Monday, October 16, 2023

I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh (Acts 10)

Acts chapter ten is also a turning point. We go back to Peter for a bit, and his discovery that the gospel is for Gentiles, which shouldn't have been so surprising since Jesus told him and the other disciples that the gospel was to go "to the ends of the earth." Perhaps Peter, like other believers we hear about later in Acts, believed that you had to convert to Judaism to be a Christian?

Anyway, the chapter starts with the focus on Cornelius, a Roman centurion who is not a Jew, but is a devoted follower of the God of Israel. It even says in verse 22 that he is "of good report among all the nation of the Jews." Cornelius has a vision of an angel who tells him to send men to Joppa to fetch Peter. So he sends two servants and a soldier with directions on where to find Peter according to his vision.

As the men are approaching, Peter is on the roof of the house praying, and he has a vision. In his vision, a sheet comes down from the sky filled with all sorts of animals, many (maybe all) of them not kosher, and a voice tells him to get up, kill something and eat it. Peter says, "Not so, Lord," (which I've heard in sermons pointed out to be a ridiculous thing to say in itself) because, as he explains, he keeps kosher. The voice (of God) tells him if God calls something clean, don't call it unclean. This whole thing repeats three times. I answered "What kind of animals may we eat?" way back in Genesis chapter nine, and it's actually a rather thorough response for my early work, some of which I'm not happy with now. As for What the Bible says about vegetarians, I think there's a need for cultural context with all of these verses. I think I already explained Peter's vision, but in case it's not fully clear, Jesus was trying to break down the wall between Jews and Gentiles for Peter so the gospel could spread. As for the two passages from Paul's letters, there were apparently some people who came to Christianity from faith traditions that had meat eating rituals and/or rules, and because of it, they chose to not eat meat at all as Christians. This was perhaps a sign of weak faith but Paul doesn't want people judged for that personal choice. On the other hand, if someone was against meat eating and wanted to force others to abstain, well, that's just false doctrine. I'm a vegetarian, but I don't judge people who eat meat.

So, the men arrive, and God tells Peter to go with them. It's an interesting thing here about God's character in that really, one would suppose anywhere in the process, God could have just simplified things by delivering the message himself. He could have just told Cornelius about Jesus directly; he could have told Peter to go find Cornelius instead of having Cornelius send men to fetch him; he could have told Peter what this trip was all about instead of "go with them, doubting nothing"; but God doesn't do any of those things. For whatever reason, God likes to set up people to meet and spread his message for him; he wants people to spread his love. Peter goes with the men and brings along a few fellow believers. When they arrive at Cornelius's home, Cornelius falls down and worships Peter, which Peter tells him not to do. Peter tells the people gathered there that normally a Jew wouldn't go among Gentiles, but God has revealed to him that he shouldn't be prejudiced. Cornelius shares his vision, and asks Peter to share his message, and Peter shares the gospel. I answered whether God respects people in Genesis chapter four. I answered whether Jesus was peaceful in John chapter 14. I answered whether there is an unforgivable sin in Matthew chapter 12.

After sharing the gospel, all the Gentiles believe, receive the Holy Ghost (another instance of the Holy Ghost being given!), and speak in tongues like on Pentecost. The Jewish believers are astonished, and decide to baptize them. The SAB has some interesting stuff here that I've never heard of about how if the disciples were surprised about Gentiles, but accepted them, wouldn't they also accept homosexuals? I'm not sure if the logic is sound, nonetheless it's my belief that anyone can be a Christian, so yes, regardless of what one believes about the morality of same-sex relationships, homosexuals can be Christian; whether they should abstain from same-sex intimacy is obviously a sticking point among Christians, however. I answered whose name people should be baptized in in Acts chapter two.

1 comment:

Brucker said...

I keep skirting around the issue of homosexuality, and honestly, my view on this has evolved since I started this blog. It's always been my understanding that homosexuality was not the issue with Sodom and Gomorrah, but with further study of commentary and looking at the Greek and Hebrew of selected passages, it's my personal belief that homosexuality is not a sin. I briefly discussed this in my other blog some time ago.