What happened to the Gentiles of Acts 10?


by Shawn Brasseaux

“Is there any Bible info on what happened to the Gentiles of Acts 10? It seems Peter forgot all about them and became ‘brain dead’ when he returned to Jerusalem. Were they added to the Jewish saints under the law? Or did they go under Paul’s ministry? It is not mentioned in the lessons I have studied, or anywhere in Scripture that I have found.” What fascinating questions; thank you! I have found verses that answer your question, and I would be delighted to share them.

Bear in mind that Cornelius was a Roman centurion (commander of 100 soldiers), “a devout [religious] man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway” (Acts 10:1-2). Verse 22 says, “Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel….” Cornelius had gained a reputation amongst all the members of the nation Israel—he had blessed Israel for an extended time prior to Acts chapter 10, evidently. But, why did Cornelius bless Israel? It was done in faith in God’s Word.

Genesis 12:1-3 explains: “[1] Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: [2] And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: [3] And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”

The Abrahamic Covenant said that God would bless Gentiles who would bless Israel and He would curse Gentiles who would curse Israel. Cornelius, a Gentile, knew that the Abrahamic Covenant was the only way that he could approach the God of Israel, the God of creation. Thus, by faith in the Old Testament Scriptures, Cornelius blessed Israel. Cornelius blessed Israel by giving many alms (goods and/or money) to Israel.

Cornelius was still lost, since he did not have the Holy Spirit (Cornelius was saved near the close of chapter 10), but he was better off than most Gentiles of that time. He had some spiritual light and was seeking additional understanding: hence, God sent an angel and the Apostle Peter to Cornelius in order to provide Cornelius with further insight into spiritual matters (Acts 10:3-6,19-22,33). As it turned out, God sent Peter to Cornelius to give Cornelius the opportunity to be saved from his sins.

When the Apostle Peter (and six other believing Jews; Acts 11:12) arrived at Cornelius’ house, Peter preached in Acts 10:34-35: “[34] Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: [35] But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.” The Apostle Peter understood that God honored Cornelius’ blessing of Israel, and, in accordance with the Abrahamic Covenant, God would indeed bless Cornelius (Luke 7:1-10, a similar event, is greatly helpful in understanding the account of Cornelius). As Peter affirmed, God had accepted Cornelius on the basis of his faith in the Abrahamic Covenant and his works in accordance with it! Cornelius’ salvation rested on the Abrahamic Covenant, and that covenant was the context of Peter’s ministry.

Considering his epistles such as Romans and Galatians, the Apostle Paul never preached a works-religion message such as Acts 10:35. For this reason, the Gentiles of Acts chapter 10 could never come under, and never did come under, Paul’s ministry. Remember, since Israel fell as a nation back in Acts chapter 7, there is no Abrahamic Covenant in effect in Paul’s ministry (his ministry began in Acts chapter 9). The events leading up to Cornelius’ salvation would not qualify Cornelius to enter the Body of Christ and Paul’s ministry. Cornelius was one of the last people saved on the basis of the Abrahamic Covenant before Paul’s ministry came to the forefront.

In Paul’s ministry, we Gentiles are blessed apart from redeemed Israel and we are blessed in Christ: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). In Paul’s ministry, we Gentiles are saved apart from any covenants and are rather made nigh (near) to God by the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 2:11-13: “[11] Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; [12] That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: [13] But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”


Cornelius and the other Gentiles of Acts chapter 10 would have had to stay with Peter’s ministry, and, as far as the Scriptural record is concerned, Peter never again ministered to other Gentiles (Peter’s agreement with Paul in Galatians 2:9 occurred at the Jerusalem Council recorded in Acts chapter 15, which was at least a decade after Cornelius’ experience). Cornelius and his friends were added to the Jews under the Law (see also our study, “Were Gentiles saved before our Dispensation of Grace?,” linked at the end of this article). As far as the book of Acts is concerned, Paul never ministered to Cornelius or the other Gentiles associated with him. Based on these facts, we conclude that the Gentiles of Acts chapter 10 stayed with Israel, her apostles, and her program.

By the way, why did God record the events of Acts chapter 10 in our Bible? Why did He have Peter minister to Cornelius, a Gentile? Why this radical departure from Peter’s original commission of evangelizing all of Israel first and then going to Gentiles? The events with Cornelius enabled Peter to come to Paul’s defense in Acts 15:7-11, when Paul affirmed that Gentiles in Paul’s ministry were saved apart from the Ten Commandments (as Peter learned in Acts chapter 10, verses 43-45) and that in Paul’s ministry they had received the Holy Spirit without water baptism (as Peter learned in Acts chapter 10, verses 45-48). It was in God’s design to have Peter experience some 10 years prior to the Jerusalem council of Acts chapter 15, so Peter could save Paul’s ministry with his own testimony and ministry experience. (People usually get hung up and confused on certain aspects of Acts chapter 10 without seeing why God had it occur, so please be sure to note the reason.)

Also see:
» Were Gentiles saved before our Dispensation of Grace? If so, how?
» Does not Acts 15:11 disprove dispensational Bible study?
» When did the Church the Body of Christ begin?