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According to Matthew 28:19, Mark 16:15 and Luke 24:24, the apostles were told to preach the gospel to all nations. Why did Peter need a vision to find this out again? Why did they avoid gentiles up to that point, according to Acts? In Acts 11:18, they are all surprised that the salvation is also for the gentiles:

When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.

11 Answers 11

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Yes, the gospel accounts are clear that Jesus required them to get into all the nations, to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. They also knew that they were to start in Jerusalem. That was where they were to begin - Luke 24:47.

First, Peter admirably obeyed that just a few days after Christ returned to heaven, preaching publicly, in Jerusalem, to Jews and proselytes so that some 3,000 were converted. However, do note that that initial batch of converts were mainly Jews, with some being converts to Judaism. They already knew the Hebrew scriptures that had foretold the Messiah. That is why Peter's sermon was based on that knowledge. He began by reminding them of the prophecy of Joel. Then he reminded them of king David's prophetic words. Such preaching would have been utterly wasted on Gentiles.

Next point for consideration is that the first century apostles could fulfil Jesus' command by spreading out to other nations, sharing the gospel with the many Jews dispersed there. At first, the synagogues all over the Roman empire were open to the Christians (who were Jews). That was their preferred method of introducing the gospel to other nations. But once the synagogues closed their doors to them, it then became obvious that the Gentiles were more receptive.

Lastly, the vision given to Peter about going to the Gentile Cornelius's home to tell him about Jesus was necessary as it led into the Holy Spirit being poured upon that God-fearing man and his household. The surprise was not that the gospel was to be shared with Gentiles, but that those now-believing Gentiles received the Holy Spirit as they had experienced. That was the proof (for proof was needed to galvanize them into global outreach). That was the amber light being switched to green. The flow of Gentiles repenting unto life began. Now the apostles knew for a certainly that sharing the gospel with Gentiles was not a mere academic exercise, but was saving Gentile souls and bringing them into the 'body of Christ', the Church.

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    +1. Good answer - the apostles, especially Peter, was being typically human and only hearing what he wanted to hear. we all suffer from that problem.
    – Dottard
    Commented Jun 5 at 23:19
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    @Dottard If that's the case, did Peter preach what he wanted to hear, or what he was supposed to hear?
    – abc123
    Commented Jun 6 at 0:01
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    Yes, most of them naturally assumed that "all nations" meant "Jews in all nations", and that if any Gentiles wanted to join them, they would have to convert to Judaism. That's what the Jerusalem Conference was all about, and where it was finally decided that conversion to Judaism was an unnecessary step. Commented Jun 6 at 1:18
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    @Dottard Another question and a wonderful rabbit hole to go down into, one that will question even the validity of the Bible itself.
    – abc123
    Commented Jun 6 at 5:23
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    Also, the disagreement very early among the apostles was not whether they should preach to Gentiles or not. It was whether a Gentile has to convert to Judaism first, before being allowed to become a Christian.
    – vsz
    Commented Jun 6 at 18:09
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The OP askes why Peter needed a vision to preach to the Gentiles. But peaching wasn't the issue. Peter preached to whomever would listen. In Acts 8, he even went to help teach the Samaritans, who were considered non-Jews. But when the Centurion summoned Peter to his house (vs. 22), Peter balked:

28 You know that it is unlawful for a Jewish man to associate with, or visit, a Gentile, but God has shown me that I should not call any person profane or unclean.29 And that is why I came without objection when sent for.

(By the way there is no OT law against visiting or associating with Gentiles. There were some rabbis who did teach this, and Peter is depicted here as adhering to this particular rabbinic ruling.)

Regarding Jesus saying to "make disciples of all nations," the problem for Peter must have been the next line in Matthew's account.

20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.

In Matthew, "all that I have commanded you" includes not to relax even the smallest commandment of the Torah (Matthew 5:19) - which includes the kosher laws. So Peter seems to have thought of himself as bound by the teaching of Matthew 5 and the supposed rabbinic rule against associating with Gentiles. He feared ritual defilement - not from preaching to a Gentile per se - but by entering a Gentile's home and receiving his hospitality. This attitude lasted until Peter's vision in Acts 10 have him a new perspective.

Conclusion. The apostles could and did preach to Gentiles and Samaritans prior to this event. But for Peter, it was still a problem for him to enter a Gentile's home. Acts tells the story of Peter's dream/vision to show how Peter overcame his dilemma of bringing the gospel to everyone while still observing the strict limitations Jesus had given to his disciples earlier.

