Acts 10:15

Another painting under the dome, capitol building, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Sunday, 11 September 2022

And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.” Acts 10:15

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

In the previous verse, Peter replied to the voice from heaven, saying, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.” With that, it next says, “And a voice spoke to him again the second time.”

The translation is correct. There is no definite article before “voice.” But also, there is no verb and so the action must be supplied. It literally reads, “And a voice again for a second time to him.” It is not unlike the account of Elijah in 1 Kings 19 –


And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
10 So he said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.”
11 Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.
13 So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 1 Kings 19:9-13


The Lord has a way of clearing the mind of biases, presuppositions, fears, anxieties, and so on by repeating Himself in order to make a point. In the case of Peter, he spoke out a directive, Peter balked at what was said, and now a voice from heaven comes forth a second time, saying, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.”

Peter will have to consider what is said, and he will. But what is being referred to is more than just the eating of meat, even if the eating of meat is a part of what is being conveyed. The object like a sheet descended from heaven. Hence, God has sent it. The animals are God’s creatures, and their disposition is up to Him. That was clearly revealed to Noah in Genesis 9 when Noah was told that every moving thing that lives shall be food for man.

Nothing is stated about impurity, and thus all animals were considered clean according to consumption. But something happened at the giving of the law. The Lord directed that certain animals were to be considered unclean. And so, the question must be asked, “What made the animals unclean?” If they were clean for consumption until the giving of the law, then it was the law itself that made them unclean.

This is true with sin. Until the law was given, sin could not be imputed. But when the law was given, Paul says, “sin revived and I died” (Romans 7:9). He says also, “for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20). No person since Noah has ever been imputed sin for eating a particular animal except those of the nation of Israel. This is because only the nation of Israel was given the law.

Now, God has said to Peter that such animals are cleansed. The question then must be asked, “For who?” They were not cleansed for the Chinese. The Chinese had no law from God declaring them unclean. The same is true with all nations, except Israel. Therefore, it is for Israel that God has cleansed them through the fulfilling and annulling of the law. As such, Peter is told that he must not call them unclean. Of this, Vincent’s Word Studies clarifies the matter –

“The thought goes deeper than merely styling ‘common.’ Lit., do not thou defile. Do not profane it by regarding and calling it common. Rev., ‘make not thou common.’”

The point is, and it is obvious, that if the law made these unclean, and that they are not to be considered unclean any longer, then the law is no longer in effect for Peter. He has come to Christ, and in him (meaning Peter), the law no longer has the power to make the animals unclean. Therefore, what God has declared to him as acceptable, he is to no longer proclaim unclean.

This cannot be considered the case for those of Israel who have not come to Christ. They are bound to the Law of Moses until they come to Him. Therefore, the law is their standard and it is the gauge by which they will be judged. For Peter, he is no longer under the law, and therefore he cannot be judged by the precepts of the law. As this is so, he is not to then use the precepts of the law to make his own judgments concerning the matters contained in the law. In doing so, he then calls unclean things that are considered clean by God.

Life application: It is the law by which God declared foods unclean. In Christ’s fulfillment of the law, He has brought the law to an end for all who believe. Therefore, to call something unclean according to the standard of the law for something that is not unclean under the New Covenant is to then 1) call into question the efficacy of the work of Christ; 2) reintroduce the law as a means of personal justification; and 3) bring the curse of the law back upon oneself (for a Jew) or upon oneself (for a Gentile) when a precept of the law is violated.

Using circumcision as a benchmark for the entire law, Paul says –

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.” Galatians 5:1-4

The question for all people is, “Where do you want to hang your hat?” You can trust in the law and be judged by the law, meaning every single precept found in the law, or you can trust in Christ’s fulfillment of the law and be freed from the law. This was one purpose of the law. It was to show us what God expects in order to be right with Him. In seeing the enormity of the burden the law carries, it was to then lead us to Jesus.

Hence, to say that we will live according to the law’s standard is to claim a self-righteousness equal to God. It is self-deceiving and it can only lead to condemnation. To trust in Jesus is to trust in God’s provision, thus giving all glory to God, not to self. Be wise, be discerning, and be ready to both enjoy the foods God has given us and also to not judge those who eat something we may find unpalatable according to a standard that does not exist –

“Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense.” Romans 14:20

Trust in Christ’s finished work and, please, pass the bacon.

Lord God, thank You for the freedom we possess because of Jesus Christ our Lord. Help us to never set an obstacle between ourselves and You by assuming we can be “holier” than Jesus by accomplishing deeds of the law. Instead, may we find our holiness and perfection before the law in His fulfillment of it. To Your glory. Amen.