In Caesarea there lived a Roman army officer named Cornelius, who was a captain of the Italian Regiment.
He was a devout, God-fearing man, as was everyone in his household. He gave generously to the poor and prayed regularly 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 been received by God as an offering!
Now send some men to Joppa, and summon a man named Simon Peter.
He is staying with Simon, a tanner who lives near the seashore.”
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 town, Peter went up on the flat roof to pray. It was about noon,
and he was hungry. But while a meal 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.”
“No, Lord,” Peter declared. “I have never eaten anything that our Jewish laws have declared impure and unclean. ”
But the voice spoke again: “Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.”
The same vision was repeated three times. Then the sheet was suddenly pulled up to heaven.
Peter was very perplexed. What could the vision mean? Just then the men sent by Cornelius found Simon’s house. Standing outside the gate,
they asked if a man named Simon Peter was staying there.
Meanwhile, as Peter was puzzling over the vision, the Holy Spirit said to him, “Three men have come looking for you.
Get up, go downstairs, and go with them without hesitation. Don’t worry, 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 and God-fearing man, well respected by all the Jews. A holy angel instructed him to summon you to his house so that he can hear your message.”
So Peter invited the men to stay for the night. The next day he went with them, accompanied by some of the brothers from Joppa.