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  • Matthew 5:19 refers to the Sermon on the Mount's commandments, not Torah. Also, when I said "preaching to" I meant actually "addressing to" as potential converts. The Torah actually conflicts with the Sermon on the Mount.
    – abc123
    Commented Jun 6 at 5:36
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    @abc123 5:19 may be interpreted as applying to the sermon's commandments only if one ignores its context: "not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.... 20 I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven." See also: Matthew 23:1-3. Peter clearly thought he was still bound by a strict interpretation of the purity laws. Commented Jun 6 at 12:20
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The twelve were to preach the gospel of Israel's kingdom being "at hand" to all nations, but because they could not convince Israel first of who Christ was (Israel's Messiah), the gospel of God's grace (Paul's gospel of Christ crucified) became available to all who would believe and without first having to wait for Israel to receive their priestly kingdom of heaven to the world.

Matthew 3:1-3

In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, 2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. 3 For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

Acts 1:8

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

"Ye men of Israel", through the twelve, were to repent (change their minds) about who Jesus Christ actually was, their Messiah.

Their sins as a nation would then be "blotted out at the times of refreshing", when Christ physically returns to earth. Israel will, at that time, become the nation of priests to the world as was promised to their fathers (Abraham, Issac, and Jacob) to proclaim to the world that God is with them.

Acts 3:12-21

And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? 13 The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. 14 But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; 15 And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses. 16 And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. 17 And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. 18 But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. 19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. 20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: 21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.

Peter was surprised that God had commanded him to visit a Gentile "dog", as Christ proclaimed in His earthly ministry to Israel that He was only "sent but unto to the lost sheep of the house of Israel":

Matthew 10:5-6

These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: 6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

Matthew 15:23-26

But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. 24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. 26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs.

John 4:22

Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.

Acts 10:28-29

And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean. 29 Therefore came I unto you without gainsaying, as soon as I was sent for: I ask therefore for what intent ye have sent for me?

Acts 11:19

Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.

Romans 15:8

Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers:

Peter's visit to Cornelius was to prepare him for what was about to happen through Paul, which was salvation becoming the free gift to the world through faith and without having to hear of it first through the priestly nation of Israel.

This was due to Israel rejecting their prophets, Christ, and the Spirit at the stoning death of Stephen "to provoke them to jealousy".

Romans 11:11

I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.

Romans 11:25-32

For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. 26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: 27 For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. 28 As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the father's sakes. 29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. 30 For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: 31 Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. 32 For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.

When Paul and Barnabas were received of Peter's church of believing Jews (from Christ's earthly ministry), Peter had to speak up and defend the fact that the gospel of God's grace had come unto the Gentile body of believers (Christ's heavenly ministry to Paul), that Paul later defines as our church today, the body of Christ (Eph 1:22-23, Col 1:24).

Acts 15:4-12

And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them. 5 But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. 6 And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. 7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. 8 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; 9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. 10 Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they. 12 Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.

Galatians 2:7-9

But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; 8 (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) 9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.

The confusion, and contradiction that you pointed out, will cease when we acknowledge the fact that Israel and the church, the body of Christ, are two distinct groups of believers. Both are "in Christ" but have separate purposes; one on earth (Israel) and one in heaven (today's church). This church (or called out assembly) was one of the "mysteries" that was revealed only to Paul and kept "hidden since the world began".

Ephesians 3:1-6

For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, 2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: 3 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, 4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) 5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; 6 That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:

Romans 16:25

Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,

While Israel will preach the kingdom gospel on earth and judge the twelve tribes of Israel, the church, the body of Christ, will be judging angels in heaven.

Luke 22:30

That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

1 Corinthians 6:3

Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?

To recognize these differences is to study as we are taught and "rightly divide the word of truth", "the gospel of our salvation", from Israel's gospel of the kingdom.

