The Story of Cornelius
The lesson that the church learned from the story of Cornelius was that God wanted to erase the “middle wall of partition” (Ephesians 2:14) between Jews and Gentiles. The Jews thought very highly of themselves, as if God’s love had been given for them only. And they thought inferior of the other nations. This is seen in the book of Esdras: “Thou madest the world for our sakes. As for the other people … thou hast said that they are nothing, but be like unto spittle. … These heathen … have ever been reputed as nothing” (2 Esdras 6:55–57).
The Jews believed that the expected Messiah was to redeem the Jews and make them an exalted nation. At the same time, He would destroy all the other nations and make them slaves to them. Therefore, to liberate the infant Christian church from this prideful idea, the Lord performed the singular outpouring of His Spirit on Cornelius and his family (Acts 11).
Later, God’s will for the gentiles was likewise revealed to Paul who understood that the gospel of Christ must free people from their cherished errors. And he declared that neither race, nor sex, nor social status have any bearing in God’s sight (Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:10, 11). Christ fulfilled the sacrificial ceremonies by His death. And He removed the law’s judgement of all sinners that repent (Romans 8:1–4).
The Equality of the Jews and Gentiles
Since both Jew and Gentile benefit from Christ’s redemption, there is no difference: all are condemned; all are saved who believe (Galatians 3:27–29). Both groups are reconciled to God and brought into harmony with the heavenly Father (Ephesians 2:11–22). Thus, pride of race and class has no place in God’s kingdom.
This is the “mystery” now revealed “…that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel…” (Ephesians 3:1–12). God is willing to receive all men through Jesus. Sin alone is that which separates men from Him (Isaiah 59:2). People would be regarded as unclean only when they reject God’s offer of salvation.
Initially, the Jews had not realized that Jesus planned His grace to spread also to the Gentiles. But now it was clear that the Gentiles can enter into the “fellowship of the mystery” (Ephesians 3:9) of righteousness, which embraces every human. And through the gospel, the whole human family, Gentiles and Jews, can receive s God’s salvation
In His service,