Wherein were all manner of four-footed beasts of the earth,
&c.] Not as if they were painted upon it, and these were only pictures and representations of them made on the linen sheet; but as if they really add actually were upon it alive; since Peter is afterwards called upon to kill and eat: and these design four-footed beasts of every kind, that are tame, as distinct from the wild ones, after mentioned, as horses, camels, oxen, sheep, hogs, dogs
and wild beasts;
lions, tigers, panthers, bears This clause is left out in the Alexandrian copy, and in the Vulgate Latin and Syriac versions:
and creeping things;
the above copy and versions here add, "of the earth", which they omit in the first clause; these intend serpents, snakes, worms, &c:
and fowls of the air;
birds of all sorts: now the whole of this signifies, that the church of Christ, under the Gospel dispensation, consists of all sorts of persons, of all nations, Jews and Gentiles, the one being reckoned clean, the other unclean; of men of all sorts of tempers and dispositions, comparable to wild or tame beasts; and of all sorts of sinners, who before conversion have been greater or lesser sinners; as well as denotes that the distinction of food under the ceremonial law was now ceased. This is not designed to represent that there are good and bad in Gospel churches, as there certainly are and much less that immoral persons are to be received and retained there; but that those who have been of the blackest character, if called by grace, should be admitted into them; and chiefly to show that Gentiles reckoned unclean, when converted, are not to be rejected.