United Church of God

Acts of the Apostles: 19 - Acts 9:32-10:1-16

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Acts of the Apostles

19 - Acts 9:32-10:1-16


In this class, we will discuss Acts 9:32-43 thru Acts 10:1-16 and look at the story of healing and resurrection in the lives of Aeneas and Tabitha (Dorcas). We are then introduced to Simon the tanner in Joppa and in chapter 10 begin examining the events around a Gentile named Cornelius, a Roman centurion. We will briefly begin to discuss Peter's controversial rooftop vision concerning common or unclean.


Welcome back to the Book of Acts. We are going to finish up Chapter 9 today. We left our intrepid hero, the Apostle Paul in the city of Tarsis, where everything got too hot for him in Damascus and then in Jerusalem and so they sent him off to Tarsis. We'll pick him up a little bit later in the story. But in Chapter 9 verse 32, the scene shifts to the Apostle Peter. And we have a few verses to cover as the Apostle Peter. If you see by the map that is on the screen is found down here toward the coast from Jerusalem. He's going toward the sea, and he's got to stop in Lydda. And then he is got to stop in Joppa where he will stay for a period of time before he's going to go up to Caesarea for what is one of the very momentous moments in the story of the church, which we'll cover in Chapter 10. So, let's pick it up in verse 32. We have his passage through the parts of the country.

Acts 9:32 "That he also came down to the saints who dwelt in Lydda."

This is where, again, Luke just inserts here that there are saints, members we would look at them in the city of Lydda, a small village. How did this group come to be? Again, Luke doesn't tell us every detail about the startup of all the churches, although we're going to find one soon, the church at Antioch, how that begins. But Lydda's got a group of saints, and it seems like Peter is out on a visiting tour. Again, there's no explanation given as to why Peter decides to go down toward this part of the country except to make it a visit of some of the churches. And, were there news of needs, people sick, or just checking in? I don't know. Part of the role of a shepherd, a pastor at his church is to get out and visit people, and sometimes to anoint, sometimes to counsel, sometimes just to sit and have a cup of coffee.

And one of my most favorite times in the ministry was to do what... I used to employ a cowboy term, you go out and you ride fence. You go out and you just drive to where your people are living and you visit with them, and you don't have to have a reason necessarily. There's not a crisis. You're just visiting with them, and you sit for a while. You have a cup of coffee, a cup of tea, whatever it might be, and maybe a meal and just talk for a while on the front porch, on the back patio, wherever it might be. Those were some of the most enjoyable times that I had in the field ministry. And I'd like to think of this particular passage as Peter kind of going out and checking up on the churches. And so he stops in Lydda here.

Acts 9:33 "He found a certain man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden eight years and was paralyzed."

That's the way it's put here, he found. Tells us that he maybe did not know about this man or did he hear about him, and maybe this was the reason for the visit. Let's just take it as it comes, but here is a disciple who is quite ill.

Acts 9:34 "And Peter said to him, ‘Aeneas, Jesus the Christ heals you. Arise and make your bed. And he rose immediately.’”

And again, very similar to the lame man that was at the temple when Peter and John in Chapter 3 had gone into the temple at that time and Peter had raised him back to life, a lame man as well. And so here is perhaps a little different type of malady that Aeneas has, but Peter performs this act of healing.

Acts 9:35 "And so all who dwelt at Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord."

Again, one of the reasons for the miracles we read about in the Book of Acts and as well as in the gospels, was to draw attention to the gospel or to Christ Himself and His power as the Son of God. But this has the benefit of turning many people to God, and to the worship of the Lord, the risen Christ. And so, Peter now moves on.

Acts 9:36-38 It says, "At Joppa," which puts him down on the coast. Again you look at the map here, he's down now on the Mediterranean coast at Joppa. There's still a settlement there, a town, in that locale. "And there was a certain disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did. But it happened in those days that she became sick and died," perhaps a brief short illness that resulted in her death. "And when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. And since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples heard Peter was there, and they sent two men to him imploring him not to delay in coming to them."

