A Monograph of Cornelius of Caesarea

A deeper view of Acts Chapter 10

Cornelius, a captain in the Roman army lived in Caesarea, a strong city that was later fortified by Herod the Great. Caesarea was given its name in honor of Augustus Caesar. Caesarea very conveniently lay upon the seashore which certainly helped to keep the correspondence between Rome and its conquest in those parts. Since the Roman governor normally resided in Caesarea, Cornelius may have been in charge of the Italian band that was commanded to life-guard to the Roman governor. In any case, we know that Cornelius had interaction with different ethnic people while preforming his duties. We know that sometime during his life, he must have taken an interest in the Hebrew way of life and perhaps found the faith of these people comforting or perhaps he was attracted to the God of Israel Who provided a stability that soothed him. In any case, we have a story of a devout man;  he and all of his household had reverence for the God of Israel and took pity, having mercy on the poor people at Jerusalem, so he proved his sincerity by acts of beneficence and charity. fire2

Cornelius possessed a degree of regard for both valor and authority, and he also had an honorable testimony among the nation of Jehudah. (21) Cornelius spent time in prayer toward the God of Israel, so much so that He sent an angel to Cornelius while he bowed his knee in prayer during the ninth hour. It becomes evident that because the ninth hour is mentioned [3:00 p.m.], that Cornelius had adopted and embraced a daily prayer plan, perhaps from the tribes that lived in the region of Caesarea.

This messenger sent from YHVH, told Cornelius that these things that he did, had come to Elohim as a memorial. This shows us that the unselfish heart of a man will attract the attention of our Great and Mighty Elohim, and not only men but widows who give just a mite or like the woman who trusted in the God of Elijah and gave all that she had.

In this vision, Cornelius was directed by this messenger to send for Peter who was being entertained as a guest at the home of Simon the tanner who lived in Joppa, about forty miles away. After the angel left, Cornelius called two of his household servants and a reverent soldier that was no doubt detached for his personal use. (Vs 7) Cornelius instructed these three individuals and sent them on their journey to Joppa, now called Jaffa, a city along the Mediterranean, lying on the border of the tribes of Dan and Ephraim.

Meanwhile on the next day, while these three folks were on their way, Simon the tanner was preparing a meal. (Vs 10) Pause for a moment, if you will; to think of all the hides of the critters that Simon might have had perhaps laying in the sun on the boulders or perhaps hanging in the trees near his home.  It is written that Peter, who was hungry and would have eaten, instead went up to the house top to pray during the sixth hour. While he was in prayer he was interrupted when his mind was drawn elsewhere as he fell into a trance.

In this trance, Peter witnessed a vessel, as if a sheet; descending from an open heaven, being let down to the earth. When a sheet is lifted by its four corners, the contents inside will be forced to touch each other. This is critical to the understanding because the contents inside were all manner of four-footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts and ‘creeping things’ which both Thayer and Strong’s define as reptiles and or serpents. There were also included in this vessel; flying winged fowl. (Vs 12)

There came a voice speaking to him saying “Rise Peter, kill and eat.” Peter vehemently refuses and voices his strong refusal by saying, “Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” Notice here, that Peter has made a determination of how he perceives the contents, which are now lying out before him as common or unclean. Even though we have a detailed list of the contents, Peter expresses that they are a mixture common and unclean; based on the dietary law.

Before I go on, I need to clarify these two words. The word ‘un-clean’ in the Greek is ak-ath’-ar-tos. Thayer defines this as not cleansed, unclean in a ceremonial sense: that which must be abstained from according to the Levitical law, in a moral sense: unclean in thought and life. The Greek word for ‘common’ is koinos . This word carries two different meanings. The first is referring to things, ‘shared in common’ such as faith or belief, and understood in the following verses:

Acts 2:44 ….. And all that believed were together, and had all things common;

Acts 4:32….. ¶ And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.

Titus 1:4 …..To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour.

The word ‘common’ in the Old Testament with the meaning of ‘something shared’ is not even mentioned. It is however hinted at in two verses found at: Proverbs 1:14 throw your lot among us we all gave one purse and Proverbs 21:9 It is better to live in the corner of the housetop than in a house with a quarrelsome wife.

The problem with this word is that the word common as Peter used It, is not even a Hebrew word related to eatable or non-eatable meat. In fact the word ‘common’ as Peter used it, does not even become associated with defilement or anything un-acceptable, in the whole of the Old Testament. The only thing I can surmise is that Peter’s understanding of the word ‘common’ must have gained momentum after the Hebrew Scriptures had been translated in the Greek and lost its true meaning.

According to Thesaurus.com, the word ‘common’ originated from circa 1300 as an old French word.

