Acts 11:3

View from capitol building, Salt Lake City, Utah

Thursday, 20 October 2022

saying, “You went in to uncircumcised men and ate with them!” Acts 11:3

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, it noted that when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those of the circumcision contended with him. It now explains that with the words, “You went in to uncircumcised men.” Rather, the Greek reads, “men having foreskin.” Vincent’s Word Studies says of this, “An indignant expression.”

The word, akrobustia, is first seen here. It signifies the foreskin. It is used at times by Jews when referring to Gentiles. Figuratively, it signifies a person being outside of God’s covenant. This is because of the mandates given to Abraham all the way back in Genesis 17. This was later brought into the Mosaic law, as well as is seen in Leviticus 12:3, saying, “And on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.”

After this, the word will be used nineteen more times, all by Paul in his epistles. His uses of it will mostly contrast those who are circumcised and those who are not. One of the most poignant times is when he uses the word six times in Romans 4:9-12 –

Does this blessedness then come upon the circumcised only, or upon the uncircumcised also? For we say that faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness. 10 How then was it accounted? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised. 11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also, 12 and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had while still uncircumcised.”

What happened with Cornelius and those with him is just what Paul is referring to in Romans 4. The blessing of God in Christ came upon the uncircumcised just as the declaration of righteousness bestowed upon Abraham came upon him while he was still uncircumcised. Not considering this, those of the circumcision were highly upset at Peter, noting that he had gone in to be with these men “and ate with them!”

They knew that uncircumcised men would also be eating food that was not considered clean according to the laws and customs of the Jews. He might as well have brought a pound of bacon home with him and started eating it right in front of them. They were aghast at his complete shunning of what it meant to be a Jew.

Life application: Those who promote the Hebrew Roots movement, along with other cults and sects of supposed Christians, will deny the obvious meaning of what occurred when Peter stayed with these Gentiles and ate with them. If asked about such verses, long explanations of how Peter would have brought his own food, or that he would have had special food prepared for him, or some other ridiculous notion that is clearly not indicated by Luke’s words, will be proposed.

But the text and its meaning are clear. Peter did not adhere to the customs or dietary restrictions of the Jews. He had been in the trance, he had heard the voice from heaven, it had been presented three times, and then he had seen the Holy Spirit come down upon the Gentiles. He realized what Jesus meant concerning the words He spoke when He walked among them –

“Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, 19 because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?” Mark 7:18, 19

Rather than an elaborate explanation of how Peter remained undefiled in his diet, which is obviously not the case, it is more probable that he sat down, had a meal, and while eating asked, “Wow, this is really good! What is it?” The answer may have come back, “Pork chops, do you want more?”

Think about the entire context of what happened from Acts 10:1 until this point. We are free from the constraints that were levied upon the Jews. Why on earth would anyone want to be put back under that yoke, except to prove how holy he was? What an affront to the finished work of Jesus Christ! We find our true righteousness, sanctification, and holiness in Him alone.

Lord God, thank You for what Jesus has done. In Him, there is full and forever purification that could never come through the Law of Moses or from any other supposed demonstration of piety. Religion cannot bring us closer to You. Only Jesus can do that. Thank You for Jesus who has made us acceptable before Your glorious throne. Amen.