So, they had heard he was there, word had filtered through as again, people were going back and forth. So, they sent to Lydda for Peter to come down. Now, it says about this woman here that she was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did. One thing about Luke that we've I think already commented on is Luke tends to focus on women a great deal in his gospel and in the Book of Acts. We learn about a lot of different women in the church and in the story of the church in those two books. And also Luke will focus on the marginalized of society. That's why you will find the parable of the Good Samaritan in the Gospel of Luke. You know, as we've discussed earlier, the Samaritans were marginalized at least with the Jews. They had their own community up to the north, but they were not welcome, let's say, in Jerusalem and at the tables of the Jews. There was a longstanding animosity between them, but it's on that story that Luke focuses and puts in his story of God.

So, here is another woman, Tabitha, who is known for her good works and charitable deeds which she did. So, she was kind of a standout among the women in the church, if you will. And so they laid her out. She died. They sent for Peter and allow enough time for him to come down. So, in this case, they didn't put her in the grave right away. There's no explanation given for that. Maybe it was just because they wanted to take the time to mourn. Maybe it was so sudden, so stunning to the disciples here that this woman who had been perhaps, you know, so vibrant and a part of the church, now all of a sudden, after likely a brief illness, she's gone. And that put a shock into the congregation. So, perhaps they were not ready to, in a sense, part with her. Were they looking for something beyond that? They sent for Peter to come down. He did go. In verse 39.

Acts 9:39 "When he came, they brought him to the upper room. And all the widows stood by him weeping, showing the tunics and the garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them."

So, she was known for her handy crafts, for her ability to create clothing, a basic necessity of life, which obviously would've been distributed to people who needed that. She was that type of woman. I don't know how you would find your congregations, those of you listening online, students here in the room from which you come, but I would think that as you look around at the individuals in your congregation, you would have certain individuals like a Tabitha, a Dorcas who stands out, who quietly goes about taking care of people's needs and you don't hear about them.

They're not in the announcements every week, but they know who needs something, maybe a meal when somebody's sick, maybe a coat for winter, maybe a little extra money here or there, and they take care of it, or see that it gets taken care of. Those are the people that make the congregation work and also provide that glue that just causes things to stick together. It's not always a woman doing that as well. Many, many men perform those unseen, sometimes unknown roles.

I would marvel through my years, again in the ministry that at times I would find out what was being done for so and so in the congregation that I didn't have to tell them to do it, that people just began to do themselves. And I always thought, "Man, that's great." Those were the greatest situations because that's what you want, people to take initiative. And you want to see people taking care of one another, and providing for each other's needs within everybody's abilities. Such was Tabitha and Dorcas here, and that's why they stood by weeping. And perhaps it's what they were hoping for as they called for Peter to come and see them.

Acts 9:40-42 "Peter put them all out, knelt down, and prayed." This was his response. "And turning to the body he said, 'Tabitha, arise.' And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter, she sat up." Another miracle. A miracle here of an individual being brought back to life. "He gave her his hand, lifted her up; and when he had called the saints and widows, he presented her alive." And so he either called them in or he brought her out to where they were. "And it became known throughout all Joppa." Again, the miracle drew attention to God, not to Peter. "They believed on the Lord," it tells us at the end of verse 42.

Any good deed, any healing that would take place amongst people when there would be sickness in our midst, always give credit to God, not the minister, not the individual. Give credit to God. This was meant to do that.

Acts 9:43 "So it was that he stayed many days in Joppa with Simon, a tanner."

And so he's down on a sea coast, and he just decides to stay here and remain here for a while. He finds lodging with a man named Simon, a tanner. So, really the story now just blends into Chapter 10. It really doesn't... There's no ending at only kind of a contrived chapter demarcation here at this point. But Peter's now about to be involved in a significant step of, call it evangelism, call it an opening of the door to the Gentiles as he is going to go up to be called up to Caesarea, and he's going to encounter there an individual, and there's going to be quite a scene, quite an event that finalizes and puts, in a sense, the final stamp on things.

So, just before we go to that, I just want to comment, you know, that Luke is inspired by God here at the end of Chapter 9 to give us just a few verses of two different events that Peter does as he is heading out, you know, writing fence. Did he intend to go up to Caesarea? Probably not. Was he going to kind of backtrack through Lydda, maybe go back up to Jerusalem, or stop along the way? I don't know. He seems to come to a terminus of where his intent was in what he had set out here. But in the two stops that he's had, his mind, and his ministries is drawn to the power of God working in the church, the power of the risen Christ working through the disciples, and through here he as an apostle.

