God is doing this now....
Israel had rejected all three persons of the Trinity: They killed John the Baptist whom the Father sent (Jn 1:33 King James); they killed the Lord Jesus Christ, who forgave them on the cross (Lk 23:34 KJ); and they killed Stephen “a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost,” (Acts 6:5 KJ). Thus they had rejected the entire Godhead.
God then saved the chief of sinners, Saul of Tarsus, and started the “dispensation of grace” (Eph 3 KJ). By interrupting Israel's program, i.e., that which was spoken,, “since the world began” (Acts 3:21 KJ) or, God's prophetic program, His Kingdom “in earth, as it is in heaven program,” His performance based system of acceptance with Him by works program etc., God then had a time period whereby He would transition away from what He previously had required from mankind for obedience, for salvation, i.e., the strict adherence to the Mosaic law etc., to the grace program, whereby one is accepted with God, i.e , saved eternally by God, apart from any merit or works or performance under the law.
This ‘transition’ from one of Law to one of Grace began with Cornelius in (Acts 10 KJ).
Recall that God, in the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen 12:1-3 KJ), required that the Gentiles bless Israel in order to be blessed. Also, a “stranger” (a Gentile etc.,) must join in the covenant that God gave to Israel, e.g., “circumcision” (Gen 17:12,13 KJ), to dwell amongst God's people, to become a proselyte and be accepted with God, under His Mosaic Law program. There were food laws that Israel must observe (Lev 11 KJ), various washings (baptisms - Exod 29:4 KJ), sabbath worship (Exod 31:13-17 KJ), and the Levitical priesthood (Numb 8:14 KJ), along with their required sacrifices (Lev 1f f. KJ).
But all of those requirements were to cease (Col 2:14-16 KJ) under God's new requirement for obedience to Him. God started suddenly a program that He, “kept secret since the world began.” He saved and commissioned Paul and gave him the dispensation of grace (Acts 9; Eph 3 KJ).
God's earthly (prophetic) kingdom program (Israel/Jews) was spoken by, “his holy prophets, which have been since the world began:” (Lk 1:70 KJ)
God's heavenly program (Body of Christ/Church/Gentiles) was, “kept secret since the world began",” (Rom 16:25 KJ)
But to put into effect God's heavenly program, the “dispensation of grace,” which, starting with Paul in (Acts 9 KJ), and with which He ‘interrupted’ His prophetic program of Israel's with, after Israel fell at the stoning of Stephen in (Acts 7 KJ), there was to be a transition period of time, from one of Law, to one of Grace.
This transition started with a Gentile named Cornelius
(Acts 10:1,2 KJ) There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, (2) A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.
As can be clearly seen in verse 2, Cornelius was a lover of God. He was “devout,” one that “feared God,” “prayed alway”…..and note:
……”which gave much alms to the people,”
Recall, that in the Abrahamic Covenant, a Gentile would be blessed by God for blessing Abraham, i.e., the one who was the Father of the Israelite nation etc., or cursed for cursing him. That is, salvation was to be had by Gentiles by blessing Israel. This is precisely what Cornelius had done repeatedly (Acts 11:31 KJ).
The Scriptures in (Acts 10 KJ) declare that, as far as God's requirements for a Gentile to be accepted with Him, Cornelius had met these requirements (Acts 10:2,22,35 KJ).
Concerning Cornelius already being a believer under God’s Mosaic law system, what, then, are we to make of what Peter had said to those who questioned him for going to the Gentile Cornelius’ house and eating with him? Peter responded to those that questioned him and said, that when he entered Cornelius' house and had asked him why he had sent for him:
(Acts 11:13,14 KJ) And he shewed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter; (14) Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.
….”whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.”
But….Cornelius, we are told, was already “accepted” with God because he was one that “worketh righteousness” (Acts 10:35 KJ). Again, we are told in (Acts 10:2 KJ), that Cornelius was a “devout man,” “one that feared God,” “which gave much alms to the people,” “and prayed to God alway.”
Cornelius, without any doubt whatsoever, was a believer and lover of God. In fact, he was “fasting” (Acts 10:30 KJ) and “at the ninth hour,” praying to God (which was Israel's evening hour of prayer), earlier in the week, when an “angel of God” (Acts 10:3 KJ) appeared to him, who Cornelius addressed as “LORD” (4), and said, “Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.”
Cornelius, already a believer in the old economy, under the Mosaic law, needed to believe in the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus.
As the men are coming from Cornelius’ house to get Peter and bring him back to Cornelius' house, God gives Peter a vision. Recall that God had given Israel food laws where He restricted the Jews from eating various foods calling them unclean. But why God did this is very important to note:
(Leviticus 20:25) Ye shall therefore put difference between clean beasts and unclean, and between unclean fowls and clean: and ye shall not make your souls abominable by beast, or by fowl, or by any manner of living thing that creepeth on the ground, which I have separated from you as unclean.
…..Note the very next verse:
(Leviticus 20:26 KJ) And ye shall be holy unto me: for I the LORD am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine.
…..”and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine.”
Back to (Acts 10 KJ) and the vision where God is showing Peter that he can now eat the animals that He had once prohibited the Jews from eating. Peter says to God that he has never “eaten any thing that is common or unclean.” Note what God says to Peter:
(Acts 10:15 KJ) And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.
Remember that God had instituted the food laws to demonstrate Israel's separateness from the nations (Gentiles).
Why is God now allowing Peter to eat what the Gentiles were allowed to eat?
