Becoming a Christian
Acts 10:42 And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. 43 To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins." 44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. 45 And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered, 47 "Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?" 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days. (NKJV)
The time is about A.D. 40. The new movement called “The Way”, and later called Christianity, is about ten years old. The gospel had been taken first to the Jews and then to the Samaritans, those descendants of Jews and Gentiles (non Jews) who intermarried.
Now, Peter and some disciples have come to Caesarea at the invitation of the Roman Centurion Cornelius. Cornelius, along with his friends and family, would be the first Gentiles to receive the gospel. God has engineered the events that brought Peter to Cornelius and has called him to now minister to the Gentiles.
Peter has just told the story of the ministry, death, and resurrection of Christ and now he is calling for the Gentiles present to make a decision for Christ. First he speaks of judgment. Peter acknowledges that he and the disciples had been commanded by Christ “to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead” (v. 42).
However, Peter does not dwell on sin but rather the anti-dote for sin. He explains that, just as the Prophets have written, “whoever believes in Him (Jesus) will receive remission of sins” (v. 43).
As Peter was speaking these words “the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word” (v. 44). Immediately, as the Gentiles heard Peter’s words, they all accepted Jesus in their hearts and were indwelled with the Holy Spirit. Just like that they all became believers.
Those Jewish disciples that came with Peter, those of the circumcision, were “astonished” because “the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also” (v. 45). This had never happened before. The Jews had always been taught to despise Gentiles.
Peter and the Jewish disciples had heard the Gentiles “speak with tongues and magnify God” (v. 46). This was a special dispensation from God given for this specific occasion. Since Gentiles had never before been given the gift of salvation, this was God’s way of confirming to Peter and the disciples that the Holy Spirit had indeed been given to them. Speaking in tongues is not part of the process of becoming a believer.
Peter then called for the Gentiles to be baptized, which is the new believer’s expression of a changed heart for Christ (v. 47). The new believers were than baptized by Peter, as he “commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord” (v. 48a). After the baptisms the Gentile believers asked Peter to stay on for a few days as they, no doubt, had many more questions concerning their decisions to follow Christ (v. 48b).
So the gift of salvation had been granted to the Gentiles just as it had been previously granted to the Jewish and Samaritan believers. Forgiveness of sins and salvation is available to all people, period. The Gentiles had heard the gospel, received Jesus as their Lord and Savior, were indwelled by the Holy Spirit and were baptized. The process was the same then as it still is today. It is God’s way of becoming a Christian.
Online Bible Commentary