And I think that we should look at that as a preparatory for what is going to happen as he gets into Chapter 10 because God is going to lead him into a situation that he must understand is of God. And he could not have designed it, Peter and James and John and the apostles in Jerusalem, guess what? They did not have a strategic plan for what was going to take place. They hadn't written all this up in advance. They didn't chart it all out with bullet points and flow items and everything else. It wasn't in their strategic plan, but it's in God's strategic plan, as all things ultimately worthwhile are.

But he's prepared by being drawn to the, again, two dramatic events in the lives of simple members, simple disciples, unknown names of people other than Aeneas and Tabitha. The rest of them are encouraged by what happens, and they are the glue of the church, and what is happening is the gospel is spread. So, his attention now is going to be turned to someone quite different, a different type of an individual. And again, this is the variety of what we see. So, let's go ahead and turn over to Chapter 10, and let's begin to look at this. There's a lot to deal with here in Chapter 10 as we move into this remarkable scene. Luke opens it this way in verse 1.

Acts 10:1-3 "There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, a devout man and one who feared God with all of his household, who gave alms generously to the people and prayed to God always. And about the ninth hour, he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, 'Cornelius.'"

So, we've moved up the coast of Caesarea. Just a few quick pictures to give you kind of a setting for this. I showed this to you last time, but Caesarea again, remember, it is Caesarea Maritima, the technical full name. Caesarea, you should recognize commemorates Caesar and Maritima by the sea. So, it's Caesarea by the sea, but it's a city essentially built by Herod the Great. You have a handout that I've already given to you here that shows you the family tree of the Herodian family. And you will need to keep that because it's important that you know the different Herods in the gospels and in the Book of Acts especially. There are different ones. And this particular family tree, I'll just hold it up here. We'll have that on the website or in the web, I believe, for those online. Shows the tree of the Herodian family as it pertains to Scripture. And that's what we'll focus on, and that's what you need to know because there's a lot of information here.

But Herod built this Caesarea. And as I said last time, it was a seaport. And you can see, he built out this artificial harbor. He enclosed it to where boats could come in and safely anchor. This jetty that comes out is man-made. You see the excavations that have been done there that are quite extent. Interestingly, this is a Crusader castle that is there in Caesarea. But the Romans knew how to pour concrete underwater in their day. And you can still see that in Caesarea today. They used that to build up the port.

I was reading an article about that particular process recently and how that works, but it's still there. And it was quite a feat. As he built the city, this became the seat of not only Herod the Great but then all the successive Roman governors. And we'll find this will be the scene for the Apostle Paul's imprisonment later on. So, we're going to come back to Caesarea.

Just one thing that I will note. We don't have it up on the map up here, but this was a seaport. And a port serves needs for transportation. Ships come and go, and for commerce. And really somebody like Herod the Great and the Romans, they didn't build up a huge city on the seaside and a port like this without wanting to make money, which is what this was all about. And Herod the Great became quite wealthy through this as it enabled him to control and have duties on and be involved with the transport of spices, perfumes, and other goods that were a part of the caravan route, going back and forth east, west in the Mediterranean world at that time.

If you remember, I told you when we were studying Daniel 11 and the back-and-forth battles between the King of the North, the Seleucid, and the King of the South, the Ptolemies in Egypt. A lot of those battles of Daniel 11 deal with trying to control the trade routes that went through that part of the world. It's all about money, then and now. The adage "Follow the money" helps to understand a lot. And when it comes to, in a sense, geography and why the city is here, follow the money. It enabled Herod the Great to build up a large amount of money for which he built a lot himself. He had multiple palaces all over the countryside. And don't forget, he refurbished and built out the temple in Jerusalem, that second temple that we referred to. He expanded the temple mount, refurbished the temple, made it even grander. That took a lot of money, the gold, the silver, and everything that was there, the labor to do all of that, and his palaces.

And Caesarea Maritima was a part of the cash flow for Herod the Great at that time within the greater Mediterranean world. And so that's why it's here, and it becomes the... At this time now, as we were dealing with here in the fourth decade of the 1st century AD, we find now that there is a centurion here named Cornelius, from what was called the Italian Regiment. What's this all about? Well, keep in mind the city is the headquarters for the Roman governor, and Roman governor had to have troops with him. And the Roman soldiers and parts of the legion at least had to have a presence here for this scene to be in front of us at this time.

