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Why Some Fail to Understand Acts 10— The Conversion of Cornelius

August 27th, 2006

In an attempt to deflect the New Testament teaching regarding Christian baptism, some will introduce the conversion of Cornelius, with its irregular circumstances. But, when the ubject of Christian baptism is studied (Matt. 28:18-20; Jn.3:5; Acts 2:38;22:16; Rom. 6:3-5,17; Gal. 3:26,27; Tit. 3:4-6; 1 Pet. 3:20,21) apart from human “tenets” and “cardinal doctrines,” it is plain to see how it is essential to the plan of salvation. Then, why do some fail to understand the conversion of Cornelius in Acts 10? Well, to begin with, a bias is already in place when one’s church creed presupposes to tell its members what the Bible says on any subject, including baptism. (Mk. 7:8,9). Those supported by a particular church organization receive their salaries from these institutions. When these ministers cease representing the tenets of these organizations, they will cease being remunerated.


Assumption 1—Acts 10 may be isolated from Acts 11 without any consequences. Assumption 2—Cornelius was saved when he spoke in tongues (10:46).
Assumption 3—Luke’s main point—inclusion of the Gentiles (see 10:15,22,28,34, 35,45; 11:12) may be marginalized; while the Holy Spirit is made to appear as the primary subject of the chapter.


1. Assumption 1 is refutable because Acts 11 contains relevant information not mentioned in Acts 10. 11:14, for example, clearly places salvation in the message of the Holy Spirit, not in the manifestation (Compare10:22, 33 with 11:15).
2. Assumption 2 is refutable because it dismisses the command of 10:48. It is based upon the presupposition that Acts 2:4 (“the beginning,” Acts 11:15) was the moment of salvation; but, in fact, the command of Acts 2:38 and 10:48 remains to be obeyed as a divine condition for the moment of salvation from sin.
3. Assumption 3 is certainly refutable because the Holy Spirit “fell on them,” in a special manifestation (Acts 11:15); whereas, salvation (in the New Testament) is always based upon faith, repentance, confession, and baptism in the name of Jesus (see Acts 11:18; 43, 48).

The Acts 10 error is only believable by ignoring Acts 11; the command to be baptized for the forgiveness of sin; and, changing the primary subject of Acts 10.

Robert M. Housby

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