11 Now the apostles and the brothers who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. 2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party criticized him, saying, 3 “You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.” 4 But Peter began and explained it to them in order: 5 “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision, something like a great sheet descending, being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to me. 6 Looking at it closely, I observed animals and beasts of prey and reptiles and birds of the air. 7 And I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’ 8 But I said, ‘By no means, Lord; for nothing common or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ 9 But the voice answered a second time from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, do not call common.’ 10 This happened three times, and all was drawn up again into heaven. 11 And behold, at that very moment three men arrived at the house in which we were, sent to me from Caesarea. 12 And the Spirit told me to go with them, making no distinction. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house. 13 And he told us how he had seen the angel stand in his house and say, ‘Send to Joppa and bring Simon who is called Peter; 14 he will declare to you a message by which you will be saved, you and all your household.’ 15 As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. 16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” 18 When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”
POINTS OF INTEREST
- According to their tradition Jews would segregate themselves from Gentiles (that is non-Jewish people; see Acts 10:28). This was a somewhat misguided idea based in the Old Testament where God calls the Jewish nation to separate themselves from the nations around them. The original intention of this was, firstly, so that their lifestyles would be distinct from the people around them—reflecting God’s character; and secondly, to avoid being drawn into foreign, false religions. However, this teaching had led to the belief that salvation from sins was only for the Jews although this was never God’s intention. It was always God’s plan to bring salvation to all people (Romans 9:23-26) and this is the crux of the message in chapters 10 and 11.
- v2-3 It is always easy to criticise people’s actions that break with our traditions or expectations. But it is important to return to the Bible and see what God actually says about it – not what we think He says.
- v9 Are there any people we deem as ‘unclean’ or ‘common’ who we tend to avoid? How would I respond if a homeless person started attending my Church? What if he smelled really bad, or was slightly disruptive in the services? What if a prostitute started attending my Church? It’s easy to befriend and share the gospel with people who “are like me” but what about the people who are different? “How can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” (Romans 10:14)
- v17 Peter asks, “Who was I to think that I could oppose God?” Sometimes we take our own ideas and try to fit God’s plans to match our own, instead we should be seeking what God is doing and how we can conform our plans to match His. Peter set aside his former ideologies and followed God’s leading into what was for Peter a rather unorthodox situation.
- V18 The objectors recognised God was doing something amazing and praised Him for it. What a great response. Instead of grudgingly accepting it (but still perhaps holding onto their own ideas) they could see that God was at work and gave Him glory.
submitted by Matt Seiboth
PRAYING IN FAITH
Pray that you will be willing to step out of your comfort zone to befriend and share the Gospel to the people God calls you to reach, whether they are “like me” or not.
For your five
Pray that your 5 will know the power of the Holy Spirit acting in their lives and that they will one day experience Him for themselves.
For our church
Pray that our Church is one which actively acknowledges the work of God, rejoices and praises Him for what He does.