Question:

In Acts 2, the Lord’s church was established. It’s my understanding that in Acts 10, the Gentiles were officially ushered into the church (with the conversion of Cornelius). My question is: if a Gentile wanted to be saved prior to Acts 10, what was his option? Could a Gentile be baptized and the Lord add him to the church prior to Acts 10? It is MY understanding that even prior to Acts 2, that if a Gentile wanted to be saved, he would have to proselyte himself (including circumcism). Was this option also his only option, even prior to Acts 10? We have discussed this in our Bible class and are not 100% clear.

And so, my question is this: if a Gentile wanted to be saved prior to Acts 10 (Cornelius being baptized), did the Gentile have no other option than to become a proselyte?

Thank you.


Answer:

The events with Cornelius did not add something new. It proved to those involved that something existed that they overlooked. Gentiles could be saved from the beginning. Those of Jewish background didn't realize it at first. That isn't unusual. People tend to talk to people who are similar to themselves.

That God planned to save the Gentiles with the Jews is shown in Isaiah. "Indeed He says, 'It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth'" (Isaiah 49:6). Jesus told the disciples that they would be going to all the world. "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen" (Matthew 28:19-20).

The Jews who became Christians had not gotten around to talking to the Gentiles because of their upbringing. God had to give them a nudge to get things started.