Peter's Defense of Gentile Contact
Criticism by the other Jews
11:1 Now the apostles and the brothers who were in Judea heard
that the Gentiles had also received the word of God.
11:2 When Peter had come up to Jerusalem,
those who were of the circumcision contended with him,
11:3 saying, "You went in to uncircumcised men, and ate with them!"
11:4 But Peter began, and explained to them in order, saying,
11:5 "I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision:
a certain container descending, like it was a great sheet let down
from heaven by four corners.
It came as far as me.
11:6 When I had looked intently at it, I considered,
and saw the four-footed animals of the earth, wild animals, creeping
things, and birds of the sky.
11:7 I also heard a voice saying to me, 'Rise,
Peter, kill and eat!'
11:8 But I said, 'Not so, Lord, for nothing unholy or unclean has ever
entered into my mouth.'
11:9 But a voice answered me the second time out of heaven,
'What God has cleansed, don't you call unclean.'
11:10 This was done three times, and all were drawn up again into heaven.
11:11 Behold, immediately three men stood before the house where I
having been sent from Caesarea to me.
11:12 The Spirit told me to go with them, without discriminating.
These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered into the man's
11:13 He told us how he had seen the angel standing in his house, and
saying to him, '
Send to Joppa, and get Simon, whose surname
11:14 who will speak to you words by which
you will be saved, you and all your house.'
11:15 As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them, even as on
us at the beginning.
11:16 I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said,
'John indeed baptized in water, but you
will be baptized in the Holy Spirit.'
11:17 If then God gave to them the same gift as us, when we believed
in the Lord Jesus Christ,
who was I, that I could withstand God?"
11:18 When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified
"Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life!"
Exclusiveness in the Church
A couple of points which reveal the attitudes of these Jews.
vs 3 "You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate
with them." How dare you!
vs 17 "who was I to think that I could oppose God?" Why
would they have wanted to? Much as this implies that he wanted to resist
God, I think he said this more to reflect the attitude of the circumcision
towards Gentiles in his defense. That shut them up, and perhaps reluctantly
they glorified God acknowledging that He granted even to the Gentiles repentance
unto life. But their resistence to fellowshipping with Gentile believers
However even today many Christians have the divisive "I am of Paul;
I am of Apollos; I am of Cephas" type of attitude. They exclude one another
for illegitimate reasons. And there are other such incidents in the early
church, such as the case in 3John 1:10 where John speaks of a certain
Christain in this manner, "he refuses to welcome the brothers. He also
stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church." And
indeed if Peter were not reckoned head of the church of Jerusalem, the
circumcision may have very well thrown him out. And we will see in the
future with what reluctance Paul is welcomed into the fellowship.
The Baptism of the Holy Spirit
Is the baptism of the Holy Spirit the same as water baptism? No! Not according
to verse 16. For John baptized with water, but Jesus baptizes with
something other than water. And Peter is referring to the household of
Cornelius receiving the Holy Spirit, which occurred before they were water
baptized. Water baptism is only significant in a symbolic sense. It symbolized
being immersed into Christ, and by doing so they participant is publically
acknowledging their faith in Christ. But the substantive baptism - which
doesn't simply symbolized immersion into Christ, but rather is that actual
immersion into Christ - is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. This most often
occurs at a time separate from water baptism. For some it occurs before
and for others it occurs after. It inevitably occurs when a person places
salvific faith in Christ.