No Partiality

KEY VERSE: “Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.” —Acts 10:34,35

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Acts 10:20-29, 44-48

GOD, IN THE prophecy of Daniel 9:25-27, promised seventy weeks of favor for the nation of Israel. The prophecy was fulfilled when Jesus came in A.D. 29 as Israel’s Messiah, and was immersed in the Jordan River to begin his ministry. At this point there remained one more week, or seven years of God’s favor, toward Israel.

In the middle of that ‘week’, Messiah would be cut off by being put to death. So Jesus died in A.D. 33, three and one-half years after the beginning of his ministry. This was a time of exclusive favor granted to Israel—the chief favor being the invitation to become disciples of Jesus. In the autumn of A.D. 36, that exclusive favor came to an end.

There were many Gentiles who sought the blessings and favors Jesus had to offer, but because of this promised restricted favor to Israel, Jesus could not respond. He said, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the House of Israel.” (Matt. 15:24) There were some exceptions. One of these was a centurion mentioned in Matthew 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-10, who wanted his servant healed. This centurion loved the nation of Israel, and had built them a synagogue. He knew the God of Israel, and worshipped him.

When the time came for that exclusive favor to Israel to end, Peter was in Joppa at the home of Simon, a tanner. He went on the housetop to pray. He became very hungry, and while the meal was being prepared, he saw a vision of a large sheet being let down from heaven, containing animals, reptiles, and birds. He heard a voice say, “Get up Peter, kill and eat.” “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.” The voice answered him: “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” (Acts 10:13-15, NIV) This scene was repeated two more times before the sheet was withdrawn.

Earlier, Cornelius—a centurion in Caesarea—was praying to God when in a vision an angel appeared to him. He gave the centurion specific instructions to send for Peter. Three men came from Cornelius and explained their mission to Peter.

The next day, Peter went to Caesarea with these three men, and six brethren from Joppa. When they arrived at Cornelius’ home, he was waiting for them with a houseful of people—his family, relatives, and friends. Cornelius explained to Peter how an angel had appeared to him, telling him to invite Peter to come to speak to them. Now they were ready to hear what he would say.

Peter began his discourse by commenting that God shows no partiality, but was now accepting Gentiles—those from nations other than Israel—who reverence him. Then the apostle gave a brief account of God’s message to Israel through the ministry of Jesus, describing that ministry and the concluding events; namely, the death and resurrection of Jesus. While he was speaking, the Holy Spirit came upon all who heard the message, and they were baptized. There was no longer any doubt that God was showing no partiality among the nations, and from this time on, God turned to the Gentiles to select from them also, “a people for his name.”—Acts 15:14

Dawn Bible Students Association
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