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Peter Visits Cornelius

10 Now there was a man in Caesarea[a] named Cornelius, a centurion[b] of what was known as the Italian Cohort.[c] He[d] was a devout, God-fearing man,[e] as was all his household; he did many acts of charity for the people[f] and prayed to God regularly. About three o’clock one afternoon[g] he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God[h] who came in[i] and said to him, “Cornelius.” Staring at him and becoming greatly afraid, Cornelius[j] replied,[k] “What is it, Lord?” The angel[l] said to him, “Your prayers and your acts of charity[m] have gone up as a memorial[n] before God. Now[o] send men to Joppa[p] and summon a man named Simon,[q] who is called Peter. This man is staying as a guest with a man named Simon, a tanner,[r] whose house is by the sea.” When the angel who had spoken to him departed, Cornelius[s] called two of his personal servants[t] and a devout soldier from among those who served him,[u] and when he had explained everything to them, he sent them to Joppa.

About noon[v] the next day, while they were on their way and approaching[w] the city, Peter went up on the roof[x] to pray.

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  1. Acts 10:1 sn Caesarea was a city on the coast of Palestine south of Mount Carmel (not Caesarea Philippi). It was known as “Caesarea by the sea” (BDAG 499 s.v. Καισάρεια 2). Largely Gentile, it was a center of Roman administration and the location of many of Herod the Great’s building projects (Josephus, Ant. 15.9.6 [15.331-341]).
  2. Acts 10:1 sn A centurion was a noncommissioned officer in the Roman army or one of the auxiliary territorial armies, commanding a centuria of (nominally) 100 men. The responsibilities of centurions were broadly similar to modern junior officers, but there was a wide gap in social status between them and officers, and relatively few were promoted beyond the rank of senior centurion. The Roman troops stationed in Judea were auxiliaries, who would normally be rewarded with Roman citizenship after 25 years of service. Some of the centurions throughout the region may have served originally in the Roman legions (regular army) and thus gained their citizenship at enlistment. Others may have inherited it, like the apostle Paul did (cf. Acts 22:28).
  3. Acts 10:1 sn A cohort was a Roman military unit of about 600 soldiers, one-tenth of a legion (BDAG 936 s.v. σπεῖρα). The Italian Cohort has been identified as cohors II Italica which is known to have been stationed in Syria in a.d. 88.
  4. Acts 10:2 tn In the Greek text this represents a continuation of the previous sentence. Because of the tendency of contemporary English to use shorter sentences, a new sentence was begun here in the translation.
  5. Acts 10:2 sn The description of Cornelius as a devout, God-fearing man probably means that he belonged to the category called “God-fearers,” Gentiles who worshiped the God of Israel and in many cases kept the Mosaic law, but did not take the final step of circumcision necessary to become a proselyte to Judaism. See further K. G. Kuhn, TDNT 6:732-34, 43-44, and Sir 11:17; 27:11; 39:27.
  6. Acts 10:2 tn Or “gave many gifts to the poor.” This was known as “giving alms,” or acts of mercy (Sir 7:10; BDAG 315-16 s.v. ἐλεημοσύνη).
  7. Acts 10:3 tn Grk “at about the ninth hour of the day.” This would be the time for afternoon prayer.
  8. Acts 10:3 tn Or “the angel of God.” Linguistically, “angel of God” is the same in both testaments (and thus, he is either “an angel of God” or “the angel of God” in both testaments). For arguments and implications, see ExSyn 252; M. J. Davidson, “Angels,” DJG, 9; W. G. MacDonald argues for “an angel” in both testaments: “Christology and ‘The Angel of the Lord’,” Current Issues in Biblical and Patristic Interpretation, 324-35.
  9. Acts 10:3 tn The participles εἰσελθόντα (eiselthonta) and εἰπόντα (eiponta) are accusative, and thus best taken as adjectival participles modifying ἄγγελον (angelon): “an angel who came in and said.”
  10. Acts 10:4 tn Grk “he”; the referent (Cornelius) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  11. Acts 10:4 tn Grk “said,” but in response to the angel’s address, “replied” is better English style.
  12. Acts 10:4 tn Grk “he”; the referent (the angel) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  13. Acts 10:4 tn Or “your gifts to the needy.”
  14. Acts 10:4 sn The language used in the expression gone up as a memorial before God parallels what one would say of acceptable sacrifices (Ps 141:2; Sir 35:6; 50:16).
  15. Acts 10:5 tn Grk “And now.” Because of the difference between Greek style, which often begins sentences or clauses with “and,” and English style, which generally does not, καί (kai) has not been translated here.
  16. Acts 10:5 sn Joppa was a seaport on the Philistine coast, in the same location as modern Jaffa.
  17. Acts 10:5 tn Grk “a certain Simon.”
  18. Acts 10:6 tn Or “with a certain Simon Berseus.” Although most modern English translations treat βυρσεῖ (bursei) as Simon’s profession (“Simon the tanner”), it is possible that the word is actually Simon’s surname (“Simon Berseus” or “Simon Tanner”). BDAG 185 s.v. βυρσεύς regards it as a surname. See also MM 118.
  19. Acts 10:7 tn Grk “he”; the referent (Cornelius) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  20. Acts 10:7 tn Or “domestic servants.” The Greek word here is οἰκέτης (oiketēs), which technically refers to a member of the household, but usually means a household servant (slave) or personal servant rather than a field laborer.
  21. Acts 10:7 tn The meaning of the genitive participle προσκαρτερούντων (proskarterountōn) could either be “a soldier from the ranks of those who served him” (referring to his entire command) or “a soldier from among his personal staff” (referring to a group of soldiers who were his personal attendants). The translation “from among those who served him” is general enough to cover either possibility.
  22. Acts 10:9 tn Grk “about the sixth hour.”
  23. Acts 10:9 tn The participles ὁδοιπορούντων (hodoiporountōn, “while they were on their way”) and ἐγγιζόντων (engizontōn, “approaching”) have been translated as temporal participles.
  24. Acts 10:9 sn Went up on the roof. Most of the roofs in the NT were flat roofs made of pounded dirt, sometimes mixed with lime or stones, supported by heavy wooden beams. They generally had an easy means of access, either a sturdy wooden ladder or stone stairway, sometimes on the outside of the house.