So, just an aside. Look at this as kind of a sidebar here for a moment. I didn't put it on my slides, but let's do it right here. We are introduced to a member of the Roman army, and the Roman army basically they were called the legions, right? Now, there were many different legions or armies, at least 15. I know there's the 15th Legion and throughout the history of the Roman Empire, the Roman legions were basically responsible for creating the empire. When you see the movies about Rome, they inevitably will have scenes about the legions. Probably one of the better-known ones that was done recently was that of "Gladiator." Again, put that on your movie list if you haven't seen. Everybody's seen it. Anybody here not seen "Gladiator?" Okay. They creep up with their hands. You need to see "Gladiator." But opening scene, it's the legions up in Germany fighting the Germanic tribes. But my point is it's the legions that essentially went out and they built the empire for, first, the republic, and then later the Caesars.

At this time, the legions are under the direct control of the Caesar. He is the commander-in-chief, and they literally in so many ways, are responsible for all that was Rome. They conquered the territories. They enforced Roman order, they put down uprisings, and they, in some cases, even dealt with trade. Now, why is it important to know a little bit about the Roman army? Because they are found throughout the New Testament. Think about it. John the Baptist is preaching and baptizing, and some soldiers come to him, and he tells them how to conduct themselves. He doesn't seem to baptize them, but some feel that those could very well have been Roman soldiers, not just Jewish soldiers.

When you see the scene in Matthew 8, Christ heals a centurion's servant. It's not likely the same centurion as Cornelius here, but that was in Capernaum on the north shore of Galilee. Why was a Roman centurion in Capernaum? Probably to make sure that the taxes were collected. Remember, Matthew is a tax collector. He's in Capernaum. And if you've seen "The Chosen," you'll see that he enter... In the movie, "The Chosen," my wife and I were watching that recently, and the scenes with Matthew. He answers directly to a Roman soldier. They were there to make sure the money was collected. And so Christ interacted with a centurion. And, of course, the Roman soldiers arrested Christ and crucified Him. It was a Roman soldier that put the spear through Christ. 

And here in Acts, we see now soldiers, and we're going to see them arrest Paul and accompany him to Rome. So, we need to know a little bit about the Roman army and the Roman legions as we go about this. So, we need to put up a Roman centurion right there. Roman legion was the largest group, several thousand. We'll get into all the numbers here. But there was a subdivision called a cohort, and then under a cohort was even a smaller group called a century. Originally, the century was a unit of 100 men, hence the name century, for 100. In later years, this probably went down to about 80-plus they think. So, the sizes of the legions were diminished through the years. But over a century was a centurion. And that's where we come in with Cornelius here, right?

So, a centurion was responsible for 80 to 100 men under his charge, right? And there were several centuries within a cohort, and then over there was kind of a primed overall centurion over all the other centuries. So, it was a very well-organized army, and here is Cornelius, who is a centurion. Now, we're told that he's from the Italian Regiment. Commentators feel that that was a regiment probably originating either near Rome, Southern Italy, and a contingent of them find themselves here doing duty in Caesarea at this time. Cornelius is over them.

Just a little bit more something about a centurion. And a lot of it will apply to that of a Roman soldier, the rank and file, but typically a Roman soldier and a centurion would be engaged for up to 20 to 25 years of service in Rome. Now, keep in mind that this would've been a pretty good job for a lot of Roman men to do. And if they lived and if they survived all these years and all these campaigns and wars and battles, after 20, 25 years of service, they were discharged. If they were still alive, they would be given sometimes money, but more lucratively, they would be given a plot of land. And a lot of retired Roman soldiers were given land in what is today's Spain, and they wind up there. That's why in the movie "Gladiator," the Russell Crowe character, his land is in Spain. But over a period of time, you know, as Rome expanded, parts of their expansion was also to provide more land for people and also for money for the Senate, and also land for these retiring soldiers that they had to kind of pay off at that time.

When we come to Antioch in Pisidia, later in the story here in Acts, which is a city in Asia Minor, that city was largely made up of retired Roman legionaries furloughed there by Caesar Augustus, the big guy who founded the Empire. And he settled a lot of them in Antioch of Pisidia, other places as well. So, this is what would happen.

