Peter Defends His Actions to the Jerusalem Church
Now the apostles and the brothers who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles too had accepted the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers took issue with him, saying, “You went to uncircumcised men and shared a meal with them.” But Peter began and explained it to them point by point, saying, “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision, an object something like a large sheet descending, being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came to me. As I stared I looked into it and saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild animals, reptiles, and wild birds. I also heard a voice saying to me, ‘Get up, Peter; slaughter and eat!’ But I said, ‘Certainly not, Lord, for nothing defiled or ritually unclean has ever entered my mouth!’ But the voice replied a second time from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, you must not consider ritually unclean!’ This happened three times, and then everything was pulled up to heaven again. At that very moment, three men sent to me from Caesarea approached the house where we were staying. The Spirit told me to accompany them without hesitation. These six brothers also went with me, and we entered the man’s house. He informed us how he had seen an angel standing in his house and saying, ‘Send to Joppa and summon Simon, who is called Peter, who will speak a message to you by which you and your entire household will be saved.’ Then as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as he did on us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, as he used to say, ‘John baptised with water, but you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit.’ Therefore if God gave them the same gift as he also gave us after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to hinder God?” When they heard this, they ceased their objections and praised God, saying, “So then, God has granted the repentance that leads to life even to the Gentiles.”
Activity in the Church at Antioch
Now those who had been scattered because of the persecution that took place over Stephen went as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, speaking the message to no one but Jews. But there were some men from Cyprus and Cyrene among them who came to Antioch and began to speak to the Greeks too, proclaiming the good news of the Lord Jesus. The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. A report about them came to the attention of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he came and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with devoted hearts, because he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith, and a significant number of people were brought to the Lord. Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught a significant number of people. Now it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians.
Famine Relief for Judea
At that time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. One of them, named Agabus, got up and predicted by the Spirit that a severe famine was about to come over the whole inhabited world. (This took place during the reign of Claudius.) So the disciples, each in accordance with his financial ability, decided to send relief to the brothers living in Judea. They did so, sending their financial aid to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.