Acts 10:34-15 (DRB) And Peter opening his mouth, said: In very deed I perceive, that God is not a respecter of persons. 35 But in every nation, he that feareth him, and worketh justice, is acceptable to him.

How do Protestants interpret this passage? Specifically the parts "not a respecter of persons" and "worketh righteousness" (DRB uses the Latin "just" instead of the Germanic "righteous")?

  • What is it that you don't understand about that quote? A more modern translation should make it clear: "Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right." – DJClayworth Feb 1 at 21:01
  • Several Protestant commentaries speaking on this verse may be found here: biblehub.com/commentaries/acts/10-34.htm – Paul Chernoch Feb 1 at 21:11
  • @DJClayworth It would hardly make it clearer, much less yield the Protestant understand thereof which I am looking for; I've already interpreted the words thus in another comment: "Also, this passage isn't about "works of the law" but in general "doing what is right" (working righteousness)" – Sola Gratia Feb 2 at 22:23
  • It seems to me that there should be some clarification regarding how Protestants view the concept of faith and works. Here are a couple of articles which address the Protestant position on this topic and contrasts it with the Catholic position: gotquestions.org/faith-without-works-dead.html gotquestions.org/meritorious-works.html – Cerulean Chelonii Feb 4 at 3:15

A true Protestant will not 'interpret' any passage but will examine what the word of God actually states. Nor will a true Protestant be interested in either Latin or Germanic translations but rather with the actual words which the apostles spoke.

When Peter 'opened his mouth', he spoke the lingua franca of the time, in the presence of a centurion and his household, and out of his mouth came the word dikaiosune, Strong 1343, which is a compound word, di- meaning two, and kaio, meaning to burn Strong 2545. Two kinds of burning are expressed by him who is a consuming fire, Hebrews 12:29. That should be what we understand by the word 'righteousness'.

Paul makes it clear that this quality, expressed by the Greek word dikaiosune, is not achieved by the works of the law, for by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in God's sight, Romans 3:20, for by the law is the knowledge of sin - and nothing else.

Paul also makes it clear that righteousness is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith, Philipians 3:9. This twin burning - this dikaiosune - is of God (it is not of man). And it is through the faith of Christ. And it is by the faith of the believer. So Paul informs us.

Out of faith and unto faith (the prepositions are ek and eis, respectively) is this righteousness, Romans 1:17. As it is written, The just, out of his faith - shall live ! (Literal translation of Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11 and Hebrews 10:38.)

This is what God 'accepts', as Peter words it. This is to 'work righteousness' (by faith, and not by the deeds of the law) as Peter states. This is truly to fear God - to receive the judgement against humanity in Adam, to repent and to be born again in a baptism that is of the Holy Spirit. This is to be of a broken and contrite spirit that trembleth at God's word, Isaiah 66:2.

And James makes it clear, James 2:24, that no dead faith is acceptable to God, but a living faith that truly 'works' - a vibrant faith that really believes the gospel and - therefore - really receives the Holy Spirit, livingly and fruitfully.

For God is no respecter of persons. In the context of the text, no respecter of national differences; no respecter, even, of Jew and Gentile. But in every nation whoso fears God and whoso, by faith, works righteousness - by a living, vibrant faith - is accepted by him.

God sees his own righteousness - the righteousness of God himself, demonstrated in the sufferings, the death and the bloodshed of Jesus Christ - and seeing that living, vibrant faith in the heart of the believer, God counts such a one to be righteous, and God accepts such a person unto himself.

It would be unrighteous, not to do so.

This is what a true Protestant will understand by the exact words that came out of Peter's mouth, as I can personally testify from sixty three years of being a Protestant from the time I was baptised into the Presbyterian Assembly at the age of five years old - an occasion which I vividly remember.

  • 2
    "A true Protestant will not 'interpret' any passage" Are you claiming that interpretation is not a fundamental part of the process of reading text? Or are you just claiming you can do that infallibly? You're talking about infused knowledge if not. Also, this passage isn't about "works of the law" but in general "doing what is right" (working righteousness)—Paul himself explicitly says He accepts such people as do this thing, meaning they exist. – Sola Gratia Feb 2 at 14:08

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