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A Lesson to be Learned

The Account of Peter in Acts 10 and 11

Everything begins and ends with Jesus, who is The Christ.

Jesus knew and understood everything that was written from Genesis through Malachi. Not some of it, not most of it, but all of it!

Luke 24:44
And he said unto them, these are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.

Because Jesus knew and understood the Word of God that had been written he understood his multifaceted ministry.

Romans 15:8
Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers.

Matthew 15:24
But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

First, Jesus was sent to Israel, the circumcision. But Jesus also understood the greater aspect of his life and ministry.

Genesis 12:3
And I will bless them that bless thee and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

All families of the earth reaches beyond the Nation of Israel.

Isaiah 42:6
I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles.

Jesus became the sacrifice for and the mediator of the New Covenant, the Covenant that extends to the Gentiles, the Covenant God made with Abraham. 

Isaiah 49:6
And he said, it is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.

Jesus understood his ministry extended to the entire world, God’s salvation to the end of the earth. As Simeon declared when Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to the Temple as a young child.

Luke 2:32
A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

The immediate ministry of Jesus, while walking this earth, was to Israel. But the fulness of his life, death, sacrifice was for all of humanity. Therefore, we understand his commission to his apostles, to be his witnesses to all nations. But the apostles did not fully understand what Jesus told them.

Matthew 28:19-20
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the (my) name of the Father, and othe Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

(The words in red ink were not in the original text)

Peter understood he was to be a witness of Jesus Christ, that he was to carry the Gospel pertaining to Jesus Christ. Consider his teachings in Acts 2 through Acts 5. Here are a few of the things Peter declared.

Acts 2:22-23
Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.

Acts 2:32
This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. 

Acts 2:38a
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

God’s gift of holy spirit was for all who believed to receive.

Acts 3:18-20
But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:

Acts 4:11-12
This is the stone, which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

Acts 5:42
And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.

Peter understood he was to be a witness of Jesus Christ.

But how do we know Jesus and the Prophets were not speaking of the future work of the Apostle Paul and the Administration of Grace whereby Paul took God’s Word to the Gentiles?

Ephesians 3:9
And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:

(The words in red ink were not in the original text)

The revelation God gave to the Apostle Paul concerning the Administration of Grace was “hid in God.” It was not hidden in the Prophets, the Law given to Moses, or the other writings in the Old Testament. It was not written in the stars. It was hidden in God, it was a “mystery.” The Greek word translated “mystery” is mysterion and in this context means divine secret. It was a secret hidden within God.

When Isaiah spoke of the Messiah being a light unto the Gentiles, he was speaking to Israel, (Isaiah 1:1), of the salvation God offered the entire world through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who is the Messiah. 

John 3:16-19
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

If God says what He means and means what He says, then the Prophets spoke of Israel taking the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world. That is the commission Jesus gave to his apostles. This is the fulness of the commission Israel did not see. The Gospel of Jesus Christ was to be a Light to the Gentiles, as well as Israel, as God declared in His Word. 

Acts 8:1
And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.

This was not a scattering out of fear, but a desire to speak the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Acts 8:4
Therefore, they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word.

This is great! Israel was moving out with the Word of God. However, there was one problem.

Acts 11:19
Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.

Those that were scattered abroad preached only to Jews. This is a problem. The Gospel pertaining to Jesus Christ was to be a light to the Gentiles also, they were to take God’s salvation to the end of the earth.

This is a lesson Israel must learn. If this lesson is not learned, then the apostles will fail to accomplish what their Lord commanded them to do. 

The lesson must first be learned by leadership. Then the leadership can teach others. Remember Acts 2:42.

Acts 2:42a
And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine…

The right doctrine must start with the Apostles, then to the other believers.

Enter Peter on a housetop praying and starting to think about lunch.

Acts 10:9b-10
…Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance,

The word “trance” throws many into an hypnotic state of confusion and dismay as they begin to equate trance with idolatry common to Macedonia and Achaia. The Greek word for “trance” is ekstasis and appears seven times in the New Testament. It is important for us to see how God has used this word verses how the Greeks used this word in their literature. We do not care what happened at Delphi, we are interested in the top of a roof and a man of God.

Four times it is translated along the lines of amazed or astonished and three times trance. Of the three times it is translated trance, twice it refers to this vision Peter received on the housetop and one other time refers to a vision that Paul received.

The words “he fell into” do not accurately reflect the Greek in the text. The Greek says, “epipipto.” Epi is the Greek preposition for “upon.” Pipto means to descend from a higher place or to fall upon. Putting this together in the verse it would give us the essence of Peter while praying on the roof top at noon, became hungry and made ready to eat, when he received an amazing or astonishing vision from his Lord.

Peter did not fall into anything, he received something. Again, this is not Delphi and oracles of false gods. This is Peter, a man of God and the One True God. Peter received revelation; he did not fall into anything.

What did he receive?

Acts 10:17a
Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean…

Peter understood what he had received was a vision. Translating the word ekstasis into the English word “trance” only succeeds in sidetracking you from the verse and confusing the context. Peter received something that was amazing, astonishing and that something was a vison from his Lord.

