The news traveled fast and in no time the leaders and friends back in Jerusalem heard about it - heard that the non-Jewish "outsiders" were now "in."
When Peter got back to Jerusalem, some of his old associates, concerned about circumcision, called him on the carpet:
"What do you think you're doing rubbing shoulders with that crowd, eating what is prohibited and ruining our good name?"
So Peter, starting from the beginning, laid it out for them step-by-step:
"Recently I was in the town of Joppa praying. I fell into a trance and saw a vision: Something like a huge blanket, lowered by ropes at its four corners, came down out of heaven and settled on the ground in front of me.
Milling around on the blanket were farm animals, wild animals, reptiles, birds - you name it, it was there. Fascinated, I took it all in.
"Then I heard a voice: 'Go to it, Peter - kill and eat.'
I said, 'Oh, no, Master. I've never so much as tasted food that wasn't kosher.'
The voice spoke again: 'If God says it's okay, it's okay.'
This happened three times, and then the blanket was pulled back up into the sky.
"Just then three men showed up at the house where I was staying, sent from Caesarea to get me.
The Spirit told me to go with them, no questions asked. So I went with them, I and six friends, to the man who had sent for me.
He told us how he had seen an angel right in his own house, real as his next-door neighbor, saying, 'Send to Joppa and get Simon, the one they call Peter.
He'll tell you something that will save your life - in fact, you and everyone you care for.'
"So I started in, talking. Before I'd spoken half a dozen sentences, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as he did on us the first time.
I remembered Jesus' words: 'John baptized with water; you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.'
So I ask you: If God gave the same exact gift to them as to us when we believed in the Master Jesus Christ, how could I object to God?"
Hearing it all laid out like that, they quieted down. And then, as it sank in, they started praising God. "It's really happened! God has broken through to the other nations, opened them up to Life!"
Those who had been scattered by the persecution triggered by Stephen's death traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, but they were still only speaking and dealing with their fellow Jews.
Then some of the men from Cyprus and Cyrene who had come to Antioch started talking to Greeks, giving them the Message of the Master Jesus.
God was pleased with what they were doing and put his stamp of approval on it - quite a number of the Greeks believed and turned to the Master.
When the church in Jerusalem got wind of this, they sent Barnabas to Antioch to check on things.
As soon as he arrived, he saw that God was behind and in it all. He threw himself in with them, got behind them, urging them to stay with it the rest of their lives.
He was a good man that way, enthusiastic and confident in the Holy Spirit's ways. The community grew large and strong in the Master.
Then Barnabas went on to Tarsus to look for Saul.
He found him and brought him back to Antioch. They were there a whole year, meeting with the church and teaching a lot of people. It was in Antioch that the disciples were for the first time called Christians.
It was about this same time that some prophets came to Antioch from Jerusalem.
One of them named Agabus stood up one day and, prompted by the Spirit, warned that a severe famine was about to devastate the country. (The famine eventually came during the rule of Claudius.)
So the disciples decided that each of them would send whatever they could to their fellow Christians in Judea to help out.
They sent Barnabas and Saul to deliver the collection to the leaders in Jerusalem.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)