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Wednesday, 26 October 2022
But the voice answered me again from heaven, ‘What God has cleansed you must not call common. Acts 11:9
Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)
In the previous verse, Peter explained his response to the voice from heaven, saying, “Not so, Lord! For nothing common or unclean has at any time entered my mouth.” Now, Peter continues with, “But the voice answered me again from heaven.”
The Greek is more precise, saying, “But the voice answered a second time out of the heaven.” Peter is giving an exacting sequence of what occurred so that his hearers will mentally participate in what he has already personally experienced. With this noted, Peter next quotes the voice from heaven, saying, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.”
The wording in the Greek is just the same as Acts 10:15. This is exactly what was said, and Peter repeats it without any changes at all.
Life application: The voice from heaven has specifically said that God has cleansed these animals. The uncleanness of the animals, however, caused a perception of uncleanness in the Gentiles among the Jews. However, if God had cleansed the animals, the Jews could not use this precept as a point of considering the Gentiles unclean, even if other things could still cause that perception.
With this understood, how did God cleanse the animals? Were they not considered clean for Noah? The answer is, “Yes, they were.” Genesis 9:3 explicitly says, “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you.” So, what is it that made the animals unclean? It was the prohibition for Israel to eat them as contained within the law.
If God has cleansed them (meaning for the Jews), it means that the law is no longer in effect. The prohibition came from the law, causing uncleanness before the law when the prohibition is violated. The cleansing came from the fulfillment and ending of the law through Christ’s work, including His sacrificial death.
Paul says, “for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20). There can be no knowledge of sin if the law does not exist. As this is so, and as the animals are now deemed as cleansed because of the fulfillment of the law, then the Jews could no longer consider the Gentiles as “unclean” because of their diet.
But this then brings in a new kind of declaration of uncleanness. If the Gentiles are not unclean because of a precept of the law which is now ended in Christ, and if these same Gentiles come to Christ through the gospel, then they are wholly sanctified to the Lord because of that fact. And so, if a Gentile is wholly cleansed before the Lord because of Christ, what is the state of a Jew who has not come to Christ? He is wholly unclean before the Lord.
Such a person is still bound to the law because of his rejection of Christ. As such, he stands guilty before the law – in every precept. But more, he still bears the stain of Adam’s sin. In God’s eyes, he is wholly defiled. Paul explains this in Romans 2:25-29. The law was given by God to highlight sin in man, not to remove it from man. Jesus’ fulfillment of the law, because of His perfection before the law, is what purifies man. This is what the law was intended to reveal –
“Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.” Galatians 3:24, 25
Thank God for Jesus who has done it! In coming to Him, we find a new freedom. Sin no longer has mastery over us. Yes, thank God for Jesus!
Lord God, it is beyond our ability to fully grasp the magnitude of what has been done in the coming of Jesus. We can think about it and understand one point after another about what He did, but with every new thought, there is more to consider beyond what we have learned. Everything is so perfectly complete in Him. Thank You for Jesus Christ our Lord! Amen.