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A Roman Army Officer : Cornelius
Above: Fish mosaic from the earliest Christian church yet found in Israel at Megiddo.
It had been financed by donations from a Roman centurion like Cornelius
Source: ITV Digging For Jesus, 2005 © Flame TV used by kind permission
Cornelius the God-fearer ACTS 10:1-48
Cornelius was a centurion in the elite Italian Regiment of the Roman army stationed at Caesarea. We are told he was a devout God-fearer - a Gentile adherent to the Jewish faith - and had made considerable financial contributions to the poor and prayed regularly. He was obviously seeking God.
In JEREMIAH 29:10-13 God promises to reveal himself to those who seek him with all their heart. Cornelius' zeal for God was rewarded with a vision from God, in which an angel appeared and told him to send some men to fetch Simon Peter from the nearby seaside town of Joppa.
When they arrived back at Cornelius' house, Peter shared the gospel - how Jesus, God's Chosen Messiah, died on a Roman cross for sinners like him and was raised to life by God through the power of the Holy Spirit, so that even Gentiles like Cornelius might have a real relationship with God himself.
The result? The Holy Spirit descended on all those present and they were baptised in the Spirit - hearts filled with joy and their mouths with unfettered praise. When Peter saw the evidence of their conversion, he baptised them in water.
FOOTNOTE: In Autumn 2005 the earliest known Christian church yet discovered in Palestine was unearthed beside an Israeli prison at Megiddo. Among the items found was a fish mosaic and an inscription recording that the building was erected thanks to the donations of a Roman army officer. Like Cornelius, he had become a follower of Christ.
Q1 What evidence is there that Cornelius was seriously seeking God?
Q2 What is God looking for in people, according to Jeremiah?
Q3 How did you come to faith in Christ? Who took the initiative - you or God?