While he was puzzling over the vision (v. 17), the men Cornelius had sent arrived in Joppa. Joppa was to the south. Caesarea was to the north. It was a three-day journey between them, and the men had arrived in the south hunting for the house of Simon the tanner and for Simon Peter, who was staying there. God told Peter to go down and welcome the three men.
Perhaps Peter saw significance in the number of men and the number of times the dream had been repeated. But whatever the case, God had told him: “Simon, three men are looking for you. So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them” (vv. 19-20). So Peter went down and asked why they had come. They said that they had been sent by Cornelius the centurion. “He is a righteous and God-fearing man, who is respected by all the Jewish people. A holy angel told him to have you come to his house so that he could hear what you have to say” (v. 22).
Now notice this, verse 23: “Then Peter invited the men into the house to be his guests.”
Peter was learning already. A Jew would not normally have done that. Normally a Jew would have said, “Well, it is nice to meet you, but we need to stay out here in the street. You can’t come inside.” No orthodox Jew would have invited Gentiles into his house. He would not have sat down at the same table with them. He would not have had fellowship with them. Peter was learning. He had gotten the point of the vision thus far. God had called these men clean. And since God had called them clean, he was not to call them unclean. So they came in.
The next day Peter started out with them to Caesarea, taking some of the brothers from Joppa, that is, some of the other Jews, with him. It was a smart move on Peter’s part. I suppose he anticipated what was to happen and the misunderstanding and opposition that would result, and he judged that, whatever God was leading him into, it would be good to have some of the other Jews along to verify the outcome.
At Caesarea they met Cornelius and those whom he had assembled to hear Peter’s message. What a wonderful thing! It would be wonderful if every evangelist or preacher, when he stood up to preach, should find the reception Peter found when he got to Caesarea. Cornelius had been prepared by God, and Peter had been prepared by God. But these were not the only ones who had been prepared. Cornelius had prepared his whole household, and now they were all waiting to hear Peter. I suppose Cornelius had figured out how long the trip to and the return from Joppa would take. He knew that those he had sent would not delay. He knew how long it took to march to Joppa. He knew exactly when they would arrive. So there he was. He had everybody assembled. God had prepared Cornelius, the preacher, and the audience.