an army officer: Or “a centurion.” A centurion was in command of about 100 soldiers in the Roman army.
what was called the Italian unit: This was probably a cohort, so named to distinguish it from the regular Roman legions. A cohort in full strength consisted of about 600 men, that is, about one tenth of the number in a legion. (See study note on Mt 26:53.) There is verification that the Second Italian Cohort of Roman Citizen Volunteers (Latin, Cohors II Italica voluntariorum civium Romanorum) was present in Syria in 69 C.E., and some have suggested that this was the Italian unit mentioned here.
About the ninth hour of the day: That is, about 3:00 p.m.—See study note on Mt 20:3.
Simon, a tanner: A tanner worked with the hides of animals, using a lime solution to remove any fur or traces of flesh and fat. Then he treated the hide with a potent liquor so that it could be used to make articles of leather. The tanning process smelled bad and required a great deal of water, which may explain why Simon lived by the sea, likely on the outskirts of Joppa. According to the Mosaic Law, a person who worked with the carcasses of animals was ceremonially unclean. (Le 5:2; 11:39) Therefore, many Jews looked down on tanners and would hesitate to lodge with one. In fact, the Talmud later rated the tanner’s profession as lower than that of a dung collector. However, Peter did not let prejudice keep him from staying with Simon. Peter’s open-mindedness in this case makes an interesting prelude to the assignment that came next—visiting a Gentile in his home. Some scholars consider the Greek word for “tanner” (byr·seusʹ) to be a surname of Simon.
the housetop: The roofs of houses were flat and were used for many purposes, including storage (Jos 2:6), rest (2Sa 11:2), sleep (1Sa 9:26), festivals for worship (Ne 8:16-18), and as a private place to pray. When Peter prayed on the rooftop, he was not being like the hypocrites who made sure that they were seen while praying. (Mt 6:5) A parapet around the flat roof likely hid him from view. (De 22:8) The roof was also a place to relax and escape street noise in the evening.—See study note on Mt 24:17.
about the sixth hour: That is, about 12:00 noon.—See study note on Mt 20:3.
a trance: The Greek word ekʹsta·sis (from ek, meaning “out of,” and staʹsis, meaning “standing”) refers to a person’s being cast out of his normal state of mind because of amazement, astonishment, or a vision from God. The Greek word is rendered “ecstasy” (Mr 5:42), “amazement” (Lu 5:26), and “overwhelmed with emotion” (Mr 16:8). In the book of Acts, the word is connected with divine action. Apparently, the holy spirit would, at times, superimpose on a person’s mind a vision or a picture of God’s purpose while the person was in a state of deep concentration or a sleeplike condition. An individual in a trance would be oblivious of his physical surroundings and would be receptive to a vision.—See study note on Ac 22:17.
was given divine instructions: The Greek verb khre·ma·tiʹzo appears nine times in the Christian Greek Scriptures. (Mt 2:12, 22; Lu 2:26; Ac 10:22; 11:26; Ro 7:3; Heb 8:5; 11:7; 12:25) In most occurrences, the word has a clear connection with things having divine origin. For example, the verb is here used together with the expression “by a holy angel.” At Mt 2:12, 22, it is used in connection with divinely inspired dreams. The related noun khre·ma·ti·smosʹ appears at Ro 11:4, and most lexicons and translations use such renderings as “divine pronouncement; divine response; God’s reply; the answer of God.” Here at Ac 10:22, one translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures into Hebrew (referred to as J18 in App. C4) reads “was given a command of Jehovah.”—See study note on Ac 11:26.
did obeisance to him: Or “bowed down to him; prostrated himself to him; paid him homage.” When Jesus was on earth, people did obeisance to him, and he did not reprove them. (Lu 5:12; Joh 9:38) This was because Jesus was the heir to the throne of David and was rightfully honored as a king. (Mt 21:9; Joh 12:13-15) Also, in the Hebrew Scriptures, people are said to bow down when meeting prophets, kings, or other representatives of God, who accepted the honor. (1Sa 25:23, 24; 2Sa 14:4-7; 1Ki 1:16; 2Ki 4:36, 37) However, when Cornelius bowed down to Peter and did obeisance to him, Peter refused to accept this honor and told him: “Rise; I too am just a man.” (Ac 10:26) The teachings of Christ apparently introduced new standards of conduct between human servants of God. Jesus taught his disciples: “One is your Teacher, and all of you are brothers. . . . Your Leader is one, the Christ.”—Mt 23:8-12.
how unlawful it is for a Jew: The Jewish religious leaders in Peter’s day taught that anyone who entered a Gentile’s home would become ceremonially unclean. (Joh 18:28) However, the Law given through Moses made no specific injunction against this type of association. In addition, the wall separating Jews from Gentiles was removed when Jesus gave his life as a ransom and the new covenant was established. In doing so, Jesus made “the two groups one.” (Eph 2:11-16) Yet, even after Pentecost 33 C.E., the early disciples were slow to grasp the significance of what Jesus had done. In fact, Jewish Christians took many years to free themselves of the attitudes that were promoted by their former religious leaders and that were embedded in their culture.
at the ninth hour: That is, about 3:00 p.m.—See study note on Mt 20:3.
Jehovah: Most Greek manuscripts use the term “the Lord” (Greek, tou Ky·riʹou) here. However, as explained in App. C, there are several reasons to believe that the divine name was originally used in this verse and later replaced by the title Lord. Therefore, the name Jehovah is used in the main text.—See App. C3 introduction; Ac 10:33.
is not partial: The Greek phrase for “is not partial” could literally be rendered “is not one who takes (receives; accepts) faces.” God, who is impartial, does not judge by outward appearance, favoring people because of their race, nationality, social standing, or any external factors. Imitating God’s impartiality means, not making surface judgments, but paying attention to the character and qualities of others, particularly qualities that reflect those of our impartial Creator.
the sons of Israel: Or “the people of Israel; the Israelites.”—See Glossary, “Israel.”
a stake: See study note on Ac 5:30.
the holy spirit came upon all those hearing the word: This is the only reported instance when holy spirit was poured out on disciples before baptism. Additionally, Peter is here taking an active role in the conversion of Cornelius and his family, none of whom were Jews. So Peter was using the third of “the keys of the Kingdom of the heavens,” opening up the preaching work and the prospect of entering God’s Kingdom to the vast field of Gentiles—those who were not Jews, Jewish proselytes, or Samaritans. Peter had used the first of those keys to open up the same hope to the Jews and Jewish proselytes, and the second, to the Samaritans.—Ac 2:22-41; 8:14-17; see study note on Mt 16:19.
the circumcised believers: Or “the faithful ones of those circumcised.” That is, Jewish Christians.—Ac 10:23.
in foreign languages: Lit., “in tongues.” This miracle gave visible evidence that God was now extending the heavenly calling to Gentiles. Just as at Pentecost, Jehovah used holy spirit to show clearly that this new arrangement had his backing. This convincing evidence could be both seen and heard.—See study note on Ac 2:4.