Ephesians 1:12-13

That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. 13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

2 Timothy 2:15

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

The time will come that both groups in Christ will merge and become one:

Ephesians 1:10

That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:

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    I'm probably confused but how does this answer the question? - Jesus told the apostles that they were to go to all nations - why does Peter need to have it explained again?
    – David D
    Commented Jun 5 at 18:29
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    @DavidD Yes, they were to preach the gospel...of the kingdom...to all nations. This was prior to their rejection of the Spirit (Israel's unforgivable sin) with Stephen. The gospel of God's grace to the world, without the need of Israel (the twelve), was the result of their inability to convince Israel of who Christ was. I apologize that I was not clear on that aspect. Great question though! Commented Jun 5 at 18:38
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    @DavidD I've modified the answer to hopefully better clarify the kingdom gospel versus the gospel of God's grace and Christ crucified. Thanks for pointing that out! Commented Jun 5 at 19:13
  • Too many verses here, most of which don't seem to be about the actual question.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Jun 6 at 3:23
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Several times the apostles were told that the message was for the whole world.

Luke 24:47 (all passages are from the ESV)

and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

Matthew 28:19

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

Acts 1:8

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

But still, in Acts 10 Peter needs to have the point drilled home.

10 And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance 11 and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. 12 In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. 13 And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” 14 But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” 15 And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” 16 This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven.

17 Now while Peter was inwardly perplexed as to what the vision that he had seen might mean, behold, the men who were sent by Cornelius, having made inquiry for Simon's house, stood at the gate 18 and called out to ask whether Simon who was called Peter was lodging there. 19 And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. 20 Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them.” 21 And Peter went down to the men and said, “I am the one you are looking for. What is the reason for your coming?” 22 And they said, “Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and to hear what you have to say.” 23 So he invited them in to be his guests.

The next day he rose and went away with them, and some of the brothers from Joppa accompanied him. 24 And on the following day they entered Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. 25 When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. 26 But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am a man.” 27 And as he talked with him, he went in and found many persons gathered. 28 And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean. 29 So when I was sent for, I came without objection. I ask then why you sent for me.”

To summarize:

  1. Peter is given a vision to teach him that "what God has made clean, do not call common"
  2. Peter meets the messengers of Cornelius and is told by the Spirit "...accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them."
  3. Peter goes with the messengers, meets Cornelius and explains why he is there.

"God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean"

The text tells what happened but does not go into exactly what was in Peter's mind or heart.

Peter must have needed to go through this series of experiences in order to be in the right frame of mind (frame of heart?) to do what God wanted him to do even though he had been told before that the good news of Jesus was for the whole world.

Further, in Acts 11 we see that it was not just Peter who needed these experiences to drive home the need for a worldwide telling of the good news.

2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party criticized him, saying, 3 “You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.”

The Jewish Christians in Jerusalem were critical of Peter's actions.
In Acts 11:4 - 17 Peter explains all that happened to him and the results of the actions he took at the Spirit's prompting.

Acts 11:18

When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”

"They" in this verse refers to the Jewish Christians who criticized Peter. They needed to hear this story to understand and accept that the good news was for everyone.

It was hard to look past a lifetime of indoctrination as a first century Jew.
We have our own trained bias to overcome as well.

Answer
God gave Peter this experience to clarify Peter's understanding of who the good news was for because God knew Peter needed it in spite of having been told before. These events also clarified to the Christian Jews in Jerusalem that the good news was also for gentiles.

This isn't the only example of Jesus explaining something to the apostles but the apostles don't seem to fully grasp all the implications.

Here are two examples.

Matthew 16

21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

Here Jesus explains the need to suffer and be killed but Peter does not understand that it's part of God's plan. Jesus explained this to them on more than just this occasion.

John 13

6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” 8 Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.”

Peter does not understand the importance of Jesus washing his feet.

It may help us understand how hard it is to fully grasp things when we remember all the times we've been told things but didn't understand it until later.

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Struggling with various Bible alleged contradictions, I'm beginning to realize my approach is dead wrong. I am reading the Bible with the presupposition that it is inerrant in both ways, historical and theological. A view never held by any of the Catholic, Christian Orthodox churches or many protestant denominations as well. Assuming biblical historical accuracy gets us immediately into troubles: contradictions, non-scientific claims etc. Then we start defending the Bible reliability by twisting what the sacred text actually says, until the contradiction is gone.

The great Church fathers never did that. Origen of Alexandria formulated the principle of the three senses of Scripture (literal, moral, and spiritual) from the Jewish method of interpretation used by Paul in Galatians 4, later developed by Augustine. Point is, the literal sense doesn't have to be always historically accurate, it's role is to act as support for the moral and/or spiritual meaning. After all, we read the Bible to find eternal life (John 5:39), not to get ourselves informed about things from the past.

