And he said unto them, You know 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 has showed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.
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Cyprian of Carthage
For which reason we think that no one is to be hindered from obtaining grace by that law which was already ordained, and that spiritual circumcision ought not to be hindered by carnal circumcision, but that absolutely every man is to be admitted to the grace of Christ, since Peter also in the Acts of the Apostles speaks, and says, "The Lord hath said to me that I should call no man common or unclean."
Abominable a thing. The Jews extended their aversion to the Gentiles to an unnatural length; hence the frequent accusations of the latter, that they were a nation the enemies of mankind. Josephus defends his nation against the imputation. He allows that Moses forbids them to admit strangers into their solemnities, and exercises of religion, but not to refuse any thing which common humanity demands of all. (Josephus, lib. ii. con. App.)
For even Peter, although he had been sent to instruct them, and had been constrained by a vision to that effect, spake nevertheless with not a little hesitation, saying to them: "Ye know how it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company with, or to come unto, one of another nation; but God hath shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean. Therefore came I without gainsaying; "
He knew this from the first, and plans his discourse beforehand (with a view to it). Gentiles? What Gentiles henceforth? They were no longer Gentiles, the Truth having come. It is nothing wonderful, he says, if before the act of baptism they received the Spirit: in our own case this same happened. Peter shows that not as the rest either were they baptized, but in a much better way. This is the reason why the thing takes place in this manner, that they may have nothing to say, but even in this way may account them equal with themselves.
And why did he not speak of the linen sheet? Observe Peter's freedom from all vainglory: but, that he is sent of God, this indeed he mentions; of the manner in which he was sent, he speaks not at present; when the need has arisen, seeing he had said, You know that it is unlawful for a man that is a Jew to keep company with, or to come unto, one of another nation, he simply adds, but to me God has shown, etc. There is nothing of vainglory here. All you, he says, know. He makes their knowledge stand surety for him. But Cornelius says, We are present before God to hear all things that are commanded you of the Lord