I have heard people claim we no longer need to obey Gods instructions about food because of Peters vision, but is that true? Was Peters vision about food or something else?
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by Lex Meyer
I've heard many people claim that we no longer need to obey God's instructions about food because of Peter's vision, but is that true? Was Peter's vision about food, or something else? Let's see what the Bible really says.
"...Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour. Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth. In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. And a voice came to him, "Rise, Peter; kill and eat." But Peter said, "Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean." And a voice spoke to him again the second time, "What God has cleansed you must not call common." This was done three times. And the object was taken up to heaven again."
- Acts 10:9-16
Notice that he argued with God saying, "Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean." This shows us that he had never eaten anything unclean, and he couldn't believe that God was telling him to eat unclean animals now. This also indicates that he never heard Yeshua say anything that would lead him to eat unclean things. The idea was unthinkable to him, to such a degree that he argued with God about it. Now, look at what happened next.
"Now while Peter wondered within himself what this vision which he had seen meant, behold, the men who had been sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon's house and stood before the gate. And they called and asked whether Simon, whose surname was Peter, was lodging there. While Peter thought about the vision, the Spirit said to him, "Behold, three men are seeking you. Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them." Then Peter went down to the men who had been sent to him from Cornelius, and said, "Yes, I am he whom you seek. For what reason have you come?" And they said, "Cornelius the centurion, a just man, one who fears God and has a good reputation among all the nation of the Jews, was divinely instructed by a holy angel to summon you to his house, and to hear words from you." Then he invited them in and lodged them. On the next day Peter went away with them, and some brethren from Joppa accompanied him."
- Acts 10:17-23
Peter wondered what the vision might mean. He quickly realized that it was not about food, and so he was trying to understand what the vision was really about. While he was thinking about it, the men Cornelius sent showed up to call for him. It is important to note that Cornelius was a Gentile. Now, listen to the conclusion that Peter made concerning his vision.
"And the following day they entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting for them and had called together his relatives and close friends. As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter lifted him up, saying, "Stand up; I myself am also a man." And as he talked with him, he went in and found many who had come together. Then he said to them, "You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean. Therefore I came without objection as soon as I was sent for. I ask, then, for what reason have you sent for me?"
- Acts 10:24-29
This was the first time Peter gave the interpretation of his vision, and he said, "God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean." But this was not the only time he explained his vision. When he returned to Jerusalem he was confronted by a group of Jews who were upset that he had eaten with uncircumcised Gentiles.
"Now the apostles and brethren who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those of the circumcision contended with him, saying, "You went in to uncircumcised men and ate with them!"
- Acts 11:1-3
The Jews in that day had laws against eating with Gentiles, but those laws didn't come from the Bible. They came from the oral traditions of the elders, which you can find today in the Babylonian Talmud. These laws were given by the Rabbis who claim to have authority over the Scriptures. They claimed that if the oral law and the written Torah were in conflict, then the oral law was to be followed. However, Peter's vision showed him the error in those man-made laws, and so he explained to them the vision and interpretation as well.
"But Peter explained it to them in order from the beginning, saying: "I was in the city of Joppa praying; and in a trance I saw a vision, an object descending like a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came to me. When I observed it intently and considered, I saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. And I heard a voice saying to me, 'Rise, Peter; kill and eat.' But I said, 'Not so, Lord! For nothing common or unclean has at any time entered my mouth.' But the voice answered me again from heaven, 'What God has cleansed you must not call common.' Now this was done three times, and all were drawn up again into heaven. At that very moment, three men stood before the house where I was, having been sent to me from Caesarea. Then the Spirit told me to go with them, doubting nothing. Moreover, these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered the man's house. And he told us how he had seen an angel standing in his house, who said to him, 'Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon whose surname is Peter, who will tell you words by which you and all your household will be saved.' And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning. Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, 'John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.' If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?" When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, "Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life."
- Acts 11:4-18
Notice that after Peter explained the vision, everyone understood the interpretation to be that, "God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life." No one concluded that Peter's vision was about food. They all recognized that it was about taking the Gospel to the Gentiles.
Now, some people will say that God has given them a new interpretation of that vision that's not given in the Bible. They say that Peter's vision gives us permission to eat unclean animals. However, listen to what Peter says about giving your own private interpretation apart from what the Scripture says.
"...no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation"
- 2 Peter 1:20
This means you cannot give any other interpretation than what is given in the Bible. You can't make up your own private interpretation of certain Scriptures. We have to let the Bible interpret itself, and the Bible is very clear that Peter's vision was about taking the Gospel to the Gentiles and not calling them common or unclean. It has absolutely nothing to do with food, and to say otherwise is a twisting of the Scriptures.
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