Acts 10:14

ESV But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.”
NIV Surely not, Lord!' Peter replied. 'I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.'
NASB But Peter said, 'By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean.'
CSB "No, Lord! " Peter said. "For I have never eaten anything impure and ritually unclean."
NLT No, Lord,' Peter declared. 'I have never eaten anything that our Jewish laws have declared impure and unclean. '
KJV But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.

What does Acts 10:14 mean?

God has presented Peter with a vision of a sheet filled with different types of animals. Some are clean and some are unclean. In the Old Testament, this distinction does not imply that some foods are evil, or sinful, only that they're restricted. Clean animals include sheep, goat, ox, deer, antelope, gazelle, and finfish. Unclean animals include rabbit, camel, pig, shellfish, carrion, carnivorous birds, and most winged insects (Deuteronomy 14:3–20). The sheet includes birds of prey and reptiles, which are unclean (Acts 11:6). As a Jew, Peter would never think to eat unclean food.

The concept of "clean" and "unclean" is a little confusing. If something is "unclean," it doesn't necessarily mean it's bad or sinful. In some cases, it means it's not fit for the worship of God—like a sacrificial animal with a blemish or a person with a particular type of wound. In others, it means it's not fit for God's people the Jews—like some foods. The differentiation is to remind the Jews to separate themselves from the pagan nations around them; if they can do so with the foods they eat, they'll remember to do so with the gods they worship. Ironically, Peter is staying with a man who is perennially unclean; as a tanner, Simon would regularly touch the carcasses of unclean animals (Acts 9:43).

God is teaching Peter about people. Gentiles are considered unclean because they do not follow the Mosaic law. To eat with them would be to tacitly approve their non-Jewish lifestyle. Jesus has already explained in Peter's hearing that the purpose for unclean food laws has been fulfilled. It is not what goes into a person's stomach that makes them defiled; it is their evil thoughts and deeds (Mark 7:14–23). The literal substance is not the issue, it's the heart of the person who eats (Matthew 15:10–11).

Eventually, as more Gentiles become Christ-followers, the Jewish church leaders will understand that the ceremonial aspects of Mosaic law have been fulfilled—they most certainly have no bearing on Gentiles. They will request that, in order to show grace to their fellow church members who are Jewish, the Gentile Jesus-followers refrain from eating anything dedicated to an idol and anything that was killed without properly draining the blood (Acts 15:20). This spiritual growth and mutual submission should characterize every church.
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