And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him, Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them. But Peter rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it by order unto them, saying, I was in the city of Joppa praying: and in a trance I saw a vision, A certain vessel descend, as it had been a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came even to me: Upon the which when I had fastened mine eyes, I considered, and saw fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And I heard a voice saying unto me, Arise, Peter; slay and eat. But I said, Not so, Lord: for nothing common or unclean hath at any time entered into my mouth. But the voice answered me again from heaven, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. And this was done three times: and all were drawn up again into heaven. And, behold, immediately there were three men already come unto the house where I was, sent from Caesarea unto me. And the Spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered into the man’s house: And he shewed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter; Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved. And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God? When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.
I love this passage in Scripture for so many reasons. As believers, we sometimes (or often) have to explain ourselves. Gentiles (the uncircumcised) receiving the Holy Spirit was huge, and many strongly questioned Peter about it. If this was true, God was not playing by their rules and the concept was unfathomable. The Jews (the circumcised) were not easily convinced that this was of God. How could they after decades of being “God’s chosen people”? Of course, God always desired and allowed for the Gentiles to come to the faith: think of Ruth, think of Rahab, think of Ninevah. The problem was that the other nations had their own gods that they worshipped. For a Gentile, it was a drastic change from tradition and lifestyle to turn to Jehovah, Israel’s One True God.
God allowed in Scripture for Peter’s story to be explained again. God wanted to be crystal clear that Gentiles were able to receive the power of the Holy Spirit just like Jews who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ could. Then Peter ends with a powerful statement in verse 17, “What was I, that I could withstand God?”
This is such a beautiful passage of Scripture that describes Peter’s obedience to bring the gospel to people that were out of his comfort zone. Are you willing to tell others about the Lord Jesus Christ? Especially when it makes you uncomfortable? Are you willing to put aside yourself in order to minister? Are you withstanding God?
Written by Kaye Dee Richards. Kaye Dee lives with her husband Colin in Morrison, CO. They have 4 children, Joshua, Amelia, Victoria, and Julia.
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