Monday, April 25, 2011

Two-fold purpose of Cornelius

In Acts 15, is James speaking in v14 of what Peter said in v7 (which is in reference to Acts 10, Cornelius)? 

If so, I am confused by this because I have been understanding that what happened with Cornelius was a picture of how the Gentiles would get salvation in the kingdom and that Peter is always associated with the kingdom.  So, how is it that these Gentiles (referring back to Acts 10 and Peter's job in the kingdom?) in v14 represent the dispensation of Grace?  (I'm assuming the v14 Gentiles is the dispensation of grace because v16 says "after this I will return."  Anyway, I need clarification.

Yes, James is speaking about what Simon Peter said in verse 7, about God sending him to Cornelius' household in chapter Acts 10.

Acts 15:7, 14, 16
And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles [Cornelius] by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.

Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles [Cornelius], to take out of them a people for his name.

After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up:

By sending Peter to Cornelius' house after Paul was saved, God was showing how He would one day again deal with Israel (Peter being the chief Apostle), after the dispensation of grace ends, and will save Gentiles through Peter's ministry in the kingdom.
But remember, because Acts is also a book of transition, showing Israel’s fall and salvation going to the Gentiles through Paul's ministry, the Cornelius incident was also to show Peter (and Israel) that God was doing something different with Gentiles in that present moment (i.e., saving them without, and before being water baptized).

So just like water baptism is not a part of God's program today, yet God allowed Paul to baptize during the transition period of Acts,

1 Corinthians 1:16-17
And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other.  For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

Peter’s going to Cornelius serves two purposes: a type of gentiles being saved in the future, after Paul's ministry is done; and, to show Israel that at that moment in the past, God changed the program!

Acts is maybe the toughest book to understand (when you let it stand alone) of all the books of the bible because of its transition from law to grace, from prophecy to mystery.

But that is why you don't go to Acts to understand Peter or Paul's ministries fully; you go to their writings...their epistles!

Acts 15:16
After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up:

This is a quote from Amos, which has to do with the day of the Lord in which he abandons Israel because of their sins against him in prophecy.

Amos 9:11-12
In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old: That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the LORD that doeth this.

James is saying that the fact that God left Israel, and went to the gentiles, was in agreement with that scripture (although it was not a direct fulfillment of it—the fulfillment of it will happen in the future in the kingdom).

But with this mystery dispensation, God was doing nothing unrighteous to Israel because He forewarned them that he would leave. He just kept the timing of when, what, and how he would do things a secret (aka, the mystery).

Hopefully this helps! 

Do you have a question for Pastor Ron?

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