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Acts 10:9-19 (NIV):

9 About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10 He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11 He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. 12 It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. 13 Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”

14 “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”

15 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”

16 This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.

17 While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simon’s house was and stopped at the gate. 18 They called out, asking if Simon who was known as Peter was staying there.

19 While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three men are looking for you. 20 So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.”

In verse 19 we are told that the Holy Spirit spoke to Peter. Was Peter talking to (praying to) the Holy Spirit in the previous verses?

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Acts 10:13 Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”

14 “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”

Who is the Lord here?

Pulpit Commentary

The address, Lord (Κύριε), seems certainly to recognize the voice as that of Christ, which also agrees with the descent of the vessel from heaven. The answer is very similar to the refusals in Matthew 16:22; John 13:8. Acts 10:14

Peter's answer in Act 10:14 is similar to his answer in Matthew 16:22

Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. "Never, Lord!" he said. "This shall never happen to you!"

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  • 2 Corinthians 3:17 [YLT] And the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is', there is' liberty; (... and up-voted +1, nevertheless ...)
    – Nigel J
    Feb 13 at 19:24
  • 1
    Good point. Thanks for the upvote. I guess: The mystery of Trinity strikes again :)
    – Tony Chan
    Feb 13 at 19:30
  • Yes @Tony Chan I agree. The mystery of the Godhead pervades all of scripture.
    – Nigel J
    Feb 13 at 21:17
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Great question!! Creative and resourceful question as well!

We observe several features about this narrative in Acts 10:9-20:

  1. Peter's trance begins in V11
  2. Peter trance ends by V16
  3. Peter's experience is also called a "vision" (V17) - ὅραμα - that which is seen.
  4. "The Voice" speaks to Peter six times in the vision (three pairs of instructions) whom Peter calls, "Lord"
  5. The "Spirit" speaks to Peter outside the vision (V19)

In order to establish that the voice that spoke to Peter in the vision is the Holy Spirit would require the following insuperable difficulties:

  • In V3-6 we have an "angel of God" whom Cornelius also calls, "Lord" - are we to interpret this as Cornelius praying to an angel? If "Yes" then we have created an identity problem for "God"; if "No" then perhaps, "The Angel of God" is Jesus as well - see appendix below.
  • We would need to establish that the person that Peter is addressing is definitely NOT Jesus whom Peter addresses as "Lord", which with the single exception of 2 Cor 3:17, is the title given to either Jesus or the Father by the disciples. In fact, there are no cases of the the vocative, Κύριε (as here) being used to address the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, as with most commentators, I think the evidence suggests that Peter was spoken to by Jesus in the Vision and by the Holy Spirit afterward.

APPENDIX - "Angel of the LORD", and, "Angel of God"

The following passages make it clear that the “Angel of the LORD” is almost always, the LORD (Jehovah) Himself, probably Jesus in particular. Gen 16:7-13, 22:11-17, 32:24-30, 48:16, Ex 3:2-6, 32:34, Num 22:22-35, Josh 5:13-15, Judg 2:1-4, 6:11-23, 13:3-23, Isa 63:9, Dan 3:25, 28, Hos 12:4, 5, Zech 3:1-7, Mal 3:1, Rev 8:3-5, 10:1-10, 18:1, 20:1-4.

A closely related phrase, “Angel of God” who is clearly God as in Gen 6:13, 8:15, 9:8, 17, 15:13, 17:3, 4, 21:12, 16-21, 35:1, 10, Ex 4:3-8, 6:2, 23:20, 21, Deut 1:6, 1 Kings 12:22, etc. See also Acts 10:3, 4, Gal 4:14.

In other places we see that the LORD sends the LORD:

  • Zech 2:6-12 – the LORD (= YHWH) claims three times that He has been sent by the LORD.
  • Isa 48:11-16 – again, the LORD has been sent by the LORD.

Thus, unsurprisingly, Jesus is the messenger to the human race and underlines the importance that the Godhead places upon such messages.

This is not to suggest that Jesus is an angel in the sense that He is less that God; far from it! However, the Greek and Hebrew word for “angel” simply means messenger and it is in this sense that Jesus is the messenger in the above passages.

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