Sacred Texts  Christianity  Calvin  Index  Previous  Next 

Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 36: Acts, Part I, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at

Acts 10:17-23

17. And as Peter doubted in himself what vision this should be which he had seen, behold, two men, sent from Cornelius, inquiring for Simon's house, stood at the door. 18. And when they had called, they asked whether Simon, surnamed Peter, did lodge there. 19. And as Peter thought upon the vision, the Spirit said to him, Behold, three men seek thee. 20. Arise, go down, and go with them, doubting nothing, because I have sent them. 21. And when Peter was come down unto the men which were sent from Cornelius unto him, he said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek. What is the cause wherefore ye come hither? 22. They said to him, Cornelius the captain, [centurion,] a just man, and one that feareth God, having testimony of all the nation of the Jews, was warned by an oracle by a holy angel, that he should call thee into his house, and should hear of thee words. 23. Furthermore, when he had called them in, he lodged them.  673


17. Peter was taught not only by the vision, but also by the Word of God; and yet in seeing he saw not, until the Spirit is unto him an interpreter; a most excellent mirror of our slackness. Although we be yet far unlike to Peter; for we are so far from understanding by and by what God will, or to what end he speaketh to us, that many interpretations are scarce sufficient for us. But we must also note that which Luke addeth, that Peter did think earnestly upon the vision, to wit, after that he was come to himself again after his amazedness; for this was a token of godly reverence, that he did not carelessly suffer the vision to escape him. Therefore the Lord opened to him when he did knock, (Mt 7:7.) And we are justly plagued for our sluggishness, in that we profit no better in the Word of the Lord, seeing we are so cold, and have so small desire to inquire.

20. Go, doubting nothing. The Scripture useth this word often, when it will express of what sort the obedience of faith ought to be. So Paul, in the fourth chapter to the Romans, (Ro 4:19,) when as he commendeth the faith of Abraham, saith, That he doubted not when as the Lord promised him seed, being now aged and past hope of children. And in the fourteenth, (Ro 14:23,) in treating of meats, he condemneth doubting consciences. And it is properly to reason on both sides, (as they say,) when as we are carried hither and thither by course, by gathering contrary reasons. But we must not follow God with a doubtful and wavering, but with a quiet and constant mind. In sum, the Lord will have us to attribute so much to him, that when we hear him we dispute no longer what we have need to do, but that we set down for a certainty, that that must be done which he commandeth. And surely it is meet that his will should show us the way, when all clouds are driven away, and that it should subdue all our senses unto it, unto willing obedience, all reasoning [disputation] being broken off; which is also better gathered by the next text. For the reason is added, why it is not lawful for Peter to suspend his judgment in an uncertain matter, because God is the author of the business; because it is as much as if it should be said, that we ought to be content with the beck of God alone, that we may obey his commandment. And hereby are we also admonished that men’s consciences shall by no other means be quiet, that they safely do that which they do, than when being taught by the Word of God, they determine that they do nothing without his commandment and conduct.

21. Behold, I am he whom ye seek. Luke declareth now how ready Peter was to obey; secondly, that he understood at length, by the messengers, to what end the vision was showed unto him. For he heareth that he is called by Cornelius, a man that is a Gentile, whom he would have counted profane, and unworthy of his company, unless his judgment had been corrected with this voice, “That which God calleth pure, judge not thou to be common.” This is to be wise indeed, when as abandoning all vain confidence, and correcting our stubbornness, the authority of God doth so pull us unto it, and doth so possess our minds, that we count nothing right but that which it prescribeth.

22. Cornelius, a just man. Cornelius’ servants commend their master not ambitiously, or to the end they may flatter him, but that Peter may the less abhor his company.  674 And for this cause they say that he was approved of the Jews, that Peter may know that he was not estranged from true and sincere godliness. For even those which were superstitious, though they served idols, did boast that they were worshippers of God. But Cornelius could not have the Jews, who retained the worship of the true God alone, to be witnesses of his godliness, unless he had professed that he worshipped the God of Abraham with them. Furthermore, as this was a rare example, so it ought to have moved Peter not a little. Although they lean most of all to this argument, that they may persuade him that which they go about, that all this matter is governed by the commandment of God, as if they should say, That he is not so much called by a mortal man as by God, who had so commanded by his angel.

23. And Peter also, being overcome with the authority of God, deliberateth no longer, but lodgeth the men, that he may go with them forthwith. So we must meekly submit ourselves to God; and there remaineth nothing after that we know his will, but that we run speedily thither whither he calleth us. There is no difficulty in the rest.



Accepit hospitio,” he hospitably entertained them.


Ab ejus congressu minus abhorreat,” may be less averse to meet with him.

Next: Acts 10:23-29