On to Acts 10:1-23
Acts 10 is NOT about dietary laws – what we can or cannot eat, and it’s not about cleansing food to make it acceptable for consumption. Instead, we are going to see that it is a renewal of Israel’s calling (Gen 12:3) – to be a blessing to the (unclean) nations and peoples of the world.
v1: Caesarea was the capital of the Roman empire within Israel. Because it had many gentiles living in it it was considered an unclean city within Jewish tradition.
· Cornelius was an important Roman official who was in charge of at least 100 (and up to 999) soldiers.
v2: He was a Gentile man (and father) who desired to apply G-dly truth to his family and life – he had not converted to Judaism (by being circumcised etc)
· Cornelius had an active prayer life. Prayer empowers, positions and equips us so that G-d can move in our lives.
v4: “L-rd” – he understood that he was called to submit.
· When we pray, accompanying our prayers with faithfulness (alms/mercy to others), these go up as an offering into G-d’s presence.
v7: The angel gave the command, making clear what Cornelius had to do, and then left. It was up to Cornelius if he would respond in obedience or not.
v8: The Greek word having to do with how thoroughly Cornelius told his servants what to do etc is the word “exegesis”. The sending out is the same word related to apostle – set apart and sent out
v10: This can also be understood as Peter being hungry for an experience with G-d (spiritually)
· The word translated trance here is from the word ecstasy in Greek. This is a joyful experience that affects the innermost being of a person
v11: A sheet/a garment with four corners – in the Bible this refers to the prayer shawl (called a Tallit) worn by those who went to pray (see Numbers 15:37-41) the tassels on this garment reminded the people of the commandments of G-d.
v12: This verse does not tell us if these animals were clean or unclean. This is not important for our understanding of this chapter.
v13: “get up/rise up” – a call to service.
· Kill/sacrifice – sacrifices of animals could ONLY be performed by certain people. Priests from the line of Aaron. Peter was not from this priestly family so even if they were clean animals and he slaughtered them he would render them unclean. G-d is using this illustration to ordain/commission Peter to go as a witness to the Gentiles(G-d’s original design for the priesthood being reset in place – Ex 19:5-6, Rev 5:10)
v14: Common (Impure) = unkosher ie forbidden to eat eg a pig
· Unclean = an animal that would have been clean (eg a lamb) but because of a defect etc it is pronounced unclean or unfit to sacrifice/eat.
v15: G-d is correcting a wrong understanding that Peter has. if G-d has cleansed something (someone) it is no longer unclean (In Judaism if an animal has been pronounced unclean but then a priest of higher rank comes in and pronounces that animal clean it is no longer seen as unclean but as clean.)
· One of the rules of Judaism (not Biblical but traditional) was that a Jewish man was forbidden to go into the home of a Gentile – They considered the Gentiles unclean.
In this passage G-d is concerned about people – not about pork
· G-d did not want Peter to believe the lie that Gentiles were unclean and that he could not fellowship with them. Our purpose is not to be separated from those who don’t believe (unclean) but to minister to them and to take truth to them.
v16: Just as Peter felt unqualified to slaughter animals for sacrifice so too did he not feel called or qualified to take the gospel to the Gentiles. Here G-d called and ordained Peter for the task. We are not called to receive freedom for food consumption, but We are called to receive freedom from sin.
v17: Peter didn’t take the meaning of this vision as kosher vs unkosher. Until these gentiles came to the gate he was still puzzling over what the vision could have meant.
v19: Again emphasized that Peter was trying to grasp the meaning of this vision. This vision was NOT about food but was about the appropriateness of the gospel for ALL people – Jew and Gentile alike.
v20: G-d wanted Peter to go with the Gentiles into their city (considered unclean traditionally) and into their house (a no no traditionally)
v21: Peter still doesn’t fully comprehend the reason and is trying to fathom the answer through them (to take the gospel to the Gentiles was a revolutionary idea at this time)
v22: When we fear G-d we live righteously.
v23: Peter was staying at the Tanners house – “unclean”. These men slept there for the night -more “unclean.”
· People from Joppa went with Simon to Caesarea. They heard the testimony from both Peter and the men who came and they wanted to participate in the things of G-d.