Monday, 3 October 2022
that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: Acts 10:37
Peter just said in the previous verse, “The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ—He is Lord of all.” He now continues his words to Cornelius, saying, “that word you know.”
It is now a different word than the previous verse:
The word (logos) which God sent to the children of Israel
that word (rhema) you know
The first is the message (the declaration of God) itself. This now refers to the contents of the message. One can say, “It is the gospel that saves. This is the word God has sent.” The question may then be, “But what is the gospel?” In response, the actual gospel is given – “This is the gospel: Jesus died for our sins according to the Scriptures, Jesus was buried, and Jesus rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.”
The first is the message, the second is the contents of the message. In the case of what Peter will next say, the words begin with events prior to the crucifixion, explaining the work of Jesus. From there, they meet up with the culmination of His work. It is this that forms the substance of the gospel. Hence, the gospel is inclusive of the fact that Jesus is God. When saying, “Jesus died for our sins,” it must be rightly understood who Jesus is. One must believe in the right “Jesus” for the gospel to be properly conveyed. Understanding this, Peter continues, saying, “which was proclaimed throughout all Judea.”
More precisely, it says, “that came throughout all Judea.” Peter is essentially saying, “Cornelius, surely you have heard what came about in the land of Judea. You may not know all the details, but that’s ok, I’m here to explain them to you.” His words now are the beginning of the explanation of what the message (rhéma) is. From there, he continues with, “and began from Galilee.”
Again, more rightly it says, “having begun from Galilee.” Galilee is not a great distance from Caesarea. With so much of Christ’s ministry there, it was likely that Cornelius would have heard something of what had transpired, maybe even from news about the centurion described in Matthew 8. He may not have a full sense of all that transpired, but he must have surely heard some of the events that took place. These things were “after the baptism which John preached.”
The word translated as “preached” is not the same as in the previous verse. This means to proclaim or herald a message. John heralded repentance to Israel in preparation for the coming of Messiah. Peter includes John the Baptist’s ministry in his words, clearly assuming that even a Roman centurion in Caesarea would have heard about his proclamation. There would have been a national stir that the Messiah was coming and that His forerunner was telling them that it was so.
Peter is ensuring that Cornelius was fully aware of the fact that Jesus was prophesied to come, that He was heralded as that coming One, and then he will next describe the nature of the One who came.
Life application: If God united with humanity in order to redeem man. And if that Man, Jesus, went to the cross to die for the sins of humanity, does it make any sense at all that God in Christ would lie when He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”?
The answer is, “No.” If God, who cannot lie, has spoken that Jesus is the only way to be reconciled to God, it would make no sense at all for Him to then provide another avenue of reconciliation. In fact, it would be the stupidest thing in the history of creation to have Jesus crucified if there was another avenue available. What would be the point of His death if there was?
People who say, “I believe that Jesus died for our sins, but there are other paths to God as well,” are not thinking clearly. We must evaluate the circumstances and decide what is true and what is not true. There cannot be truth in the words of John 14:6 if we believe there is another path available to be reconciled to God. And if the words of John 14:6 are not true, then Jesus isn’t God. The person they say they believe died for our sins is not the Person that uttered His words of exclusivity.
Let us always think such matters through to their logical end. God has spoken through Jesus. What He has said is and it will not change. From that, let us consider how very important it is to speak the gospel to others. It is the only message that can save.
Heavenly Father, how good it is to know that You have given us a path to reconciliation. It is remarkable that You have done so. Why should we then assume that it is one of many paths? Even one is surprising, and it is the most incredible thing that has ever come about. Jesus Christ died for our sins. How can we shame that act by believing that there is any other path to restoration with You? May we never presume to even consider it. Thank You for Jesus. Amen.