He Pierced the Darkness


Sometimes you've got to wonder about Bible translators. I mean, yeah, ninety-five percent of everything is okay, but what happened with that last five? You watching the Cowboys? Early tee time? What? What? What?

In Acts 10, an angel appears to a centurion named Cornelius and tells him to send some of his men to look for a man named Peter in the city of Joppa. Now, think about this a minute. This doesn't just happen every day. And this is scripture, so you know that it is pretty momentous. 

Cornelius, being no spiritual slouch, called two of his slaves and a soldier and bid them Godspeed. As these three guys were making their way to the city, Peter goes up on a rooftop to pray and he falls into a trance. Yeah, that doesn't happen every day either. While in the trance, he sees a large sheet descending from heaven with a myriad of unclean animals on it, and a voice thunders, "Get up, Peter! Kill and eat!" But Peter responds, "No way, Lord. I've never eaten anything that wasn't kosher." This happens three times so you get the idea that it is a big, big deal. 

When Peter comes out of the trance, the Spirit tells him, "Look, three men are looking for you. Go with them for I've sent them." And lo and behold, Cornelius's men are right there waiting on him. Again, no need to say that this is all a big deal. The men tell Peter, "Cornelius, a centurion of all people, was directed by a big, holy angel to send for you to come to his house and hear what you have to say." Long story short, Peter goes with them to Cornelius's house. 

Now, Cornelius has his family and friends there and explains the whole vision he had to Peter. They all take a seat to hear what this apostle of Christ has to say to them, Gentiles who had been outside the commonwealth of Israel. Peter starts in: 

I understand now that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. You know the message that he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace with God by Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced . . .

And this next verse is where I lose it with the translators. Here is one of the most momentous events in Acts — the Gospel opening up to the Gentiles — and here is what they say Peter said.

how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. How he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil.

"He went about"? They make Jesus sound like some aimless gypsy. Here he has been baptized by John. The Spirit descends on him in tangible form and a voice thunders out of heaven, "This is my Son in whom I am pleased." The Spirit drives him out to the wilderness for forty days, and then what? He drifts along doing a little good here and a little healing there until the Jews decide that they've had enough of him? (Isn't that how all those British-accented Gospel movies have portrayed him?)

Jesus wasn't some hippie dude tooling around Judea in a camper van during his earthly ministry. The Greek word for the translators' "went about" is dielthen (διηλθεν). That word doesn't mean wandering about. No, it is much more pungent than that. It means "penetrated" or "pierced." Here is how it's translated in two other verses. 

Therefore as through one man sin into the world entered [penetrated] and through sin death, so also to all men death came [penetrated], inasmuch as all sinned. —Romans 5:12 (literal)

For living [is] the word of God and effective and sharper than every double-edged sword and penetrating as far as [the] division of soul and spirit, both of joints and marrow, and able to discern [the] thoughts and insights of [the] heart. —Hebrews 4:12 (literal)

Spiritual death certainly didn't just saunter in when Adam sinned. It seized in, taking every man's spirit into its infernal grip. 

We should read Acts 10:38 in the same vein. Once he was anointed, Jesus penetrated the adversary's territory, healing—bringing the anointing and power of God—to all those who came to him who were under the enemy's oppression. That is the spirit of Peter's speech.

how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. How he penetrated working good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil.

This is also the revelation that John gave us in his gospel: "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it."