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Acts 11:1-18 (web)

Peter's Defense of Gentile Contact

Criticism by the other Jews

11:1 Now the apostles and the brothers who were in Judea heard
that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. 
11:2 When Peter had come up to Jerusalem, 
those who were of the circumcision contended with him, 
11:3 saying, "You went in to uncircumcised men, and ate with them!"

11:4 But Peter began, and explained to them in order, saying, 
11:5 "I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision:
a certain container descending, like it was a great sheet let down from heaven by four corners.
It came as far as me. 
11:6 When I had looked intently at it, I considered, 
and saw the four-footed animals of the earth, wild animals, creeping things, and birds of the sky. 
11:7 I also heard a voice saying to me, 'Rise, Peter, kill and eat!'
11:8 But I said, 'Not so, Lord, for nothing unholy or unclean has ever entered into my mouth.' 
11:9 But a voice answered me the second time out of heaven, 
'What God has cleansed, don't you call unclean.' 
11:10 This was done three times, and all were drawn up again into heaven. 
11:11 Behold, immediately three men stood before the house where I was,
having been sent from Caesarea to me. 
11:12 The Spirit told me to go with them, without discriminating.
These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered into the man's house. 
11:13 He told us how he had seen the angel standing in his house, and saying to him, '
Send to Joppa, and get Simon, whose surname is Peter, 
11:14 who will speak to you words by which you will be saved, you and all your house.' 
11:15 As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them, even as on us at the beginning. 

11:16 I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said,
'John indeed baptized in water, but you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit.
11:17 If then God gave to them the same gift as us, when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ,
who was I, that I could withstand God?
11:18 When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying,
"Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life!" 


Exclusiveness in the Church

A couple of points which reveal the attitudes of these Jews.
vs 3 "You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them." How dare you!
vs 17 "who was I to think that I could oppose God?" Why would they have wanted to? Much as this implies that he wanted to resist God, I think he said this more to reflect the attitude of the circumcision towards Gentiles in his defense. That shut them up, and perhaps reluctantly they glorified God acknowledging that He granted even to the Gentiles repentance unto life. But their resistence to fellowshipping with Gentile believers would continue.

However even today many Christians have the divisive "I am of Paul; I am of Apollos; I am of Cephas" type of attitude. They exclude one another for illegitimate reasons. And there are other such incidents in the early church, such as the case in 3John 1:10 where John speaks of a certain Christain in this manner, "he refuses to welcome the brothers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church." And indeed if Peter were not reckoned head of the church of Jerusalem, the circumcision may have very well thrown him out. And we will see in the future with what reluctance Paul is welcomed into the fellowship.

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit

Is the baptism of the Holy Spirit the same as water baptism? No! Not according to verse 16. For John baptized with water, but Jesus baptizes with something other than water. And Peter is referring to the household of Cornelius receiving the Holy Spirit, which occurred before they were water baptized. Water baptism is only significant in a symbolic sense. It symbolized being immersed into Christ, and by doing so they participant is publically acknowledging their faith in Christ. But the substantive baptism - which doesn't simply symbolized immersion into Christ, but rather is that actual immersion into Christ - is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. This most often occurs at a time separate from water baptism. For some it occurs before and for others it occurs after. It inevitably occurs when a person places salvific faith in Christ.

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources Jun 23,2023