Cornelius, a Gentile commander of the Roman army who is “a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always”, receives a vision from the Lord. The Lord tells him to send men to Joppa where Peter is staying.
The next day, Peter receives a vision from the Lord. In the vision are all sorts of animals and the Lord instructs Peter to kill and eat. Peter responds, “Not so Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.” But God responds, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.”
“God was overturning the old clean/unclean distinctions and dietary laws in general, along with all other ‘ceremonial’ laws in the Mosaic covenant (including laws about sacrifices, festivals and special days, and circumcision). Nothing like this was to get in the way of fellowship with Gentiles, as Galatians 2 also shows.” (ESV Study Bible)
Therefore, when Cornelius’s men arrive, Peter has no problem going to the home of Gentiles and preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ! ”While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.” 🙌
Peter later explains to his brethren what happened. ”’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.’”
The Good News continues to spread. Barnabas and Saul go to the church in Antioch. “So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.”
But the reading ends tragically. Herod kills “James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also.” However, the Lord will repay self-exalting Herod for his wickedness in tomorrow’s reading so keep reading.