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Sunday, February 14, 2016

Change Agent – Part 2

In Part 1 I said that in Acts 10:28 when Peter told Cornelius that it was unlawful for a Jew to associate with a Gentile he was wrong.  That prohibition is not in Leviticus, Numbers, or Deuteronomy.  So why would Peter think that he might be breaking the Law?
Change Agent – Part 2
The reason was Talmudic law.  The rabbis had created laws on top of the Levitical law to keep Israel from breaking the Levitical Law.  The idea was that these “laws” would serve as a buffer for the people.  The rabbis reasoned if they did not break these laws then they certainly would not break the Levitical law.  By Peter’s time the insulating “laws” had become so ingrained, Peter, and most other Jews, viewed them as they would the Levitical Law.  (Evans, Craig A., Isobel A. H. Combes, Daniel M. Gurtner.  The Bible Knowledge Background Commentary: Acts-Philemon, Volume 2.  Chicago: David C. Cook, 2004, Page 77 - 78 (Google Books, Accessed 2/14/2016).)

With that background, look at what God did to prepare Peter for Cornelius.  Acts 9:1 – 23 describes the process.  Cornelius had a vision while praying instructing him to send for Peter, so he sent three men.  The next day as the men were on the way to find Peter in Joppa, Peter is praying and sees the three sheets vision.  While he is perplexed about what he sees the men Cornelius sent show up.  The Spirit then instructs Peter to greet and accompany them.

We are going to unwrap this fully because there is a lot here.  First, Peter’s world view, the view shaped by his understanding of what he thinks is the Law is wrong.  We know that God can confront.  He confronted Paul in Chapter 9.  Here though God is taking Peter thorough a process, gracefully and gently re-instructing him about what God really wants.  He uses the time of Peter’s personal prayer and worship, to give him instruction through both the vision and a direct word from the Holy Spirit.  This was a shock to Peter.  By his response it is clear that he is hesitant to break what he sees as the law.

Keep this in mind as we move through this passage.  As I said there is much more here.  More tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. Indeed a stimulating passage! Like all of us, Peter was a culturally adapted Jew of his time. And like him, we all have our religious/cultural/theological biases that at least cloud scriptural truth or totally obscure. Throw individual temperaments in and there's a real stew to deal with. Several instances in my life come painfully to mind.

    I look forward to your continued development of the passage, and more on what the mitigating factors can possibly be. Perhaps not as dramatically as with Peter, but these issues definitely shape our ministry for better or for worse.

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