Updated: Mar 24
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Now the apostles and the believers who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also accepted the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him, saying, "Why did you go to uncircumcised men and eat with them?" Then Peter began to explain it to them, step by step, saying, "I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. There was something like a large sheet coming down from heaven, being lowered by its four corners; and it came close to me. As I looked at it closely I saw four-footed animals, beasts of prey, reptiles, and birds of the air. I also heard a voice saying to me, `Get up, Peter; kill and eat.' But I replied, `By no means, Lord; for nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth.' But a second time the voice answered from heaven, `What God has made clean, you must not call profane.' This happened three times; then everything was pulled up again to heaven. At that very moment three men, sent to me from Caesarea, arrived at the house where we were. The Spirit told me to go with them and not to make a distinction between them and us. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man's house. He told us how he had seen the angel standing in his house and saying, `Send to Joppa and bring Simon, who is called Peter; he will give you a message by which you and your entire household will be saved.' And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as it had upon us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, `John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.' If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?" When they heard this, they were silenced. And they praised God, saying, "Then God has given even to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life."
This is the mandatory selection from the Book of Acts that will be read aloud on the fifth Sunday of Easter, Year C, according to the lectionary for the Episcopal Church. It will precede a singing of Psalm 148, where David wrote, “Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the world; Young men and maidens, old and young together. Let them praise the Name of Yahweh.” That pair will be followed by a reading from Revelation, where John’s vision saw, “a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.” All will accompany the Gospel reading from John, where it is written: “Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, 'Where I am going, you cannot come.'”
In verse one of this NRSV translation, the Greek word translated as “believers” is “adelphoi,” which clearly says “brothers.” In this case, rather than state the truth, because an illegitimate form of social justice has taken control over Scripture and changed “brothers” to a gender non-specific “believers., the truth of "brothers" is denied. Instead of using the modern standard replacement of “brothers” with the wordy “brothers and sisters,” the sneaky snakes of translation have taken the route of least resistance. If they cannot explain why “brothers” is written, then they equally cannot explain what a “believer” is.
The first verse in Greek is this: “Ēkousan de hoi apostoloi kai hoi adelphoi hoi ontes kata tēn Ioudaian hoti kai ta ethnē edexanto ton logon tou Theou .” This literally translates to state: “(they) Heard now those apostles kai those brothers those existing according to Jewish because kai these heathens they had welcomed this word of this of God .” In that, the capitalized first word (“Ēkousan”) must be seen as divinely elevated to a meaning that is higher than the worldly plane of existence. The spelling is the third-person past tense form of “akouó,” which means “to hear, listen.” According to HELPS Word-studies, this word figuratively means, “to hear God's voice which prompts Him to birth faith within.” Thus, we are not talking about a bunch of ordinary people with ears that hear. We are talking about souls that are able to “Hear” a divinely elevated voice within their souls; and, that ability to “Hear” is the resurrection of Jesus within them, who speaks to them for the Father (as their good shepherd).
It is this presence of Jesus within that transforms “disciples” (or “students”) into “apostles” (or “messengers”). For a divine “messenger” to be sent on a mission for Yahweh, it is imperative that they have “Heard … this word of this of God.” Because each and every “apostle” (which is more than menfolk) is resurrected as Jesus, all Anointed by Yahweh (each a Christ) and all Baptized by His Spirit, each is a rebirth of the Son of God within their bodies of flesh. This makes each and every “apostle” (including women like all the Marys) be sons of the Father, all spiritual “brothers.” Because one must understand divine Scripture is meant to talk to one’s soul, not one’s physical brain, all souls are made of divinely masculine essence (“of this of God”), so all souls of “apostles” are, therefore, “brothers.” That is the explanation of this usage; and, it fits perfectly every time it is written in Scripture.
