In Caesarea there lived a Roman army officer named Cornelius, who was a captain of the Italian Regiment.
He was a devout man who feared the God of Israel, as did his entire household. He gave generously to charity and was a man who regularly prayed to God.
One afternoon about three o'clock, he had a vision in which he saw an angel of God coming toward him. "Cornelius!" the angel said.
Cornelius stared at him in terror. "What is it, sir?" he asked the angel.And the angel replied, "Your prayers and gifts to the poor have not gone unnoticed by God!
Now send some men down to Joppa to find a man named Simon Peter.
He is staying with Simon, a leatherworker who lives near the shore. Ask him to come and visit you."
As soon as the angel was gone, Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier, one of his personal attendants.
He told them what had happened and sent them off to Joppa.
The next day as Cornelius's messengers were nearing the city, Peter went up to the flat roof to pray. It was about noon,
and he was hungry. But while lunch was being prepared, he fell into a trance.
He saw the sky open, and something like a large sheet was let down by its four corners.
In the sheet were all sorts of animals, reptiles, and birds.
Then a voice said to him, "Get up, Peter; kill and eat them."14
"Never, Lord," Peter declared. "I have never in all my life eaten anything forbidden by our Jewish laws.a"
The voice spoke again, "If God says something is acceptable, don't say it isn't." b16
The same vision was repeated three times. Then the sheet was pulled up again to heaven.
Peter was very perplexed. What could the vision mean? Just then the men sent by Cornelius found the house and stood outside at the gate.
They asked if this was the place where Simon Peter was staying.
Meanwhile, as Peter was puzzling over the vision, the Holy Spirit said to him, "Three men have come looking for you.
Go down and go with them without hesitation. All is well, for I have sent them."
So Peter went down and said, "I'm the man you are looking for. Why have you come?"
They said, "We were sent by Cornelius, a Roman officer. He is a devout man who fears the God of Israel and is well respected by all the Jews. A holy angel instructed him to send for you so you can go to his house and give him a message."
So Peter invited the men to be his guests for the night. The next day he went with them, accompanied by some other believers c from Joppa.
They arrived in Caesarea the following day. Cornelius was waiting for him and had called together his relatives and close friends to meet Peter.
As Peter entered his home, Cornelius fell to the floor before him in worship.
But Peter pulled him up and said, "Stand up! I'm a human being like you!"
So Cornelius got up, and they talked together and went inside where the others were assembled.
Peter told them, "You know it is against the Jewish laws for me to come into a Gentile home like this. But God has shown me that I should never think of anyone as impure.
So I came as soon as I was sent for. Now tell me why you sent for me."
Cornelius replied, "Four days ago I was praying in my house at three o'clock in the afternoon. Suddenly, a man in dazzling clothes was standing in front of me.
He told me, 'Cornelius, your prayers have been heard, and your gifts to the poor have been noticed by God!
Now send some men to Joppa and summon Simon Peter. He is staying in the home of Simon, a leatherworker who lives near the shore.'
So I sent for you at once, and it was good of you to come. Now here we are, waiting before God to hear the message the Lord has given you."
Then Peter replied, "I see very clearly that God doesn't show partiality.
In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right.
I'm sure you have heard about the Good News for the people of Israel -- that there is peace with God through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.
You know what happened all through Judea, beginning in Galilee after John the Baptist began preaching.
And no doubt you know that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the Devil, for God was with him."
"And we apostles are witnesses of all he did throughout Israel and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by crucifying him,
but God raised him to life three days later. Then God allowed him to appear,
not to the general public, d but to us whom God had chosen beforehand to be his witnesses. We were those who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.
And he ordered us to preach everywhere and to testify that Jesus is ordained of God to be the judge of all -- the living and the dead.
He is the one all the prophets testified about, saying that everyone who believes in him will have their sins forgiven through his name."
Even as Peter was saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who had heard the message.
The Jewish believers who came with Peter were amazed that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out upon the Gentiles, too.
And there could be no doubt about it, for they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.Then Peter asked,
"Can anyone object to their being baptized, now that they have received the Holy Spirit just as we did?"
So he gave orders for them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Afterward Cornelius asked him to stay with them for several days.
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)