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An Open Door

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Peter on the roof

Acts 10:4–6 NRSV
He stared at him in terror and said, “What is it, Lord?” He answered, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God. Now send men to Joppa for a certain Simon who is called Peter; he is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the seaside.”
Acts 10:9–10 NRSV
About noon the next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat; and while it was being prepared, he fell into a trance.
*** Image of a 1st Century Israelite House

Peter’s “trial” in Jerusalem

The accusation

Acts 11:3 (NRSV)
“Why did you go to uncircumcised men and eat with them?”

Peter’s defense

He tells the story

Acts 11:4–10 NRSV
Then Peter began to explain it to them, step by step, saying, “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. There was something like a large sheet coming down from heaven, being lowered by its four corners; and it came close to me. As I looked at it closely I saw four-footed animals, beasts of prey, reptiles, and birds of the air. I also heard a voice saying to me, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat.’ But I replied, ‘By no means, Lord; for nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ But a second time the voice answered from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, you must not call profane.’ This happened three times; then everything was pulled up again to heaven.

Peter has evidence

Acts 11:12 NRSV
The Spirit told me to go with them and not to make a distinction between them and us. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house.
Acts 11:15 NRSV
And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as it had upon us at the beginning.

Peter’s conclusion

Acts 11:17 NRSV
If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?”
[T]he basic defense offered here involves a metastasis, namely, the transference of responsibility for what happened and even for Peter’s own actions to God.
*** Note source: Witherington, B., III. (1998). The Acts of the Apostles: a socio-rhetorical commentary (p. 363). Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Did Peter’s explanation satisfy?

Acts 11:3 (NRSV)
“Why did you go to uncircumcised men and eat with them?”
Acts 11:18 NRSV
When they heard this, they were silenced. And they praised God, saying, “Then God has given even to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life.”

Even Peter wavers

Galatians 2:11–12 NRSV
But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood self-condemned; for until certain people came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But after they came, he drew back and kept himself separate for fear of the circumcision faction.

It takes a while

Acts 15:1–2 NRSV
Then certain individuals came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to discuss this question with the apostles and the elders.
Acts 15:28–29 NRSV
For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to impose on you no further burden than these essentials: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from fornication. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.”

The door is open

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