J. A. Trench.
Article 29 of 55 from 'Truth for Believers' Volume 2.
As to the expression "Repentance unto Life" being given to the Gentiles (Acts 11:18), I believe it to be an inclusive statement of what repentance toward God involves, and leads into, and thus to go further than the remission of sins (Luke 24) and faith in the Lord Jesus. The first has to do with the guilty past: the second is inseparable from true repentance; there would be no ground upon which to repent, if it were not for faith in the testimony presented.
But if there is reality in repentance it is blessed to know that it involves life, and life before God for ever, taking the character of eternal life when the Father is known as revealed in the Son. The record by Peter of what had taken place, with the crowning gift of the Holy Ghost, left it only possible for those who had received the same to glorify God for the introduction of the Gentiles into the wonderful life of the Christian.
The different point of view of the sinner in Romans and in Ephesians may be a question of after teaching; but it was too early for a doctrinal treatise, such as this would have required, for Cornelius' interesting company. But when all is out later in the Apostle's teaching, it interests me in this connection, that when in Titus 3 Paul comes to the mercy that has saved us, and that by the washing of the Word and Spirit (new birth according to John), and, finally, the Holy Ghost being shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour, he looks back to our being justified by grace, and on to being made heirs according to the hope of eternal life — always in Paul the full consummation of God's ways and counsels of love with us in grace. The doctrinal development was still wanting in the Acts, but I believe the full character of the blessing they had been brought into was rightly apprehended by the Apostles and brethren at Jerusalem. By the Holy Ghost given they had not only what was afterwards to come out so fully through Paul, but also of what John's teaching would lead into.