The message “Heard” divinely by all these “brothers” (including men and women human beings, those with saved souls) said, “these heathens (“Gentiles,” without the capitalization written) they had welcomed (or “received”) this word of this of God.” Because all of the “apostles” were still souls animating dead bodies of flesh, with part of that dead flesh being a brain that still functioned atop their necks, they would revert to a normal state of stupidity, akin to being pets allowed to play in the yard, within the fenced-in area of Jesus the good shepherd. They were allowed to act like sheep, as long as they did not stray into dangerous ground.
Now, the argument these “brothers” had was based on Jews being the ‘chosen people of Yahweh.’ In that selectivity, they were not allowed to mix and mingle with those who were not of that divinely chosen group. As Jews, they had been given a list of Laws and Commandments, along with songs of praise and a set of divine Prophets who spoke of the failures of the past, projecting to time of the future. These lesson were only given to Jews; so, all non-Jews were without that teaching. To refuse to intermingle with those who did not know the restrictions of a ’set of marriage vows to Yahweh’ (the Covenant) meant to expose oneself to the influences of sin, where establishing friendships with ‘heathens’ would force one to allow the acceptance of sin into one’s selected life, as a child of Yahweh.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with that concept. It is the reality that is addressed in Peter’s explanation to the Jewish Christians that must be gained here. In Acts 10, verses one through seven tell of Cornelius (a Roman centurion, thus a Gentile) had his own vision (like a vision Peter had subsequently), where “He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him.” We are told that Cornelius “and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly.” Thus, by knowing this, the selectivity of Yahweh allows Him to choose anyone he pleases to be His “apostles.”
On the other hand, this story in Acts 11, the “apostles” that were “brothers” were different from those Jews (the “circumcised”) that were not ‘raised from the dead’ and resurrected as Jesus. Thus, the realization of this story must be seen not merely as the acceptance of Gentiles, as that pretends the Jews know what is best. It should equally be seen that the Jews who were not “messengers of this word of this of God” had become themselves “heathens,” not chosen by Yahweh as His sheep.
It is my opinion (and other might agree) that Cornelius is now named, with him being the centurion who came to Jesus telling him he had heard Jesus performed miracles for the Jewish God. His Jewish slave-servant-employee had become ill and most likely told Cornelius about Jesus. Cornelius did not ask Jesus (a Jew) to come to his Gentile home to heal his slave. He simply said, "Give the order and it will be done." Jesus remarked that he had not seen such faith in all of Israel; so, the centurion's slave was immediately healed. However, what is not said (but can be intuited from this story in Acts) is that Jesus' soul did accompany Cornelius to his home and helped guide him to the state of faith he is now said to have. This makes Cornelius and his household be like Tabitha and her community-family, where all were the first true Christians.
In the NRSV translation that tells of Peter explaining his vision – “There was something like a large sheet coming down from heaven, being lowered by its four corners; and it came close to me. As I looked at it closely I saw four-footed animals, beasts of prey, reptiles, and birds of the air.” – the Greek words written (“skeuos” and “othonēn”), which are translated by the NRSV as “something like a sheet” can actually state, “descending a ship certain so that a sail great.” When that imagery is placed into this vision by Peter, “a ship certain” becomes the ark of Noah. When a “great sail” is the ark’s forty days on the sea, rather than a “sheet with four corners,” this “great sailing ship” is metaphor for Christianity. To then find “quadrupeds: wild beasts, creepy things and birds of the air,” this is every living creature on earth placed on the ark by Noah, by Yahweh’s orders. The “four corners” say the “great sailing ship” covers the entire known world; and, to be told “kill and eat,” that metaphor says lead those creatures to die of self-ego [ministry] and consume spiritual food that nourishes one’s soul [hunger for salvation].
When verse seventeen is shown by the NRSV to state: “If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?” this needs to be shown for what it really says. The Greek text here says: “ei oun tēn isēn edōken autois ho Theos hōs kai hēmin pisteusasin epi ton Kyrion Iēsoun Christon , egōtisēmēn dynatos kōlysai ton Theon ?” This literally says, “if therefore this identical gift it has been given to themselves this God like as kai to ourselves to having faith in on the basis of this Lord Jesus Christ , oneself who existed able to have hindered this God ?”