What was the vison?

Acts 10:11-16
And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending upon him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners and let down to the earth: Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. But Peter said, not so, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean. And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven.

Why was this an amazing vision?

It was amazing because it showed Peter, he had a divided mind. He personally was still holding to the Law given to Moses while preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ who had accomplished the Law given to Moses. In the words of James, “a double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

An instability that is seen later in Antioch of Pisidia.

Galatians 2:11-13
But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.

Further, according to the Law given to Moses, he could not go to a Gentile that is uncircumcised. Yet circumcision of the flesh has ended with the Law of Moses.

But Peter does not fully understand the vision.

In our terms of understanding, Peter saw a picnic blanket spread out before him and it was filled with foods that were forbidden for a Judean to eat according to the Law given to Moses. Then Peter is given the directions to rise, kill and eat. Peter’s response is to say he has never eaten anything that is common or unclean. Peter declares he has never transgressed the Law given to Moses and he is not about to now!

Helps Word-studies says of common, …describes the result of a person reducing what God calls special (holy, set apart) – to what is mundane, i.e., stripping it of its sacredness…

Peter declares he has never eaten anything God called common or unclean. “Unclean,” akathartos in the Greek, refers to impure from a Levitical Law type of mixture. This shows us Peter’s mental commitment to the Law given to Moses. This commitment will prevent Israel from taking God’s Gospel about Jesus Christ to the world. It would also lead to a mixed message from leadership about right doctrine.

How can you take God’s Word to a group of people that by the Law given to Moses are both common (not holy or set apart) and unclean (mixed with impurity)? In other words, how do you speak God’s Word to people you cannot speak to?

I cannot emphasize the enormity of this problem. Especially since neither Peter nor the rest of Israel realize they have this problem.

Matthew 28:19
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in (the) my name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

This is the commission given to the apostles by Jesus Christ. The ministry of these Judeans is to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all nations.

Matthew 28:20
Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world [aion = age]. Amen.

They were not to teach the Law given to Moses, they were not to teach God’s Word written in the stars, they were to teach “whatsoever Jesus commanded them.”

You cannot be committed to having the Law given to Moses and the Gospel of Christ at the same time. How else can I say this?

The Law entered because of sin. After the sacrifice of Jesus sin has been handled. How can you offer sacrifices for sin when the perfect sacrifice has already been offered? The Law was Israel’s school master to bring them unto Christ. 

It is a trick of the Adversary to incorporate doctrine from more than one administration at the same time. We can, and should incorporate principles from across God’s Word, for all of God’s Word is for our learning. But combining doctrine from different administrations only leads to confusion and failure.

Look at any fellowship today that has a mixture of the Law given to Moses, the Gospel preached by Jesus Christ, combined with the Pauline Epistles and the General Epistles. The doctrine coming from this pulpit leaves the listeners confused and befuddled as to what they are supposed to do in walking with and for God.

Nehemiah 8:8
So, they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.

Principally this verse gives the meaning of the point I am trying to make. If the doctrine you give is not clear, those listening will be confused. The same Truth can be seen in 1 Corinthians 14:8-9. 

Acts 10:17-20
Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made enquiry for Simon's house, and stood before the gate, and called, and asked whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were lodged there. While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee. Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them. 

The Greek word translated “doubted” is diaporeo. It means to be completely perplexed, unsure of even how to think about a thing. In verse 19 we are told Peter “thought” on the vision. “Thought” is the Greek word enthymeomai. A compound Greek word that comes from en, meaning in or within and thumos which speaks of emotion. 

It upset Peter because he was trying to think with two different doctrines from two different administrations.

Peter’s Lord told him to go with the men, “doubting nothing.” The Greek word for “doubting” is diakrino and means to judge, to discriminate, to decide. “Nothing” is medeis and means no one. Jesus did not tell Peter who these men were nor why they had come, Jesus just said, judge no one. 

So, Peter asked.

Acts 10:21-23
Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come? And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee. Then called he them in and lodged them. And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him.

“Being warned of God” we handled in the previous teaching concerning Cornelius and is better translated “being divinely instructed.” Peter now knows he is being sent to the home of a Gentile. More than likely the men he lodged for the night were Gentiles. 

The meaning of the vision should become clearer to Peter at this point.

We can see that Peter received further revelation during the night since Peter took “certain brethren,” or other Judeans with him to the home of Cornelius. Later we see the purpose of these extra Judeans.

Acts 10:25-28
And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. But Peter took him up, saying, stand up; I myself also am a man. And as he talked with him, he went in, and found many that were come together. And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.

“Unlawful” means it was an unacceptable custom for Judeans to go into the home of an uncircumcised Gentile, they were to keep no company with such a person. It would be considered an impure mixture and would defile the Judean. 

NOW, the vision on the rooftop should make more sense to Peter. The Law given to Moses made these Gentiles unclean and common. Nothing with Abraham made Gentiles common or unclean, after all Abraham and his family were Gentiles! Then, since God’s Covenant with Israel was fulfilled, in the accomplishments of Jesus Christ, Gentiles are no longer common or unclean. 

