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44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. 45 And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered, 47 “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days.

 

Verses 44-48 describe how the Holy Spirit fell on Cornelius, his friends, and his household. This event marked a turning point in the progress of the gospel in the book of Acts, a shift from presenting the gospel to the Jews to Gentiles as well.

10:44

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word.

The Holy Spirit interrupted Peter’s speech by falling upon Cornelius, his family, and friends who heard him speak. The coming of the Holy Spirit upon this group is what we can call the Gentile Pentecost.

10:45

And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter,

The believing Jews (the “circumcision”) who came with Peter to Joppa¬†were astonished that the Holy Spirit fell upon Gentiles. They were to witness the inauguration of Gentiles into the church.

because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.

The pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon Gentiles was a unique, unrepeatable event. The words “gifts of the Holy Spirit” refer to the initial bestowment of the Spirit from the resurrected Christ (Acts 2:38; 8:20; 10:45; 11:17). In Acts 10, God extended this gift to unadulterated Gentiles. It was the inauguration of a new age for Gentiles. God confined this “gift” to the inaugural period, and it ended with the initial gift of the Holy Spirit to the Gentiles. The gift of the Holy Spirit became resident for everyone in the church corporately. The “gift” was not something in addition to salvation but salvation itself. The events at Cornelius’ house were not something subsequent to salvation. Cornelius did not have a saved soul before this event (Acts 11:14),

10:46

For they [Jews] heard them [Gentiles] speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered,

Verse 46 shows the visible indication that the giving of the Holy Spirit fell on the Gentiles. The Jews heard Gentiles speak in foreign languages magnifying God. Speaking in foreign languages without prior knowledge of them authenticated the work of the Spirit among Gentiles. The gift of the Holy Spirit clarifies the purpose of tongues in Acts.

Tongues in the book of Acts were always a “sign” of something (Acts 2:4; 19:6, and in this verse). They were a sign to the Jews only and not to Gentiles (1 Co 1:22). Acts two tongues revealed the introduction of a new economy, the church. Here in Acts 10, the sign was about the inauguration of Gentiles into the body of Christ. It was a new age for Gentiles. It was a sign to Peter and his six Jewish friends that Gentiles were now included in the church.

The phenomenon of “tongues” or foreign languages demonstrated to the Jews that the gift of the Spirit in salvation for Gentiles was the proof they needed to accept Gentiles into the church. This “gift” was equal to what was given to the Jews in Acts 2 (Acts 11:17). Tongues in Acts 2, 10, and 19 all refer to the church’s founding in various groups.

10:47

“Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?

Verse 47 is a challenge from Peter to his fellow Jews regarding whether the newly Gentile converts could be baptized. They had received the Holy Spirit just as believing Jews had. The giving of the Holy Spirit upon Gentiles established the proper relation between Spirit baptism and water baptism. Since the reception of the Spirit by Gentiles initiated them into salvation, God expected them to be baptized by water. Water baptism always presupposes Spirit baptism. Water baptism is an evidence of salvation.

10:48

And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.

Peter commanded the Gentile converts to be baptized with water “in the name of the Lord.”

Then they asked him to stay a few days.

Cornelius and his company asked Peter and his friends to stay with them for a few days. New believers need to be established in the faith.

PRINCIPLE:

The reception of the Holy Spirit upon the Gentiles was a unique, unrepeatable event.

APPLICATION:

The reception of the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts does not follow any particular pattern. We can see the various patterns in the following differences: before baptism (Acts 10:44), at baptism or after (Acts 8:12-16; 19:6), by laying on of hands by the apostles (Acts 8:17; 19:6). Acts is a transitional book from God dealing with the nation Israel to the church and often does not state events in doctrinal form.

The issue at hand is the doctrine of progressive revelation. If the purpose of tongues was to show Jews the transition from the economy of Israel to that of the church, why did God cause Gentile converts in Cornelius’ house to speak in tongues? The answer is to prove to the Jews who came with Peter to Joppa that God accepted Gentiles into the body of Christ. The phenonium proved to Jews that God has a brand-new economy for Gentiles. Gentiles are now incorporated into the Pentecostal blessing of Acts 2 (Acts 10:45; 1 Co 1:22, 24). In Acts, the gospel moved from the Jews and Samaritans to Gentiles.

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