Great question. The English translation by Paton Gloag of Heinrich Meyer’s originally German commentary1 is accurate, so onto the question at hand.
Thayer interprets the phrase in Acts 10:47 likewise, stating,2
τί, followed by τοῦ μή, can anyone hinder the water (which offers itself), that these should not be baptized? Acts 10:47;
LSJ3 states that κωλύω can be used with an accusative of the person to mean “hinder,” so the syntax of Acts 10:47 does not preclude such an interpretation (although it does not demand it).
c. acc. pers., hinder, Th.1.35; τοὺς δρῶντας μοχθηρά Arist.EN1113b26.
In the clause in question in Acts 10:47, the indefinite pronoun τις (“anyone”) is the subject of the verb combination κωλῦσαί δύναται (“can [anyone] forbid”), and τὸ ὕδωρ (“the water”) is declined in the accusative case4 as the direct object of the verb combination κωλῦσαί δύναται.
Regarding the possible personification of “water,” David Michael Stanley wrote,5
It is difficult to explain this astonishing personification of the baptismal water except in terms of Peter’s awareness that the water was the efficacious symbol of the living Spirit.
1 „Das Wasser ist in der lebhaften Rede als das zur Taufe sich selbst darbietende Element aufgefasst.“
2 Thayer, p. 366, κωλύω,
3 LSJ, p. 1017, κωλύω, 4.
4 Being a neuter-gendered noun, yes, τὸ ὕδωρ is spelled the same declined in the [singular number] nominative and accusative case, but τις is clearly declined in the nominative case and thus the subject of the verb. Therefore, we know that τὸ ὕδωρ is declined in the accusative case, functioning as the direct object.
5 Stanley, p. 210
Stanley, David Michael. Theological Studies. “The New Testament Doctrine of Baptism: An Essay in Biblical Theology.” Vol. 18, Issue 2: 169–215. May 1, 1957.
Wilke, Christian Gottlob. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Being Grimm Wilke’s Clavis Novi Testamenti. Trans. Thayer, Joseph Henry. Ed. Grimm, Carl Ludwig Wilibald. Rev. ed. New York: American Book, 1889.