The context for this passage is a series of pivotal events in the history of the new church – Gentiles being given the Holy Spirit and, as such, included in the Kingdom of God.
It starts in Chapter 10 with Cornelius being given a vision from God and sending for Peter to come to his house. Peter does that and explains the gospel to Cornelius’ household. The Holy Spirit uses this to save all those who were listening and, in the process, reveal to Peter God’s plan for salvation to non-Jewish “outsiders”.
As would be expected, when Peter returns to Jerusalem he is grilled by some of his Jewish associates. They appear to be concerned about two things: his mixing with non-Jews and, as a result, ruining their own good name. Were they more concerned about outward appearances and what others may say? I was challenged by how often I think and act like this towards others.
Peter then retells the story but includes in it a vision he had where God told him that food considered unclean was now kosher and okay to eat. This was both a prelude of things to come in terms of mixing with “unclean” people and also of eating foods that were prohibited under Jewish laws.
I really like the Jewish associates response to Peter. They believed it happened and they started praising God for giving his Holy Spirit to non-Jews. This passage has reminded me of three things:
- God’s kingdom is open to all people and all people need to hear the gospel. The Holy Spirit wants to save people!
- There are people in my own life who I need to keep praying for the Holy Spirt to soften their hearts to Him and for opportunities for them to hear the gospel.
- The significance when someone is saved. We should glorify and praise God and remember that they have been given eternal life.