In that, the uses of “themselves” and “ourselves” and “oneself” all need to be read on a soul level, where this is not referencing the dead flesh animated by a soul. It equates “this identical gift” to “their souls” (“themselves”), identical with “our souls” (“ourselves”), which means all had equally been gifted by “God” (Yahweh). The word “pisteusasin” must be elevated beyond the level of “belief” that applies to the Jews who had no faith, “on the basis of this Lord Jesus,” and only being equally applied to those who “existed” in a “certain” state as “apostles” (from “tis ēmēn”), of "faith." This says all were “identical” as those souls where Jesus’ soul had resurrected, as the ”Lord” of each. That resurrection could only come from the Baptism by the Spirit, which is the divine marriage between a soul and Yahweh, where the officiant (the High Priest Jesus, present in Peter and six others who went to the home of Cornelius) made the marriage official, making all each be a Christ. With that cleansing, the soul of “Jesus” could be raised in the dead again, granting eternal salvation to those divinely wed.
Verse eighteen begins with the capitalized Greek word “Akousantes,” which is a different form of the same root stated to begin verse one- “akouó.” Whereas this reading began with "(they) Heard,” we now read of “(them) Having Heard.” While Peter was speaking, Jesus within each “Listener Heard” the truth spoken to their souls. In response to the truth, “they were silent” or “they were still (within)” (from “hēsychasan”). There is no arguing the truth, so "silence" is obedience. This is the sheep finding the fence surrounding the yard as the known limits, where nothing can be done to go beyond the sheepfold. They were then importantly (from “kai”) moved to express “glory” for this truth known. They then said, (paraphrasing) “Yahweh has allowed repentance to non-Jews by also giving them eternal life.”
Returning to where Yahweh spoke to Peter, when he protested the possibility of eating something that was “common” (or “unwashed, dirty”) or “unclean” (and the Jews have a list of what is their ideas about such matters, based on the Law), because “nothing of that sort had ever entered his mouth,” this argument was what Peter would later write made him realize everything he thought made him special – as a Jew from birth – meant nothing, as a "loss.” When the “voice out of heaven” [meaning the voice within his soul, which was the voice of Jesus, his good shepherd) said, “What this God has cleansed , yourself not does call unholy .” that says the Big Brain of Peter (which without Jesus leading his thoughts was not very big) gave Jesus his opinions, he was resisting complete subjection to Yahweh. Once the soul of Jesus had raised Peter from that dead state he was in before – to eternal life, like those Romans of Cornelius’ house – Peter was led by the “Spirit to go with the messengers sent to him” by Cornelius. This is the story of Isaiah who heard the question, “Who shall we send,” so he automatically said, “Here I am. Send me.”
As a mandatory reading from Acts, during the Easter season when the resurrection of Jesus is the theme, that lesson is taught in the ‘Gentiles’ receiving the “same gift from God as that received by all who have faith through Jesus being his or her Lord.” This states the Easter theme; but it is so easy to think Jesus can only be Jesus, as there can only be one Jesus. This becomes the problem the Jews had, thinking they were special by ‘believing’ in God (Yahweh), when none of them (before Jesus was sent in a body of flesh) had ever considered marrying Him and being one with His Spirit (being "Israel," rather than trying to rename some land that). The same idea – “There is only one God, so no one can ever be as good as God” – was what caused the Jews to take up stones to kill Jesus, because he claimed to be the “Son of God.” Christianity thinks it is special, in the same way the Jews thought they were special. However, the lesson of this reading selection says one must Act from faith, which can only come through divine marriage and the resurrection of the “Son of God” in other souls in human flesh – Jews or Gentile (Christian) is not the end all. What Yahweh has cleaned cannot be called unholy. Likewise, that which is unholy cannot be called cleansed by the Spirit of Yahweh, when Jesus has not been resurrected within.