A devout man - Ευσεβης, from ευ, well, and σεβομαι, I worship. A person who worships the true God, and is no idolater.
One that feared God - Φοβουμενος τον Θεον, One who was acquainted with the true God, by means of his word and laws; who respected these laws, and would not dare to offend his Maker and his Judge. This is necessarily implied in the fear of God.
With all his house - He took care to instruct his family in the knowledge which he himself had received; and to establish the worship of God in his house.
Gave much alms - His love to God led him to love men; and this love proved its sincerity by acts of beneficence and charity.
Prayed to God alway - Felt himself a dependent creature; knew he had no good but what he had received; and considered God to be the fountain whence he was to derive all his blessings. He prayed to God alway; was ever in the spirit of prayer, and frequently in the act. What an excellent character is this! And yet the man was a Gentile! He was what a Jew would repute common and unclean: see Acts 10:28. He was, therefore, not circumcised; but, as he worshipped the true God, without any idolatrous mixtures, and was in good report among all the nation of the Jews, he was undoubtedly what was called a proselyte of the gate, though not a proselyte of justice, because he had not entered into the bond of the covenant by circumcision. This was a proper person, being so much of a Jew and so much of a Gentile, to form the connecting link between both people; and God chose him that the salvation of the Jews might with as little observation as possible be transmitted to the Gentiles. The choice of such a person, through whom the door of faith was opened to the heathen world, was a proof of the wisdom and goodness of God. The man who was chosen to this honor was not a profligate Gentile; nor yet a circumcised proselyte. He was a Gentile, amiable and pure in his manners; and, for his piety and charitableness, held in high estimation among all the nation of the Jews. Against such a person they could not, with any grace, be envious, though God should pour out upon him the gift of the Holy Spirit.
And one that feared God - This is often a designation of piety. See notes on Acts 9:31. It has been supposed by many that the expressions here used denote that Cornelius was a Jew, or was instructed in the Jewish religion, and was a proselyte. But this by no means follows. It is probable that there might have been among the Gentiles a few at least who were fearers of God, and who maintained his worship according to the light which they had. So there may be now persons found in pagan lands who in some unknown way have been taught the evils of idolatry and the necessity of a purer religion, and who may be prepared to receive the gospel. The Sandwich Islands were very much in this state when the American missionaries first visited them. They had thrown away their idols, and seemed to be waiting for the message of mercy and the Word of eternal life, as Cornelius was. A few other instances have been found by missionaries in pagan lands of those who have thus been prepared by a train of providential events, or by the teaching of the Spirit, for the gospel of Christ.
With all his house - With all his family. It is evident here that Cornelius instructed his family, and exerted his influence to train them in the fear of God. True piety will always lead a man to seek the salvation of his family.
Prayed to God alway - Constantly; meaning that he was in the regular habit of prayer. Compare Romans 12:12; Luke 18:1; Psalm 119:2; Proverbs 2:2-5. As no particular kind of prayer is mentioned except secret prayer, we are not authorized to affirm that he offered prayer in any other manner. It may be observed, however, that he who prays in secret will usually pray in his family; and as the facially of Cornelius is mentioned as being also under the influence of religion, it is, perhaps, not a forced inference that he observed family worship.
The apostle's heart was touched with sympathy as he beheld their sorrow. Then, directing that the weeping friends be sent from the room, he kneeled down and prayed fervently to God to restore Dorcas to life and health. Turning to the body, he said, “Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up.” Dorcas had been of great service to the church, and God saw fit to bring her back from the land of the enemy, that her skill and energy might still be a blessing to others, and also that by this manifestation of His power the cause of Christ might be strengthened. AA 132.1
It was while Peter was still at Joppa that he was called by God to take the gospel to Cornelius, in Caesarea. AA 132.2
Cornelius was a Roman centurion. He was a man of wealth and noble birth, and his position was one of trust and honor. A heathen by birth, training, and education, through contact with the Jews he had gained a knowledge of God, and he worshiped Him with a true heart, showing the sincerity of his faith by compassion to the poor. He was known far and near for his beneficence, and his righteous life made him of good repute among both Jews and Gentiles. His influence was a blessing to all with whom he came in contact. The inspired record describes him as “a devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.” AA 132.3Read in context »
The same angel who had come from the royal courts to rescue Peter, had been the messenger of wrath and judgment to Herod. The angel smote Peter to arouse him from slumber; it was with a different stroke that he smote the wicked king, laying low his pride and bringing upon him the punishment of the Almighty. Herod died in great agony of mind and body, under the retributive judgment of God. AA 152.1
This demonstration of divine justice had a powerful influence upon the people. The tidings that the apostle of Christ had been miraculously delivered from prison and death, while his persecutor had been stricken down by the curse of God, were borne to all lands and became the means of leading many to a belief in Christ. AA 152.2
The experience of Philip, directed by an angel from heaven to go to the place where he met one seeking for truth; of Cornelius, visited by an angel with a message from God; of Peter, in prison and condemned to death, led by an angel forth to safety—all show the closeness of the connection between heaven and earth. AA 152.3Read in context »
Angels are sent on missions of mercy to the children of God. To Abraham, with promises of blessing; to the gates of Sodom, to rescue righteous Lot from its fiery doom; to Elijah, as he was about to perish from weariness and hunger in the desert; to Elisha, with chariots and horses of fire surrounding the little town where he was shut in by his foes; to Daniel, while seeking divine wisdom in the court of a heathen king, or abandoned to become the lions’ prey; to Peter, doomed to death in Herod's dungeon; to the prisoners at Philippi; to Paul and his companions in the night of tempest on the sea; to open the mind of Cornelius to receive the gospel; to dispatch Peter with the message of salvation to the Gentile stranger—thus holy angels have, in all ages, ministered to God's people. GC 512.1
A guardian angel is appointed to every follower of Christ. These heavenly watchers shield the righteous from the power of the wicked one. This Satan himself recognized when he said: “Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast not Thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side?” Job 1:9, 10. The agency by which God protects His people is presented in the words of the psalmist: “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him, and delivereth them.” Psalm 34:7. Said the Saviour, speaking of those that believe in Him: “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of My Father.” Matthew 18:10. The angels appointed to minister to the children of God have at all times access to His presence. GC 512.2Read in context »
If the Lord desires us to bear a message to Nineveh, it will not be as pleasing to Him for us to go to Joppa or to Capernaum. He has reasons for sending us to the place toward which our feet have been directed. At that very place there may be someone in need of the help we can give. He who sent Philip to the Ethiopian councilor, Peter to the Roman centurion, and the little Israelitish maiden to the help of Naaman, the Syrian captain, sends men and women and youth today as His representatives to those in need of divine help and guidance. MH 473.1
Our plans are not always God's plans. He may see that it is best for us and for His cause to refuse our very best intentions, as He did in the case of David. But of one thing we may be assured, He will bless and use in the advancement of His cause those who sincerely devote themselves and all they have to His glory. If He sees it best not to grant their desires He will counterbalance the refusal by giving them tokens of His love and entrusting to them another service. MH 473.2Read in context »