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Chapters 3 and 4
Chapters 6 and 7
Chapters 10 to 11:18
Chapters 11:19 to 30
Chapters 18:1 to 19:7
Chapters 19:8 to 41
The assembly existed. The doctrine of her oneness, as the body of Christ, outside the world, was not yet made known. The reception of Cornelius did not announce it, although paving its way.
Cornelius' entrance into God's house through Peter's ministry; the Holy Spirit given to Gentiles as well as to Jews
The undiminished power of Peter, his apostolic authority, in the midst of which the entrance of Cornelius into the spiritual house of God takes place, in connection with Peter's ministry, and that, after the calling of Saul, which opened a new perspective — all these facts taken together confirmed that which went before. The original work was in no wise set aside to bring in another. Nevertheless, Peter's vision did not reveal the assembly as the body of Christ, neither did the admission of Cornelius. They only showed that in every nation he who feared God was acceptable to Him — in a word, that the favour of God was not limited to the Jews, and that there was no need of becoming a Jew in order to share the salvation that is in Christ. The oneness of the body united to its Head in heaven was not brought out by this event; but it prepared the way for the promulgation of that truth, since in fact the Gentile was admitted on earth without becoming a Jew. The thing was done on earth individually, although the doctrine itself was not taught. Repentance unto life eternal was granted to the Gentiles as such. The Holy Ghost — the seal of christian blessing among the Jews, the fruit of redemption accomplished by Jesus — was given to Gentiles as to Jews. The latter might be astonished at it; but there was no resisting God. Through grace they could praise Him for it.
The door opened to Gentiles; summary of the Spirit's work in chapters 9:32 to 11:18
From Acts 9:32 to Acts 11:18, we find then, the power of the Spirit of God with Peter in the midst of Israel, and the admission of Gentiles into the earthly assembly, without their becoming Jews, or submitting to the ancient order which was passing away; the seal of the Spirit put upon them; and the heads of the assembly at Jerusalem, and the most ardent of the circumcision, accepting the fact as the will of God, and praising Him while submitting to it, in spite of their prejudices. The door then is open to the Gentile. This was an immense step. The precious doctrine of the assembly had yet to be announced.
Peter had proclaimed the call of the Gentiles in his first discourse; but to realise it, and give form to its conditions, in connection with that which had already existed historically, required the intervention, the authority, and the revelation of God. Progress is evident through the patient grace of God; for it was not the wisdom of man. Altogether Jewish at the commencement, the people of Jerusalem were taught that Jesus would return if they repented. This testimony of grace is rejected, and, in the person of him who maintained it, the firstfruits of the assembly go up to heaven. The Holy Ghost, in His sovereign liberty, acts in Samaria and among the proselytes. The assembly being scattered by the persecution, Saul is brought in by the revelation of a glorious Christ, and by a testimony from His mouth which implies the union of saints on earth with Himself their Head in heaven as only one body. After this a pious Gentile, converted but still a Gentile, receives faith in Christ and the Holy Ghost; so that, marked out by this testimony — this seal from God Himself to his faith — the apostle and the disciples who were the most attached to Judaism receive him; Peter by baptising him, and the others by accepting Peter's act.
The meaning of salvation: the seal of the Spirit
Let us notice here, that salvation is not only the fact of
being quickened and pious, but that of complete deliverance so as to
present us to Himself in righteousness, which God grants to every
one who has life through the operation of God. Cornelius was pious
and earnestly so; but he hears words of a work done for him whereby
he may be, and (as we know) was saved. Finally the seal of the Holy
Ghost, upon believing in Jesus,* is the ground on which those whom
God accepts are acknowledged. That is to say, it is the full
evidence for man.
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