The second meaning of ‘koinos’ is defiled, profane, unholy, something that is clean.  This would be anything clean that comes in contact with something that is unclean.

Let’s look at certain verse to get an idea:

Mark 7:2 And when they saw some of His disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen, hands, they found fault. {Defiled: or, common}

‘They’ in this verse were certain scribes and Pharisees. It was this pharisaic belief based on their own understanding, passed down as their tradition that would have deemed what they were eating as unclean because the disciples traveling with Yahushua did not wash their hands first. These scribes and Pharisees, teachers of the Jewish ‘religion’ were so critical in regard to outward defilement that, as Mark records in his gospel, they would not partake of food without first washing their hands. (Vs 3)

Leviticus 11:32 And upon whatsoever any of them, when they are dead, doth fall, it shall be unclean; whether it be any vessel of wood, or raiment, or skin, or sack, whatsoever vessel it be, wherein any work is done, it must be put into water, and it shall be unclean until the even; so it shall be cleansed.

Leviticus 11:33 And every earthen vessel, whereinto any of them falleth, whatsoever is in it shall be unclean; and ye shall break it.

In Leviticus where the dietary law is found, we learn that every vessel, such pitchers as are commonly used for drinking out of, and for holding liquids, if they fall or are thrown down, whatever was in that earthen vessel is unclean and the vessel was to be broken. If the vessel was made of wood, skin, material or a mesh cloth the vessel could be washed but considered unclean until the evening.

At Bibletools.com, the word common is public, general and universal.

So the best way for me to explain the difference between koinos and akathartos (common and unclean), is that koinos (common) signifies the pharisaic belief (based in tradition) that a clean thing can be made ‘common’ through contact just because a clean thing touched something that was un-clean – whereas akathartos (unclean) is unclean because YHVH deemed it unclean. In order for Cornelius to be considered unclean, he would have to have been created as ‘meat’.

Back to the verse in Mark, Yahushua said that Isaiah had rightly prophesied them to be hypocrites, that they honored Him with their lips but that their hearts were far from Him and that they worshiped Him in vain because they laid aside and rejected the commandment of Elohim and held on to their own tradition instead. The dispute was over ceremonial cleanliness because they saw that the disciples had not washed their hands before eating, which isn’t written in Torah but is evidently a “tradition of the elders” as Yahushua said (verse 5), which the Pharisees claimed authority in. We should note that the kind of food the apostles were eating is ‘bread’, and not meat. Later on, Yahushua’ speaks in general of “foods” and “whatever enters the mouth,” not specifically meat. So what we learn here in this passage of Mark chapter seven is not about clean and unclean meats at all! It is about their rejection of Torah, false teachings and false accusations and Yahushua calls them out on their falseness.

Another verse is 2nd Timothy 2:16 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.

The word profane is what I wanted to look at because it shows us how important it is to avoid thresholds whereby Satan can subtlety creep into a conversation, drawing us in little by little to ungodliness through the means of profane fruitless discussions that do not edify the body. This happens to us all once in a while because conversations between folks are a common occurrence that can lead to un-cleanliness.

Before I move on I’d like to point out the fact that Luke’s usage of these two words; common and un-clean, should not be overlooked either. It appears that he is very well versed in this knowledge considering he is a Gentile and not a representative of the twelve tribes.

Now that we all have the clear understanding of common and un-clean, let’s move on. Verse fifteen tells us that the ‘voice’ replied to Peter’s refusal saying,What God has cleansed, that, call not thou common”. Notice the ‘voice, whom Peter now referred to as ‘Lord’, never says anything to Peter about items in that vessel as being un-clean. Why would the Lord rebuke Peter for keeping the law? He wouldn’t and doesn’t. The voice does however, rebuke Peter for using the term ‘common’. In fact, the voice says this to Peter three times, “What God has cleansed, that, call not thou common”.

For all we know a chicken could have been represented inside that vessel and Peter could have just obeyed, pulled that chicken out, killed it according to Torah instructions and then ate it. After all, the vessel contained ‘all manner’ of beasts and things. The problem was that Peter was trying to satisfy both Torah instructions of the dietary law and the traditions of men that had falsely been taught to the Torah observant. It was this false ‘common’ traditional teaching that would have kept Peter from shaking hands with the three fella’s coming from Caesarea that were no doubt getting closer to the gateway at Simon the tanners abode.

unclean and common 2

The vessel that had disturbed Peter was received up again into heaven, yet Peter doubted in himself and was perplexed by what he had seen and what the vision had meant. This astounds me because for many years I had been taught that this whole scenery were placed here for our perusal to teach the reader… that somehow by the death of Yahushua on the cross that all meats had been made clean. If all meats were made clean by Yahushua’s death, doesn’t that demean salvation?

