My fellow warriors, I have the pleasure of introducing you to the most well-known centurion in the New Testament. His name is Cornelius, of the Italian Cohort (Regiment), who came to faith in Jesus Christ in a most unusual way.
Our comrade was a God-fearing soldier—just and devout—who converted to Judaism along with others in his household. Even as a Gentile (non-Jew) he had a good reputation among Jews in Israel and was particularly known for his generous giving to the poor.
One day, he was praying and fasting in his house when an angel appeared to him with a strange message: send for a man in Joppa named Simon (Peter) staying at the home of a tanner in that city. Ask Peter to come to your house with a message from God. Having himself just seen a vision from God on the rooftop of the tanner’s house, Peter went to this Gentile’s house–something which he normally would not have done if it hadn’t been for the vision.
When Peter arrive at the officer’s home he found the household waiting eagerly to hear what he had to say. Cornelius even bowed in worship at Peter’s feet because it was obvious that Petr was there as a messenger from God. Peter rebuked Cornelius’ worship and, almost overwhelmed by the supernatural circumstances of the call and the eager reception by these Gentiles, Peter proclaimed the Gospel of Jesus Christ beginning with His anointing by God’s Holy Spirit as Israel’s Messiah. Peter finished his proclamation of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection with these words: “To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.” Cornelius and those in his house believed on Jesus and were out of darkness and into the kingdom of God’s dear Son.
Soon after, Peter met with other apostles and brethren in Jerusalem to explain how God saved Cornelius and other Gentiles in his house in exactly the same way that God saved thousands of Jews earlier at Pentecost.. (Acts 2) “…the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning. “
“Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?”
The Jewish believers’ reaction to salvation of Gentiles, accompanied by the miraculous signs they had witnessed at Pentecost, was joy at what God had done. “When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, ‘Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.’”
My friends, Centurion Cornelius is a model for us all. What a wonderful thing God did when He broke down the wall of animosity between Jews and Gentiles in Jesus Christ! Even Roman soldiers are welcomed into God’s family by faith!
“There is neither Jew nor Greek (Gentile), there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28