“Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” (v. 47)

Acts 10:44-48 Friday 19 May 2017

Psalm: Psalm 8


The significance of this passage is that it follows onimmediately from the speech which Peter has just made, afterthe visions which he and Cornelius experienced separately but whichwere then confirmed in their mutual encounter at Cornelius house inCaesarea, and in which he has set out his new understanding ofGod's grace; that God shows no partiality, "but in every nationanyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him"(Acts 10:35).

If there were any doubt about the truth of this realisation, itis removed by what happens next, namely the coming down of the HolySpirit upon all who heard the word. We don't have a physicaldescription as to how the Spirit came, unlike the account of whathappened to the Apostles in Acts2:1-4; but the outcome was substantially the same, in that itleads to their "speaking in tongues and extolling God" (v. 46).

What is striking about this is the fact that the "circumcisedbelievers", that is those Jewish Christians accompanying Peter,discovered that the gift of the Holy Spirit has been poured out notjust on them, but "even on the Gentiles" (v. 45). Equally strikingis what happens next. Having realised the significance of what hashappened, Peter's response was immediate: "Can anyone withhold thewater for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spiritjust as we have?" (v. 47). There are echoes of the experience ofPhilip in meeting the Ethiopian eunuch on the road to Gaza (Acts8:26-40), when having explained the gospel to him, theEthiopian says; "Look, here is water! What is to prevent me frombeing baptized?" (Acts 8:36).

Peter recognised that this new understanding of faith needed tobe given visible expression in the life of the fledgeling Christiancommunity: "So he ordered them to be baptized in the name of JesusChrist" (v. 48). It will also be evidenced in practical form inwelcome and hospitality, as the newly-baptized Christians invitePeter to stay with them for several days.

To Ponder

  • Peter responds very immediately to the experience of faith. Arewe too cautious and wary in responding to the experience of newChristians?
  • What does this passage have to say about our practice ofBaptism?
  • How do we seek to welcome newcomers into the life of Christiancommunity?


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