Peter learns in a vision that the gospel should be preached to the Gentiles.
Acts 10: 1 There was a certain man in Cæsarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band,
2 A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.
Here we have the start of a new phase in the expansion of the gospel message. Previously the gospel had only been extended to Jews, Samaritans and Jewish proselytes. Now it is to go forth to gentiles such as Cornelius.
Acts 10: 3 He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius.
4 And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.
5 And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter:
6 He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.
“From this example we learn that no matter how righteous one may be who seeks after truth, the Lord directs him to one of his servants who has been ordained to the priesthood, so that he can be baptized at his hands and be instructed.
“This was also true with respect to Saul (Paul), to which we have already referred. Even though the Savior spoke to him on the road to Damascus, the Lord directed him to go into the city of Damascus, where the Lord instructed one of his servants, Ananias, what to do. Ananias first restored Paul’s sight by the laying on of hands, and then baptized him. Paul was later ordained to the ministry. (See Acts 9:1; 13:1-3.)” (LeGrand Richards, A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, p. 105.)
Acts 10: 7 And when the angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually;
8 And when he had declared all these things unto them, he sent them to Joppa.
“When the angel came to Cornelius and told him that his prayers and his alms had ascended up before God as a memorial, he did not see proper on that occasion to tell exactly what he should do in order to be saved; but he told him to send for Peter, and he would tell him words whereby he and his house should be saved. Cornelius had faith enough in that angel to actually send for Peter. There was something required on the part of Cornelius to manifest his faith before God.” (Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses)
Acts 10: 9 ¶On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour:
“The small room in the second story, or on the roof of the house, was the usual place for retirement and prayer. Even when there was no room constructed on the roof, the roof was a common resort for retirement and prayer. Around the edge a battlement or parapet was commonly made, within which a person could be quite retired from public view.” (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)
Acts 10:10 And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance,
11 And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth:
12 Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.
13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.
14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.
“The prejudices were deep rooted in Peter, and it took a vision from heaven to help him cast off his bias. The voice had commanded: ‘Rise, Peter; kill, and eat,’ when the vessel descended from the heaven containing all manner of beasts, reptiles, and fowls. Punctilious Peter expressed his lifelong prejudices and habits in saying, ‘Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.’ Then the heavenly voice made clear that the program was for all. ‘What God hath cleansed,’ it said, ‘that call not thou common.’ Peter’s long sustained prejudices finally gave way under the power of the thrice-repeated command. When the devout gentile Cornelius immediately thereafter appealed to him for the gospel, the full meaning of the vision burst upon Peter and he exclaimed, ‘. . . God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.’ (Acts 10:13-15, 28.)” (Spencer W KimballFaith Precedes the Miracle, 294.)
Acts 10:15 And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.
16 This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven.
“The prejudices of Peter against the Gentiles, would have prevented his going to Cornelius, unless the Lord had prepared him for this service. To tell a Jew that God had directed those animals to be reckoned clean which were hitherto deemed unclean, was in effect saying, that the law of Moses was done away. Peter was soon made to know the meaning of it. God knows what services are before us, and how to prepare us; and we know the meaning of what he has taught us, when we find what occasion we have to make use of it.” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)
Acts 10: 28 And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.
Now Peter understands the meaning of the vision.
Acts 10: 34 ¶Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:
35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.
“The Lord would have eliminated bigotry and class distinction. He talked to the Samaritan woman at the well, healed the centurion’s kin, and blessed the child of the Canaanitish woman. And though he personally came to the ‘lost sheep of the House of Israel’ and sent his apostles first to them rather than to the Samaritans and other gentiles, yet he later sent Paul to bring the gospel to the gentiles and revealed to Peter that the gospel was for all. (Spencer W Kimball, Faith Precedes the Miracle, p. 294-5)
Acts 10: 36 The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:)
37 That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judæa, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached;
38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.
God anointed Jesus with the Holy Ghost – a clear scriptural indication that the Godhead are separate individuals.
Acts 10:39 And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree:
40 Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly;
41 Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead.
“The way that Peter and the ancients proved that Jesus was the Son of God, and therefore that the gospel which he taught was the plan of salvation, was to establish that he rose from the dead. And the way you prove that a man rises from the dead, because it is in the spiritual realm, is to bear witness by the power of the Spirit of knowledge that is personal and real and literal to you. Peter could have gone into a congregation and said, ‘I know that Jesus is the Lord because Isaiah said this and this with reference to him. Or one of the other prophets said this.’ And he did that, for a reason, I suppose. But the great crowning thing that Peter could do was to stand before the people and say, ‘I know he was the Son of God. I stood in the upper room. I recognized him. He is the man who ministered among us for more than three years. I felt the nail marks in his hands and in his feet. I thrust my hand into the spear wound in his side. I saw him eat food; he ate fish and an honeycomb. He has a body. He said his body was flesh and bone. I know he is the Son of God. I am his witness!” (Sermons and Writings of Bruce R. McConkie, p. 124.)
Acts 10:42 And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.
43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.
“Thus the ancient prophets testified of his divine birth and mission, and the New Testament confirms the happenings foretold by these Old Testament prophets and bears witness of that virgin birth and divine mission of the Savior.” (Howard W Hunter, General Conference, October 1968)
Acts 10: 44 ¶While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.
The Holy Ghost bears witness of Peter’s words.
Acts 10: 47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?
48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.
“Peter did not say, Cornelius, you have received the Holy Ghost as well as we have, and there is no necessity for you to obey any further ordinances, which, under the circumstances, if he had considered baptism or the laying on of hands nonessential, he would have been very likely to do; but instead of that he commanded them to be baptized.” (George Q Cannon, Journal of Discourses)
Acts 11:1 And the apostles and brethren that were in Judæa heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God.
2 And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him,
3 Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them.
“Peter’s action in regard to Cornelius precipitated a controversy which was bound to come if the Church was to be anything more than a Jewish sect. It brought to light the first tendency to form a party in the Church. ‘They. . . of the circumcision’ were probably ‘certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed,’ and were especially zealous for all the separating prescriptions of the ceremonial law. They were scarcely a party as yet, but the little rift was destined to grow, and they became Paul’s bitterest opponents through all his life, dogging him with calumnies and counterworking his toil. It is a black day for a Church when differences of opinion lead to the formation of cliques.” (MacLaren’s Expositions)