Cornelius was a Roman, a Gentile, and a man who believed in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; but he was not a Jew. He was a good man, who did many charitable works for the needy, and who prayed to God regularly. One day, he had a vision in which an angel of God told him to send for Peter and to have him come to Cornelius for a visit; Cornelius did as he was told (10:1-8).
The next day Peter, who was still in Joppa, had a vision also, but his vision was a little like a divinely sent video and a screen opened on which a large variety of unclean animals were displayed along with the message “Take, kill and eat”. Naturally Peter objected, for as a good Jewish man, he would never even think about eating something forbidden by the old Law. But Peter was clearly told not to “call anything impure that God has made clean”; this was repeated three times.
A whole new age had dawned.
This was not merely a lesson on dietary laws and the culinary arts, for Peter was about to be approached by something else that was impure and unclean: Gentiles, specifically, the messengers sent to him by Cornelius. The vision ended with Peter being told to go downstairs to greet them. Apparently, Peter had taken this message to heart, for he invited them into the house to dine, something no good Jew was permitted to do.
What was really going on?
Just as the Gospel was not just for the city of Jerusalem, it was also not just for Jews, because Jesus did not die for Jews only; He died for all humanity’s redemption. Everything about Israel and Judaism had been but a picture of the reality which came through Jesus Christ, because through Him, God had not redeemed just one Nation, but all Nations, peoples, tribes and tongues. Of course, it would take a little time for everyone to get used to this radical idea… I’m not quite certain that everyone has quite accepted it even now, but of course, that is a topic for another time.