Soon the news reached the apostles and other believers a in Judea that the Gentiles had received the word of God.
But when Peter arrived back in Jerusalem, some of the Jewish believers b criticized him.
"You entered the home of Gentiles c and even ate with them!" they said.
Then Peter told them exactly what had happened.
"One day in Joppa," he said, "while I was praying, I went into a trance and saw a vision. Something like a large sheet was let down by its four corners from the sky. And it came right down to me.
When I looked inside the sheet, I saw all sorts of small animals, wild animals, reptiles, and birds that we are not allowed to eat.
And I heard a voice say, 'Get up, Peter; kill and eat them.'8
"'Never, Lord,' I replied. 'I have never eaten anything forbidden by our Jewish laws. d '
"But the voice from heaven came again, 'If God says something is acceptable, don't say it isn't.' e10
"This happened three times before the sheet and all it contained was pulled back up to heaven.
Just then three men who had been sent from Caesarea arrived at the house where I was staying.
The Holy Spirit told me to go with them and not to worry about their being Gentiles. These six brothers here accompanied me, and we soon arrived at the home of the man who had sent for us.
He told us how an angel had appeared to him in his home and had told him, 'Send messengers to Joppa to find Simon Peter.
He will tell you how you and all your household will be saved!'
"Well, I began telling them the Good News, but just as I was getting started, the Holy Spirit fell on them, just as he fell on us at the beginning.
Then I thought of the Lord's words when he said, 'John baptized with f water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.' 17
And since God gave these Gentiles the same gift he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to argue?"
When the others heard this, all their objections were answered and they began praising God. They said, "God has also given the Gentiles the privilege of turning from sin and receiving eternal life."
Meanwhile, the believers who had fled from Jerusalem during the persecution after Stephen's death traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch of Syria. They preached the Good News, but only to Jews.
However, some of the believers who went to Antioch from Cyprus and Cyrene began preaching to Gentiles g about the Lord Jesus.
The power of the Lord was upon them, and large numbers of these Gentiles believed and turned to the Lord.
When the church at Jerusalem heard what had happened, they sent Barnabas to Antioch.
When he arrived and saw this proof of God's favor, he was filled with joy, and he encouraged the believers to stay true to the Lord.
Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith. And large numbers of people were brought to the Lord.
Then Barnabas went on to Tarsus to find Saul.
When he found him, he brought him back to Antioch. Both of them stayed there with the church for a full year, teaching great numbers of people. (It was there at Antioch that the believers h were first called Christians.)
During this time, some prophets traveled from Jerusalem to Antioch.
One of them named Agabus stood up in one of the meetings to predict by the Spirit that a great famine was coming upon the entire Roman world. (This was fulfilled during the reign of Claudius.)
So the believers in Antioch decided to send relief to the brothers and sisters i in Judea, everyone giving as much as they could.
This they did, entrusting their gifts to Barnabas and Saul to take to the elders of the church in Jerusalem.
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)