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Peter’s Report to the Church at Jerusalem


Now the apostles and the believers who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also accepted the word of God. 2So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him, 3saying, “Why did you go to uncircumcised men and eat with them?” 4Then Peter began to explain it to them, step by step, saying, 5“I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. There was something like a large sheet coming down from heaven, being lowered by its four corners; and it came close to me. 6As I looked at it closely I saw four-footed animals, beasts of prey, reptiles, and birds of the air. 7I also heard a voice saying to me, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat.’ 8But I replied, ‘By no means, Lord; for nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ 9But a second time the voice answered from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, you must not call profane.’ 10This happened three times; then everything was pulled up again to heaven. 11At that very moment three men, sent to me from Caesarea, arrived at the house where we were. 12The Spirit told me to go with them and not to make a distinction between them and us. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house. 13He told us how he had seen the angel standing in his house and saying, ‘Send to Joppa and bring Simon, who is called Peter; 14he will give you a message by which you and your entire household will be saved.’ 15And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as it had upon us at the beginning. 16And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?” 18When they heard this, they were silenced. And they praised God, saying, “Then God has given even to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life.”


The Church in Antioch

19 Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that took place over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, and they spoke the word to no one except Jews. 20But among them were some men of Cyprus and Cyrene who, on coming to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists also, proclaiming the Lord Jesus. 21The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number became believers and turned to the Lord. 22News of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23When he came and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast devotion; 24for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were brought to the Lord. 25Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for an entire year they met with the church and taught a great many people, and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called “Christians.”

27 At that time prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28One of them named Agabus stood up and predicted by the Spirit that there would be a severe famine over all the world; and this took place during the reign of Claudius. 29The disciples determined that according to their ability, each would send relief to the believers living in Judea; 30this they did, sending it to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.

3. Unto men being uncircumcised. This was not forbidden by the law of God, but it was a tradition which came from the fathers. And yet, notwithstanding, Peter doth not object that they dealt too hardly 726726     “Praecise,” strictly. with him in this point, and that he was not bound by the necessity of man’s law. He omitteth all this defense, and doth only answer, that they came first unto him, and that they were offered unto him, as it were, by the hand of God. And here we see the rare modesty of Peter, because whereas, trusting to the goodness of the cause, he might have justly despised unskillful men, who did trouble him unjustly, yet doth he mildly excuse himself as it becometh brethren. This was no small trial in that he was unworthily accused, because he had obeyed God faithfully. But because he knew that this law was enjoined the whole Church, that every man be ready to give an account of his doctrine and life so often as the matter requireth, and he remembered that he was one of the flock, he doth not only suffer himself to be ruled, but submitteth himself willingly to the judgment of the Church. Doctrine, indeed, if it be of God, is placed above the chance and die of man’s judgment; but because the Lord will have prophecy judged, his servants must not refuse this condition, that they prove themselves to be such as they will be accounted. But we shall see anon how far the defense both of doctrine, as also of facts, ought to extend.

For this present we must know this, that Peter doth willingly answer for himself when his fact is reproved. 727727     “Petrum ad causam dicendam libenter descendere quum ejus factum improbatur,” that Peter readily condescends to plead his cause when his act is impugned. And if the Pope of Rome be Peter’s successor, why is not he bound by the same law? Admit we grant that this submission was voluntary, yet why doth not the successor imitate such an example of modesty showed unto him? Although we need no long circumstance 728728     “Circuitu,” circumlocution. here; for if that be true which the Popes spew out in their sacrilegious decrees, Peter did treacherously betray and forsake the privileges of their seat, [See,] and so he betrayed the See of Rome. For, after that they have made the Pope the judge of all the whole world, affirming that he is not subject to man’s judgment; after that they have lifted him up above the clouds, that, being free from giving an account, his will and pleasure may stand for a reason, [law,] they make him forthwith patron of the apostolic seat, [See,] stoutly to defend the privileges thereof. Of what great sluggishness shall Peter then be condemned, if he did lose his right given him of God, by yielding so cowardly? [easily.] Why did not he at least object that he was free from the laws, and exempt from the common sort? But he useth no such preface, but entereth [on] the cause without making any delay. And let us remember, that there is nothing which hindereth us from contemning that idol safely, seeing that usurping such unbridled tyranny, he hath blotted himself out of the number of the bishops.

And Peter beginning. Because this narration is all one with [that] which we had in the chapter next (going before,) and because it is repeated almost in the very same words, if any thing need to be expounded let the readers repair thither. The purpose of Peter, and all the whole sum of his speech, shall appear by the conclusion. Yet, before I come thither, we must briefly mark that he maketh the preaching of the gospel the cause of salvation. Thou shalt hear (saith he) words wherein thou mayest have salvation, not because salvation is included in man’s voice, but because God, offering his Son there unto eternal life, doth also cause us to enjoy him by faith. This is assuredly wonderful goodness of God, who maketh men ministers of life, who have nothing but matter of death in themselves, and which are not only subject to death in themselves, but are also deadly to others. Nevertheless, the filthy unthankfulness of the world betrayeth itself in this point, which, loathing true and certain salvation offered unto it, and forsaking it when it lieth at the feet, doth imagine divers and vain salvations, in seeking which, it had rather gape being hungry, 729729     “Famelicus inhiare mavult,” it prefers gaping famished. than to be filled with the grace of God which meeteth it and is present.

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