When I say fulfilled, I am excluding the curse or judgment aspect for the unbelievers, Hebrews 8:13, that will come during the Revealing Administration.

This is what Peter preached in Acts 2, 3, 4, 5 and in Acts 10 to the household of Cornelius. This is the lesson Peter and all of Israel needs to learn. The uncircumcised, unwashed, unworthy, Gentiles of the world were to be invited into the house of God through the accomplished work of Jesus Christ and the preaching of this Gospel by Israel.

So, Peter still not fully aware why he was called to the house of Cornelius asks the big question…

Acts 10:29
Therefore, came I unto you without gainsaying as soon as I was sent for: I ask therefore for what intent ye have sent for me?

So, Cornelius lays out the full account for Peter.

Acts 10:30-33
And Cornelius said, four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, and said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God. Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter; he is lodged in the house of one Simon a tanner by the seaside: who, when he cometh, shall speak unto thee. Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.

As Cornelius is speaking just how amazing that vision was upon the rooftop, a few days back, begins to settle into Peter’s mind.

Acts 10:34-35
Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.

Peter is learning the point of the vision! But does he see his commitment to the Law given to Moses is his hindrance?

Acts 10:36-43
The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:) That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; 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. And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: Him God raised up the third day and shewed him openly; Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.

Once again, Peter’s witness is of Jesus who is the Christ. He is Lord of all. Then, after he was killed, God raised him from the dead and whosoever, Judean or Gentile, believes in him shall receive remission of sins!

Does Peter see it? Does he now understand the vision he received?

Acts 10:44-46a
While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God…

The exact same response as in Acts 2 with the initial outpouring of God’s gift of holy spirit on the day of Pentecost. These two groups of people from the Revealing Administration will become the Bride of Christ in the Millennial Kingdom Administration.

Ephesians 5:25-27
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

Ephesians 5:25-27 is a Parenthesis speaking of the Bride of Christ, those who believed in the Revealing Administration, both Judean and Gentile, according to the doctrine of those Jesus chose to be his witnesses.

The Parenthesis is given as an example of how married men in the Administration of Grace are to love their wives. Jesus laid down his life, sacrificed his life for his Bride. Then, by visions, which is revelation, gave them the Word of God so that they could be without spot or wrinkle. Jesus knew his bride, even this Gentile in Capernaum. 

Matthew 8:10-13
When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith [believing], no, not in Israel. And I say unto you, that many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. And Jesus said unto the centurion, go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.

Although Israel does not see it, Acts 2 and Acts 10 are bookends of the same event. The original outpouring of God’s gift of holy spirit to Israel and the original outpouring of God’s gift of holy spirit to the Gentiles. 

In Acts 2 those who spoke in tongues spoke the “wonderful works of God,” megaleios in the Greek. In Acts 10 Peter and those with him heard the Gentiles “magnify God,” megalyno in the Greek. The same Greek word except Acts 2 is used as an adjective and Acts 10 is used as a verb.

In Ephesians 5:26 Jesus presented his Bride without spot or wrinkle by the “washing of the water of the word.” This word washing is only used twice in God’s Word. Here in Ephesians and again in Titus.

Titus 3:5
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost. 

The Bride of Christ is made without spot or wrinkle by the washing of the Word. While those who believe in the Administration of Grace are made without spot or blemish by the washing of holy spirit that God creates within each person who believes.

These subtle but distinct differences in administrations must be recognized or the doctrine becomes confused and chaotic. When we do not keep the doctrine of each administration accurate, when we mix these doctrines, those listening become confused and frustrated in their spiritual walk.

Some, trying to squeeze their own doctrine, endeavor to put water baptism into these verses in Ephesians 5 and Titus 3. Just as Peer tried to squeeze water baptism on Cornelius and those with him.

Acts 10:47-48a
Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord… 

Does Peter have any understanding of the vision he received on the housetop?

Does Peter remember the parting words of his Lord in Acts chapter 1? 

Acts 1:5
For John truly baptized with water; BUT ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.

The answer to these questions is, yes and no.

He does remember what his Lord said before he ascended. He does understand some of the vision he received on the housetop but his training in the Law of Moses is strong and not easily overcome.

Acts 11:16-17
Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?

Did Peter water baptize the household of Cornelius? No, he did not. But neither is there another record in God’s Word of Peter ever holding forth the Word of God, the Gospel of the ministry, and of the death, and of the resurrection of Jesus Christ to another Gentile.

Why did Peter bring those other Judeans along with him to the house of Cornelius? 

Acts 11:1-3
And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him, Saying, thou wentest into men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them.

Acts 11:2 says the other leaders, even other apostles, “contended” with Peter. The word “contended” is the same Greek word Jesus Christ used when speaking to Peter before the men from Cornelius arrived. “Contended” is the word diakrino, to judge. The other leaders judged Peter before they knew the full account.

Acts 11:4
But Peter rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it by order unto them, saying…

We will see more of this when we consider the Council at Jerusalem in Acts 15.

©  Auxano Ministry 2021
A Journey through the Book of Acts