Following Origen's principle we not only get rid of any possible contradiction, but it also allows us to focus on what's indeed important: the moral/spiritual meaning.

Anyway, if you are struggling with understanding the Bible, like me, my message is this: Never give up! Remember the Peter's answer to Christ:

Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.

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  • I sympathize with your struggle, and pray that God will grant you wisdom and understanding. However, this does not seem to be an attempt to answer the question posed. Commented Jun 6 at 17:01
  • @JohnBollinger Actually it does answer. Factual contradictions are longer of any interest for me.
    – abc123
    Commented Jun 7 at 7:33
  • Even in light of this answer, I don't see any way in which the question is asking about scriptural (or other) contradictions. Nor about methods of scriptural interpretation. This seems like commentary on your personal journey, and it may have been inspired by considering the actual question here, but it does not speak in any way to why Peter behaves as he does in Acts 10. That is the question to be answered. I will leave it at that. Commented Jun 7 at 17:51
  • @JohnBollinger In the light of Origen's method of interpreting the Bible, factual contradictions are irrelevant since it only concerns the literal level, not the spiritual one. My question is rendered as not relevant anymore, it's a wrong question. No answer is needed anymore.
    – abc123
    Commented Jun 7 at 18:43
  • No contradiction, just ignorance on our part, this book is living! Commented Jun 11 at 16:49
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The vision Peter received was the first clear and explicit information from God that the Gentiles could receive the Holy Spirit. Before this, there were only ambiguous statements by Jesus and the prophets that were reasonably interpreted as applying to Jews who lived outside the Land of Israel, 'among the nations'.

One of Jesus' final instructions to the disciples before he left was:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8)

This was initially taken to mean only Jewish people living abroad. Jesus had also instructed the disciples to remain in Jerusalem until Shavuot (Pentecost) after the resurrection (Acts 1:4), so this command takes on the sense of a time progression or as phases in an operation. Jesus had reached out to the Samaritans (John ch. 5) but not to other Gentiles (Matthew 15:21-28), which explains why he instructed the disciples to preach the gospel in Samaria (though that could also just mean the Jews in Galilee). And there were many cities around the Mediterranean, in the middle east, Africa and as far east as India where there were populations of Jews. The instruction to preach the gospel to the nations was initially taken to mean these Jewish populations outside the Land of Israel.

There were some oblique references that in hindsight seem to include the Gentiles, but to the disciples' ears at the time this was not clear:

And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. (John 10:16)

Even today there is debate about what exactly this was supposed to mean.

And even from the prophets:

And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. (Joel 2:28-29)

Today we Christians can interpret "all flesh" to include the Gentiles; but mainstream Judaism today does not see it that way, nor did Jews in that time.

This vision received by Peter was quite a surprise (we read that Peter was deeply troubled by it until it dawned on him what it meant), since even Jesus did not explicitly tell them ahead of time that the Gentiles were eligible to receive the gospel. The learned believing Jews had to prayerfully reason this out for themselves. Without this vision, the outward signs would have been the only evidence that Gentiles could receive the Holy Spirit, and that would not have been persuasive even for the apostles, because evil spirits can also cause similar signs falsely.

The debate at the Jerusalem council (Acts 15) reveals the deep controversy these events led to, which is further proof of the novelty of this idea. Paul testified how the Gentiles in various cities he visited had received the Holy Spirit with signs of tongues etc. Peter told the story of his vision. Seemingly the sect of the Pharisees constituted the majority of the learned Jews at the council. Some were accepting of this, but others insisted that these Gentile proselytes must first become bar mitzvah (convert to Judaism with circumcision) and only then receive the Holy Spirit after being immersed in the name of Yeshua. Ya'akov (James) gave the final decision and a letter ruling was sent out to all the synagogues of the known world.

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He new obviously from the Lord's command (Acts.1.6-8); But it was the timing, it was supposed to take place when Irsaels kindom was to take place, hence let the children be fed first, its not right to cast it to the dogs (Mk. 7.27); "and unto you first"; if Isreal repented, then the 12, with Israel would of preached to the nations(Act.317-26; Zech.8.20-23). But God called Paul, and revealed a special company consisting of both jew and gentile, as the Newman(Eph.2) When christ returns, this company will be saved first, then God will save Isreal when they will repent(Zech.12.8-14;13.6) when christ saves them from there enemies, at His return, and to gather all the Nations on the earth and give them there judgment.

