now while peter was inwardly perplexed as to what the vision that he had seen might mean, behold, the men who were sent by cornelius, having made inquiry for simon’s house, stood at the gate and called out to ask whether simon who was called peter was lodging there. and while peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, “behold, three men are looking for you. rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation,  for i have sent them.” and peter went down to the men and said, “i am the one you are looking for. what is the reason for your coming?” and they said, “cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and to hear what you have to say.” so he invited them in to be his guests. [acts 10:17-23]


if we were reading acts clearly to this point, we may think that the writer of acts is confused–it isn’t peter who has been appointed to minister to the gentiles–it is paul!  just one short chapter earlier:

but the Lord said to him, “go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. for I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” [acts 9:15, 16]


and paul himself claims the identity:

but on some points i have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. [romans 15:15, 16]


we also know that later, in his sinful weakness, peter forgets, and shows preference to those who insist that their practice of circumcision is superior to and required of the gentiles–and paul rebukes him: 

but when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to cephas before them all, “If you, though a jew, live like a gentile and not like a jew, how can you force the gentiles to live like jews?” [galatians 2:14]


so why does peter, the minister to the jewish people boldly step out here, inviting the gentiles in the family of God? why does God use him to light the spark of the gospel to the gentiles?

because in his sovereignty, God uses whom he will to save whom he will.


what if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? what if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory— even us, whom he also called, not only from the jews but also from the gentiles? [romans 9:22-24]


you may feel like you are an unlikely evangelist–but you are to live a life on mission for the gospel–the pastor can’t go to your workplace or preach to your neighbors, the youth group leader can’t disciple your teenager in your stead, and children’s director can’t raise your kids–you are the gospel presence that has been sovereignly placed where you are, every relationship and interaction you have has been divinely appointed for you to be ready to proclaim Jesus Christ–let’s go brothers and sisters, let us, the unlikely evangelists, minister to everyone–let us show them the patience and mercy of God for them!


~ ce