Change is always difficult. But when God sees it is time for a change to be made, He implements it. He can change history’s direction in a snap. Acts 10 records two visions that radically shape the direction of the church of the future. In looking back, it looks so natural of a move. But as Luke has pointed out and will again later, it was not easy for the Jews to think that the holy things of God could be enjoyed by Gentiles. They even feared that the Gentiles (non-Jews) would pollute God’s holy things.
Cornelius’ men left the next day for Joppa in order to find Peter, named Simon. The timing is so precise. Just as they were entering the city, Peter had a vision.
“The only elevation in the long low coastline between Caesarea and Gaza was claimed by the city of Joppa (now Jaffa). Behind the city was a deep green belt of fruit and palm trees... Its harbour and its direct communication with Jerusalem, made it one of the most important cities along the coast.” (Quote by An Atlas of the Acts by John Stirling, p. 2)
Joppa (now Jaffa) is about 35 miles west of Jerusalem on the coast. It was important because it was Jerusalem’s main port.
Named Simon but called Peter
This is the same Simon that accompanied Jesus in the Gospels and was later given the name Peter. He later became the chief leader of the Jerusalem church.
Resided with a tanner
Even Peter’s willingness to live with an unclean tanner showed a significant change in Peter’s theology. A tanner would regularly handle dead animals that made him unclean. But there was more changes that were needed!
Peter’s background in NT
Peter was a strategic apostle to bring to the Gentiles. Not only was it demonstrative that the Jewish apostles were now ministering to the Gentiles (pagan people), but he could lead others to adopt the same mentality of what God was encouraging them to do. God prepared Saul (Paul) to bring the Gospel to the Gentiles but needed to give the proper philosophical framework to the Jewish disciples or there would be a split in the church.
Praying while waiting for food
We can see Peter’s devotion to God in that even when he was waiting for a meal, he wasn’t distracted from seeking God. He carefully used his time and didn’t let the great smells bring him down to the kitchen.
Fell into a trance
The trance must be something like a vision. A vision is where one sees what is happening. Cornelius saw the angel and could hear directions. Peter’s trance obviously included both sight and sound. It happened while he was awake. A dream happens at night. Of course there are different kinds of dreams. The clearest ones like these visions are undoubtedly God-sourced. Many dreams are not clearly from God. Many voices that one may hear are not from God.
A sheet-like object descended
On the sheet that descended from heaven was a big assortment of animals.