To convince the apostle Peter that He was no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34), God acted miraculously in a remarkable way. First, he sent an angel to inform Cornelius, a Gentile centurion, that He had heard his prayers and remembered his alms (10:3-6; 22; 30-32; 11:13-14). Because He had done so, the angel directed Cornelius to send people to summon Peter to come and present to him the words by which he and his entire house would be saved (11:14).
Meanwhile, God granted Peter a supernatural vision (10:9-16; 11:5-10) to show him that he was not to “call any man common or unclean” (10:28). What’s more, the striking events in the vision were repeated three times (10:16; 11:10), undoubtedly, to emphasize to Peter what God had done.
God then arranged that the men whom Cornelius sent to Peter would arrive at Peter’s place immediately after he had the vision (10:17; 11:11). After this, the Holy Spirit spoke directly to Peter to inform him that He had sent the three men who were seeking him (10:19) and that therefore he was to go with them without any doubting (10:20; 11:12).
Meeting Peter, these men told him how Cornelius had been directed by the angel to send for him (10:22). After going with them and arriving at Cornelius’ house, Peter received from Cornelius a second report of his encounter with the angel and his actions because of that encounter (10:30-32).
Peter thus had three supernatural indicators given to him that God wanted him to be at Cornelius’ home at that time to minister to him: (1) his vision; (2) the Spirit’s speaking to him; and (3) the report of the angel’s directing Cornelius to summon him. Because of the cumulative effect that the remarkable supernatural work of God to direct him in this manner had upon him, Peter opened his gospel message to Cornelius by saying, “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” (10:34-35).
The opening words of Peter’s message show that he was now fully convinced that God is impartial in His dealings with all people. As the readers of Acts, we are given an even stronger presentation of this truth than Peter was because we are given multiple accounts of not only the three supernatural events prior to Peter’s message but also of how the Spirit supernaturally concluded Peter’s message (10:44-46; 11:15; 15:8). Through our reading of how God thus gave these Gentiles the gift of the Holy Spirit, we learn that God unmistakably testified to the salvation of Cornelius and all those who were with him on that occasion (15:8).
Moreover, Luke informs us through Peter’s later testimony that God “put no difference between [the apostles, who were all Jewish] and [these Gentiles], purifying their hearts by faith” (15:9). We, therefore, have every reason to be convinced even more than Peter was that God is no respecter of persons!
He accepts in every nation the people who fear Him and work righteousness, and He desires that believers give such people the words by which they will be saved. Let us be diligent, therefore, to be impartial concerning whom we are willing to go to and witness to them “the word of the gospel” (15:7).