Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. A
cohort, with the Romans, was a body of infantry 500 strong. There were ten cohorts in each legion. There were, generally speaking,
two centurions appointed to the command of each cohort. (Bible de Vence)
Ver. 2. A
religious man, and one that feared God. He was not a Jew, yet believed in one God. --- Always, that is, frequently
praying, and giving alms. In the Rheims Testament we find this note: "Hereby it appeareth, that such works as
are done before justification, though they suffice not to salvation, yet are acceptable preparatives for the grace of justification,
and such as move God to mercy. ... though all such preparative works come also of grace." These Douay divines did not hold
with the Quenellists that a true faith, or the habit of faith, must needs be the first grace. (Witham) --- Cornelius religiously
observed the law of nature, and the principal points of the Jewish moral law, though he did not profess Judaism. (Calmet)
--- He was an admirable example of virtue before his knowledge of Christianity. He feared God, and brought up his family in
the same holy fear. He was leader of the first band, and consequently had the eagle, the Roman ensign, carried before him.
Four hundred men were under his command. (Tirinus) --- "His former goodness could no longer avail him, unless he were, by
the bond of Christian society and peace, incorporated with the Church; he is therefore ordered to send unto Peter, that by
him he may learn Christ, by him he may be baptized." (St. Augustine, lib. i. de bap. chap. 8.) --- Alms. Nothing is
more efficacious than the alms of a man, whose hands have not been defiled by injustice. It is a clear stream, refreshing
in the heat of day, and imparting verdure to every plant that is near it. It is a fountain springing to eternal life. It is
a tree, whose branches reach even to heaven, and which produces its eternal fruit in abundance, when death has removed from
you all that is temporal. Waste not, then, your treasures in selfish gratifications, the fruit of which is sorrow; but feed
the poor, and the hungry. Plant and sow in their hands, and your produce will be great; no soil is more fertile. (St. Chrysostom,
hic. hom. xxii.)
Ver. 3. He
saw in a vision manifestly. An angel appearing visibly to him. (Witham)
Ver. 9. Stated
hours for prayer were appointed both in the old and new law. Of this St. Cyprian writes: "In celebrating their prayers, we
find that the three children of Daniel observed the third, sixth, and ninth hour. Thus afterwards, at the third hour, the
Holy Ghost descended upon the apostles, fulfilling the grace of our Lord's promise: at the sixth hour, Peter going up to the
higher room of the house, was both by voice and sign from God instructed, that all nations should be admitted to the grace
of salvation, of which he before doubted; and our Lord being crucified at the sixth hour, at the ninth washed away our sins
by his blood. But to us, besides the seasons observed of old, the set times of praying are increased; for we must pray in
the morning early, that the resurrection of our Lord may be celebrated by morning prayer; in the morning early will I stand
before Thee, early in the morning wilt thou hear my voice. (Psalm v.) Towards the evening also, when the sun departeth,
we must of necessity pray again." (De Orat. Dom. No. 15) St. Jerome, writing to Eustochia, a virgin, and a religious, (ep.
22.) says, "though the apostle bid us to pray always, and, to holy persons, their very sleep is prayer; yet we must have distinct
hours for prayer, that if perhaps we be otherwise occupied, the very time may admonish us of our duty. The third, sixth, ninth
hour, morning early, and evening, no man can be ignorant of."
Ver. 10. There
came upon him an ecstasy of mind. This is the true sense by the Greek. I have never yet eaten any
unclean thing. This seems to have happened, an. 35 [A.D. 35]. Till then the apostles followed the ceremonies of the law
of Moses. It may seem strange that even St. Peter should not know that the ceremonial precepts of the law were to be abolished.
It may be answered, that St. Peter and they, were only ignorant of the time, when they were to be laid aside; and so St. Chrysostom
says, that the conversion of Cornelius, with all its circumstances, was to convince the Jews, rather than the apostles, that
those ceremonies were no longer obligatory. (Witham)
Ver. 15. God
hath purified. Not that the Almighty had already sanctified the Gentiles; but he had called them, that they might become
so. He had thrown down the wall of separation, which had stood between Jew and Gentile; he had made one fold to contain all
the sheep under one shepherd. Jesus Christ, by his blood, had generally reconciled all mankind to his Father. In this sense
all were pure; that is, all had a right, as all were called, to partake of the merits of the Son of God. All had a right to
communicate in the truths of the gospel, and in the sacraments, which were the appointed channels, through which the graces
and merits of Jesus Christ were applied. (Calmet) --- Here, then, God first announced to Peter, that the time was come to
preach to the Gentiles unto salvation, no less than to the Jews; with full freedom to eat all meats, without respect to the
prohibition of some made in the old law. (Bristow)
Ver. 25. Cornelius
... worshipped. Some think Cornelius might look upon St. Peter as more than a man, and offer to him divine worship:
but by prostrating, he might only intend to pay such honour to him, as is paid to persons eminent in dignity, especially according
to the custom of the eastern people. (Witham)
Ver. 26. St.
