Cornelius–A Religious Man on a Mission for God

Children lined up in the cafeteria of a Christian school for lunch. At the head of the table was a large pile of apples. The teacher made a note: “Take only one, God is watching.” At the other end of the table was a large pile of chocolate chip cookies. A boy wrote a no … More


The tenth chapter of Acts tells a story that is one of the great turning points in the history of the Church. For the first time a Gentile is to be admitted into its fellowship. Since Cornelius is so important in church history, let us gather together what we can learn about him.

Up the sea coast about thirty miles from Joppa was a town by the name of Caesarea. A soldier, who was captain over one hundred men, lived there. He was a Gentile; however, instead of worshiping many gods as most Gentiles did, Cornelius had learned of the one true God. He also taught his family in the knowledge which he himself had received, though he was not saved (v. 1). He was also a generous religious man who gave much money to help others (v. 2). One day, as he was praying, an angel appeared and spoke his name (v. 3). Cornelius was afraid and said, “What is it, Lord (v. 4)?” Perhaps “Lord” here means “Sin,” in light of Acts 11:14 which shows Cornelius had not entered into New Testament salvation.

The angel told Cornelius to send for Peter, who was at Simon the tanner’s house, by the sea side in Joppa (vv. 5-6). He would tell Cornelius what to do. When the angel had gone, the centurion called two of his trusted servants and a soldier, and explained to them everything that had happened (vv. 7-8). Then he told them to go to Joppa and bring Peter back to him. Peter knew nothing about Cornelius, the angel, or the three men who were on their way to him.

Today’s passage shows us that the Lord’s ways are not always the way we may be thinking. Isaiah 55:8 says. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.”


The difference between Cornelius and many religious people today is that he knew his religion was not sufficient to save him. I am so thankful to the Lord that my salvation does not depend on my works, but on His grace. If I had to depend on my works to save me, I would never make it.

Acts 10:1-8 (English Standard Version)

At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort, a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God. About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God come in and say to him, "Cornelius." And he stared at him in terror and said, "What is it, Lord?" And he said to him, "Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God. And now send men to Joppa and bring one Simon who is called Peter. He is lodging with one Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea." When the angel who spoke to him had departed, he called two of his servants and a devout soldier from among those who attended him, and having related everything to them, he sent them to Joppa.

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