First Gentile Believers ~ Part 3

In my last post, we began to examine Kefa’s vision as he was napping before lunch. In this post, we will continue to examine the First Gentile Believers’ actual conversion.

17 Now while Kefa was inwardly perplexed as to what the vision that he had seen might mean, behold, the men who were sent by Cornelius, having made inquiry for Simon’s house, stood at the gate 18 and called out to ask whether Simon who was called Kefa was lodging there. 19 And while Kefa was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. 20 Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them.” 21 And Kefa went down to the men and said, “I am the one you are looking for. What is the reason for your coming?” 22 And they said, “Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and to hear what you have to say.” 23 So he invited them in to be his guests. ~ Acts 10: 17-23a (CJB).

At this point, Kefa was still in the dark about the meaning of his vision. Kefa was inwardly perplexed as to what the vision that he had seen might mean… Kefa was pondering the vision. We began to explore the vision in my last post, but what else could it possibly mean? Would God, who established His covenant with the Jewish people and gave them an eternal Torah at Mount Sinai, and who is Himself unchangeable (Malachi 3:6), change His Torah to make unclean animals kosher? This is the apparent meaning, and many Christian commentators assert that this is the meaning. But they ignore the explicit statement a few verses later, which at last resolves Kefa’s puzzlement, “God has shown me not to call any person unclean or impure” (10:28). So, the vision is about people and not about food.

Now the Ruach spoke to him directly. With Cornelius, it had been an angel, with Kefa’s vision, a voice from heaven. The Ruach directed Kefa to the three messengers standing at the gate and identified them as men he had sent. Following the Ruach’s direction, Kefa descended the outside staircase that led from the roof to the courtyard below, identified himself, and eagerly inquired why they were seeking him. By now, he had a good notion that they were a key piece in his vision puzzle.

Notice that God works on both sides. He spoke to Cornelius through an angel and to Kefa through a vision. When these three men showed up at Kefa’s gate, it was confirmed that both Cornelius and Kefa had heard God correctly. The messengers informed Kefa that Cornelius wanted to hear what you have to say. Kefa began to see the ramifications of his vision. He was to witness to this centurion [1] whom God had directed to him. That Kefa was beginning to understand is exemplified by his inviting them to spend the evening as guests. Already he was beginning to have fellowship with Gentiles he formerly considered unclean.

P’rushim and other pietists were concerned about impure table fellowship, lodging Gentiles overnight, no matter how exhausted the guests may have been, contradicted strict Jewish piety. Eating with them was forbidden on the principle that they were an evil company. Perhaps Simon, being a tanner, is less concerned with strict rules; although most of his customers were probably Jewish, Yafo was a mixed town, and he was in a profession despised by strict pietists anyway. But Kefa’s vision probably has something to do with the treatment the guests receive.[2]

In my next post, we will continue to examine Kefa’s encounter with Cornelius in First Gentile Believers ~ Part 4.

Click here for the PDF version.

 

[1] I have always wondered if this is the same centurion who executed Yeshua and then declared that Truly this was the Son of God! ~ Matt. 27:54 (ESV).

[2] Bible Background Commentary.

4 thoughts on “First Gentile Believers ~ Part 3

  1. “But they ignore the explicit statement a few verses later, which at last resolves Kefa’s puzzlement, “God has shown me not to call any person unclean or impure” (10:28). So, the vision is about people and not about food.”

    I don’t think that the Christian commentators ignored the rest of the context. We must understand that some passages have a double meaning, like the one with Peter and the unclean animals that he saw in the vision.

    In Mark 7:19, it says, “19 because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?” (Thereby He declared all foods clean.)”

    Now, Mark added this statement “Thereby He declared all foods clean” Because he got his account [the Gospel of Mark] from Peter who understood that Jesus made the things that were unclean, clean like visiting and entering a gentile house, and the foods that were prohibited.

    In Timothy 4:1-5, the Scriptures warns that false prophets will come and try to deceive people into going back to the dietary Law of Moses, which we no longer have to keep. Jesus, in the Book of Mark, shows that anything that goes into the stomach cannot make a person sin. For example. Eating pork can’t make one become a thief. What makes a person sinful is what comes out of his heart.

    I will conclude that Peter seeing the unclean animals in the vision, which God made clean, not only meant people [gentiles] but also gave the believers in Christ the freedom to eat whatever they wanted.

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  2. Alex ~ thank you for your comment and analysis. I guess we will just have to agree to disagree on this one. I think it is important to recognize what God declared to be food in Leviticus. After all, Yeshua did come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it.

    Don

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  3. I never thought of that concerning Cornelius’s identity. I guess we will have to wait until we get to heaven to know for sure. The writer in me says it would make a good story.
    Also, I do agree with the principle purpose of the vision being about people. Do you think it is possible for it to carry any meaning as far as dietary laws?

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    1. Donna ~ I’m not exactly certain about your question. I do believe that the dietary laws are still valid for us as Believers. That being said, however, most of us don’t have a Kosher butcher in our communities. Personally, I no longer eat pork, shellfish, or catfish. ~ Don

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