Repeat, Repeat, Repeat
I met my friend our first day in beginning Greek, and it didn’t take long to discover that there was no need to repeat things for him. Give him an assignment to master a list of New Testament Greek irregular verbs and the date of the test—he remembered.
He did so well that he got his Ph.D. from Aberdeen University in Scotland, and Dr. Dave Lowery started teaching students the New Testament at Dallas Theological Seminary. As a young professor, he soon learned that many students weren’t like him, they needed a lot of repetition.
For the first century Judean Church the hardest assignment was to get Jewish believers to open their hearts and their homes to Gentiles. In fact, when the Apostle Peter returned from Cornelius’ house in Caesarea to Jerusalem, he was greeted with some heated opposition. The fact that he had entered the home of unclean Gentiles and worse, ate with them, got some folks riled up.
This kind of bigotry isn’t isolated to the first century. It’s contagious, and that explains why Luke makes us listen to the Apostle Peter repeat again his experience in Cornelius’ home.
“Then Peter began to carefully explain step by step to those disputing with him what had happened. ‘I was in the city of Joppa praying when I saw in a trance a vision of a large sheet being let down out of the heaven by its four corners and set right before me. I took a careful look and tried to figure out what it was. It was filled with four-footed land animals, wild beasts, reptiles, and birds of the sky. Then I heard a voice, ‘Get up, Peter, kill and eat!’ I responded, ‘Absolutely not! Nothing impure or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ But the heavenly voice said to me a second time, ‘What God has declared clean, don’t you call it impure!’ This happened again a third time and then everything was taken back up into the heaven.
Right then, three men showed up at the door of the house where I was staying. They had been sent from Caesarea to find me, and the Spirit said, ‘Go with them and don’t debate about it.’ Now some of my Jewish friends also went with me to Caesarea and we entered into a man’s home. He explained that he had seen an angel standing in his house and the angel said, ‘Send to Joppa and ask a man named Simon who is also called Peter to come to you. He will tell you the things you need to know in order to be saved and all your household.’
I had barely gotten started when the Holy Spirit fell upon them just like he fell on us at the beginning. I remembered how the Lord had told us, ‘John baptizes with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. Therefore, if the Lord has given to the Gentiles the same gift He gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to oppose God?’
When they heard this, it quieted their objections and they praised God, ‘So then, God has given even to the Gentiles repentance that yields life.’” Acts 11:4-18
Controversy over and everyone’s happy with a multi-racial church. Not so fast. In Chapter 15 this entire question will boil over again.
LORD, destroy the bigotry that causes us to see impurity in others, but not the dirt within. Thanks that Jesus has rendered us all unclean, so that we can receive the gift of His purity simply by trusting in His cross.
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