Acts 10:1-6
Acts 10:1 (KJB)
There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band,
Up to this point the Gospel had been preached to the Jews only but the promise was that the Gentiles would now have the Gospel preached to them. The scene changes from Joppa to Caesarea which was about 30 miles (48 km) north of Joppa. It was built by Herod the Great and had become the capital of Judaea. There was a special band of Roman soldiers stationed there called the Italian Cohort which consisted of 600 men but maybe up to the total of 1,000. Cornelius was a Centurion which means he had authority of 100 men under his command. In the U.S. Army a company ranges from 62-190 soldiers and is commanded by a Captain, so a Centurion would be approximately equal to a modern Army Captain.
Acts 10:2 (KJB)
A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.
Devout - Godly, reverent, or religious
Just like the other Centurions mentioned in the New Testament, Cornelius was a godly man. There were many in the Roman Army that did not go along with all the foolishness and immorality associated with the many false religions which they encountered. Many of the Romans had found the teachings in the local synagogues to be much better and on the par with truth. Cornelius had understood that the God of the Hebrew Scriptures was greater than him plus he also understood that He was the one true God instead of all these man made idols which were nothing. He feared God and did was right since he was a godly man and his right beliefs led him to perform many acts of kindness for the people. His prayers were to God and not to Caesar. Being a godly man in the Roman army could be construed as one who has divided allegiance and could be seen as treason if the higher commanders wanted to push the issue. Rome had many false gods just like the Greeks but Cornelius knew who the true God was.
Acts 10:3 (KJB)
He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius.
The ninth hour of the day would have been 3 o’clock in the afternoon. Cornelius was being obedient to the Jewish hour of evening prayer and while he was in prayer he saw a vision. At this same time a Priest in the temple was offering a sacrifice, so it was an important time of prayer. It must be noted that the sacrifice meant nothing because Christ had become the final sacrifice on Calvary which ended the Mosaic sacrificial system. Since Cornelius was still following the Jewish religion, he would have been faithful to ritual and time.
Acts 10:4 (KJB)
And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.
This was the first time that Cornelius ever saw a manifestation of an angel and did not know what to make of it, so he called him “Lord.” Instantly the angel redirected his focus to God and off of himself. (Heb 6:10 KJV) For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have showed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister. The prayers of Cornelius must have been very sincere and not of a repetitious nature. He must have prayed pouring out his heart before God. His good works toward the people were genuine and had no ulterior motives attached to them. The word memorial can also be understood as “honorable remembrance.” Both his prayer life and his practical life found favor with God.
Acts 10:5 (KJB)
And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter:
The angel then commands Cornelius to send some men to Joppa to Simon’s home and there seek out Peter. The command was given to bring Peter back to Cornelius but no further information was given to him concerning as to why he was to bring Peter to himself. He would obey the command because it came from a heavenly being in a vision and he knew that God would have a reason for sending for him. It is probably proper to say that Cornelius knew of Peter, even though he never met him. I am sure that the news of the crucifixion of Christ had gone throughout all the land of Israel.
Acts 10:6 (KJB)
He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.
The angel then gave further instructions as to where the house of Simon the Tanner was located and then gave Cornelius understanding that when Peter comes, he will tell him what he should do. No doubt that when Peter would come, Cornelius would learn all about who the Jewish feasts and sacrifices were foreshadowing and he would learn all about the Lord Jesus Christ. Cornelius was about to become a Christian which was not yet illegal in the Roman Empire.