Chrysostom (hom. xxi in Act.) thinketh Peter refused this homage through humility, because this falling down, proskunein,
is frequently used in Scripture towards men. St. Jerome (adv. Vigil. chap. ii.) holds the contrary sentiment.
Ver. 28. Abominable
a thing. The Jews extended their aversion to the Gentiles to an unnatural length; hence the frequent accusations of the
latter, that they were a nation the enemies of mankind. Josephus defends his nation against the imputation. He allows that
Moses forbids them to admit strangers into their solemnities, and exercises of religion, but not to refuse any thing which
common humanity demands of all. (Josephus, lib. ii. con. App.)
Ver. 35. In
every nation, &c. That is to say, not only Jews, but Gentiles also, of what nation soever, are acceptable to God,
if they fear him, and work justice. But then true faith is always to be presupposed, without which, (saith St. Paul,
Hebrews xi. 6.) it is impossible to please God. Beware then of the error of those, who would infer from this passage,
that men of all religions may be pleasing to God. For since none but the true religion can be from God, all other religions
must be from the father of lies; and therefore highly displeasing to the God of truth. (Challoner) --- He that feareth
him, and worketh justice. So he calls the prayers, alms-deeds, and charitable works of this Gentile Cornelius. (Witham)
Ver. 36. God
sent the word. By this word, some understand the eternal Word, the Son of God; but by the next verse, we may
rather expound it of the word of the gospel preached. Jesus Christ ... he is Lord of all things. A proof of Christ's
Ver. 37. For
it began, or its beginning was, &c.
Ver. 39. Whom
they killed. At the very first, says St. Chrysostom, the apostles preached Christ crucified, and tell them they had
put to death on a cross the Lord of all things, the judge of the living and the dead. (Witham) --- We may here admire
how wonderfully Peter adapts his discourse to the capacity of his hearers. When speaking to the Jews, he proves Jesus to be
their Messias, from the testimony of their prophets. On the present occasion, he only just alludes to the prophets, but confirms
his discourse by the testimony of the miracles which Jesus had wrought in public, and were known to all the world. (Calmet)
Ver. 40. Jesus
Christ did not announce his resurrection, and other mysteries, to all at once, but to a chosen few, who were to be governors
of the rest; teaching us thereby, that we have to learn our religion, and every thing necessary to salvation, from the Church
of God, speaking to us by her ministers.
Ver. 42. The
living and of the dead. This may be understood of the elect, who live by grace, and the reprobate, who are spiritually
dead; or perhaps more literally, of those who shall be found living upon earth at the second coming of Christ, and of all
who have died from the commencement of the world to the end of time. (St. Augustine, Enchirid.)
Ver. 44. The
Holy Ghost fell upon all them, and made his coming known in some visible manner and exterior signs, as on the day of Pentecost.
The Christians who had come with St. Peter, who before had been Jews, were astonished to see that such extraordinary
gifts of the Holy Ghost were given to uncircumcised Gentiles. (Witham)
Ver. 47. Can
any man forbid water? &c. Or doubt that these, on whom the Holy Ghost hath descended, may be made members of the Christian
Church, by baptism, as Christ ordained? (Witham) --- Such may be the grace of God occasionally towards men, and such their
great charity and contrition, that they may have remission, justification, and sanctification, before the external sacraments
of baptism, confirmation, and penance be received; as we see in this example: where, at Peter's preaching, they all received
the Holy Ghost before any sacrament. But here we also learn one necessary lesson, that such, notwithstanding, must needs receive
the sacraments appointed by Christ, which whosoever contemneth, can never be justified. (St. Augustine, sup. Levit. q. 84.
 Ver. 10. Mentis excessus, epepesen ep auton ekstasis.
 Ver. 25. Procidens ad pedes ejus adoravit, peson epi tous
podas prosekunesen. The same word is often used for a civil worship.
 Ver. 36. ton logon, verbum, but in the next
verse for verbum, rema.
 Ver. 39. St. Chrysostom, hom. xxiii, vides eos nunquam occultare
crucem, oras autous oudamou kruptontas ton stauron.
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Cornelius is received into the Church. Peter's vision.
1 Now *there was a certain man in Cęsarea, named Cornelius, a centurion
of the band, which is called the Italian,
2 A religious man, and one that feared God, with all his house, giving
much alms to the people, and praying to God always:
3 He saw in a vision manifestly, about the ninth hour of the day, an
Angel of God coming in to him, and saying to him: Cornelius.
4 And he beholding him, being seized with fear, said: What is it, Lord?
And he said to him: Thy prayers, and thy alms, have ascended for a memorial in the sight of God.
