Teaching Peter a lesson | Acts 10

Scripture: Acts chapter 10

Commentary: God wanted to teach Peter a lesson, so He gave him a vision to show him that the old Jewish food laws were of no use any further, and there was no distinction between the two. Therefore, Peter was free to eat all foods. God tells him to go to Caesarea to meet with Cornelius. He compared the issues of clean and unclean foods with the way that people are – that they are clean and shall not be called unclean. Peter then summarizes the events of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, and then concluded by repeating that forgiveness was available to people of any nationality. Cornelius and his household then received the gift of the Holy Ghost from God. Peter then saw that He clearly accepts Gentiles, and was also willing to baptize them.

Acts 10:38, “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.”

Peter is in prayer on the housetop and becomes hungry – and then falls into a trance. A sheet knit at four corners was let down from Heaven containing every kind of beast, bird, and more – Clean and unclean (four footed animals, wild beasts, creeping things and fowls of the air). A voice speaks to Peter; “arise, kill, and eat.” Peter replied, “Not, so Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.” This happens once and twice more. The next time the Lord speaks to Peter, he says, “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.” Upon the third time, the sheet is received back into Heaven. Peter mused upon this with some doubt, Scripture tells us that behold, the messengers that Cornelius were not at the gate. While Peter thought on the vision, he was told by the Spirit, “Behold three men seek thee. Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them.”

Cornelius’ messengers arrive, and Peter invites them into the house and suggests that they spend the night and in the morning, he will go with them. Meanwhile, Cornelius has called in his friends and a kindred with great anticipation of Peter’s coming. Peter takes a trip to Caesarea, and reluctantly enters the house of Cornelius. Cornelius is quick to fall prostrate before him. He has been brought up in a pagan culture and did not know any better. Peter responded by lifting him up and speaking to him; “Stand up, I myself also am a man” meaning I am not a god to be worshipped. Peter already knew why they had sent for him – for “God had showed him.” He was not to call any man common or unclean. Peter asks what Cornelius’ intent was in sending for him then.

This time of the Holy Ghost falling upon the Gentiles was their own “Gentiles Pentecost” – Peter and his men are astonished, that the Gentiles also receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost. They speak with other tongues just as it was in the Upper Room experience on the Day of Pentecost – to which, they praise God. God would save them and baptize the Gentiles in the Holy Ghost.

The Gospel has spread truly far | Acts 9

Scripture: Acts chapter 9

Commentary: Around this time, the Gospel had spread north probably around Damascus, which had a lot of Jews in population. The Sanhedrin sent the young Saul to arrest any Christian who still attended the Synagogue, and bring them to Jerusalem for trial. However, before he reached Damascus, he had an encounter with the risen Jesus that convinced him that Jesus was Lord and Christ. This persecutor became a disciple of Jesus Christ. Through one of those local Christians, God revealed that He had chosen Saul to go to different places and share the Gospel – whether it be to Gentiles and Jews.

God prepared him, though, to fulfill this difficult task. He went to new life through Baptism, which was miraculous. All of that rough background of Saul will be used only for good, because God had a plan from the start. Soon, Saul moves to Jerusalem so he could study Jewish Law, to which, his teacher was the great Rabbi Gamaliel. Similar to all the Jewish young men, he learned a trade, which was tent making. All of the different influences that Saul had affected his life and ministry. God used all of it for good!

People through the land of Damascus soon knew of the conversion of Saul. He openly joined with the Christians and argued against the Jews, and then went on to spend around three years in Arabia, before returning to Damascus. A violent opposition was stirred, to which, Saul fled for his life. He arrives in Jerusalem, to not be welcomed by Christians. People feared him, in that he was only pretending to be a Christian.

Therefore, when he found out who the true Christians were, he could imprison them. Barnabas knew better, though, and introduced Saul to the Apostles at the time in Jerusalem: Peter and James (the Lord’s brother). He made use of his time in Jerusalem by preaching the Gospel, which just made the Jews angry. When they wanted to kill Saul, he escaped quickly to his home in Tarsus. The rest of the churches in Judea didn’t know Saul personally, however, they did know of his conversion, and therefore, the persecution died down so peace could be welcomed back.

While God prepared Paul for a Gentile mission soon, he was helping Peter and other Church leaders. Peter had moved out from Jerusalem and visited some Christian groups that had formed. At Lydda, he healed a paralyzed man, and at Joppa, he brought a woman back from the dead. News spread and many people had believed.

Other notes: Saron was the name of a city, which seemed to lie between Mount Tabor and the lake of Tiberias.