St. Peter At Caesarea to a Gentile Company
Acts 10:36-37
The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:)…

1. Christ gave to Peter "the keys of the kingdom of heaven" — not keys of heaven, not keys of the Church, militant or triumphant, but keys of the kingdom of heaven on earth. St. Peter used one at Jerusalem to open the kingdom of heaven to the Jews; a second at Samaria, to open it to the Samaritans; a third at Caesarea, to open it to the Gentiles. We know that the Lord designed Saul to be His apostle to the Gentiles, but there was obvious advantage in the employment of Peter to open the door. He was known to all as a strict Jew; and if he was satisfied of the extension of God's grace to the Gentiles, that would go far to abate the prejudice of the Hebrew Christians.

2. At Caesarea Peter did not make the occasion for his speech. It was made for him by Jesus, who was now directing from heaven the activities of His servants in the foundation and extension of the Church.

3. At Jerusalem the apostle began by removing a misconception from the minds of those whom he addressed; at Caesarea he acknowledged the removal of a misconception from his own mind. The definiteness and decision which marked his address were admittedly suited to a military audience. He also showed both tact and fairness in putting his statements on ground which was common to all. At Jerusalem he had spoken to Jews, and therefore rested on the ground of the Old Testament. But at Caesarea, though Cornelius was doubtless acquainted with the Septuagint, the ancient Scriptures were not to Gentiles what they were to Jews. Such adaptation is in harmony with common sense, and must be practised if justice is to be done to religious truth. To missionaries it is indispensable. A missionary to the Jews must reason from Moses and the prophets. But to the Gentiles it is not of much consequence to learn how the gospel is related to "Moses' law." What they need is to hear of One who has come "to destroy the works of the devil," and to transfer men "from darkness into marvellous light." This principle of adaptation shows itself clearly in Peter's train of thought. His speech was —

I. A REHEARSAL OF FACTS OF WHICH THE AUDIENCE WAS ALREADY COGNISANT (vers. 36-39). Though Jesus had never visited Caesarea, its inhabitants could not be unaware of the facts of His life and death. The fact that He had been accused before Pilate of high treason, and had been crucified as King of the Jews, must have attracted the notice of military men. St. Peter affirmed that this Jesus was no revolutionary agitator, but a preacher of good tidings of peace; though, as the apostle happily observed in a parenthesis, He was Lord, not of Israel only, but of all mankind. He did not touch the imperial rights of Caesar, and yet at the same time He was far above all the Caesars. The word and authority of Jesus had been attested by good deeds and works of healing; and these again were accounted for on this ground — that God, who had sent Him, was with Him, and anointed Him with the Holy Ghost and with power. If there was any hesitation to believe this, Simon Peter and his companions were ready with personal testimony; and although the speech was not interrupted by any question, we can well suppose that in the "certain days" which he spent at Caesarea, St. Peter told many an incident which his own eyes had seen in his Master's career. Such a Prophet, such a Healer, the Jews had slain. The fact was already known, but the apostle saw fit to lay emphasis on the entire innocence of Jesus. He did so in order to remove any impression which may have lurked in the minds of an Italian officer that One whom the Roman governor had sentenced must have in some measure deserved His fate.

II. THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF A NEW FACT, WHICH CHANGED THE WHOLE ASPECT OF THE CASE (vers. 40, 41). God had raised up Jesus from the dead on the third day. No allusion to the 16th or 18th Psalm meets us here. Quotations from these were for a Jewish, not a Gentile, audience. What they cared for was sufficient proof; and the apostle adduced the proof with an exactness admirably suited to the occasion. He said, not that his Master was seen to rise, but that He was seen after He had risen; not that He was seen by as many as saw Him crucified — for the Christ-rejecting Jews were to see Him no more — but that He was Been by duly qualified witnesses, chosen by God. And in what way can any historical fact of an unusual nature be more sufficiently proved? If any allege that not even God can raise the dead, we have no argument with them here. But grant that the thing is possible with God, and then say what conditions of evidence would satisfy the mind. All mankind could not be present, so that it is a question of sufficient evidence. Now, in regard to Christ's resurrection, note that —

1. The witnesses were sufficiently numerous — men and women, apostles and less prominent disciples; one at a time, then two, then eleven, then seven, then "five hundred brethren at once."

2. They were of unblemished character. The rulers despised them as unlearned, but could never prove deceit. One of them, James, was honoured of all classes in Jerusalem as "the Just."

3. They were Christ's close companions, and could not have mistaken any other for Him.

4. They had ample opportunity to identify Him; for they not only saw and heard Him, but "did eat and drink with Him after He rose from the dead."

5. They told the story from the beginning, and at the greatest possible risk to themselves. They laid on it at once the whole weight of the cause which they maintained; if it was a lie or an illusion, the Church would fail.

6. They adhered to it till their last breath; and not one of them could be induced to modify the statement that the Lord had risen.


1. "This is He who is ordained of God to be Judge of the living and the dead." St. Peter had touched on this at Jerusalem, when he spoke of the "time of restitution of all things," addressing Jews, and confining himself to the sphere of Jewish expectation. But now he stated it in the way most suited to impress Gentiles. There was a special fitness in the first announcement of this to Gentiles being made to a Roman officer. The Romans were men of the sword, the sceptre, and the judgment seat. The Emperor was looked up to by the world as lord of all. And he, too, was judge of all, for appeals went up from all regions of the known world to the supreme throne of judgment at Rome. The apostle Peter had a startling statement to make to those men, which involved no treason against Caesar, and yet made the Emperor's glory pale.

2. "Through His name everyone that believeth on Him shall receive remission of sins." This came in well after the previous announcement. He who will be the Judge is now the Saviour. To this truth St. Peter said that all the prophets were bearing witness. Not the prophets of the Old Testament, which would have no significance for Roman soldiers, but prophets of the new age, as foretold in the ancient oracle of Joel (see Acts 11:27; Acts 13:1). As in music one does well to end on a full clear note, so the apostle did well to close with this abundant testimony to the blessing of forgiveness through Jesus Christ. Good news to the Gentiles! It was such an assurance as none of their prophets, priests, or philosophers could give. And then this blessing was to be obtained on so simple a plan as faith in His name. He had not time to call on them to believe, for he was gloriously interrupted in his address. Soon as the good tidings of pardon fell from his lips, the audience was suffused with spiritual tenderness — "The Holy Ghost fell on all of them." Mark what power resides in one short, clear sermon on Jesus Christ, when God has prepared both preacher and congregation. A hearty, straightforward preacher, brethren with him who are in prayerful sympathy, and an audience penetrated by the feeling that they are all assembled "before God" — what may not such a combination secure! That day was the Pentecost of the Gentiles. It is inaccurate to pray for another Pentecost, because the dispensation of the Spirit cannot begin again. But it is a constant duty to pray that the Spirit may continue to demonstrate to the hearts of men that word of salvation which is preached.

(D. Fraser, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:)

WEB: The word which he sent to the children of Israel, preaching good news of peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all—

Peace Through Christ
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