On the instruction of an angel of God,
Cornelius, the Roman centurion, sent men to Joppa to locate Simon Peter
and bring him to the house of Cornelius. Peter himself had received a
vision in which he was told not to call common or unclean what God had
cleansed. The next day, Peter and six Jewish brethren accompanied these
messengers to Caesarea to the house of the centurion. Upon arrival, they
found a collection of kinsmen and friends of Cornelius. Peter said,
"Therefore came I unto you without gainsaying, as soon as I was sent
for: I ask therefore for what intent ye have sent for me?"
That was a fair question then and it is
a fair one now when brethren send for a preacher either to come and live
along them or for a gospel meeting. Sometimes the expectations of the
preacher and those of the people who sent for him are not the same.
Therein lies the cause of misunderstandings, friction, and sometimes
Why He Did NOT Send For Peter
Peter did not come to be idolized and
venerated and to establish a cult built around his personality. In fact,
when Cornelius fell down before Peter when he arrived, Peter quickly
told him to "stand up; I myself also am a man"
There is no indication that Peter delayed for a few moments to savor
this adulation. If a preacher comes to a place expecting to be put on
some sort of pedestal to be adored but never questioned, then there are
going to be some rough times. There is something wrong with the general
view that the preacher alone is responsible for the success or failure
of the work. He may well be a contributing factor in either case, but
the work must not be built around him. Peter was a messenger of the
gospel. The message was not his. He was obligated to deliver it without
He did not send for Peter to entertain
and amuse himself, his kindred or his friends with bursts of eloquence,
one‑liners, and pitiful stories to make them cry. The motive in sending
for him was much nobler than that. Sadly, that is what untaught or
worldly-minded church members want and expect. They will come in droves
to hear such delivered by gifted speakers but they will stay away when
such adornments are missing.
He did not send for Peter to take over
his God‑given responsibilities. That is what some think the work of a
preacher to be. They want an official socializer who will be visible at
all the right times and places to enhance the image of the church before
the world. You know, someone who can convince the community that he is a
"good-ole boy." They want someone to do all their personal work for
them. Sometimes brethren will advertise for a preacher and will say "it
doesn't matter if he is able in the pulpit as long as he is a good
personal worker." Is this an advertisement for mediocrity in the pulpit?
Paul told Timothy to commit what he had learned to "faithful men who
shall be able to teach others also"
(2 Tim. 2:2).
Does this mean that a man is expected to do his part personally in
teaching the lost, or does it mean that they are going to fulfill their
work by proxy through this hired hand? Cornelius did not depend on
Peter, after his arrival to round up his relatives and friends. He did
He did not send for Peter to organize
sports and entertainment for the young people. Peter was not expected to
organize some sort of mountain or wilderness survival expedition or lead
an adventure to see who could be the first to cross the Mediterranean in
a rowboat. He was not to arrange for surfing contests down at the sea.
No, his motives were higher than that.
Why DID He Send For Peter?
The angel had said to Cornelius that
"he shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be
11:14). That very statement told
Cornelius that he and his house were lost. The means out of that peril
involved the speaking of words. Notice that the angel did not tell him
what to do. That was not in the divine plan. God purposed to use human
agency in delivering the necessary words. "Preach the word"
(2 Tim 4:2).
This same Peter said once, "Lord, to
whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life"
Such words are of the utmost importance and urgency. They must be heard
at all cost. "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God"
Cornelius said, "Immediately therefore
I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now
therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that
are commanded thee of God"
Observe that he sent "immediately." It
could not wait. "Thou hast done well that thou art come." Cornelius did
his part in sending for Peter. Peter did his part by coming even though
his entrance into that house violated every principle of separateness
that Peter as a Jew had always observed. Both men showed great faith in
God. The Lord's plan was to bring a faithful messenger of the word
together with a man and his house which needed to hear the message. That
is how it worked with the Ethiopian treasurer in
with the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, with the conversion of Lydia and
her house, and other cases in the book of Acts. A faithful preacher was
brought together with honest hearts ready to receive the word.
Cornelius and his house were ready to
"hear all things commanded thee of God." How refreshing. If all
preachers would go with the determination to deliver a "thus saith the
Lord" and be prepared to produce the very place in Scripture where the
Lord said it and then had an audience with the mind set of Cornelius and
those he gathered to hear Peter, think what great things could be done
for the Lord. Maybe I am missing something, but it appears to me that
many congregational troubles and stress in the lives of preachers, grow
out of a failure of either the preacher to faithfully deliver the
message or the audience who arrives with a desire for something other
than that message.
Do you have a preacher living and
working among you? Why did you send for him? Preacher, why did you go?