Peter’s vision about clean and unclean

A passage of the Bible that is often used to demonstrate that the law has passed, which include the dietary laws is Peter’s vision in Acts 10 

Peter had a vision in which he saw all kinds of animals and birds. Peter in the vision was told to rise, kill and eat. Peter refused saying that he had never eaten anything that was unclean. Peter was told that what God had cleansed he should not call uncommon. This was done 3 times. 

Acts 10-15  12Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. 13And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. 14But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. 15And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. 16This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven.

Peter himself, after being shown the vision, did not know what it meant.

Acts 10- 17Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate,

Many who claim we are not under the law use this passage and say that it demonstrates that Peter was told that he could eat any unclean animal for God had now made it clean. 

Those who say that the law still remains will argue against this meaning. They say that this is not referring to clean and unclean animals but actually men. God has not changed his law regarding what animals are clean and unclean. 

Often they will then use Matthew 5-18 as proof that God’s law has not changed. 

Matthew 5-18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

 They will then point to a passage later on in Acts 10 where Peter proclaims his understanding of the vision. 

Peter declaring that it was unlawful for a Jew to keep company or to come unto a person of another nation. He then stated that God had shewed him that he should not call any man clean or unclean. Peters understanding of the vision was that he was not to call any man unclean. Peter was to go and preach to the gentiles who it was believed were unclean. 

Acts 10- 28And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.

The law advocate asserting that this vision was clearly about clean and unclean people just as Peter had come to understand. 

Now while I do agree that Peter did understand the vision to refer to people. There are still some problems that we need to address. 

Firstly, if it really was unlawful for the Jews to mix with gentiles as Peter had asserted then God changing this so that this was no longer unlawful means the law changed just as much as if the law had changed in order to allow all foods to be clean. The blatant double standards of their own argument is evident for anyone to see. 

However, unknown to most law advocates, there actually is no such law in the Torah. The law that prohibits a Jew from keeping company with a gentile is not anywhere to be found in the written law. This is nothing more than Jewish tradition.  Peter was blinded by this tradition and it took the holy spirit to open Peter’s eyes to look past this tradition that the Jews had accepted. 

The word ‘unlawful’ in verse 28 is the Greek ἀθέμιτος athemitos, it means unlawful or criminal. What it doesn’t mean is a violation of Torah law. The word only appears twice in scripture and neither time does it refer to breaking Torah. 

1 Peter 4-  3For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:

Peter was not referring to being unlawful against the Torah. But it was ‘unlawful’, against the tradition of the Jews. 

If we have a look at some of the Talmudic writings regarding Gentiles. 

“You are Adam [“man”], but goyim [gentiles] are not called Adam [“man”].” Kerithoth 6b

“The seed of the goyim is like an animal.” Sanhedrin 74b

“All Gentile children are animals.” Yebamoth 98a 

“Because Gentiles are not human, Gentiles are owed no debt of morality or decency—not honesty [Baba Kamma 113a], not property [Baba Mezia 24a], not even life!—”The best of the Gentiles should all be killed” Soferim 15, 10. 

Although the actual meaning of Peter’s vision and the true referent,  animal or man may be indispute, what we can be safe to say is that Jesus did in fact declare all foods clean.  This declaration can be found in chapter 7 of Mark verse 19. 

Mark 7-19 Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats?

Mark 7-19 For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.) NIV

Mark 7-19 since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) ESV

Mark 7-19 because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?” (Thus He declared all foods clean.) NASB

Καθαρίζω katharizó I cleanse, make clean, literally, ceremonially, or spiritually, according to context.

The word translated as meat in the KJV is the Greek βρῶμα bróma which means food of any kind. 

Jesus therefore declared all foods (of any kind) clean. 

Paul states that in the latter times there will be those who will DEPART from the faith. They will give heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils. 

1 timothy 4- 1Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

They will speak lies in hypocrisy. 

2Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;

Now pay close attention to verse 3. They will forbid marriage and command to abstain from meats which God has created to be received with thanksgiving by those that BELIEVE and know the truth. 

3Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.

For EVERY creature of God is good, and NOTHING is to be refused as long as it is received with thanksgiving. It is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. 

4For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: 5For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.

Sanctified is the Greek  ἁγιάζω hagiazó which means sanctified, made holy, consecrated.

We do not need Peter’s vision to refer to food when we have Jesus himself making all food clean.