10 At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort, 2 a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God. 3 About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God come in and say to him, “Cornelius.” 4 And he stared at him in terror and said, “What is it, Lord?” And he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God. 5 And now send men to Joppa and bring one Simon who is called Peter. 6 He is lodging with one Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea.” 7 When the angel who spoke to him had departed, he called two of his servants and a devout soldier from among those who attended him, 8 and having related everything to them, he sent them to Joppa.
9 The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. 10 And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance 11 and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. 12 In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. 13 And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” 14 But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” 15 And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” 16 This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven.
17 Now while Peter was inwardly perplexed as to what the vision that he had seen might mean, behold, the men who were sent by Cornelius, having made enquiry for Simon’s house, stood at the gate 18 and called out to ask whether Simon who was called Peter was lodging there. 19 And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. 20 Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them.” 21 And Peter went down to the men and said, “I am the one you are looking for. What is the reason for your coming?” 22 And they said, “Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and to hear what you have to say.” 23 So he invited them in to be his guests.
The next day he rose and went away with them, and some of the brothers from Joppa accompanied him.
POINTS OF INTEREST
- v3 What is a ‘vision’? A vision can refer to what one can physically see with their eyes (as in Cornelius case), but it can also refer to a trance revealed by the Spirit (as Peter experienced in verses 10-17). This is one of God’s way in communicating with us. Whilst not every Christian has experienced a vision, we should be open to the possibility that one day God will talk to us in this way, as it was recorded in this passage.
- v4 From Cornelius’ response here and his subsequent reaction, we can see that he was awake and not dreaming when he received the vision. It also proved that the vision came from God.
- v6 A ‘tanner’ was a craftsman of leather. In his job, he had to handle animal carcasses daily and were often thought as ‘unclean’ as a result. The Jewish law would forbid him from living amongst other Jews within the city hence the reason why he lived by the sea. In spite of this, Peter willingly stayed in his house. You can see how God had prepared his heart. Praise Him indeed!
- vv9-10 Cornelius received a vision in his prayer (vv2-3), and the same happened to Peter here (vv10-16). A lot of Christians concentrate too much on serving Him but neglected drawing close to Him daily. Let us all remember to seek Him in prayer and quiet time even as we serve Him in our daily lives.
- v10 What happened to Peter here? A ‘trance’ is when the soul is in an unusual state of dreaming but not asleep. Itself, a trance is not the vision but it is the state where one can receive the ‘vision’. Therefore a vision is not confined to what one can see with the naked eyes, but what we can experience spiritually. When we are praying for vision from God, we have to be careful not to limit this to a physical revelation.
- v14 We often used “we have never” as an excuse not to obey His prompts for changes. Our cultural traditions or beliefs often hinder us from obeying Him. It can be difficult to change our thinking which has been heavily influenced by religious practices or traditions. God gave Peter the vision three times to breakthrough Peter’s cultural biases. May God speak to each of us, confronting our wrong beliefs or traditions.
- vv19-21 How did Peter hear so clearly from the voice of the Spirit? In contrast, we often find it hard to hear the voice. I believe our sensitivity to the voice of the Spirit is enhanced by an active prayer life. Let us commit ourselves to daily prayer in order that we can receive from Him with clarity.
- v20 These men were sent by Cornelius for Peter. But why did God say that He had sent them Himself? This is an indication that when we obey His instructions from a vision, we are obeying His will. And this is why men’s action in obedience is Him at work! What an example of us working in partnership with Christ.
- v23 In Jewish tradition, they are not permitted to receive people from other nations into their homes. Peter invited the three men into his house as a reflection of God’s amazing power in changing his thinking and practices.
submitted by Ithiel Kong
PRAYING IN FAITH
Dear Father, rather than me fervently seeking after vision and spiritual experiences, I pray that I would be seeking after You in prayer so that I can hear your voice clearly! In on the day when I hear from your clearly, may you grant me with the same obedience of Cornelius and Peter. May you grant me a submissive heart as I pray.
For your five
Pray that God will continue to change their old thinking and ideas about worshipping Him. So that their mind and soul and heart can be released to worship and receive from Him. Pray that they are then able to experience fully the amazing love of God!
For our church
Dear Father, we are in need of a new premise to worship You. May you grant us a prayerful heart in this matter and a unified vision of Your plan for our church, and the place You have prepared for us.