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Answer the question from the supposed perspective of a Torah-knowledgeable Jew and Apostle before they understood Jesus was God. The New Testament theology hadn’t even begun to be written down yet within the context of the question. That’s a general rule of interpretation. Interpret the raised question by applying what was supposedly known at the time and context of the question. None of the Apostles believed in confidence Jesus was God until after the resurrection. Only God could somehow contradict the Torah and Prophets without getting into trouble. I don’t think Peter was so willing to just simply contradict the prophet Jeremiah's statement about the New Covenant just because Jesus said otherwise at the time. Gospel and New Covenant are the same thing.

Peter (Jew) knows that the New Covenant was not for all nations. Prophet Jeremiah specifically says so. (Jeremiah 31:31) Peter heard Jesus say otherwise,(Matthew 5:17) but Jesus also says he came not to abolish the Law and prophets. Peter doesn’t know, so Peter (Jew) stays true to the Law and Prophets. Everybody knows the New Covenant was only for the north and south, Israel and Judah.

Answer
Nowhere in the Law and Prophets does it mention that the New Covenant was for all nations.

Matthew 5:17

Think not that I am come to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.

Jeremiah 31:31-35

Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— 32 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their [b]hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.

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There might be another way of looking at this.

Was it that Peter didn’t know? Or was it, shall we say, priorities? In other words, Peter wasn’t confused; his mind was simply set on, “I got to get this message to my fellow Israelites first.”

Even Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles says as much about this priority. Romans 1:16 (NASB2020)

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

Why “to the Jew first”?

I believe it was because the Jews had the historical and textual context within which to understand who Jesus was, what he accomplished, and what people were to do in response. They could effectively carry the message. Jesus did exactly this on the road to Emmaus, Luke 24:27: “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.”

Notice what happened in Acts 2. The “fellow Israelites” (Ἄνδρες Ἰσραηλῖται, "Israelite Men"), being fully Jews, weren’t just Jews. They were Jews from all over the place, who spoke many different languages. Why would God, through Peter’s message in Acts 2, start the Church by directly addressing explicitly defined Jews? It was to get the message, as a Jewish, non-Pagan, person would understand it, out to an entire world of people. It’s not like every Tom, Dick, and Janie Gentile had a Bible on their coffee table. They were ignorant. There was a lot of foundational information that had to be laid, across an entire world.

And God had and has chosen to do that through interpersonal relationships characterized by good communication. [Sidebar: I’m fully aware of the Holy Spirit’s involvement here; successful messaging of the Gospel with integrity is impossible otherwise. But, from the evidence of what actually occurred—what can be seen—it appears that the Holy Spirit’s normal mode of operation is to work through people to other people. That requires communication and it requires healthy relationships. That should make sense since there’s nothing that more loudly proclaims the truth of the Gospel than healthy relationships. See: John 17:23, “I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and You loved them, just as You loved Me.”]

I’ve often marvelled at what that text says: The goal of Jesus’ prayer is that the world comes to know that God sent Jesus as the Christ. And it comes to that knowledge by the visible expression of maturity it sees in the Church.

Acts 3:24-26 speaks to this, too. This is Peter speaking.

“Indeed, beginning with Samuel, all the prophets who have spoken have foretold these days. And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, ‘Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.’ When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.”

Notice the phrases:

  • “all the prophets” That is, the references to the Scriptures
  • “through your [Abraham’s] offspring” That is, the Jews.
  • “all the peoples” That is, the Gentiles
  • “will be blessed” Which blessing is then defined by “turning.”
  • “first to you” There was an assumed, chronological priority.

So, first part of an answer to the OP is that the Gospel was to go to the Jew first. And so, “first-ness” implies a length of time within which the Gospel would not, in any significant way, be presented to the “second-ness” group of the Gentiles. And Peter knew this chronological priority.

The second part of the answer is to take stock of how the narrative proceeds to chapter 10. If we proceed along with the story Luke is telling [and I use the term ‘story’ to emphasize the fact of a narrative, and not to question the historicity in any way], we’ll see an ever increasing move from a Jewish core to the fusion of Gentiles into the community. Gentile incorporation is not immediate, but step-wise. So, it’s not only Peter that seems to hold-back; it’s the narrative as God writes it in history. So, “first-ness” and “second-ness” implies a time span in between. We see this transition in the narrative.