Now, let's go to verse 2 here, and let's look at the character of this man, which is unusual. Keep in mind, he's a Gentile, he's a Roman. The Romans were hated among the Jews, and the church is having a... They're seeing now that the gospel and converts are going to be involving people that were not like them, okay? Think about your group. What's your group? We like people who are like us, right? Look like us, think like us. Groups get like that. Whatever the group might be. You fill in the blank. Every group of people, ethnically, religiously, racially. People come together because everybody has common interests, common background, common race, common religion. And we like people who are like us, right? It's just human nature.

The church is a group of called-out ones now, very specially called, but they have, as we've talked of earlier, they've been holed up in Jerusalem until the martyrdom of Stephen, then Christ is spreading them out. And the Romans now, they've gone to Samaria. Phillip went to Samaria, baptized people. Phillip then baptized the Ethiopian Eunuch. That was a difference there. Now, Peter is coming in contact with a Roman, a Gentile from Italy. It doesn't get any more Gentile than that in the story.

And we find that he is a devout man who feared God with all of his household. That term, "feared God," is a term that we call in Scripture a God fear. I'm not going to give you the Greek term here today. We'll come back to it maybe in Chapter 13. But I want you to understand this term as it is applied here. It is a Greek word here. And it means one who fears God and is applied to Gentiles by the Jews who attached themselves to the synagogue and to all things Jewish or Judaic and seek to worship the God of Abraham. And this became a class of people.

You will find... Well, I did put this in here. This is a picture of a Roman officer. Pause and comment on this for a moment. And this is a centurion. This is a reenactment from the city of Jerash, which is in modern Jordan. I didn't take this picture, but I've been to Jerash and I saw this reenactment on the tour that we took. And they had a group of Roman soldiers, probably 40 or 50 in this reenactment, and they were all dressed up in Roman garb and they came out in this stadium, and they did certain maneuvers. They marched, they turned, they did their turtle shell, which is interesting. The Roman soldiers had a huge shield that covered most of their body, kind of curved, and as part of their defense, they obviously used it individually, but when a group of them would all band together and they would either cover themselves with their shields or wrap it around them, they were kind of invincible.

They would kind of get, like, a turtle shell with these shields over them, and then they would move against a body of the enemy or against the wall of a city, and they would be able to repel the spears and the arrows and whatever might be thrown down and make an advance upon the enemy like that. So, they were very disciplined. They showed us how that was, done and I remember seeing some of the soldiers dressed up in this bright, orange garb. So, that's the dress of a centurion, how he would've looked in the first century.

This is a mosaic in a synagogue in the ancient city of Sardis. Do you know where Sardis is? It's one of the seven churches. Hopefully, we'll see this. We'll be able to walk out into that synagogue this time. I was there two years ago, and they were working on it. We couldn't walk on the mosaics. But there's a mosaic, and this mosaic basically says "Godfearer." The word there, “theosebes” is in the middle. Theo for God, sebes, fearer, a Godfearrer. And it's right in here. That's the “theosebes” right there. And this is in a Jewish synagogue. Godfearers, Gentiles came into the synagogue. And this was a classification of people.

And I'm going to show you another reference. This is the same engraved theosebes or Godfearer. This is from a stadium in the city of Miletus. I actually saw that last year when I was in Turkey. But that's from Miletus. Now, we'll know Miletus when we get to Chapter 20. Paul goes to Miletus and he calls the elders from Ephesus down for a meeting with them. They have a ministerial meeting. We'll read about that. But this is a seat in a huge Roman amphitheater, and it's in a section reserved for the Godfearers. They were a classification of people. And if they were worshiping the God of Abraham, they were...do we call it segregated to a section of the theater? But they had their name on the seats right there. And this is one that survives.

And so this grouping of people called those who fear God we're introduced to them with Cornelius. Paul's going to address them in Chapter 13. So, it's important to understand what is being said here as this takes place. So, Cornelius is a devout man. He fears God. He is associated with the Jews. He gives alms generously to the people and praise to God always. If you look over in verse 22, just jump ahead in the story, again, further description about Cornelius.

Acts 19:22 It says, "Cornelius the centurion, a just man, who fears God, "theosebes," and has a good reputation among all the nation of the Jews."

Alright? So, that gives a little bit more specificity to what this man was. He was not a typical Roman centurion who was learning it over the locals, in this case, the Jews. The Jews would've been coming and going in Caesarea. They would've been merchants and providers, and they would've had their role within the community of Caesarea and would've been interacting with the Roman government, with the members of the army there. They would've had a synagogue. And Cornelius becomes a believer. It doesn't say that he's circumcised but just says that he's a believer and he has a good reputation with his household.

