“Four days ago I was in my house praying at this hour, at three in the afternoon. Suddenly a man in shining clothes stood before me and said, ‘Cornelius, God has heard your prayer and remembered your gifts to the poor.” (Acts 10:30+31/NIV).
Cornelius was not a Jew. He was a Roman soldier and a leader of soldiers. Yet he was a pious man. At least at times he was praying to God. He also used to give to the poor.
Today again I am referring to 1 Corinthians 13:3: “And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, … and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.” (KJV). St. Paul here says that it is possible that you give to those in need, but still miss out on certain qualities that God is looking for. Such a person will not receive a reward from God.
An angel of God appeared to Cornelius. He had good news for him.
Cornelius received word that God had regarded his prayers and the alms he had given to the poor. Obviously his prayers and alms had been acceptable to God. Cornelius benefitted as God took special care for him sending one of his messengers.
Cornelius had an appearance and he also was told to send for some human person who would tell him more. He was told where the apostle Peter was staying at the time.
In Acts 10 we learn that the apostle also had some special preparation to meet with Cornelius and his household. He had a vision that puzzled him. Then the Holy Spirit told him that three men were looking for him and that he was to go with them.
Peter told the people who had gathered in Cornelius’ house: “Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.” (Acts 10:228/KJV).
After that Cornelius related the appearance he had had and how he was directed to send for Simon Peter. Having heard this Peter made an important statement:
“Of a truth I perceive that God is not a respecter of persons. But in every nation, he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.” (Acts 10:35+35).
At that time many people from other nations were sympathetic with the Jewish faith. They received instruction in the word of God without taking the step of becoming official members of the Jewish religious community. These people were called God-fearers.
Cornelius’ respect for God’s basic commandments and his applying principles of justice and righteousness made him, his prayers and alms acceptable before God. It was a blessing from God to him that the apostle Peter came to his house.
The apostle Peter also told them about the Lord Jesus. He concluded saying: “To him give all the prophets witness, that through this name whosever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” (Acts 10:43/KJV).
Cornelius’ prayers and alms were acceptable to God and Cornelius profited. He came to know the good news about Jesus Christ. While Peter yet spoke to the assembly in his house, God poured out the Holy Spirit on them. By that God became more real to all of them.