21 May. Acts 10:1-23

21 May. Peter, a Jew, is told by God to eat with non-Jews

"At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, an officer in the Italian group of the Roman army. Cornelius was a religious man. He and all the other people who lived in his house worshipped the true God. He gave much of his money to the poor and prayed to God often."

"An angel of God came to him and said, 'Cornelius!' Cornelius stared at the angel. He became afraid and said, 'What do you want, Lord?' The angel said, 'God has heard your prayers. He has seen that you give to the poor, and he remembers you. Send some men now to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is also called Peter.'..."

"When the angel who spoke to Cornelius left, Cornelius called two of his servants and a soldier, a religious man who worked for him. Cornelius explained everything to them and sent them to Joppa."

"About noon the next day as they came near Joppa, Peter was going up to the [flat] roof to pray. He was hungry and wanted to eat, but while the food was being prepared, he had a vision. He saw heaven opened and something coming down that looked like a big sheet being lowered to earth by its four corners. In it were all kinds of animals, reptiles and birds."

"Then a voice said to Peter, 'Get up, Peter; kill and eat'. But Peter said, 'No, Lord! I have never eaten food that is unholy or [ritually] unclean [according to the Jewish law]. But the voice said to him, 'God has made these things [ritually] clean so don't call them "unholy"!' This happened three times, and at once the sheet was taken back to heaven."

"While Peter was wondering what this vision meant, the men Cornelius sent had found Simon's [the leatherworker's] house and were standing at the gate... So Peter went down to the men and said, 'I am the one you are looking for. Why did you come here?'"

"They said, 'A holy angel spoke to Cornelius... The angel told Cornelius to ask you to come to his house so that he can hear what you have to say.' So Peter asked the [Gentile] men to come in and spend the night."

          (Acts 10:1-23)



Cornelius – a Gentile (non-Jewish) God-fearing centurion belonging to the Italian Cohort of the Roman army (an auxiliary unit of archers) based at the Roman administrative centre in Caesarea – was visited by an angel (a messenger) of God, who told him to send for Peter in Joppa.

Peter – praying on the flat roof of Simon the Tanner’s house in Joppa – had a vision in which he was told not to call anything ritually ‘unclean’ that God had made ‘clean’ (see Leviticus 11:46-47).

Shortly after this, Cornelius’s two Gentile servants and his Roman soldier attendant arrived at Joppa. Peter invited them into the house to be his guests overnight although Jews never ate with Gentiles because they were regarded as ritually ‘unclean’ (see Deuteronomy 14:3-20) and eating with them would make a Jew ritually ‘unclean’.

This action of Peter - inviting a Roman soldier (who was part of the hated occupying force in Palestine) and two other Gentile servants to stay overnight in a house belonging to a Jew - was completely unprecedented at that time, though we tend to miss the huge significance of this event today.

In his account, Luke (a Gentile himself) tells us that God made it clear to Peter (a religious Jew) that he was to regard all food created by God as 'holy' and good, and by implication, he was to eat with non-Jews whom God had created, and to treat them as fellow human-beings made 'holy' and acceptable by God.

In effect, this was God's instruction to Peter to preach to non-Jews and to accept them into the kingdom of God as fellow citizens with equal rights. A truly momentous day for Gentile (non-Jewish) followers of Jesus!

The photo shows the Roman theatre at Caesarea, which is used today for concerts.

You can read more about Peter's trip to Caesarea tomorrow, or @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/…/7-journe…/peters-journeys/

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