A Different Kind of Pigskin (Acts 9:32-43)
Nov 22, 2010 by Craig Blomberg | 0 Comments
“Peter stayed in Joppa some time with a tanner named Simon.” (9:43; TNIV)
This verse is way too easy to ignore. Saul is the one God has chosen to be the great apostle to the Gentiles (9:15). Peter still seems thoroughly Jewish, even as a Christ-follower. True, he has finally left Jerusalem for the Judean seaside and God has worked some amazing miracles through him en route (vv. 32-42). As a result many who saw or heard became believers (vv. 35, 42). While most of these in Lydda and Joppa would have been Jews, a few might not have been.
But it’s not until chapter 10 that Peter has the dramatic vision of God declaring unclean foods clean, after which messengers from Cornelius, the officer in the Roman army, summon him to share a message from God with a large group of Gentiles. Surely here Peter is still as ethnocentric as ever.
Maybe not. A tanner in first-century Israel worked with pigskin. It made him, his home, and his food perpetually unclean. This man had the most common of all Jewish names, Simon, the same name as Peter’s. But by accepting his hospitality, Peter was defiled on several counts, at least in the eyes of the orthodox. Maybe Peter was already starting to recognize how Jesus had done away with the purity laws (Mark 7:19).
We know that we should consider no one beyond the pale of God’s love. But we still find some people groups harder to love than others? What steps will you take to abolish this prejudice? Do you need to live with one of them for awhile?