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Bible Trek

Peter and the Roman Centurion | Bible Trek – Caesarea Series – 03

Peter, after his vision on the rooftop of Simon the Tanner's house, walked 40 kilometres from the town of Joppa to the coastal port of Caesarea and to the home of Cornelius, a Roman centurion. Cornelius and his household became Christians, were baptised and received the Holy Spirit. For the first time Christianity was spreading beyond the Jewish people and was on the brink of becoming a global movement.

Quick read

Acts 10.1–8

In a nutshell

‘These people have received the Holy Spirit, just as we also did. Can anyone, then, stop them from being baptized with water?’ Acts 10.47

In the days of the Apostle Peter and the army captain Cornelius, Caesarea was the capital of the Roman province of Judea and a major seaport. King Herod the Great – notorious for attempting to kill the infant Jesus – had made the city the focus of his proverbial architectural ambitions, enlarging it and naming it after Caesar Augustus: Caesarea Maritima (‘by the sea’). 

Remarkably, Cornelius, a military commander based at the regional hub of Roman power and splendour, follows an angelic call to send for a humble Jewish fisherman. For Peter, the Jew, to associate with Cornelius, the pagan, is equally surprising and requires Peter having a heavenly vision of his own. 

Having realised that his Master’s message is for Jews and non-Jews alike, Peter makes the journey from the busy coastal town of Joppa to the even busier seaport of Caesarea to share the Good News of Jesus with the enemy. Cornelius and his household become the first Roman Christian converts.

Diversity is not a new ‘woke’ concern. We care about diversity because we cannot be separated from Christianity’s effects on our lives. The book of Acts and today’s global Church testify to a God who ‘does not show favouritism’ (Acts 10.34). 

Rebecca McLaughlin in her book Confronting Christianity highlights the Middle East as the place of the ‘world's oldest, fastest-growing and most persecuted Church’, and the disproportionate number of India’s Christians being from the ‘untouchable’ class. Not to mention China where Christianity has been growing an average of 10 per cent annually since 1979 … extraordinary! 

Cornelius’ conversion story in Acts 10 is, in a sense, as much Peter’s conversion story. Through a Holy Spirit-ordained encounter, Peter recognised that God had no favourites when it came to the good news of Jesus. 

How about us? Do we negotiate with God who should hear the gospel? Do we expect some to receive the news better than others? If so, let’s repent and be ‘converted’ just like Peter. 

Read on, to find out more about the Jewish group of Jesus followers opening up to Gentiles.

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