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Jesus Creed

ApPeter.jpgIn Peter the church finds one who paved the path toward the Gentile mission. Paul gets all the credit, but Peter paved the way, and the speech is Acts 10 is breathtaking.

On the next day he got up and set out with them, and some of the brothers from Joppa accompanied him. 10:24 The following day he entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting anxiously for them and had called together his relatives and close friends. 10:25 So when Peter came in, Cornelius met him, fell at his feet, and worshiped him. 10:26But Peter helped him up, saying, “Stand up. I too am a mere mortal.” 10:27 Peter continued talking with him as he went in, and he found many people gathered together.10:28 He said to them, “You know that it is unlawful for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile, yet God has shown me that I should call no person defiled or ritually unclean. 10:29 Therefore when you sent for me, I came without any objection. Now may I ask why you sent for me?” 10:30 Cornelius replied, “Four days ago at this very hour, at three o’clock in the afternoon, I was praying in my house, and suddenly a man in shining clothing stood before me 10:31 and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your acts of charity have been remembered before God. 10:32 Therefore send to Joppa and summon Simon, who is called Peter. This man is staying as a guest in the house of Simon the tanner, by the sea.’ 10:33 Therefore I sent for you at once, and you were kind enough to come. So now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to say to us.”

Notice these crucial words of Peter: “He said to them, “You know that it is unlawful for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile, yet God has shown me that I should call no person defiled or ritually unclean.” Entering a Gentile’s house like this is understood by Peter to be contrary to the law (either Torah or halakah); the word could mean “unconventional”. However you read it, what Peter does here is not something he’s done before. New boundary lines for Peter. Why? God has shown Peter, through his previous vision, that no human being is unclean — clearly the implication is that it is now within Torah or (Peter’s understanding of) halakah for Peter to enter and fellowship with this Gentile.

Here’s another critical statement: “So now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to say to us.” This Gentile and this Jew know they are in the very presence of God. They are attending to the voice of God.

Missional work frequently enough requires serious boundary-breaking efforts. God has to break into Peter’s very Jewish-observant world to reveal to him that fellowship with Gentiles is acceptable.

Does this mean Peter would have been eating Gentile/unclean food?
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