Cornelius “feared God” (verse 2). This was a technical term that the Jews used to refer to pagans who had abandoned, or did not follow, the pagan religions, but instead favored the worship of Jehovah. Gentiles at this time and place in the world could have varying degrees of adherence to Judaism. They could be benefactors like the centurion in Luke 7:1-10, who supported the Jewish community and presumably were sympathetic to Jewish beliefs. There were “God-fearers” like the one here in our text, Acts 10:2, and others such as Acts 13:16, 16:14, 17:4. There is an important mention of this category of “God-fearers” in an inscription from approximately 210 A.D. in Aphrodisias in modern Turkey.
Elijah was a deeply discouraged man. He had lost hope and had lost heart. Life was no longer worth living. His was a wasted existence. There was no use in even trying anymore. What could be said or done to help this man overcome his discouragement? God shows us the way.
When Moses boldly asked God to “show me Your glory,” the Lord responded, “No man can see my face and live” (Exodus 33:18, 20). Man, tainted by sin, cannot bear to be in the presence of God. Jesus says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” How do we purify our hearts?