Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 36: Acts, Part I, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at sacred-texts.com
30. Then saith Cornelius, Four days ago, until this hour, I was fasting; and about the ninth hour I prayed at my house; and behold a man stood before me in a shining garment, 31. Who said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thy alms is come into remembrance before God. 32. Therefore send men to Joppa, and fetch Simon, whose surname is Peter; this man lodgeth in the house of Simon the tanner; when he shall be present he shall speak to thee. 33. Therefore, after that hour I sent unto thee, and thou hast done well that thou art come, Therefore, all we are now present before God, to hear all things which are appointed for thee of God.
Because this answer of Cornelius containeth only the bare repetition of the history, I shall not need to stand long about that. The sum is, that he called Peter at the commandment of God.
30. I was fasting. Many Greek books 687 have ημην, I sat. The old interpreter omitteth the word fasting, which I think was done through error or negligence, because it is expressed in all the Greek books. 688 Furthermore, he maketh express mention of fasting, partly that we may know that he prayed not coldly, or overfields 689 at that time; secondly, that the vision may be the less suspected. For doubtless the brain of a man that is fasting (where there is moderate sobriety) doth not easily admit any strong imaginations, wherein appear images and strange forms, whereby men are deceived. 690 Therefore Cornelius’ meaning is, that he was earnestly bent to pray, at such time as the angel appeared to him, and that his mind was free from all such lets which use to make men subject to fantasies and imaginations. 691 And to the same end tendeth the circumstance of time, that this was done when it was now fair daylight, three hours before the going down of the sun.
A man stood in shining garment. He calleth him a man, whom he knew was an angel of God; but it is a common thing for the name of the visible form wherein God or his angels appear to be translated unto him or them; so Moses doth sometimes call them angels, and sometimes men, which appeared to Abraham in shape of men. The shining garment was a token of heavenly glory, and, as it were a sign of the divine Majesty which appeared 692 in the angel. The evangelists declare, that there was such brightness in Christ’s garment when he showed his glory to the three disciples in the mount. The same thing do they witness of the angels which were sent to testify Christ’s resurrection. For, as the Lord beareth with our infirmity thus far that he commandeth his angels to descend under form of our flesh, so he casteth out upon them certain beams of his glory, that the commandments which he hath committed to them may be the more reverenced and believed. Here ariseth a question, whether that were a true and natural body, and whether that were a garment in deed, or Cornelius did only see such a shape and show; and though this be not so necessary to be known, and we can scarce affirm any thing for a truth, 693 yet it seemeth to me more probable as touching conjecture, that God to whom it belongeth to create all things gave to the angel a true body, and did clothe the same with a most gorgeous garment; but so soon as the angel had ended his embassage, I think he was restored to his own nature, the body and garment being brought to nought, and that he suffered no human thing 694 so long as he was in the shape of man.
33. Therefore, we are all now present. To the end Peter may be more ready and willing to teach, Cornelius affirmeth that himself and the rest will be apt to be taught, and ready to obey God; for this serveth not a little to move the teacher to take pains with the hearers, when as he hopeth assuredly that they shall profit thereby, These words, before God, may have a double meaning; they may either be an oath, or Cornelius may thereby simply profess that that company was gathered together at his house, as in the sight of God, that they may hear man’s voice in like sort as if it proceeded out of God’s own mouth. Whethersoever you choose, there shall be always one end; 695 for to the end Cornelius may the more procure the credit of his sincerity, he testifieth that he hath God before his eyes, whom no man may mock by dissimulation; and assuredly, so often as the Word of God is set before us, we must thus think with ourselves, that we have not to deal with a mortal man, but that God is present, and doth call us. For, from this respect of God ariseth the majesty of God’s word, and reverence in hearing the same. Notwithstanding, he seemeth to promise unadvisedly for others in a matter so weighty, for who can be a fit borrow [cautioner] for another man’s faith? But because every man had promised obedience for himself, he doth, for good causes, hope that they were so affectioned; and, undoubtedly, we may think that they had promised that they would be obedient to his sayings so soon as the matter was showed them, and that even then every one confirmed by himself that which one had spoken in the name of all.
To hear all things. This only is true faith when we embrace not the one half of the Word of God alone, but addict [subject] ourselves wholly unto it; and yet, notwithstanding, there be few examples in the world of this full and universal faith, for the more part doth not submit themselves to the doctrine of God, as if they had made a covenant with God, save only so far forth as it pleaseth them. If any thing displease them they either carelessly contemn or mislike the same. But Cornelius doth wisely distinguish between God and man, for he maketh God the author of the doctrine, and leaveth nothing for man besides the ministry and embassage. “Thou shalt” saith he, “have attentive scholars, and those which will be obedient in all things which God hath commanded thee; that he alone may be principal, and thou only his minister; that, he alone may speak but out of thy mouth,” which thing God prescribeth to all his servants in the person of Ezekiel.
“Take” saith he, “the word out of my mouth, and thou shalt show unto them from me,”
“Hallucinationes in spectris,” spectral delusions.
“Phantasmatibus ac spectris,” phantasms and specters.
“Quae fulgere... debuit,” which must have been refulgent.
“Pro certo,” for certain.
“Neque tamen humani quidquam passum,” and that he had no human property.
“Idem semper erit finis,” the result will be the same.