God speaks to a good-living Gentile
10:1-3 – There was a man in Caesarea by the name of Cornelius, a centurion in what was called the Italian Regiment. He was a deeply religious man who reverenced God, as did all his household. He made many charitable gifts to the people and was a real man of prayer. About three o’clock one afternoon he saw perfectly clearly in a dream an angel of God coming into his room, approaching him, and saying, “Cornelius!”
10:4a – He stared at the angel in terror, and said, “What is it, Lord?”
10:4b-6 – The angel replied, “Your prayers and your deeds of charity have gone up to Heaven and are remembered before God. Now send men to Joppa for a man called Simon, who is also known as Peter. He is staying as a guest with another Simon, a tanner, whose house is down by the sea.”
10:7-8 – When the angel who had spoken to him had gone, Cornelius called out for two of his house-servants and a devout soldier, who was one of his personal attendants. He told them the whole story and then sent them off to Joppa.
Peter’s startling vision
10:9-13 – Next day, while these men were still on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up about mid-day on to the flat roof of the house to pray. He became very hungry and longed for something to eat. But while the meal was being prepared he fell into a trance and saw the heavens open and something like a great sheet descending upon the earth, let down by its four corners. In it were all kinds of animals, reptiles and birds. Then came a voice which said to him, “Get up, Peter, kill and eat!”
10:14 – But Peter said, “Never, Lord! For not once in my life have I ever eaten anything common or unclean.”
10:15 – Then the voice spoke to him a second time, “You must not call what God has cleansed common.”
10:16 – This happened three times, and then the thing was gone, taken back into heaven.
The meaning of the vision becomes apparent
10:17-20 – While Peter was still puzzling about the meaning of the vision which he had just seen, the men sent by Cornelius had arrived asking for the house of Simon. They were in fact standing at the very doorway of the house calling out to enquire if Simon, surnamed Peter, were lodging there. Peter was still thinking deeply about the vision when the Spirit said to him, “Three men are here looking for you. Get up and go downstairs. Go with them without any misgivings, for I myself have sent them.”
10:21 – So Peter went down to the men and said, “I am the man you are looking for; what brings you here?”
10:22 – They replied, “Cornelius the centurion, a good-living and God-fearing man, whose character can be vouched for by the whole Jewish people, was commanded by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house, and to listen to your message.”
10:23a -Then Peter invited them in and entertained them.
Peter, obeying the Spirit, disobeys Jewish law
10:23b-26 – On the next day he got up and set out with them, accompanied by some of the brothers from Joppa, arriving at Caesarea on the day after that. Cornelius was expecting them and had invited together all his relations and intimate friends. As Peter entered the house Cornelius met him by falling on his knees before him and worshipping him. But Peter roused him with the words, “Stand up, I am a human being too!”
10:27-29 – Then Peter went right into the house in deep conversation with Cornelius and found that a large number of people had assembled. Then he spoke to them, “You all know that it is forbidden for a man who is a Jew to associate with, or even visit, a man of another nation. But God has shown me plainly that no man must be called ‘common’ or ‘unclean’. That is why I came here when I was sent for without raising any objection. Now I want to know what made you send for me.”
10:30-33 – Then Cornelius replied, “Three days ago, about this time, I was observing the afternoon hour of prayer in my house, when suddenly a man in shining clothes stood before me and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your charitable gifts have been remembered before God. Now you must send to Joppa and invite here a man called Simon whose surname is Peter. He is staying in the house of a tanner by the name of Simon, down by the sea.’ So I sent to you without delay and you have been most kind in coming. Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything that the Lord has commanded you to say.”