Jesus Creed

ApPeter.jpgPeter was called to explain himself, his behaviors, and what had happened when the Jerusalem church heard that Gentiles were doing these most Jewish of things — believing in Jesus as Messiah, mixing with the messianic movement, accepting the word of God, and receiving the Holy Spirit as the end-time gift of God to renew his covenant with Israel. So, Peter summarizes his previous experience:

11:1 Now the apostles and the brothers who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles too had accepted the word of God. 11:2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers took issue with him, 11:3 saying, “You went to uncircumcised men and shared a meal with them.” 11:4 But Peter began and explained it to them point by point, saying, 11:5 “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision, an object something like a large sheet descending, being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came to me. 11:6 As I stared I looked into it and saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild animals, reptiles, and wild birds. 11:7 I also heard a voice saying to me, ‘Get up, Peter; slaughter and eat!’ 11:8 But I said, ‘Certainly not, Lord, for nothing defiled or ritually unclean has ever entered my mouth!’ 11:9 But the voice replied a second time from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, you must not consider ritually unclean!’ 11:10 This happened three times, and then everything was pulled up to heaven again. 11:11 At that very moment, three men sent to me from Caesarea approached the house where we were staying. 11:12 The Spirit told me to accompany them without hesitation. These six brothers also went with me, and we entered the man’s house. 11:13 He informed us how he had seen an angel standing in his house and saying, ‘Send to Joppa and summon Simon, who is called Peter, 11:14 who will speak a message to you by which you and your entire household will be saved.’ 11:15 Then as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as he did on us at the beginning. 11:16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, as he used to say, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 11:17 Therefore if God gave them the same gift as he also gave us after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to hinder God?” 11:18When they heard this, they ceased their objections and praised God, saying, “So then, God has granted the repentance that leads to life even to the Gentiles.”

Notice that what caused concern for the circumcised believers was that Peter had shared a meal with the Gentiles. The issue was mixing with Gentiles in ways that evidently threatened the integrity and purity of God’s people Israel.

Peter’s response is to rehearse what happened to him: God’s vision and the timing and the preaching and coincidences. More importantly, while speaking to the Gentiles, God’s Spirit descended. Peter’s words are amazing to this day:
Therefore if God gave them the same gift as he also gave us after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to hinder God?”

The issue for Peter is hindering God; if God accepts the Gentiles, then he will too. It is so comforting to see the resistances of the circumcised folks to give way to what God was doing.

As Beverly Gaventa emphasizes in her commentary (The Acts of the Apostles (Abingdon New Testament Commentaries)
), this is the work of God.
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