Now, some commentators think that what's going to be meeting Peter when Peter comes into the scene here a little bit later is upwards of 50 people in what would've been a typical household. That's kind of an extrapolation, speculation in terms of the numbers, but his household would've been, you know, more than a handful of people that he would've been responsible for. So, his example was spilling over to them, and was it coercion? This is what happened in the 1st century in the Roman world, and we'll see that as people are baptized, they and their household, it says, and, you know, whether it was servants or family members, just like today, you know, families will come into the church together, but because a lot of families had servants in the...just go ahead and call it what it is. They were slaves. In the 1st century, they were part of it as well. And that could be what is being discussed here with his household. But he's a devout man.

And again, he's not your typical Roman centurion. You see the movies and the depictions of the Roman soldiers, they were a pretty rough lot as soldiers typically are, regardless of the army of whatever nation. But this man stands out, and he is one that got his eye on. And so he is at the ninth hour of prayer, which is what time of the day? Yeah, 3:00 in the afternoon. He has a vision of an angel of God coming and saying, "Cornelius."

Acts 10:4 “And when he observed him, he was afraid, and he said, 'What is it, Lord?' So, he said, 'Your prayers and alms have come up for a memorial before God.'"

God has heard his prayers. God hears the prayers of a Gentile, Godfearer. Again, you get what God is teaching and leading Peter, and by extension the church to finally grasp the church is not about you, Jews, children of Judah. It's not just about descendants from Abraham. It is about all people, all nations, all ethnicities. That's what the church is about. And God has heard this man. Now, keep in mind what we started with, the sermon that Stephen gave back in Chapter 8.

And the point of his sermon as we brought out at that time was that Stephen was saying that, "Look, God called Abraham, our father, in a Gentile land outside of the Promised Land. Moses was in Egypt. Joseph was in Egypt. And so, it's not the land, just the land, and it's more than just the covenant, people, as the message now goes out and is spread." And so Cornelius is heard of God.

Acts 10:4-6 "So, he said, 'Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God. Now, send men to Joppa,'" down the coast. "'Send for Simon whose surname is Peter. He's lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea. He will tell you what you must do.'"

One point I forgot to link with, at the end of Chapter 9, Simon, the tanner, tells us what his occupation was, right? We all know what a tanner did. He dealt with hides. He tanned animal hides. And have you ever done...? Anybody been around tanning or worked around that? It's kind of nasty work, isn't it? Yeah, a little bit. Most people don't do it. We just go out and buy a leather jacket. We don't make our own or chew our leather or anything like that today. You didn't chew leather, did you do? No. Good. But working with animal hides, it's a very stinky business. There's a lot of chemicals involved. And Simon, the tanner, lives by the sea. He had access to the waters there. He probably had fresh water but, you know, he would flush out the contaminated water from the tanning process into the sea is why he put his house, and his shop would've been right there with him, right there by the sea.

But here's another thing to understand. Peter is staying with Simon, the tanner. Now, if you remember your studies from the Old Testament, you touch a dead animal, what are you? You're unclean. No self-respecting Jew would've been spending a night in a bnb that was a tannery, right? They wouldn't have looked that up on Vrbo. That wouldn't have worked for them. They would've bypassed that one. But Peter, at this point, actually he's already beginning to take a step out. He's staying with a tanner, and he's not worried about being unclean by being near these dead animal hides. So, is that telling us something about Peter's mindset at this time? Possibly. But that's where Simon, the tanner, is.

Just an aside, I'll tell you a little story. A few years ago, Scott Ashley and Steve Myers and I did a tour of Italy, a study tour. And this was the footsteps of Paul in Southern Italy. And when we were in Rome, they took us to a place that you wouldn't normally go on the normal tourist beat in Rome. They took us into an underground excavation site in the old Jewish quarter of Ancient Rome. And I remember we went down a lot of steps, and they had lights on down there, but there was an excavation down in there. The tour guide, the teacher that we were with, was showing this to us, and his speculation was that we were in the neighborhood within what he called a couple of hundred yards, perhaps, of where the Apostle Paul could possibly have been imprisoned when we see him at the end of the Book of Acts and he comes to Rome where he's imprisoned. Why? Because in their excavations, the archeologist found traces of chemicals from the process of tanning hides.

