Peter is in Cornelius’ house preaching to the gathered crowd about Jesus. The moment is significant because Cornelius and his friends and family are all Gentiles—and no Gentile has yet become a Christian. “While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God”(Acts 10:44-46). The Holy Spirit comes upon these Gentile listeners, prompting them to speak in tongues and praise God. This amazes Peter and his fellow Jewish Christians because of what it signals: that God is not just willing for Peter to go to a Gentile’s home—or to heal a Gentile—but that God is willing to accept these people as disciples of Jesus. The Holy Spirit is a remarkably strong sign of God’s approval.
What more is there to be done? Proper response to the gospel means belief, repentance, and baptism (see Acts 2:38, 8:35-38, 9:18). “Then Peter declared, ‘Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?’”(Acts 10:47). Withholding water from the Gentiles has been the Christian policy up to this point, but it has become obvious that God accepts them. Can anyone object? “And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ”(Acts 10:48). Now Peter commands them to do what only Jews have done before—to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. They can now be Christians just like the Jews.
Peter’s question “Can anyone withhold water?” asks for confirmation from his fellow disciples. Are you seeing this the way I am? Is there something I’m missing? It also reflects a willingness to be on the same page as God. If he accepts them, why would we not?
------------- One Thing to Think About: Am I willing to be on the same page as God—even when it means I must change?
One Thing to Pray For: The humility to seek the opinions of others—even if they might disagree
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