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God is not one to show partiality
Acts 10:34-35 God wants people of every nation to fear Him and do what is right
“Opening his mouth, Peter said: “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him.”
Acts 10:34-35 NASB1995
Chapter 10 of the Acts of the Apostles revolves around two people — a devout Roman centurion from Caesarea named Cornelius who has a visitation from an angel of the Lord telling him to meet up with the Apostle Peter, who coincidentally has just had a vision he is struggling to interpret.
Cornelius sends two servants and a devout soldier to speak with Peter, asking the apostle to travel with the trio back to his home. The angel had told Cornelius that Peter would bring a message to him.
Peter’s vision must have been perplexing to him. In it, a large sheet-like structure came down from the air, covered with “all kinds of four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air.” A voice said “Get up, Peter, kill and eat”, but Peter — being a devout Jew who had followed the strict food laws his entire life — replied that he had never eaten anything unholy and unclean. The voice told him “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.” To impress upon Peter the meaning of the message, it was repeated three times! God obviously wanted Peter to understand something.
It’s just after Peter’s vision that the three Gentiles appear at his house, and by this point it may have finally occurred to Peter that God was sending him a message — he needed to be more open to the idea of spreading the Gospel to non-Jews. A sure sign that Peter’s heart and mind began to change is that he invited the three Gentiles to stay with him overnight before traveling back to see Cornelius.
This was unheard of at the time! An Orthodox Jew like Peter would normally have told the three Gentiles to go stay at an inn, but it’s obvious that God had already begun to change Peter’s mind. The Greek word ξενίζω (xenizō) means much more than just providing a place to rest — it is defined as “to receive as a guest, to entertain, hospitably.”
Once Peter and the Gentiles had arrived back in Caesarea, they found that Cornelius had invited relatives and close friends to hear Peter as well. Cornelius was so overwhelmed with his visitor that he fell at Peter’s feet and began worshipping him. Peter would have none of this, saying “Stand up; I too am just a man.” (Acts 10:26)
At this point, Peter speaks the words of today’s verse to the gathered Gentiles, stating for the first time that the Good News belongs to everyone! This was completely counter to Jewish thought at the time, which believed that God loved Jews and hate Gentiles. In fact, at the time it was common for a Jewish man to start each day thanking God that he was not a slave, a Gentile, or a woman. Most Jews in the days of the New Testament even swore an oath that they would never help a Gentile in any situation, whether it be giving directions or helping a woman give birth.
Oddly enough, this shunning of Gentiles was completely contrary to God’s teaching as outlined in Deuteronomy 10:17 — “For the Lord your God is the God of gods and the Lord of Lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who does not show partiality nor take a bribe.”
Jesus Christ and the gospel changed all that. Christianity was the first religion to disregard racial, cultural, and national limitations. 197 countries claim at least a few Christians, 157 countries have a Christian majority. This all began with Peter’s proclamation in Acts 10:34-35, and Christ’s followers now number an estimated 2.38 billion.
Peter made the point to Cornelius, his friends, and his relatives that they did not need to feel excluded from God because of their national background. God sees only the human heart, not color, economic status, nationality, or ethnic group. Any human who can fear and respect God the Creator and treat others with love is accepted with open arms by Him.
Heaven On Wheels Daily Prayer:
Father in Heaven, thank You that you are not partial to any nation, race, or ethnicity, and that all sinners may be saved by grace through faith in Christ. Thank You for my personal salvation, and I pray that much more of the human race, regardless of their current state of belief or disbelief, age, race, nationality, or any other label, may come to faith in Christ for the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. In Jesus’ name I pray, AMEN.