5 And now send men to Joppe, and call hither one Simon, who is surnamed
6 He lodgeth with one Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea side:
he shall tell thee what thou must do.
7 And when the Angel who spoke to him was departed, he called two of
his household servants, and a soldier, that feared the Lord, of them who were under him:
8 To whom, when he had related all, he sent them to Joppe.
9 And on the next day, whilst they were going on their journey, and drawing
near to the city, Peter went up to the higher parts of the house to pray, about the sixth hour.
10 And being hungry, he was desirous to taste somewhat. And as
they were preparing, there came upon him an ecstasy of mind.
11 And he saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending, as it were
a great sheet, let down by the four corners from heaven to the earth,
12 In which were all manner of four-footed beasts, and creeping things
of the earth, and fowls of the air.
13 And there came a voice to him: Arise, Peter, kill, and eat.
14 But Peter said: Far be it from me, Lord, for I never eaten any common
and unclean thing.
15 And the voice spoke to him again the second time: That which
God hath purified, do not thou call common.
16 And this was done thrice: and presently the vessel was taken up again
17 Now, whilst Peter was doubting within himself what the vision which
he had seen should mean, behold the men who were sent by Cornelius, inquiring for Simon's house, stood at the gate.
18 And when they had called, they asked, if Simon, who is surnamed Peter,
19 And as Peter was thinking on the vision, the Spirit said to him: Behold
three men seek thee.
20 Arise, therefore, go down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for
I have sent them.
21 Then Peter going down to the men, said: Behold I am he whom you seek:
what is the cause, for which you are come?
22 They said, Cornelius, a centurion, a just man, and one that feareth
God, and that hath good testimony from all the nations of the Jews, received an answer of a holy Angel, to send for thee into
his house, and to hear words from thee.
23 Then bringing them in, he lodged them. And the day following, he arose
and went with them: and some of the brethren from Joppe, accompanied him.
24 And the day after, he entered into Cęsarea. Now Cornelius was waiting
for them, having called together his kinsmen, and special friends.
25 And it came to pass, when Peter was come in, Cornelius met him, and
falling down at his feet, worshipped.
26 But Peter raised him up, saying: Arise, I myself also am a man.
27 And talking with him, he went in, and found many that were come together.
28 And he said to them: You know how abominable a thing it is for a man
that is a Jew, to keep company with, or to come to, one of another nation: but God hath shewed to me, to call no man common
29 Wherefore, making no doubt, I came when I was sent for. I ask, therefore,
for what cause you have sent for me?
30 And Cornelius said: Four days ago, until this hour, I was praying
in my house at the ninth hour, and behold a man stood before me in white apparel, and said:
31 Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thy alms are remembered in the
sight of God.
32 Send, therefore, to Joppe, and call hither Simon, who is surnamed
Peter: he lodgeth in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea side.
33 Immediately, therefore, I sent to thee: and thou hast done well in
coming. Now, therefore, all we are present in thy sight, to hear all things whatsoever are commanded thee by the Lord.
34 Then Peter, opening his mouth, said: In truth, I perceive *that God
is no respecter of persons.
35 But in every nation, he that feareth him, and worketh justice, is
acceptable to him.
36 God sent the word to the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus
Christ: (he is Lord of all).
37 You know the word which hath been published through all Judea: *for
it began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached,
38 Jesus, of Nazareth: how God anointed him with the Holy Ghost, and
with power, who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed by the devil: for God was with him.
39 And we are witnesses of all things, which he did in the land of the
Jews, and in Jerusalem, whom they killed, hanging him upon a tree.
40 Him God raised up the third day, and gave him to be made manifest,
41 Not to all the people, but to witnesses preordained by God, even to
us, who eat and drank with him, after he rose again from the dead.
42 And he commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it
is he who hath been appointed by God to be judge of the living and of the dead.
43 *To him all the prophets give testimony, that through his name all
receive remission of sins, who believe in him.
44 While Peter was yet speaking these words, the Holy Ghost fell upon
all them that heard the word.
45 And the faithful of the circumcision, who had come with Peter, were
astonished because the grace of the Holy Ghost was also poured out upon the Gentiles.
46 For they heard them speaking with tongues, and magnifying God.
47 Then Peter answered: Can any man forbid water, that these should not
be baptized, who have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?
48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus
Christ. Then they entreated him to stay with them some days.
1: about the year A.D. 39.
34: Deuteronomy x. 17.; 2 Paralipomenon xix. 7.; Job xxxiv. 19.; Wisdom
vi. 8.; Ecclesiasticus xxxv. 15.; Romans ii. 11.; Galatians ii. 6.; Ephesians vi. 9.; Colossians iii. 25.; 1 Peter i. 17.
37: Luke iv. 14.
43: Jeremias xxxi. 34.; Micheas vii. 18.