Peter's Vision Part 1 of 2

by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)

April 21, 2014

Acts of the Apostles

Lesson III.D.4: Peter's Vision

Scripture (Acts 10:9-16)

9 On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour:
10 And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance,
11 And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth:
12 Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.
13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.
14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.
15 And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.
16 This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven.



The prejudices of Peter against Gentiles, would have prevented him from going to Cornelius, unless the Lord had prepared him for this mission. To tell a Jew that God had declared those animals clean, which were up till then considered unclean, was in effect saying, the Law of Moses was obsolete. Peter would come to realize that. God knows what services are before us, and He knows how to prepare us to be successful servants.


9 On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour:

Joppa was about thirty miles to the south of Caesarea. Having set out the same day as Cornelius vision or early the next morning, the attendants approached Joppa about noon the next day. Peter in the meantime had gone up to the flat roof of Simon’s house in order to pray{1]. The “sixth hour” was noon; the Jewish day began at 6 a.m. (the first hour).

We can assume that Peter prayed morning and evening, for those were the normal times of prayer for the faithful Jews. In addition, Peter prayed at noon. Prayer three times a day was not commanded in the Scriptures, but Peter followed the examples of pious men before him . . .
David Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice.
Daniel Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.

It is absolutely necessary for God to prepare Peter for the task ahead of him. You see, Simon Peter did not have the breadth (non-judgmental attitude) that the Apostle Paul had. Although he didn’t have the background or training that Paul had, God can still use him to initiate what is definitely the most profound change in the history of the Church. I believe it is a tremendous mistake to think that every person has to be poured into the same mold for God to use him.


10 And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance,

Hungry and waiting for a meal to be prepared, he fell into a trance. Noon was not the usual weekday meal time. The custom was to have a light midmorning meal and a more substantial meal in the late afternoon. If Peter had missed his midmorning breakfast, it would explain his drowsiness on this occasion. Roofs were often covered with awnings to provide protection from the heat of the sun. Perhaps those awnings or the glimpse of a distant sail at sea provided the stimulus for the vision Peter had.

The word translated here as “trance” means “a condition of ecstasy,” or “rapture from the contemplation of divine things.” God produced the vision while he was in a state of ecstasy


11 And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth:

He saw a large vessel or container like a large sheet descending from heaven held by its four corners. Some interpreters suggest a symbolic meaning here, the four corners representing the four corners of the earth in a vision, the ultimate meaning of which points to the worldwide mission in which all men are fit for salvation.


12 Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.

The sheet contained representatives of all the animals of the earth—four-footed animals, reptiles of the land, birds of the air, and all kinds of bugs. Therefore, it symbolized the entire animal world and included clean as well as unclean animals. In general, unclean animals were those that showed some peculiarity with reference to their species as a whole. Thus fish without the usual fish scales were unclean. Four-footed beasts were considered normal if they had cloven hooves and chewed the cud. Pigs do not chew the cud and were therefore unclean (See Leviticus 11).


13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.
A voice from heaven commanded Peter to rise, kill from among the animals within the sheet, and satisfy his hunger.
14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.

While Peter is scratching his head and wondering what this means, a voice speaks to him. Isn’t it interesting that he calls Him, “Lord,” but he doesn’t obey and do what the Lord tells him to do? Peter was certainly baffled by the vision, which is evident from his vigorous protest. What the voice requested was strictly against the Law{2]. Never had he eaten anything defiled or unclean{3]. This is the third time in Peter’s life that he refused to comply with God’s will; the other times were . . .
Matthew 16:22-23 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. "Never, Lord!" he said. "This shall never happen to you!" Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."
John 13:8 "No," said Peter, "you shall never wash my feet." Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me."

A blunt translation of Peter’s reply is, “Lord, by no means!” His reply is part of this vision. He is the same man we knew in the Gospels, the man who said: "Never, Lord! (Matt. 6:22),” "No, you shall never wash my feet (John 13:8)."

Someone may ask, “Couldn’t he have killed and eaten the clean animals and left the unclean ones?” Probably Peter understood the Lord’s command to include the unclean animals or possibly the large sheet contained only unclean animals.

Now, I don’t want you to miss this. Here is a man who is on this side of the Day of Pentecost. He is living in this day of grace where it makes no difference whether we eat meat or whether we don’t eat meat. However, Peter is still abiding by the Mosaic system and he is not eating anything that is ceremonially unclean. He is sincere and honest about it. Someone may say that we ought to be broad-minded and eat everything. But, you see, the Lord is teaching him that he is no longer under the Mosaic system and is free to eat anything. Today the big problem is that some people decide that they no longer want to eat meat and then they try to put everyone else under that same system. My friend, under grace you can eat meat or not eat meat. That is your business. Eating certain things may give you indigestion, but it certainly will not change your relationship with the Lord.


15 And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.

The voice ignored Peter’s protest, reissuing the command and adding, “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.” This rebuttal gives Mark 7:14-23{6] more meaning. It is generally understood that Mark wrote down Peter’s words. In retrospect, Peter must have recognized that Jesus as the Messiah cleansed all food from ceremonial defilement. Paul told his friend Timothy, “For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving” (1 Timothy 4:4).

Notice that the voice did not say, “What God hath cleansed that call not thou common;” but “make thou not common,” which is a far stronger word. The idea conveyed was that of the cleansing of all, and therefore the putting away forever of those ceremonial limitations which had cursed the Hebrew religion. Do not make common, do not defile by your attitude toward it that which God has cleansed. So far as the commandments against certain forms of animal life were concerned, they are swept away; but so far as they were laws of health, they stand. It should, however, be remembered that the laws of health in that land and time may be different from our current laws, since we have refrigeration and regulations regarding sanitation. The general health law of Hebraism is the same as that of Christianity; that the body must be cared for because it is the property of God, and nothing should be eaten or drunk which would harm it, or make it unfit for the dwelling of the Holy Spirit. The Law of clean/unclean animals has passed away forever; but the law of health still stands. This is what astonished Peter. He had no right to call them unclean, because they had been cleansed. Something had taken place in the history of religion that revolutionized all the habits and methods of religion. From now on men were not to make anything profane which God had now taken into the circle of that which is sacred.
My friend, what God has made clean, don’t you call unclean. You can eat anything because God has said so.

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