In Caesarea there lived a Roman army officer named Cornelius, who was a captain of the Italian Regiment. He was
man who feared the God of Israel, as did his entire household. He gave
generously to charity and was a man who regularly prayed to God.
One afternoon about three o'clock, he had a vision in
which he saw an angel of God coming toward him.
"Cornelius!" the angel said.
Cornelius stared at him in terror. "What is it,
sir?" he asked the angel.
And the angel replied, "Your prayers and gifts to
the poor have not gone unnoticed by God! Now send some men down to Joppa
to find a man named Simon Peter. He is staying with Simon, a
leatherworker who lives near the shore. Ask him to come and visit
As soon as the angel was gone, Cornelius called two of
his household servants and a devout soldier, one of his personal
attendants. He told them what had happened and sent them off to Joppa.
The next day as Cornelius's messengers were nearing
the city, Peter went up to the flat roof to pray. It was about noon, and
he was hungry. But while lunch was being prepared, he fell into a
He saw the sky open, and something like a large sheet
was let down by its four corners. In the sheet were all sorts of
animals, reptiles, and birds. Then a voice said to him, "Get up,
Peter; kill and eat them."
"Never, Lord," Peter declared. "I have
never in all my life eaten anything forbidden by our Jewish
The voice spoke again, "If God says something is
acceptable, don't say it isn't."
The same vision was repeated three times. Then the
sheet was pulled up again to heaven. Peter was very perplexed. What
could the vision mean?
Just then the men sent by Cornelius found the house
and stood outside at the gate. They asked if this was the place where
Simon Peter was staying.
Meanwhile, as Peter was puzzling over the vision, the
Holy Spirit said to him, "Three men have come looking for you. Go
down and go with them without hesitation. All is well, for I have sent
So Peter went down and said, "I'm the man you are
looking for. Why have you come?"
They said, "We were sent by Cornelius, a Roman
officer. He is a devout man who fears the God of Israel and is well
respected by all the Jews. A holy angel instructed him to send for you
so you can go to his house and give him a message."
So Peter invited the men to be his guests for the
night. The next day he went with them, accompanied by some other
believers from Joppa. They arrived in Caesarea the following day.
Cornelius was waiting for him and had called together his relatives and
close friends to meet Peter.
As Peter entered his home, Cornelius fell to the floor
before him in worship. But Peter pulled him up and said, "Stand up!
I'm a human being like you!" So Cornelius got up, and they talked
together and went inside where the others were assembled.
Peter told them, "You know it is against the
Jewish laws for me to come into a Gentile home like this. But God has
shown me that I should never think of anyone as impure. So I came as
soon as I was sent for. Now tell me why you sent for me."
Cornelius replied, "Four days ago I was praying
in my house at three o'clock in the afternoon. Suddenly, a man in
dazzling clothes was standing in front of me. He told me, 'Cornelius,
your prayers have been heard, and your gifts to the poor have been
noticed by God! Now send some men to Joppa and summon Simon Peter. He is
staying in the home of Simon, a leatherworker who lives near the shore.'
So I sent for you at once, and it was good of you to come. Now here we
are, waiting before God to hear the message the Lord has given
Then Peter replied, "I see very clearly that God
doesn't show partiality. In every nation he accepts those who fear him
and do what is right. I'm sure you have heard about the Good News for
the people of Israel – that there is peace with God through Jesus
Christ, who is Lord of all. You know what happened all through Judea,
beginning in Galilee after John the Baptist began preaching. And no
doubt you know that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit
and with power. Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who
were oppressed by the Devil, for God was with him.
"And we apostles are witnesses of all he did
throughout Israel and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by crucifying
him, but God raised him to life three days later. Then God allowed him
to appear, not to the general public, but to us whom God had chosen
beforehand to be his witnesses. We were those who ate and drank with him
after he rose from the dead. And he ordered us to preach everywhere and
to testify that Jesus is ordained of God to be the judge of all – the
living and the dead. He is the one all the prophets testified about,
saying that everyone who believes in him will have their sins forgiven
through his name."
Even as Peter was saying these things, the Holy Spirit
fell upon all who had heard the message. The Jewish believers who came
with Peter were amazed that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured
out upon the Gentiles, too. And there could be no doubt about it, for
they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.
Then Peter asked, "Can anyone object to their
being baptized, now that they have received the Holy Spirit just as we
did?" So he gave orders for them to be baptized in the name of
Jesus Christ. Afterward Cornelius asked him to stay with them for