Here is Peter, doubting in himself and is perplexed by what this vision meant to him.   Peter did not quickly understand the importance of this vision, though he diligently applied his mind to discover the heaviness of its instruction. How dare we make an assumption so easily? It is by Peter’s own words that we begin to understand that this chapter has nothing to do with the dietary laws written in Torah. In verse 28, the author of this letter {Luke} records that Peters says that Yah had shown him not to call any ‘person’ unclean or impure.

Peter did not jump to the conclusion that all meats were now clean so why does the average minister or teacher?

It is by Peter’s statement that anyone could even jump to the conclusion that this chapter has anything to do with food, simply because of his own word, ‘eaten’.  Peter’s first reaction was that he had no intention of eating anything shown inside the vessel, stating it was common or unclean and he had ‘never eaten anything that is common or unclean’. Why not? After all, it has been nearly eight years since Yahushua had been crucified. If all meats were now made clean and the dietary law became null and void at the cross, why didn’t Peter know this? Why was he still eating clean? Better yet, why hadn’t Yahushua been teaching them that His death was going to make the whole law null and void?

How can anyone rightly expect that Yahushua would teach these men all that He did, even defend them for keeping the law in front of the Pharisees and Scribes, to later let them come to find out after His death that all that they had been taught by Him, had become undone? If the law of clean and un-clean was about to be abolished, surely Yahushua would have told His disciples.

There is no doubt that Peter’s first reaction is related to dietary items because as it is written, ‘he was hungry and would have eaten’ but instead Peter went up on the housetop and was in prayer when this vision was presented.   It is our proper understanding of the word koinos (common) that ‘the Voice’ rebukes Peter for and not any violation of the Instructions that Elohim laid out in the law {Torah}. In a closer read,  ‘the Voice’ never even mentions the word ‘un-clean’.

While Peter continued to ponder on the meaning of the vision, the three men arrived and were inquiring about the house of Simon the tanner and were down stairs just outside the gate. The Spirit living with-in Peter spoke to him, saying, “Behold, three men seek thee.”   Somewhere between the vessel being taken back up into the heavens and hearing the Spirit with-in speak to Peter, he must have begun to unravel the mystery of the vision. I suspect that when the Spirit told him that ‘three’ men were seeking for him, he might have begun to understand why the voice had told him ‘three‘ times, “What God hath cleansed, that, call not thou common.”

Like I mentioned before, it was this false ‘common’ traditional teaching that would have kept Peter from shaking hands with the three fella’s coming from Caesarea, that were now inquiring of Simon the Tanners home, looking for Peter. The Spirit with-in further told Peter, “Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them.” The Spirit is extremely direct. I like this because it confirms to me the importance of clarity when hearing from the Lord by way of the Spirit. Peter goes down and greets the men, asking whom they seek and why they have come. I imagine Peter very anxious to see why the Lord has sent them to find him.

These no doubt tired travelers explain to Peter that Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feared God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, (though Cornelius was not a Jew himself) was warned from God by an holy angel to send for him at the home of Simon the tanner to hear what Peter has to say. Faith of course comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. Peter does an amazing thing without even a hesitation, he invites them in, these three men who before he would have considered un-clean are now  invited to stay and lodge overnight. It appears that Peter has had a change of heart. He could have walked with them to find an inn for the night but he didn’t. Peter took charge of the situation at hand and welcomed them to stay even though they were Gentiles. He was already feeling compelled to comply with the design of the vision and the understanding of what ‘the Voice’ (Whom Peter had referred to as LORD),  had spoken to him about not calling common, what Elohim cleansed.

The next day, Peter, the three men from Caesarea and certain brethren from Joppa began the journey to Caesarea where Peter would meet this centurion who had sent for him after having been warned by an holy angel to do so. These six brethren (11:12) from Joppa were fellow believers in the faith. I suspect that Peter took them along as witnesses for whatever was about to occur in Caesarea thereby fulfilling a law of witnesses that would later prove beneficial.

Deuteronomy 19:15 One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.

As our adventure moves along, Peter enters the town of Caesarea the next day along with his entourage. It seems as if it were nearly a two days journey from Joppa to Caesarea because it was the day after they set out that they came to the city and according to verse 30 , the afternoon of that day. As they approach the home of Cornelius, he is waiting for them along with his kinsmen and friends who lived nearby. How delightful that Cornelius had the foresight to share in the spiritual morsel that was about to be shared and that he chose not to be alone. The kindness and respect that believers in the truth show, does not go un-noticed by our Father. This man laboured to have all his household, well-known friends, and acquaintances to be godly and invited them to hear what ever it was that Peter would bestow upon those who would gather in his home.

