The earliest Christians followed a Jewish tradition of pausing to pray, preferably together, first thing in the morning, about mid morning, at noon, about mid afternoon, and in the evening. “Just a Note” posts are brief observations made from Scripture readings not related to a lectionary. If I have one to post, it normally appears about 9:00 in the morning, at “the hour of prayer.”
In Acts 10:44-48, while Peter is telling the household of Cornelius about Jesus, the Holy Spirit falls upon the assembled people. They begin speaking in tongues and glorifying God. Peter’s response is to say that the people need to be baptized. After all, they have received the Holy Spirit.
If we compare this passage to Matthew 28:18-20, where Jesus promises to be with his people as they go, baptizing and teaching, we see that the expected order of events seems to be broken. The preaching of the Gospel has come in advance of the baptism. However, as soon as the people are seen to be believing in Christ, they are baptized. Peter then stays to teach for several days.
What is most striking about this passage is the setting. Cornelius, as a Gentile, seemed almost like a test case. Peter may well have wondered whether he and his household could become Christians without first converting to Judaism. The move of the Holy Spirit made it completely plain to Peter and everyone else. Cornelius didn’t need to become a Jew before he could believe on Jesus. He was welcome to hear and believe. This signifies the Gospel coming to all nations. As with Cornelius, so with all our friends, acquaintances, neighbors, and others we know. As we speak and act like Jesus is indeed the savior of the world, those around us will receive the message.
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