Summary: Paul is commissioned to preach to the Gentiles
Title: A VOICE, A VISION, and A VISIT
Peter was staying at the home of Simon the Tanner.
This wasn’t a place that a Jew should have been staying. Simon dealt with dead animals and that made him unclean. But Peter was there anyway.
(How many of you know that just when you are someplace you shouldn’t be, God shows up?) Well, in this case it was the perfect place for God to show Peter he was exactly where He wanted him. He gave him a vision that was meant to transform Peter’s view of people to God’s view of people.
Peter’s vision is loaded with symbolism. The animals that came down in this sheet were forbidden to be eaten by Jewish Law. Food laws had always been a significant distinguishing feature of Israelite religious life and culture, so to observe these food laws symbolized all of the important distinctions that the people of Israel wanted to maintain between themselves and their pagan oppressors.
For thousands of years Jews did not eat with Gentiles or accept their hospitality for fear that they would be religiously and culturally polluted.
God not only gave Peter the vision but the interpretation of the vision also. Giving permission to Peter to eat non-kosher foods was symbolically giving sanction to taking the message of Jesus to the Gentiles … to the very soldiers that had nailed him to the cross.
What had been repulsive must now become inclusive in their missionary outreach. God was saying that ANYONE can be saved. It doesn’t matter what nationality they are and it doesn’t matter what they’ve done wrong:
Adulterers can be saved.
Prostitutes can be saved.
Homosexuals can be saved.
Thieves can be saved.
Drunkards can be saved.
Slanderers can be saved.
ANYONE can be saved!
They don’t have to be good, upright, moral, church-going people to receive salvation!
God’s gift of grace is free to anyone!
Perhaps Peter had already been struggling with this freedom and God made it plain to him that he was on the right track and encouraged him further by giving him some immediate candidates for baptism.
If there had been a “Joppa Journal” in those days the headlines would have read:
“Gentiles join the new Christian Movement”
Somehow the news spread anyway. But it wasn’t received with joy!
Peter did something that had never been done before, and believe it or not, he got criticized for it. (Imagine that!)
The “apostles and the brothers” called Peter to a meeting in Jerusalem.
Peter probably wasn’t surprised, since they had criticized Jesus, too (Luke 15:2) “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them!”
To their mind, a convert had to be a circumcised Jew first and then he could become a Christian believer within the Jewish community.
Peter went through the whole story from the voice and the vision, to the Holy Spirit’s visit.
Notice the chain of events.
And the conflict was resolved.
Let’s look at these more closely.