Acts 10: God respects people you don’t respect

January 7th, 2007

I don’t think Peter deliberately chose to disregard the needs and feelings of the non-Jewish people, the Gentiles. It was just that life for a Jewish person was about Jewish things. For good reasons Jewish people avoided intermingling with the Gentiles, and the result was that Gentile people weren’t even on the horizon when Peter thought about serving God. So God had to break into Peter’s closed worldview in an unusual way. It happened in a dream, and the message from God was, “You must not call unclean something that God has made clean.”

The Acts of the Apostles — Chapter 10

10:1 There was a man in Caesarea named Cornelius. He was a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, 10:2 a devout man who feared God, as did all his household. He gave generously to the poor, and always prayed to God. 10:3 One day at around 3pm he had a vision in which he clearly saw an angel of God coming and and saying to him, “Cornelius!” 10:4 He stared at the angel in fear and asked, “What is it, Lord?” The angel said, “Your prayers and your gifts to the poor have been noticed by God. 10:5 Now send messengers to Joppa to get Simon, surnamed Peter. 10:6 He is staying with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea.”

10:7 When the angel who spoke to him had left, Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier who was one of his attendants. 10:8 Having explained everything to them, he sent them to Joppa. 10:9 The next day as they were on their journey and approaching the town at around noon, Peter went up onto the roof to pray. 10:10 He was hungry and wanted to eat, but while they were preparing lunch he fell into a trance. 10:11 He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being lowered to the ground by its four corners. 10:12 In it were all kinds of four-legged animals, reptiles and birds. 10:13 A voice came to him, “Rise, Peter, kill and eat!”

10:14 But Peter said, “No, Lord, I have never eaten anything that is unholy or unclean.” 10:15 A voice came to him a second time, “You must not call unclean something that God has made clean.” 10:16 This happened three times, then the sheet went suddenly back up into heaven. 10:17 Peter was left wondering what the vision could mean. In the meantime, the men who were sent by Cornelius had asked around to find Simon’s house and were now standing at the front gate, 10:18 calling out to inquire whether Simon, surnamed Peter, was living there. 10:19 As Peter was contemplating the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Some men are looking for you. 10:20 Go down and go with them without hesitation, because I have sent them.”

10:21 Peter went down to meet the men and said, “I am the person you are after. Why have you come?” 10:22 They said, “Cornelius, a centurion, a righteous man who fears God and is well respected by Jewish people, was instructed by a holy angel to invite you to his house, and to listen to what you have to say.” 10:23 So Peter invited them in to stay for the night. On the next day Peter went with them, accompanied by some of the brothers from Joppa. 10:24 On the next day they reached Caesarea. Cornelius was waiting for them, and had called together his relatives and friends. 10:25 As Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet to worship him. 10:26 But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up! I am an ordinary human being like you.” 10:27 He talked with him as he went in and found a lot of people gathered together. 10:28 He said to them, “You know it is unlawful for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile, but God has shown me that I should not consider any person unholy or unclean. 10:29 That is why I came without question when I was sent for. So tell me, why did you send for me?”

10:30 Cornelius said, “Four days ago, I was praying in my house at about this time, 3pm, when suddenly a man in bright clothing stood in front of me 10:31 and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your gifts to the poor have been noticed by God. 10:32 So send messengers to Joppa to fetch Simon, surnamed Peter. He is staying in the house of Simon a tanner, near the sea.’ 10:33 So I sent for you at once, and it was good of you to come. We are all here in the presence of God to hear everything that God has instructed you to say.”

10:34 Peter began to speak, “It has become obvious to me that God does not show favoritism. 10:35 In every nation someone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 10:36 The message which he sent to the people of Israel is the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. 10:37 You will be aware of the things which happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism which John preached. 10:38 Jesus of Nazareth was anointed by God with the Holy Spirit and with power, and he went about doing good and healing people who were oppressed by the devil, because God was with him. 10:39 We are eyewitnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him, hanging him on a tree. 10:40 God raised him up on the third day and caused him to be seen, 10:41 not by all the people, but by us, witnesses who had been preselected by God, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 10:42 He instructed us to preach to the people and to testify that he had been appointed by God as the Judge of the living and the dead. 10:43 All the prophets testify about him, saying that everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.”

10:44 While Peter was still saying this, the Holy Spirit fell on everyone who heard the message. 10:45 The Jewish believers who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was being poured out on the Gentiles. 10:46 They heard them speaking in other languages and praising God. Then Peter said, 10:47 “Can anyone object to the baptism in water of these people who have received the Holy Spirit in the same way as us?” 10:48 He instructed them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay for several days.

Entry Filed under: Courage,Hope

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. » Not&hellip  |  October 10th, 2009 at 8:08 am

    […] comes across as almost racist in Acts chapter 10, but it is likely that he had just never stopped to contemplate all of the people in the world who […]

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