Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

Heaven 20

Paul can say he saw a light flash from “heaven” in Acts 9:3, and probably just mean “up” or “in the skies.” But, Peter’s observations about his vision open up the heavens for us:
Acts 10:9 About noon the next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10 He became hungry and wanted something to eat; and while it was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11 He saw the heaven opened and something like a large sheet coming down, being lowered to the ground by its four corners. 12 In it were all kinds of four-footed creatures and reptiles and birds of the air. 13 Then he heard a voice saying, ?Get up, Peter; kill and eat.?
Acts 11:9 But a second time the voice answered from heaven, ?What God has made clean, you must not call profane.? 10 This happened three times; then everything was pulled up again to heaven.
First, heaven is surely “up” here and surely the dwelling place of God, but it is the place out of which revelations are made or from which revelations drop into this world.
Second, hence we are led to think of heaven as, in part, the place of mysteries — where they are stored and from which place they are released for human gaze and back into which they are sent.
Third, the expansion of Israel to the Gentiles in mission seems to need special divine authorization to propel folks like Peter and others out.
Fourth, the expansion of Peter’s diet — kosher food laws — also needed a revelation from on high.

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posted July 31, 2008 at 6:54 am

Scot, Did this revelation really include an expansion of Peter?s diet and the kosher food laws? I really agree with point 3. But I have a Jewish background and I struggle with the (point 4) concept that God ended the kosher food laws for Jews. If God did change the food laws, why is Peter silent on this fact? He interprets this vision by stating, “God has shown me not to call any person unclean or impure”. Isn’t the vision about people and not food?

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posted July 31, 2008 at 6:59 am

Let me clarify. Kosher food laws in terms of biblical guidelines regarding clean and unclean foods. I agree the laws of table fellowship in which Gentiles could not participate with Jews were ended.

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Scot McKnight

posted July 31, 2008 at 7:08 am

I have a colleague who thinks kosher laws remained in tact for someone like Paul, but I simply can’t agree.
Here’s what I see in Acts 10.
V. 12: a vision of animals, reptiles, birds.
V. 13: the voice tells Peter to eat those things.
V. 14: Peter explicitly says those things are unclean (non-kosher).
V. 15: the voice tells Peter that he is not to call non-kosher what God has called kosher, and the implication is that he is referring to the things in v. 12.
V. 28: Peter understands the vision either to be about only humans, which would almost cut to pieces what is said in vv. 12-15, or to be about food and humans, which preserves both vv. 12-15 and extends the analogy to humans. Your question to me is a false dichotomy.
11:3 suggests Peter’s eating with them may have included non-kosher food because there is no such thing as kosher food in a Gentile’s house (well, it could happen but you’d have to make things up to get kosher food in a Gentile house).
Furthermore, I would have a hard time imagining that Gentile (and Jewish) readers of the 1st Century would hear those words in any other way than the suspension of kosher food laws.
This statement is made by Paul: “Rom. 14:14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean.” I can’t imagine a 1st Century Jew hearing this and not thinking Paul was saying something, at some level, about kosher food. And, as you may know, v. 15 applies this general comment to what one eats. And Paul uses a strong piece of rhetoric in v. 17: “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace …” Again, hard to imagine his listeners wouldn’t have at least wondered what he was saying about kosher food.

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posted July 31, 2008 at 7:39 am

Thanks for the quick response! This is very helpful.

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