Upon seeing Peter for the first time, Cornelius falls down at his feet to worship him.  Cornelius might have supposed that Peter was perhaps someone of superiority since it was after all, an angel that announced to him that he should seek Peter’s arrival. Peter graciously and no doubt humbly, reached out to Cornelius, lifting him up from the ground saying that he himself is just a man, rightly judging Cornelius as a man just like him and no longer falsely inferior. Though they were both of them servants, Peter did not see Cornelius as less superior anymore. As they were talking, they made their way into the residence of Cornelius, where Peter did not hesitate to enter the home of this Gentile soldier.

Right off the bat, Peter tells the crowded room that Elohim had told him not to call any man common or unclean. Peter then inquires as to why Cornelius sent for him. Cornelius replies to him that four days ago he had been fasting in prayer at his own home during the ninth hour and that a man in bright clothing stood before him saying, ‘Cornelius, your daily prayers and neighborly acts have brought you to God’s attention. I want you to send to Joppa to get Simon, the one they call Peter. He’s staying with Simon the Tanner down by the sea.’ Cornelius obeyed and had sent for Peter and now in this retelling,  we find out why.  I am sure that hearing this must have been a great encouragement to Peter.

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Peter opened his mouth, and said, “Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation He that fears Him, and  righteousness, is accepted with Him.” Isn’t that something? Here is a man who is working out his life in righteous ways and The God of all Creation, takes notice of him, no different than He would any man in every nation. This reminds me of where Paul expresses in his letter to the Romans that Gentiles who do not have the law, do the law by nature, showing that the law is written in their hearts and their conscience bears witness. It makes no difference who you are or where you’re from—if you want Yahwey as Lord over your life and are ready to do as He says, the door is open. The Message He sent to the children of Israel—that through Yahushua HaMashiach, everything is being restored, and whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins, when YHVH draws you unto Himself.

Peter testifies that he had been a witness as Yahushua went through the country helping people and healing everyone who was beaten down by the enemy. Peter spoke of everything Yahushua did in the land of the Judea and in Jerusalem where they killed Him and eventually hung Him from a cross. Peter explained that three days later Yahwey had Him up out from the tomb and alive, raising Him from the dead. Peter told them of how they had even eaten and drank with Yahushua after He had risen from the dead. No sooner were these words out of Peter’s mouth then the Holy Spirit came on all the listeners inside of the home of Cornelius and they hadn’t even been baptized in water yet. Even the six men who had come from Joppa to accompany Peter who were standing by hearing Peter speak, were amazed that the Holy Spirit had fallen upon all these Gentiles, yet there they were, as a witness. They could not deny it. They heard those Gentile folks speaking in tongues and praising Yahwey, the God of Israel, and their Beloved.

That the Holy Spirit fell upon them without yet having been baptized in water shows us that the God of Israel is not tied to instituted nor ordinances or doctrines of men. Peter did not deny them water baptism, in fact he asked if any man would forbid them, I think his question may have been addressed to the six who accompanied him because his question is very pointed.

Acts 10:47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?

In any case, Peter did not deny the sign to those whom upon the Spirit fell. Those who the God of Israel takes upon Himself to commune with, should not be denied the sealing of a covenant with a covenant keeping  Elohim who promised to pour out His Spirit upon the seed of the faithful and upon their offspring, thus Peter commanded them to be baptize in the name of the LORD.  The vision of unclean animals was intended to be an illustration that ‘The Voice’ used to help Peter understand that ‘repentance into life’ was open to the Gentiles, who the Israelites previously kept away from.

Ephesians 3:6 That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ by the gospel:

So likewise as we found out in Mark chapter seven, this chapter ten in the letter of Acts, written to a fella by the name of Theophilus, is not about clean and un-clean being made cleansed at the cross. It is about a man, the first of many Gentiles like you and me to be welcomed into the family of the God of Israel, thereby becoming a child of Israel, all because his ‘doings’ were come up to God as a memorial. (Vs 28)

John 17:17 ¶ Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

Always keep in mind that The God of Israel orchestrates everything in our lives. We might be forty miles away from where He is incorporating a plan in another life to bring about His will. He might also interrupt our prayer time to show us a vision too. You just never know what The God of Israel is up too but always be ready to be amazed and thankful for the calling, that He would even consider to use such a wretched man as I, OR draw us near to a place where we would hear what He has for us, holding back nothing less than what is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works, for which every man will be rewarded; for his good works….. upon the return of Yahushua when He shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels. [2nd Timothy 3:16-17 @ Matthew 16:27]

Hallilu- Yah!

 

For other writings:

https://eudoranachand.wordpress.com/author/eudoranachand

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About eudoranachand

A Spirit filled disciple who continually seeks His kingdom and His righteousness.
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