Page:A Brief Bible History (Boyd and Machen, 1922).djvu/112

This page has been validated.


cially an apostle to the Gentiles. But other instruments were also used in the beginning of the Gentile mission. Even Peter, whose work continued for a number of years afterwards to be chiefly among the Jews, was led by the Holy Spirit to take a notable step in the offering of the gospel freely to the whole world.

Acts 9:31–43

During the period of peace which followed after the persecution at the time of the death of Stephen, Peter went down to labor in the coastal plain of Palestine. Acts 9:31–43. At Lydda he healed a lame man, Æneas; at Joppa, on the coast, he raised Dorcas from the dead. And it was at Joppa that he received the guidance of the Holy Spirit as to the reception of Gentiles into the Church. Ch. 10.

Acts, Chapter 10

At midday Peter went up upon the flat housetop to pray. There he fell into a trance, and saw a vessel like a great sheet let down from heaven, and in it all kinds of animals which it was forbidden in the Mosaic Law to use for food. A voice came to him: "Rise, Peter; kill and eat. But Peter said. Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common and unclean. And a voice came unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, make not thou common. And this was done thrice: and straightway the vessel was received up into heaven."

The meaning of this vision was soon made plain. A Roman officer, Cornelius, a devout Gentile, living at Cæsarea, which was a seaport about thirty miles north of Joppa, had been commanded in a vision to send for Peter. The messengers of Cornelius arrived at Peter's house just after Peter's vision was over. The Holy Spirit commanded Peter to go with them. Arriving at Cæsarea, the apostle went into the house where Cornelius and his friends were assembled, and there proclaimed to them the gospel of the Lord Jesus. While he was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were present, upon the Gentiles as well as upon the Jews. Then said Peter, "Can any man forbid the water, that these should not be baptized, who have received the Holy Spirit as well as we?" So the Gentiles were baptized.

A very important step had been taken. Cornelius, it is true, was a "God-fearer"—that is, he belonged to the class of Gentiles frequently mentioned in the book of The Acts who worshiped the God of Israel