In Acts 5, we basically have God saying to people, in a very in-your-face, stern way with Ananias and Sapphira, “Pick a side; no middle-road allowed at this juncture of expansion of the infant Church”. While this would have a dampening affect on the non-committed, it presents a fully engaged God. It’s like the 1,000 pound Gorilla is now clearly in the room backing up those who are committed. That is, align with God, and you align with a God that is fully engaged. Acts 6, then, paints a bit of a contrast via a complaint. But, the picture is that of an expansion from Jew to Gentile. A dispute erupts among two parties: the Hellenistic Jews and the native ones: Acts 6:1, “a complaint developed on the part of the Hellenistic Jews against the native Hebrews,” (γογγυσμὸς τῶν Ἑλληνιστῶν πρὸς τοὺς Ἑβραίους. There’s πρός, the “face to face” preposition.) Interestingly, the solution is to form a committee, presumably from the entire group, with an odd number of people (majority rules). And “Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch” is explicitly called out as a proselyte. That is, he was not “of Abraham’s seed”. A Gentile, albeit a God-fearer, has risen to a position of authority within the Church. Prochorus and Parmenas also look like Greek names to me, so these are very likely men selected from the Hellenistic side of the dispute. This is a wise choice and recognized as such by the entire body. And it highlights the transition that is coming about.

Also, Acts 6 and 7 has people who are solidly Jews, “Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia,” stoning one of the believers, Stephen, a person who preaches from the Old Testament text. Paul, as Saul, an extremely devout Jew, is introduced to the narrative. What’s going on here? Answer: A very significant, trauma inducing conflict is placed into the story: Devout Jews are fighting against devout Jews (the later being Christian) who, in turn, appear as a group to be expanding into the Gentile world. Death, as a martyr, occurs. I say, “trauma inducing” because very basic, foundational, value systems are being very strongly fractured, even destroyed. This is the type of place where people don’t know who they are. I think of Hebrews 12:25-29. The world is shaking. Transition is happening.

Acts 8 paints the picture of further expansion. Notice that it’s Samaritan related, the half-breeds with a millennium of antagonistic history (this history started with Jeroboam and the dividing of the Kingdom). These people are transitional people; they’re half way in between. Acts 8 also refers to an Ethiopian who had influence at a high level of Gentile rule (“an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). Half-breeds and high ranking, but God-fearing, Gentiles are entering the Church.

Acts 9 presents the conversion of the Apostle to the Gentiles. Paul, though not yet ‘Paul’, is introduced. This rhetorical element is called ‘interlocking’. An author introduces something, but holds off immediately exploring the subject, going back to the topic at hand. It’s a rhetorical hint. The rhetorical element interlocks with what will be brought up later without disconnecting from the former topic. Peter is then brought back into the story with the conversions of two more, rather Gentile-like, people. What this means is that Luke is now closing out a major part of his narrative which will then transition to a new, interlocked, topic (which will be the ministry of Paul).

So, if Luke is closing out a major topic, Acts 10 (actually, Acts 10:1-11:18) is a critical part of the book of Acts. Linguists call this type of section “a narrative climax.”

What’s interesting here is the structure of the Acts 10 text. It’s God telling a parable sandwiched in between the introduction of Cornelius and the conversion of Cornelius. So, the parable is a core element of this story within the story. And, it’s a core within a climax! Gentiles have now been declared clean, by God speaking, not so much to Peter, as to the entire Church at that specific time.

To draw this to a point: I think the main purpose of Acts 10:1-11:18 is to summarize the Gentile expansion and to transition to a focus on Paul who is the Apostle to the Gentiles. It’s like going through a narrative doorway. We’re changing rooms, more like a lobby that transitions from outside the house to the living part of the house. Notice what 11:18, the end of this section, says:

When they [the circumcised believers] heard this [the Cornelius story], they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.”

The “circumcised believers” are pointed to in Acts 11:2, διεκρίνοντο πρὸς αὐτὸν οἱ ἐκ περιτομῆς. I can’t develop this here, but I’ll note that again, we have the “face-to-face” preposition πρός, the sense of “two sides of a discussion” in διακρίνω, and the idea that people came out of something very Jewish that can’t be changed, περιτομή (Circumcision). The ἐκ (out of) is why the NASB2020 adds the word ‘believers’ to the single word περιτομή in the Greek.

