A Roman centurion, stationed at Caesarea in Palestine, supposed to have been of a distinguished family in Rome. He was "the first gentile convert;" and the story of his reception of the gospel shows how God broke down the partition-wall between Jews and Gentiles. When first mentioned, Ac 10:1, he had evidently been led by the Holy Spirit to renounce idolatry, to worship the true God, and to lead, in the midst of profligacy, a devout and beneficent life; he was prepared to receive the Savior, and God did not fail to reveal Him. Cornelius was miraculously directed to send for Peter, who was also miraculously prepared to attend the summons. He went from Joppa to Caesarea, thirty-five miles, preached the gospel to Cornelius and his friends, and saw with wonder the miraculous gifts of the Spirit poured upon them all. Providence thus explained his recent vision in the trance; he nobly discarded his Jewish prejudices, and at once began his great work as apostle to the Gentiles by receiving into the church of Christ those whom Christ had so manifestly accepted, Ac 10:11.
a centurion whose history is narrated in Ac 10. He was a "devout man," and like the centurion of Capernaum, believed in the God of Israel. His residence at Caesrea probably brought him into contact with Jews who communicated to him their expectations regarding the Messiah; and thus he was prepared to welcome the message Peter brought him. He became the first fruit of the Gentile world to Christ. He and his family were baptized and admitted into the Christian church (Ac 10:1,44-48). (See Centurion.)
Centurion of the Italian band or cohort at Caesarea (Acts 10); "devout and one that feared God with all his house": he ordered not merely himself but all his family in God's ways. Compare Ge 18:19; Jos 24:15. He had made the most of his spiritual opportunities; for coming to the Holy Land a heathen, when he knew of the true God there he became a true proselyte. Now "whosoever hath to him shall be given" (Mt 13:12; Isa 64:5; Mic 2:7; Joh 7:17). So, "giving much alms to the people," which showed the self sacrificing sincerity of his religion, and "praying to God always," he was vouchsafed a further revelation, namely, the gospel, through Peter's instrumentality.
A vision to Cornelius desiring him to send to Joppa for Peter, and a vision to Peter on the morrow, just as Cornelius' messengers, two household servants and "a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually" (for he followed David's rule, Ps 101:6), were drawing nigh the city, instructing him to regard as clean those whom "God had cleansed," though heretofore ceremonially "unclean," and desiring him to go with Cornelius' messengers "doubting nothing," prepared the way. Whatever uncertainty there might be of the miraculous nature of either vision by itself, there can be none of the two mutually supporting each other. While Peter preached Jesus to them the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard. This left no doubt as to the propriety of baptizing these Gentile proselytes of the gate with Christian baptism.
Thus Peter showed in act what Jesus meant by His promise, "I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatsoever (ceremonies) thou shalt bind (declare obligatory), etc., loose (declare not so), etc., shall be bound ... loosed." The question which perplexed the early church was not whether Gentiles might, become Christians (for that was plainly declared Mr 16:15; Lu 24:47), but whether they could be admitted without circumcision. Cornelius' case decided this (Ac 11:17; 10:28,34-35).
Cornelius already "knew" by hearsay of Jesus' preaching (Ac 10:36-37); but now the faith was authoritatively declared to and accepted by him. An undesigned coincidence (a mark of truth) is to be observed in comparing "four days ago," Ac 10:30, with Ac 10:9,23-24, front which it incidentally comes out that four days in all intervened between Cornelius' vision and Peter's arrival, two days in going to Joppa and two in returning, just as Cornelius states. Cornelius, representing Roman nationality and force, was peculiarly fitted to be the first Gentile convert, the firstfruits of the harvest that followed.
A 'proselyte of the gate' or 'devout man' (Ac 10:1, see art. Acts of the Apostles,
A devout centurion of Caesarea, to whom God spoke in a vision, and to whom He sent Peter, who preached the gospel to him and to those he had invited. It led to their salvation; they received the Holy Spirit, and were baptised. Ac 10:1-31. Peter was thus opening the door of the kingdom to the Gentiles.