Daily Truth Bible Study Acts 10: 1-23
The focus of the book of Acts shifts from Saul/Paul to Peter for a while. We are about to see a rather large truth be introduced to an unsuspecting audience. We are told about Cornelius, a Roman military officer, who is described as a “devout man who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the needy and prayed to God always”. This terminology was used by Jews to describe Gentiles who had abandoned paganism to worship the true God but had not become proselytes through submitting to circumcision (MacArthur Daily Bible p.661).
Cornelius sees a vision of an angel of God and is told that his prayers and alms had come up for a memorial before God. He is then given instructions to send men for Peter in order to find out what he must do. He is told exactly where to send the men in order to find Peter. Cornelius gives instructions to three of his trusted servants & soldiers and sends them out to find Peter.
While Cornelius’ men were on their journey, Peter goes up to the housetop to pray. It was common for Jews to go onto the roofs of their flat topped houses in those days and the fact that people worshipped on the roofs of houses is mentioned in other places in the Bible. While there, Peter grows hungry and while food is being prepared by the people of the house, he falls into a trance.
Sidenote: Please notice what is and is not being communicated here. The trance happened to Peter for a very specific purpose and by God’s design. God is revealing something remarkable to Peter. Do not confuse this with claims of visions and dreams made by charlatans today. The trance-like state described here was a God-made vehicle used to communicate with Peter. This type of direct communication from God no longer happens since God’s word is complete and delivered to us.
Remember that everything happening to Peter is transpiring while Cornelius’ men are traveling to seek him out. Peter is carefully shown different types of animals. Some of them are used for food by the Jews and others are strictly forbidden. A voice tells Peter to rise up, kill, and eat. Peter refuses saying he has never eaten anything unclean which would have been a fitting response for a devout Jew of that time. Then the voice tells Peter that he should not call unclean what God has cleansed. The scenario repeats twice more and Peter awakens.
Peter is contemplating what this could possibly mean when Cornelius’ servants arrive at the house where he is staying. Then the Spirit says to Peter that the men are there seeking him and that he is to go with them and not doubt. Also, God confirms that He has sent them. This is God’s work taking place and Peter is to be a part of it.
Now, the meaning of the vision seen by Peter is about to be revealed. The men explain who they are, whom they serve, and that Cornelius was told by an angel of God to send for Peter so that Peter could go to him and speak. What we are seeing here is certainly not a normal occurrence. Gentiles did not typically show up at the homes of Jews an engage in conversation. Also, they certainly did not get invited in to lodge for the evening which is what happens here. Peter is understanding now what God meant in the vision and in the verbal instruction from the Spirit. The Gospel is also for the Gentiles. Things are about to get truly exciting!