On the other side of this narrative doorway is the full blown spread of the Gospel throughout the Gentile world. It was to be first to the Jews, and then to the Gentiles. And we’re now, in Acts 11:19 and following, in the second part of that sentence—"then to the Gentiles".

So, if you step back and view the entire panorama of the narrative to this point, Acts 10-11:18 takes on the sense of God, Himself, stepping in and saying,

“Now! There’s no more holding back. There’s now no reasonable objection to the complete advancement of the Kingdom into the Gentile world! My army is in place. All people are clean! Advance!!!”

The bugle has sounded.

So, I don’t think Peter didn’t know. I think the focus of the story is on stepping into an entirely new world. The old world has been shaken, is cracking, is failing. All things have become new.

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The simple answer to this question is this: Matthew, Mark and Peter never said what is reported in the scripture. Lucius (i.e. Luke), wrote all of it. Christ only came to earth for one reason ... the lost sheep of Israel. Because of their "SIN" alone, (not the sins of all other humans), God sent Christ to earth to die, and then be raised back to life in order to demonstrate/prove to the Sadducee Jews that there was life after the grave. They had corrupted Mosaic Law (the torah), and denied the eternal nature of Man's soul. The Sadducee Rabbi claimed that Man's expulsion from the Garden of Eden prevented him from obtaining eternal life and relegated that feature only to God, and maybe the angels, and as such, they dismissed Genesis 1:27. Christ came to planet earth for one reason only and it was to refute the false belief of the Sadducee Rabbi. God responded to The prayers of Isaiah & Daniel because the Jews had violated their covenant with God and were sinning by adoring/praying to idols as a substitute to "Yahweh." Lucius, one of the 70 disciples and Bishop of three 1st Century churches never understood why Christ came to earth. Unfortunately, for man, he was designated the Keeper of Records, and after gaining possessing all the records/documents of the apostles, he corrupted them with his beliefs and his fiction. He obtained Matthew's gospel in 42CE and Mark's gospel in late 64CE or early 65CE immediately after Peter's execution by Nero. However look at your Bible closely, my 1973 NASB bible has small brackets around verses 9 through 20, chapter 16 of Mark's gospel because the Bible editors know Mark did not write the scripture. They are correct...because Lucius appended it to Mark's gospel. Nonetheless, Isaiah was right. Christ would be a great light in the lives of the Gentiles (i.e. all non-Jews). There are several books in print which discuss this topic of Bible corruption. Lucius forged 75% of the New Testament which includes not only the gospels, Acts, Revelation, but also most of the epistles. He also wrote the Doctrine of Addai, the Acts of Thomas, etc. He even used ancient Egyptian documents to write 95% of Revelation and "Wars of the Jews" A BOOK OF jOSEPHUS to write the Sermon on the Mount. He forged words that Christ never said.

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In Daniel 9 verse 24 it reads "seventy weeks have been decreed for your people". The significance of these opening words gets overlooked.

These words are the reason that Jesus said to the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15:24 "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel"

In contrast to this note the response of Jesus to the centurion in Matthew 8 who asked Jesus to heal his servant where Jesus replied "I will come and heal him".

There were many Jews serving in the Roman military and this was obviously one of them.

In the middle of 70th week of Daniel the lord was crucified putting an end to the temple sacrifices (as written about in the 9th & 10th chapters of Hebrews) but there was still three and a half years remaining of the 70 weeks that had been decreed exclusively for Israel.

It was only after the completion of the 70th week that the Gentiles were added into the church.

The 144,000 virgins were the Jewish converts to Christianity during the 70th week of Daniel. And the vast multitude of every nationality and language following behind them were the Gentiles.

Now in Daniel 9:26 the word "anointed one" often gets confused to mean the lord and indeed modern English translations even render these words messiah, but it can also be translated "anointed ones" and is in fact referring to the scribes and Pharisees that Jesus was contending with throughout his ministry. (the word "cut off" in this verse are better rendered as 'extirpated" or "rooted out" and the following words "that they would have nothing" serves to lead into the prophecy of the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem which was the source of their wealth)

After this digression of talking about the fate of the scribes and Pharisees and Jerusalem, the scripture returns to talking about the 70th week of Daniel.

Verse 27 reads "he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to the sacrifices and grain offering". (note here that the words "the many" refer to the Jews and the "exclusive" covenant with them continued another three and a half years after the lord's death and resurrection). So... it was not until the end of the 70th week of Daniel that baptism was opened up to the Gentiles.

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