Peter’s Vision in Acts 10

The vision in Acts 10 has nothing to do with food or God changing the dietary laws found in his own Word. This vision has to do with people and the best way to teach this is to take the chapter verse by verse to show you what it is saying.

This is a perfect example of how the Scriptures have been perverted by false teachers and hopefully the truth will be seen after reading this. Cornelius is a Roman soldier who has come to believe in the God of Israel, but he has not become Jewish which was the process in the first century (see the article on the 18 Edicts this site). Some believed that a person could not be saved, or have full status, unless they became Jewish, which included circumcision.

Cornelius believes in the Lord but has not come to this status yet and has a vision to call for Peter to come to Joppa (v 1-8) so they send three men to get him. The next day Peter goes up to a rooftop to pray and has a vision and he saw heaven opened (a Hebrew idiom meaning a deeper insight) and he sees a four-cornered sheet (symbolizing the four corners of the earth) coming down with four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air in it. God tells him to “kill and eat” them but Peter says that he has never eaten anything unholy or unclean.

This is a strange thing to say if Yeshua did away with the dietary laws. You would think Yeshua would have told them it was permissable to eat that now because “the Law was done away with” as some people teach today. The fact is, Yeshua never taught that and Peter never ate unholy or unclean creatures.

A voice tells him to “eat” because he wants the teaching he is about to give to be a part of him in symbolic language. At this point, Peter doesn’t understand the vision. Peter says “no” and the voice says “what God has cleansed (a Gentile) let no man consider unholy or unclean.” This happened three times (the three Gentile men coming to get him).

Now, a four-cornered garment is something man-made and it alludes to not only the four corners of the earth, but to the man-made doctrines that separated Jew and Gentile in the first century called the 18 Edicts of Beit Shammai. Some of these edicts said that a Jew could not enter into the house of a Gentile nor could they eat with them. You will see this accusation against Peter in Acts 11.3. These edicts were passed by the Pharisees of the School of Shammai and accepted by the Jewish people for the most part. Most Christians have never heard of these edicts and the role they played but they are at the root of the Book of Galatians and the controversy comes up again in Acts 15.1.

The problem with these edicts is that God never sanctioned them and he was breaking down these man-made divisions and “walls” (Eph 2.14) that separated Jew and Gentile. Peter doesn’t understand at first and is reflecting on the vision when he is told by the Holy Spirit that three men are looking for him and he is to go with them (v 18-23).

So, the next day he goes with them and enters the house of Cornelius (v 25) and the key to the whole vision is found in v 28. He tells them that they know of the 18 Edicts and how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit one, but he says that the Lord has shown him that he is not to consider any man unholy or unclean. Peter has been given the meaning of the vision and he said it was about accepting the Gentiles who believe because they are not “unclean” in Gods eyes and that they do not have to become Jewish to be saved. In V 34-35 he says that God is no respecter of persons (show partiality to) but in every nation (four-cornered garment) there are those who fear him (animals in the sheet) and does what is right.

As Peter is talking, the Holy Spirit fell upon the uncircumcised Gentiles gathered there with visible signs following to confirm their salvation and the presence of the Shekinah within them. This showed that the doctrine that said a Gentile had to become Jewish (be circumcised) to be saved was in error. God showed them that these Gentiles received the same spiritual benefits as the believing Jews did without having to “convert” to the prevailing man-made doctrines of the day.

Then in v 45-48 there were believing Jews who saw the manifestations of the Spirit and they came to the conclusion that there was nothing to prevent these Gentiles from being immersed (baptized) after seeing them receive the Spirit (evidence that God had accepted them).

So, this chapter is about God breaking down the man-made divisions that prevented the Good News (gospel) from going forth into the world. Peter interpreted this vision in v 28, 34-35 and he says nothing about being allowed to eat unclean meats or anything about food. The vision is about accepting people no matter who they are if they are believers.

Posted in Understanding the New Testament

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