Bible Study (Acts 10:9-33) – Wednesday March 6, 2024

Continuing the dramatic narrative of Cornelius’ conversion in Acts 10:9, as Cornelius’ servants and soldier were approaching Joppa, Peter was on the rooftop of Simon Tanner’s house, engaged in earnest prayer to God. While others in the house were preparing food for Peter to eat, he fell into a divinely appointed trance whereby he saw the heavens opened with a vessel like a great sheet descending from the heavens, being let down by its 4 corners upon the earth. And quite shockingly to Peter, this sheet contained a wide array of 4-footed animals, reptiles, and birds … both clean and unclean animals.

Then the voice of God instructed him to get up and to slaughter and eat any one of these animals, including the unclean ones. Peter vehemently protested – he has never eaten that which God had declared unclean for the Jews. But the voice of God rebutted his protest, telling him that whatever God declares to be clean must never be treated by Peter as profane! And to fully emphasize this point in Peter’s mind, God repeated this same message to him 3 times. While Peter was internally at a loss, puzzled as to the meaning of this trance’s message from God, the men sent by Cornelius had now reached Simon Tanner’s house, calling out looking for Simon Peter. And as Peter continued to ponder this vision from God, the Holy Spirit directly communicated with him, first informing him that 3 men had reached the house looking specifically for him, and then commanding him to immediately go downstairs to them, and to go with them back to Caesarea without any hesitation, because the Holy Spirit Himself had sent them to Peter.

Peter obeyed the Holy Spirit and greeted the 3 travelers, telling them that he was the Simon they sought. When he then asked why they had come, they explained that Cornelius the Roman centurion had sent them because of the angelic instruction Cornelius had received with precise instructions to find Simon Peter in Joppa at the house of Simon Tanner. Further, Cornelius had sent for Peter to hear his message from God! Peter accepted their statement and cordially invited these 3 men into the house, demonstrating hospitality to the Gentile men. The following day, Peter set out with 6 Jewish companions and these servants of Cornelius to comprise a traveling group of 10 headed back to Caesarea.

Cornelius eagerly awaited their arrival, and he had invited a large group of family and close friends to join him in hearing from Peter. Regarding Peter as a messenger of God, Cornelius attempted to worship Peter; but Peter forbade him, lifting him Cornelius up and telling him that he, Peter, was just an ordinary man, undeserving of worship. Thus, here stood 2 men, a Jew and a Gentile, on equal footing before God. Peter then entered Cornelius’ house, a significant action for a Jew to enter a Gentile’s house. There, he discovered a large group of people assembled together to hear from him. Peter reminded his audience of the Jews’ longstanding convention of having no association with Gentiles in any way, shape, or form. But then he declared something amazing: that God had shown him that he must NOT call any believing Gentile unclean! Every believer without distinction was worthy of receiving proper acceptance from one another because God Himself had accepted them! Thus, when Peter had been summoned by Cornelius, he came without any hesitation that he formerly would have had.

Peter then asked Cornelius to clearly explain his intention in calling for Peter. Cornelius explained by describing the divinely ordained events four days prior how an angel had appeared to him communicating God’s favor and the instruction to send for Simon Peter in Joppa. The angel did not declare the gospel to Cornelius; but Peter, a commissioned ambassador of Jesus, would! And so, Cornelius had obeyed the angelic instruction and immediately sent for Peter, and Cornelius was most appreciative that Peter had responded in coming to his house. Before the presence of God before whom they were all accountable, Cornelius, his household, and his close friends sat as a very receptive audience, with the specific purpose of hearing the gospel message that Christ had commissioned to His apostles before He ascended, that they would be His witnesses unto the 4 corners of the earth. What an opportunity for Peter to preach the gospel to a receptive audience in the sacred presence of God!

You can listen to this teaching on Acts 10:9-33 by clicking on the following link: What God Has Made Clean