Intersection in Time: Two Visions

Acts 10:1-48

 B. Vision #2: Peter in Joppa

Acts 10:9-16

Intersecting in Time: Two Visions of Cornelius and Peter in Acts 10Change is always difficult. But when God sees it is time for a change to be made, He implements it. He can change history’s direction in a snap. Acts 10 records two visions that radically shape the direction of the church of the future. In looking back, it looks so natural of a move. But as Luke has pointed out and will again later, it was not easy for the Jews to think that the holy things of God could be enjoyed by Gentiles. They even feared that the Gentiles (non-Jews) would pollute God’s holy things.

Cornelius’ men left the next day for Joppa in order to find Peter, named Simon.  The timing is so precise. Just as they were entering the city, Peter had a vision.


“The only elevation in the long low coastline between Caesarea and Gaza was claimed by the city of Joppa (now Jaffa).  Behind the city was a deep green belt of fruit and palm trees... Its harbour and its direct communication with Jerusalem, made it one of the most important cities along the coast.”      (Quote by An Atlas of the Acts by John Stirling, p. 2)


At Joppa

Joppa (now Jaffa) is about 35 miles west of Jerusalem on the coast. It was important because it was Jerusalem’s main port.

Named Simon but called Peter

This is the same Simon that accompanied Jesus in the Gospels and was later given the name Peter. He later became the chief leader of the Jerusalem church.

  Resided with a tanner

Even Peter’s willingness to live with an unclean tanner showed a significant change in Peter’s theology. A tanner would regularly handle dead animals that made him unclean. But there was more changes that were needed!

Peter’s background in NT

Peter was a strategic apostle to bring to the Gentiles. Not only was it demonstrative that the Jewish apostles were now ministering to the Gentiles (pagan people), but he could lead others to adopt the same mentality of what God was encouraging them to do. God prepared Saul (Paul) to bring the Gospel to the Gentiles but needed to give the proper philosophical framework to the Jewish disciples or there would be a split in the church. 

Praying while waiting for food

We can see Peter’s devotion to God in that even when he was waiting for a meal, he wasn’t distracted from seeking God. He carefully used his time and didn’t let the great smells bring him down to the kitchen.


Peter's Vision


Fell into a trance

The trance must be something like a vision. A vision is where one sees what is happening. Cornelius saw the angel and could hear directions. Peter’s trance obviously included both sight and sound. It happened while he was awake. A dream happens at night. Of course there are different kinds of dreams. The clearest ones like these visions are undoubtedly God-sourced. Many dreams are not clearly from God. Many voices that one may hear are not from God.

A sheet-like object descended

On the sheet that descended from heaven was a big assortment of animals.

And there were in it all kinds of four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air (Acts 10:12).

These animals evidently included both clean and unclean animals. A Jew was never to eat an unclean animal. The Old Testament made two categories very distinct. It listed the animals and even how to distinguish them if necessary. Leviticus 11 goes through many of these laws. Note a few unclean ones.

Now every swarming thing that swarms on the earth is detestable, not to be eaten. Whatever crawls on its belling … you shall not eat them, for they are detestable” (Leviticus 11:41-42).

     He was told to kill and eat

Peter was told, “Arise, Peter, kill and eat!” The Jews were clearly told not to eat these unclean things. Peter as a good Jew couldn’t accept it.

  Peter objected – Happened 3 times

Peter said, “By no means, Lord, for I have never eater anything unholy and unclean” (Acts 10:15). Peter was struggling hard within himself. He heard the instruction but couldn’t quite get it.

  Repetition means affirmation. God wasn’t joking. He was compelling Peter to change his perspective of the world. We should never think that any of us are too hard to change. Even stiff older Christian leaders can radically change. Keep praying!

Peter was trying to discover the meaning of the vision

He was probably very glad that the sheet was drawn back into heaven! But he knew that this vision had to do with something very important. God was trying to speak to him. He was trying to listen.

Now Peter was greatly perplexed in mind as to what the vision which he had seen might be” (Acts 10:17).

Only a bit later did he finally understand that the clean and unclean animals represent both Jew and non-Jewish people. God has not declared that they can seek and find God through Jesus just like the Jewish people can.

A Few Questions

  • What are visions?  How does God use them?

  • Where have people had visions before?

  • Does God still use revelation other than the Bible? 

  •  What did God communicate through these two visions?

  • Should we expect God to still to use visions (cf Acts 2:17)?

  •  How can we protect ourselves from the excess of extra-biblical revelation?

See what happens as Cornelius and Peter meet next!

Missions is the urgent priority of life.

Acts: Other BFF Articles

Acts                Introduction and Outlines
Acts Map:       Paul's 1-2 Journeys

Acts Map:       Paul's 3 & Rome Journeys

Acts_07_        Stephen's Defense

Acts_8.2-25    Persecution & Evangelism
Acts_8.14-24  Simon & Gnosticism

Acts_8.25-40  Ethiopean Eunuch

Acts_9:1-22   Saul the Terrorist

Acts_8-9        Perspectives on Conversion

Acts_10:1-48:       Intersecting in Time: Vision #1
Acts_10:9-16        Vision #2 Peter

Acts_10:17-48      The Meeting that Changed History

Acts_10:34-44      The Christian Historical Message

Acts_13-14           Paul's First Missionary Journey

Acts_13:1-3          Sending Out Missionary Church

Acts_13:4-12        Power Encounter in Cyprus

Acts_13:13-50      Gospel Message in Antioch

Acts_13:51-14:28 Other Missionary Stops

Acts 20:28-30       
Detecting Error in the Church

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Biblical Foundations for Freedom

By Paul J. Bucknell