Then Peter replied, “I see very clearly that God shows no favouritism. In every nation He accepts those who fear Him and do what is right. This is the message of Good News for the people of Israel—that there is peace with God through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. You know what happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee, after John began preaching his message of baptism. And you know that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.
And we apostles are witnesses of all He did throughout Judea and in Jerusalem. They put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross, but God raised Him to life on the third day. Then God allowed Him to appear, not to the general public, but to us whom God had chosen in advance to be His witnesses. We were those who ate and drank with Him after He rose from the dead. And He ordered us to preach everywhere and to testify that Jesus is the One appointed by God to be the Judge of all—the living and the dead. He is the One all the prophets testified about, saying that everyone who believes in Him will have their sins forgiven through His name.”Acts 10:34-43
And opening his mouth, Peter said, Truly I see that God is not a respecter of faces, but in every nation the one fearing Him and working righteousness is acceptable to Him.Acts 10:34-35
Every Jew considered that the Jews were the favoured ones of God. They and they alone were the children of God. God chose them from among all the nations of the earth to set His Presence among them. They were the ones to whom were given the ten commandments. Theirs was the Book of God. The prophets down through the ages were Jewish. Their attitude was that of being the favoured children. Everything about this message, this Good News, was Jewish. The Messiah was in their minds the Saviour of the Jews. He was the One they were expecting to come and save them from Roman oppression. The Messiah was to come from among the Jews. But they missed the thread in the message throughout the Bible that God was for all men. So how do we account for the fact that the Jew seemed to be favoured in the Jewish writings. The Jews were the apple of God’s eye (Deut 32:10, Zech 2:8). That is favouritism isn’t it? Only to the extent that God was to be contrasted against all the other gods of the peoples on the face of the earth. So to make it clear, God chose one man, Abraham and said that he would be the father of many nations. Through him would come the seed (of faith) by which God would bless all peoples on the earth. God made it clear that all people would see the nature of God if they observed the Jews and what happened to them. If they followed God’s way they would be blessed. If they didn’t follow His way they would be cursed. Just look at the end of Deuteronomy and the blessings and cursings.
Yet Israel and then Judah were carried off into captivity. They were missing the point somewhere. The Jews then waited for the coming promised Messiah who they believed would restore the Kingdom to them. When He came and they believed that He was the One (at the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem on the first Palm Sunday) suddenly He was dead and He hadn’t done what they expected. No that is because there was so much more at stake. It was not about the Davidic Kingdom that would be restored, it was all about the restoration of the Kingdom of God. God’s rule on earth in the hearts of men. God’s heart has always been for all mankind. The Messiah came on a grand rescue mission, but not with the Kingdom of the Jews on earth as the goal. Rather the redemption of all mankind. All other gods were local areas gods, parochial and partisan and it was believed would defend their nation against the power of the other nations gods. This Most High God was entirely different, not only most powerful but Who was interested in the benefit to all mankind.
This truth has now dawned on Peter and he can’t get it out of his mind. When all the time the Jews thought they were the favoured nation of all nations on earth, there was suddenly a universal purpose to it. They were to be the carriers of the message of God’s love for all mankind. Now the point of us all being witnesses to God’s plan of salvation has become clear to Peter. The Gospel is not just for you, it is for others. If there is not an “other component” then it is not the Gospel. God does not show partiality. This is an interesting statement that Peter makes. “I see very clearly that God shows no favouritism.” That is a huge statement for a Jew to make. Hang on a moment, aren’t we the favoured race? Finally Peter sees they were not. They owed the world the Gospel. Paul had seen that fact too when he wrote:
For I have a great sense of obligation (a debtor) to people in both the civilized world and the rest of the world, to the educated and uneducated alike. So I am eager to come to you in Rome, too, to preach the Good News. For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile. This Good News tells us how God makes us right in His sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith.Romans 1:14-17
When you finally understand the gospel as these two men did you owe it to the world. This Peter comes to a huge revelation that God shows no favouritism. All are alike before Him. God is not “a receiver of face”.
- (ABP) And Peter opened his mouth, and said, In truth I am overtaken that God is not one who discriminates
- (AMP) And Peter opened his mouth and said: Most certainly and thoroughly I now perceive and understand that God shows no partiality and is no respecter of persons,
- (BBE) Then Peter said, Truly, I see clearly that God is no respecter of persons:
- (CEV) Peter then said: Now I am certain that God treats all people alike.
- (ERV) Peter began to speak: “I really understand now that God does not consider some people to be better than others.
- (GNB) Peter began to speak: “I now realize that it is true that God treats everyone on the same basis.
- (GW) Then Peter said, “Now I understand that God doesn’t play favourites.
- (ISV) Then Peter opened his mouth and said, “Now I understand that God shows no partiality.
- (KJV) Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:
- (LITV) And opening his mouth, Peter said, Truly I see that God is not a respecter of faces,
- (MSG) Peter fairly exploded with his good news: “It’s God’s own truth, nothing could be plainer: God plays no favorites!
- (NLT) Then Peter replied, “I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism.
This idea of receiving face is a Hebraism for “showing favour” in a positive sense. In a negative sense it means to show favouritism. The expression comes from the justice system where judges showed favour to the rich and famous, those with power and high social standing. Thus the judge would look at the rich powerful man standing before him and realise that he ought to find in the man’s favour in order to make it better for himself. Rather than to decide against a man who could do him harm through the wealth or power he wielded. Hence a guilty man would be let off as a freeman while people without power and status were sentenced. Note the connection between this term from the justice courts and Peter’s testimony that God has appointed Jesus to be the Judge over all – the living and the dead. Jesus jurisdiction covers all of mankind, past, present and future.
But the idea of receiving face also applies to the judge or anyone who looks at a person’s face and makes a decision on whether to accept them or not on the basis of their appearance. Whether we like the way they look or not. We talk about taking an instant dislike to someone. When we do that we do it is on the basis of whether they look nice or not. They say, your life is written in your face. It is the face and the facial expressions which may give us little indications as to the nature of the person behind the face. But so often when we judge like that we make errors of judgement. Don’t judge a book by its cover we say. When you judge a person by their appearance, their beauty, their clothes or social standing you judge wrongly. God is not like that at all. In fact Paul tells us, “but God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. (Rom 5:8) The Bible tells us in many places that God doesn’t judge by outward appearances. He looks at the heart and the inner life over how you look on the outside. Having done that He loves you anyway despite what you have done. This peace with God which was originally for Jews to be made right with God extends to all mankind. Now that is Good News!
When you show favouritism you are being exclusive.Ian Vail
Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his sons . . . they hated him and could not speak to him on friendly terms.Genesis 37:3-4
A complaint arose on the part of the Hellenistic Jews against the native Hebrews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food.Acts 6:1
For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, . . . you pay special attention to him. But you say to the poor man poor man in dirty clothes, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool . . .James 2:1-4
In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality.1 Timothy 5:21
The Jewish religious leaders reacted to Christ out of their fear of losing their privileged position.Ian Vail