I had a short discussion with the "pastor" of a church today, and the vision that Peter had was mentioned as proof that it is ok to eat any animal or creeping thing as food. When I mentioned to him that the vision had meant something entirely different, he stayed his course and then said "yeah but it also meant we can eat anything".
This did not surprise me because I have run across this teaching many times in many places, and if a poll were taken to ask if this vision was about food, my guess is that most if not nearly all would answer yes.
Why is this? The answer is: They were taught this false teaching, and instead of questioning they just simple parrot this teaching, and so on, and so on.
So let's look at these very important chapters of the bible. There are several doctrinal issues that are established here, and there are several common false doctrines and teachings that can be made straight from just these two chapters.
First is the visions, not just Peter, but Cornelius as well. Cornelius was NOT an Israelite, he was of another race or at least another culture.
At the time these visions occurred, it was not lawful for the apostles and these first believers to associate with the other nations, cultures, or races, or so they believed. The gospel of Jesus Christ was only preached unto the Israelites up to this point.
The scripture says here that Cornelius, and all of his family were righteous in the sight of God, and for this reason God gave Cornelius a vision to call for Peter. Peter was then to instruct Cornelius and all of his family how to be saved.
Peter also received a vision of the unclean animals on the sheet. Three times Peter was told to rise, kill, and eat. Peter argued with the voice and said this cannot be, because Peter had always been a keeper of the law. But the voice was clear and told Peter to disobey that which Peter had always known to be right.
Now, here is where it starts to get clear what the vision was really about. It says, Peter WAS PONDERING what the vision had meant. Well, if it was obvious that the vision was about food, then why was Peter wondering what it meant? If it was not clear to him about the meaning, how is it so easy for so many to think this had anything to do with food at all?
This pondering did not last long before Peter was then instructed "by the spirit" to go down from the rooftop where he was at, and go with three men who were seeking him. The spirit also told him DO THIS WITHOUT DOUBTING. This is because Peter would have normally rejected a non-Israelite, or in this case three of them. But God had told him do not doubt. This is all Peter needed to then go with these men back to the house of Cornelius, not just himself but six brethren with him as well. Cornelius had gathered many to hear the words of Peter, it was obvious here that this was already starting off to be a big affair.
Now here is where it is very clear that Peter understood his vision to be about the whole world having access to salvation through Jesus Christ.
This is the point where everything changed for the apostles and first believers of Jesus Christ who were Israelites. Where God had made it very clear to Peter that ALL PERSONS no matter what race, or culture they are have access to salvation through Jesus Christ. Here is the point in history where all racial bounds are destroyed when it comes to Salvation. Anyone who thinks that have some sort of special place with God because of genetics is JUST PLAIN WRONG! This includes anyone who thinks that they are genetic Israel. Whether it be jews, whites, or blacks who believe they are the true descendants of Jacob-Israel, or even can prove it, IT DOES NOT MATTER - PERIOD!
Peter said to them "You know how it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; BUT GOD SHOWED ME THAT I SHOULD NOT CALL ANY MAN COMMON, OR UNCLEAN"
This just doesn't get any clearer, first, what the vision meant, and second, that God is no respecter of persons, or race as we have it here. Nowhere is there any statement or indication that this vision had anything at all to do with food or animals. So why do people believe that this is about food? Because people want an easy popular gospel
After Cornelius had told Peter about his vision, Peter makes the statement: "Of a truth, I perceive that God is no respecter of persons, but in every nation he that respects God and is righteous is accepted by God". Peter continues, and presents the gospel unto all in the house of Cornelius, and while Peter spoke, the Holy Spirit came upon all, and they spoke in tongues. Peter later tells his brethren in Jerusalem he revealed to all that it was just like the beginning when they were all in the upper room and the Holy Spirit fell on them. All of the Israelite believers also now believed the gospel of Jesus Christ was for all nations as well as themselves, after this incident, forever changing any thought of any race being "God's chosen people".
This little article is not meant to be expository by any means but only serves to make a few points about a few different misconceived beliefs. So before we end, one more point that a whole book could be written about, and indeed many have, and that is about baptism.
Even though Peter makes quick work of baptizing all who believed in the house of Cornelius by water baptism, he goes on to make the statement in chapter 11 verse 16: "Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit."
Peter had to recognize, even though he did not quite get it yet, that God had also brought baptism into the realm of the spirit, superseding and making dead works out of the act of water baptism.
Oh how we fight to keep man's order and ritual, oh how we fight to believe that which is comfortable, and oh how we fight to believe that we are special beyond other groups, races, or cultures.
I will leave one thought with you, that I believe Peter, Paul, and Jesus would tell you directly as well:
Preach the gospel of Jesus Christ unto all nations, and all men. For all that will listen and believe, minister in the Holy Spirit that they too may be baptized in the Holy Spirit, and found righteous and acceptable unto God.
Count yourself the least of all, that Jesus Christ may appear in you in the power of the Holy Spirit.
God bless you as you believe in these things, your brother forever, Pilgrim