Because Israel, in (Acts 7 KJ), had rejected the entire Godhead by stoning Stephen, and now God was withdrawing the separateness between the Jew and Gentile. This was approximately 1 year after the cross, which fulfilled that 1 year extension, after the cross, whereby God gave Israel a renewed offer to believe on the Messiah Jesus Christ (Lk 13: 6-9 KJ).
God was going to “diminish” Israel to an equal position side by side with the Gentiles, concluding “all in unbelief” (Rom 11:12,32 KJ).
They stoned Stephen in (Acts 7 KJ) and Israel fell from their exalted status of being God’s channel of blessing to the nations (Gentiles). Then God saved Paul in (Acts 9 KJ) and gave him His secret/mystery program called the “dispensation of grace” (Eph 3 KJ), whereby Israel would now be ‘equal’ with the nations and not be in an exalted status ‘above’ the nations. There would be “one new man,” (Eph 2:15 KJ) both Jew and Gentile, which could never be said of Israel while the distinction between Jew and Gentile remained.
Then, in (Acts 10 KJ), God started transitioning Israel away from His Mosaic Law requirement for salvation program, i.e., that “if” my people do x,y,z… “then” I will bless them etc…(Lev 26 KJ), performance based acceptance with God program, to His new unmerited grace program, (Eph 2:8,9 KJ), His “mystery” program, His “dispensation of grace” (Eph 3 KJ) program with Paul.
How does God begin the transition from Law to Grace?
He sends the leader of the circumcision, Peter, to a Gentile's house with the good news that God is going to save them, thereby putting them on an equal standing before God.
He departs from the “great commission.” There was an order that God had given the disciples in their preaching the gospel of the kingdom to. The Lord Jesus said to the disciples before He ascended to the Father:
(Acts 1:8 KJ) But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
The disciples obeyed the Lord's command. But what happened in the very first place (Jerusalem) that they were to preach the gospel?
(Acts 8:1 KJ) And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.
….”and they were all scattered”
The “great commission” has been suspended, and God now gives Peter a special commission (Acts 10 - KJ) up on the roof top in Joppa.
Peter being sent to the Gentile Cornelius ‘ house was the first time that God was putting no difference between Jew and Gentile. This was the whole point of the vision that God gave to Peter showing him that the unclean (Gentiles) animals were to be considered clean now.
Peter gives Cornelius a short recent history of how Jesus Christ fulfilled His ministry to the Jews (circumcised - Rom 15:8 KJ). But notice what Peter adds to this: he adds that Jesus was slain and hanged on a tree….and that He was resurrected:
THAT IS THE GOSPEL OF GRACE (1 Cor 15:1-4 KJ)
The mystery, the secret, the good news that God gave to Paul to give to all of us, is found in (1 Cor 15:1-4 KJ). It states that Jesus died, was buried and rose again. Thus, Peter, apparently not knowing that this was the grace message, and after rehearsing the gospel of the kingdom message, actually gave the grace message to Cornelius and to those with him. And watch what happened.
Whereas Peter prior to this, after the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ, at the Jewish feast of Pentecost, had said that the order for salvation was:
(Acts 2:38 KJ) Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Now, in talking to Cornelius and those with him, and after telling them about the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, watch what happens BEFORE Peter brings up water baptizing Cornelius and those with him:
(Acts 10:44 KJ) While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.
Note: The Holy Ghost falls on Cornelius and those with him BEFORE they are water baptised. Why?
God is showing Peter, and subsequently the circumcision (Jews) back in Jerusalem (Acts 11; 15:9-11 KJ), that He, God, is now making no distinction between Jew and Gentile (Acts 15:9 KJ), that Israel's program has now been changed….and a transition from the performance based law system of Israel, was changing and the distinctions between Jew and Gentile were being withdrawn…..and the heretofore secret “dispensation of grace” was now in operation and must be obeyed by all nations:
Paul, God's minister to all of us (Rom 11:13 KJ), said:
(Romans 16:25,26 KJ) Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, (26) But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:
That is the mystery, the dispensation of grace, the secret hid in God for ages,….that God gave to Paul to give to all of us (Eph 3:1-3, 9 KJ).
In sum: God sent Peter to the Gentile Cornelius, not as a consequence of Israel believing on Jesus Christ in obedience to the “great commission,” but in spite of Israel’s continued disobedience and unbelief in Jesus Christ.
God also sent Peter to Cornelius as the basis for the circumcision (Jews) back in Jerusalem, for their acknowledgement (Acts 15: 7-27; Galatians 2:9 KJ) of Paul’s ‘subsequent’ commission (Acts 9 KJ) to the Gentiles.
Cornelius truly was a believer, a proselyte, under the old economy, i e., under the law, Israel’s Mosaic performance based system, BUT NOW, God, who had already saved and commissioned Paul, and who had already “accepted” Cornelius, was giving Cornelius,…out of Peter’s mouth but apparently unbeknownst to him,… the new gospel of grace that He earlier in (Acts 9 KJ) had already given to Paul.
The message to Peter, Cornelius and those with him, and to the circumcision (Jews) who came with Peter, and to the Jews back in Jerusalem:
No distinction between Jew and Gentile; the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ; anointing by the Holy Ghost BEFORE water baptism, and therefore water baptism is being replaced by the Holy Spirit doing the baptizing Himself (1 Cor 12:13: Rom 6:3; Gal 3:27 KJ)
…whereby Cornelius and those with him believed and before being water baptized, were anointed by the Holy Ghost.
The transition from Law to Grace is underway…..
Thus, the Lord God brought Cornelius and those with him, out from under His Mosaic Law system, to immediately, by the operation of God, to being under grace.