Love God. Love others. Share hope.

I Will Build My Church: Cornelius, the First Gentile Convert

I Will Build My Church
Andy Holt
May 27, 2018

I Will Build My Church: Cornelius, the First Gentile Convert

God’s plan has always been to welcome Gentiles into his family, but when he finally put his plan into action by saving the Roman centurion Cornelius, it caught faithful Jews like Peter off guard. While staying in Joppa, Peter had a vision of a massive sheet being let down from heaven filled with every kind of animal. The voice of God spoke and said, “Get up, Peter, kill and eat.” Peter objected because the animals in the sheet were forbidden for him to eat – they were unclean according to the law of Moses. But God replied, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”

The vision had a twofold meaning. First, it meant that God wasn’t going to hold all of his people accountable for food laws anymore. More importantly, it meant that God didn’t consider Gentiles unclean. The first Gentile convert to Christianity was a Roman centurion named Cornelius. At the same time Peter saw the vision of the animals, Cornelius received a vision of an angel telling him to send for Peter. When Peter arrived at the home of Cornelius, he made this important declaration, “God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean.”

Anyone can be made clean because of what Christ has done. Jesus gives us a new identity, so that we can set aside our old identities. This is who we are in Christ:

Redeemed image-bearer of God
Spirit-empowered servant of God
Adopted child of God
Heir of the promises of God
Destined co-regent (with Christ) of God’s new creation

The old identities that we carry must be set aside so that we can be made new by Jesus. The old labels don’t apply in the family of God. Jesus sets his people free to be their true selves, as God originally intended for us to be.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *