Welcome to the Family
We are introduced to Cornelius, a God-fearing Italian soldier. He is visited by an angel who tell him that his prayers and charitable deeds have gone up like an offering to God and that he should send men to the city of Joppa to bring back Peter.
Back in Joppa, as Cornelius’ men arrive, Peter is on a rooftop praying when he receives a vision from God depicting a host of animals that God had forbidden the Jews to eat, for they were unclean.
“He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth…It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. Then a voice told him, ‘Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.'”v.11-13
Peter seems appalled and it isn’t until he arrives at Cornelius’ home that he understands what it means.
“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.” v.34-35
Peter delivers a powerful sermon to Cornelius and his family. While he is still speaking about the Christ the hearers are filled with the Holy Spirit, start speaking in tongues, and praising God. Peter baptizes them and stays with them for a few days.
Let’s Talk About It
It was unlawful for a Jewish man to enter into the home of Gentile – it would make them unclean! When Peter arrives at the house of a non-Jew, and see that God sent him here, in front of a small crowd of people that Cornelius gathered, eagerly awaiting a message from God, he realizes just how much the Creator has purposed His creation for Himself.
Rub It In
Peter stayed awhile. He didn’t just “eat and run.” He stayed awhile. We see this is quite customary throughout Acts – teaching, encouraging, and strengthening new believers. From my personal experience, this a practice lost to many churches today. If it is your passion and/or pride to witness unto conversion, please be prepared to stay awhile.
Peter’s vision often finds itself in the center of a hot debate on whether Christians are required to abstain from the unclean foods that God forbade in Chapter 11 of Leviticus. If you are looking for clarity on this, this isn’t the place to start. Peter offers us an interpretation of the vision, it’s unwise to add to it. Prayerfully contemplate 2 things: 1) The animals God deemed unclean to eat are animals that have poor digestive systems, are carnivorous, and/or are prone to carry disease, and 2) Paul’s words in Romans 14:14 and 1 Timothy 4:1-5. I encourage you to read the verses in context and regardless of what the Spirit advises YOU to do, take more pride in respecting how others honor our God, than in your obedience to what He has asked of YOU. Philippians 2:13 It’s not worth an argument.