I have been told that chapter 10 of Acts teaches that we can now eat anything and everything without any condemnation of the Lord. Is this true? If it is not true, with what does Acts 10 deal?
You have asked a very good question. Acts 10 has been terribly misunderstood for many, many centuries. And it seems that if something has age on its side that people think this makes it truth. Age never makes error truth.
As you read the book of Acts, it becomes apparent that God is making an attempt to reach all peoples, nations, and tongues everywhere. We see this during Pentecost in Acts 2:5, 9–11. This sets the stage for the Book of Acts. God loves all people and wants everyone to be saved that chooses to be saved. He is no respecter of persons. Acts 10:34 gives us a clue that this chapter is not talking about what to eat but is talking about how God feels about people. “I perceive that God is no respecter of persons [shows no partiality].” If you read Acts 10 from verse 1 to verse 34, it tells the story of mission outreach to those who had previously been looked upon as “unclean.” Acts 10 deals with the prejudice mind set against those who are different than we are. Let us face the fact that the apostle Peter was a man of learned prejudice. He suffered from his upbringing just like many of us today. Prejudice is a learned character defect. God loved Peter and wanted to use him to reach the lost, but He had to re-educate Peter concerning his prejudice so Peter could teach the truth without any hindrances. Prejudice is a hindrance to the gospel. The story of Acts 10 unfolds about a Roman centurion named Cornelius who was different from Peter as far as his ethnic background was concerned. Cornelius calls for Peter to come and teach him and his household the truth. But Peter, having the prejudice that he had, needed to be corrected of these unholy attitudes before he would be ready to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. God gives to Peter a dream in which various animals are shown to him—clean and unclean. (Acts 10:12.) These animals represented all the various ethnic classes of humanity. (See Daniel 7.)
This dream was designed to teach Peter an important lesson in regard to the introduction of all nations to the gospel. The teaching here is not what to eat, but how to love humanity enough to call them brethren. This is reaffirmed in verses 34 and 35 when Peter states: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him, and works righteousness, is accepted by Him.”
The devil has so perverted this portion of Scripture that the work of spreading the gospel has just crawled forward rather than going like one running a race. What would it have been like if the truth of this passage had always been taught correctly rather than centering on one’s belly! What would the world be like not to have any prejudice in it? How much faster the Gospel would have done its work!
Prejudice in any form is hated by God. It has no place in God’s work. He was trying to teach this to Peter and consequently to those who followed in every age, but this message has been twisted and distorted. Prejudices still hamper the work, and we are still in this world, as a result. This chapter needs to be studied in depth so that the truth of the crowning text can be understood that “God hath shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.” Acts 10:28.
Pastor Mike Baugher is Associate Speaker for Steps to Life Ministry. If you have a question you would like Pastor Mike to answer, e-mail it to: email@example.com, or mail it to: LandMarks, P. O. Box 782828, Wichita, KS 67278.