What was Paul's occupation? Do you know that? Anybody know? He was a tent-maker. That meant that that wasn't just working with boy scout canvas. That was working with animal hides to make tents, sails, and other things. That was his occupation. He was a card-carrying union member of the tent-making guild. It kind of makes sense that when Paul comes to Rome, because a Roman prisoner had to pay their own expenses, it wasn't a gift from Rome to be a prisoner of them, that he went to a neighborhood where he was, you know, familiar with a Jewish neighborhood and perhaps near where tanning went on and maybe he even could have done that or would've done some of that in the time because he was in prison for a period of time.

So, this is the speculative trail that they think, and they were showing us this. Now, was he there? I don't know. But it was an interesting little morning that we spent in this area there. So, you know, you can build these things out as you tour these sites in Turkey, Israel, Italy, and speculate a little bit, and you might be close to something, and then you might not be. So, I'm not saying that what I saw was the actual place, but it was quite interesting. So, Peter now is having something... Cornelius is being directed.

Acts 10:7-8 "When the angel who spoke to him had departed," verse 7, "And Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier from among those who waited on him continually. And when he explained all these things to them, he sent them to Joppa."

So, he sends them to go down to Joppa. This is what Joppa looks like and its harbor. And this is actually a scene from a house, a traditional house of Simon, the tanner, in what was Joppa. This is a photo taken back actually between 1900 and 1920, and it's been colorized, as you can tell, but I think the house is still there. I've seen some recent pictures of it, but it's a traditional site, and it's a rooftop that Peter could have been on. Wouldn't be the original house, maybe near the site, but it's at least the site of Joppa. So, these three are heading down. Verse 9 then begins to tell us about Peter.

Acts 10:9-10 "The next day, as they went on their journey, they drew near the city. Peter went up on the housetop to pray about the sixth hour," so about midday, noon. "He became very hungry.”

He wanted to eat, right? Was he doing intermittent fasting, and it was time to eat? We don't know, right? But he had been at least fasting since sunup, probably, and he was hungry.

Acts 10:10-12 "But while they made ready, he fell into a trance, and he saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth." This is the vision that he receives. "In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts,"

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my. What would they have been in there? Cougars, mountain lions, wild beasts, “creeping things,” snakes, lizards, frogs. Anybody ever ate frog here? This group wouldn't, but I had a chance to eat frog when I was a kid, but I wisely decided not to. Not that I didn't know it was unclean, but the idea of eating a reptile just never appealed to me. But some people, they say it tastes like chicken, fried chicken. I think anything that you might roll in cornmeal and fry up, anything tastes like chicken, even frogs' legs. But where I came from, that was a delicacy. Anyway, all kinds of creeping things and birds of the air.

Acts 10:13 "And a voice came to him, 'Rise, Peter; kill and eat."

Kill and eat. So, here's a vision. Middle of the day about noon. He's probably in kind of a trance-like state, absorbed in thought, probably thinking about a lot of things. He's gone up probably to pray and to think, and as this happens, does he get drowsy? Does God supernaturally puts something over him?

It doesn't give us all the details, but he's fixed on now something from the realm of the divine, from the spirit realm, a voice and this vision that he has, and he sees it, and to him, in the sense, it's a reality. The voice says, "Peter, rise; kill and eat."

Acts 10:14 "But Peter said, 'Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.'"

Right? This is referring to clean and unclean food, according to Leviticus 11, Deuteronomy 14, the specific laws that God gave as part of the teaching to Israel that you do not eat. Very specific listing we all know about there, and Peter is saying here now, many years after the death of Jesus, having, of course, been a practicing Jew and knowing all the law, but now even after Christ's death and having heard Jesus expound the law in that 40-day period from His resurrection to His ascension, and not hearing obviously anything that would do away with this part of the Mosaic law in terms of what is clean and unclean, what can be eaten, cannot be eaten. His immediate response, "I've never done this," right

Acts 10:15-16 "And so a voice spoke to him again the second time, 'What God has cleansed you must not call common.' This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again."

So, what is Peter seeing? What is he being told? We'll come back in the next class and we'll pick it up at verse 17, and we'll discuss that, and show exactly what Peter is being shown as he deals with the people God is calling into the church. We'll pick that up next time in the next class.