PETER’S VISION AND VISITS CORNELIUS
ACTS 10:9-16 stated, “9 The next day as Cornelius’s messengers were nearing the town, Peter went up on the flat roof to pray. It was about noon, 10 and he was hungry. But while a meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance.11 He saw the sky open, and something like a large sheet was let down by its four corners. 12 In the sheet were all sorts of animals, reptiles, and birds. 13 Then a voice said to him, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat them.” 14 “No, Lord,” Peter declared. “I have never eaten anything that our Jewish laws have declared impure and unclean.” 15 But the voice spoke again: “Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.” 16 The same vision was repeated three times. Then the sheet was suddenly pulled up to heaven.”
Like Cornelius, Peter prayed daily. Morning and evening were the common times to pray, and evidently Peter made it a habit to pray in the middle of the day as well (see Nehemiah 1:4-11; Psalm 55:17; Daniel 6:10). This significant opening of the door to the Gentiles was God-directed, but note that the two men were devout, God-dependent, regular seekers of God through prayer. It is no coincidence that Peter and Cornelius were both found praying when God revealed more of himself to them.
Peter went up to the flat roof to pray. Houses in Bible times usually had flat roofs accessed by an outside staircase. The roof would have given Peter privacy. As he prayed, he was hungry and evidently fell into a trance while he was waiting for lunch to be prepared. During this trance God spoke to him.
Peter saw something like a large sheet being let down to earth from heaven. The voice, obviously that of someone in authority (probably God himself), told Peter that he was free to kill and eat the animals, including reptiles and birds. According to Jewish law, these particular foods were forbidden (see Leviticus 11). Peter, always ready to voice his opinion, expressed his conviction not to eat anything forbidden by the Jewish laws. The point of this vision, as was about to be made clear, was that God was working outside of Israel, beyond Israel, and if Peter was to be a part of what God was doing, he needed to understand that nothing was unclean.
This educating of Peter, as with the educating of most believers, took a little repetition—three times in this case. God was revealing something that would be startling to Peter’s Jewish mind; God was basically nullifying the Jewish dietary laws and, by analogy, God was preparing Peter to meet an unclean Gentile.