppa. On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city…
Cornelius received instructions from the angel of God, and he followed the only formula for success when godly instructions are received…he obeyed!
…the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee. Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them. Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come? And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee. Then called he them in and lodged them. And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him.
Peter received revelation from God that three men were at his house and that he was to go with them. The men explained an angel of God “warned” Cornelius to send for Peter to hear what Peter had to say. The Greek word translated “warned” is chrematizo and should have been translated, “was divinely instructed.”
And they said, Cornelius, a centurion, a righteous man, and fearing God, and borne witness to by the whole nation of the Jews, has been divinely instructed by a holy angel to send for thee to his house, and hear words from thee.
They said, “Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who has a good reputation with the whole Jewish nation, was divinely directed by a holy angel to call you to his house and to hear a message from you.”
Holman Christian Standard Bible
Verse 23 tells us Peter took certain brethren with him. The certain brethren mean other Judeans and tells us God gave Peter further revelation concerning the situation.
And the morrow after they entered into Caesarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and he had called together his kinsmen and near friends. And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. But Peter took him up, saying, stand up; I myself also am a man.
It was a custom to show respect for an individual by kissing his hand or bowing to the ground and touching your forehead to the ground. Both actions demonstrate a profound respect. Recognize Peter’s response, “…I myself also am a man.” We can show respect for another man, but we do not elevate men.
And as he talked with him, he went in, and found many that were come together. And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.
The vision Peter had on the rooftop is beginning to come into focus for him. This is the lesson that MUST be learned in Israel. You cannot be a witness of Jesus Christ to the uttermost part of the earth, while excluding Gentiles who do not follow the Law given to Moses. Christ fulfilled the doctrine given to Moses! Nothing any man has accomplished in the last two thousand years has added to the accomplished work of Christ.
First, the leadership of Israel had to learn this lesson and then all those who have believed since the day of Pentecost. Because Cornelius is a proselyte at the gate it was unlawful for Peter or any other Jew to enter the home of Cornelius. It was unlawful for the Jews to associate with this type of Gentile. Yet this is the only type of Gentile in the Revealing Administration.
The Greek word for “unlawful” is athemitos.
Helps Word-studies handles this word in this manner; “athémitos derived from a meaning not, and themis, a custom, what is acceptable. – properly, not acceptable based on the prevailing custom or ordinary practice.
It was the customary or ordinary practice of Israel not to associate with this type of Gentile. It is challenging to take the good news, the Gospel concerning Christ, to people you will not associate with!
Immediately therefore I [Cornelius] sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.
The lesson begins to sink into Peter’s mind.
Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation [same Greek word that was used in Matthew 28:19] he that feareth [respect or reverence] him [God], and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.
Peter is beginning to see that it is no longer just about Israel.
Israel is to take God’s Word to the uttermost part of the earth. Not to just the diaspora. It is no longer just about God’s chosen people, the physical descendants of Abraham. It is about Israel taking God’s Word to the entire world.
The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:) That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: Him God raised up the third day and shewed him openly; Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.
All the elements of Acts 2 are also in Acts 10.
Peter spoke to Cornelius of peace. Peace is the absence of strife and anxiety, in Acts 2:25-28 read of David resting in hope. Peter said Jesus Christ is Lord of all, compare to Acts 2:33, 36. Peter spoke of the earthly ministry of Jesus, read Acts 2:22. Peter told Cornelius about Jesus being hung on a tree, see Acts 2:23, and raised again Acts 2:24. The elements of Acts 2 and Acts 10 correspond, down to, whosoever believes in him shall receive remission of sins, Acts 2:38.
The result was also the same.
While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God…
In Acts chapter 2 the people heard them speak “the wonderful works” of God and in Acts 10 the Gentiles “magnified God.” Wonderful works is the Greek word megaleios and magnify is megalyno. One is the adjective form and the other is the verb form of the same word. Both could have been translated, they said “great things” about God.
These are the only two recorded incidents of speaking in tongues in the Revealing Administration. The initial outpouring of God’s gift of holy spirit upon Israel and the initial outpouring of God’s gift of holy spirit upon the Gentiles. Two outpourings that mirror one another in many respects.
I understand some will point to Jude 1:20 and others to Mark chapter 16. Mark 16 requires a stand alone teaching to handle God’s Word past verse 9. We will come to that teaching during our Journey through the Book of Acts.
But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,
King James Version
The King James Version gives you the impression that in the Revealing Administration you could pray in the spirit or as some interpret it, pray by speaking in tongues.
Aramaic manuscripts reveal a different understanding of Jude 1:20.
But you, my beloved [ones], be built up anew in your holy faith by the Spirit, sanctified while [you] pray.
Light of the Word Ministry1
Jude is not speaking of praying in the spirit but of building your believing through the gift of holy spirit.
God used speaking in tongues to demonstrate the presence of His gift of holy spirit, first to Israel and then to the Gentiles.
The importance of this lesson cannot be overstated. Israel needed to recognize they were to take God’s Word to the world and that meant Gentiles. A major shift in attitude was required by Israel. The doctrine of the Mosaic Law had been fulfilled in Christ. Sacrifices in the Temple were a thing of the past, the perfect sacrifice had come and offered up his life.
The feast days of Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits; those concerning the first coming of the Messiah have been fulfilled. The feast of Pentecost declaring the accomplishments of the Messiah has also been fulfilled with Acts 10. Now the results of the Spring feasts become the bridge to bring the world to the Fall feasts covering the triumphant return of the Messiah.
1. Light of the Word Ministry, Janet Magiera, Light of the Word Ministry (lightofword.org)
© Auxano Ministry 2021