In Caesarea lived a man named Cornelius who was a Roman centurion of the Italian battalion. He was a religious man who, together with everyone in his household, had great reverence for God. He gave generously to the poor, and prayed regularly to God. At about 3 p.m. one day he had a vision in which he saw very clearly an angel of God who came to him and called to him, “Cornelius!”
Frightened, Cornelius stared at him and asked, “What do you want, Lord?”
God has paid attention to your prayers, and recognized your generosity to the poor,” he told Cornelius. Now send some men to Joppa, and fetch Simon, also called Peter, who is staying at Simon the tanner's house down by the sea-shore.”
When the angel who had spoken to him had left, Cornelius called in two of his house-servants and a soldier of his personal guard, a religious man. After he'd explained to them all that had happened he sent them to Joppa.
The next day, as they were on their way and approaching the city, Peter went up onto the top of the house* to pray. It was about noon, 10 and he was getting hungry, wanting to eat. But while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance, and 11 he saw heaven opened. He saw something coming down that looked like a large sheet held by its four corners, being lowered onto the earth. 12 Inside were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds. 13 He heard a voice say, “Get up Peter, kill and eat!”
14 But Peter replied, “Certainly not, Lord! I have never eaten anything that is impure and unclean.”
15 He heard the voice speak again, “Don't you call unclean what God has made clean!” 16 This happened three times, and then the sheet was quickly taken back into heaven.
17 While Peter was puzzling over what the vision he'd seen really meant, the men sent by Cornelius had found out where Simon's house was and were standing at the gate. 18 They called out, asking whether Simon, also called Peter, was staying there. 19 While Peter was still wondering about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Look, there are three men looking for you. 20 Get up, go downstairs, and go with them. Don't worry at all because I'm the one who sent them.”
21 So Peter went downstairs to meet the men. “I'm the one you're looking for,” he said. “Why are you here?”
22 We come from Cornelius, a good, religious man who has reverence for God and is widely respected among the Jewish people,” they replied. “A holy angel instructed him to send for you to come to his house so he can hear what you have to tell him.” 23 So he invited them in and they stayed there.
The next day he got up and left with them. Some of the brothers from Joppa went with them too. 24 The following day they arrived in Caesarea where Cornelius was waiting for them with his relatives and close friends whom he'd called together. 25 When Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. 26 But Peter pulled him back up, telling him, “Stand up! I'm only a man!”
27 Peter spoke with Cornelius, and then went on in where he found many other people waiting for him. 28 He said to them, “You certainly know that it's not permitted for a Jew to be associated with or to visit foreigners. But God has shown me that it's not for me to call anyone impure or unclean. 29 That's why I came without any argument when I was sent for. So now I want to know the reason why you sent for me.”
30 Four days ago, at about this timethree in the afternoon—I was praying in my house,” Cornelius explained. “Suddenly I saw a man standing in front of me, dressed in clothes that shone brightly. 31 He told me, ‘Cornelius, your prayers have been heard, and God has recognized your generosity to the poor. 32 Send someone to Joppa for Simon Peter. He's staying at Simon the tanner's house, down by the sea-shore.’ 33 So immediately I sent for you, and it was good of you to come. That's why we're all here, meeting together before God, ready to hear everything the Lord has told you.”
34 Peter replied, “I'm totally convinced that God has no favorites. 35 In every nation God accepts those who respect him, and do what is good and right. 36 You know the message he sent to Israel, sharing the good news of peace that comes from Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. 37 You know that this good news spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee, following John's call to baptism. 38 It's about Jesus of Nazarethhow God anointed him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how he went around doing good, healing all those who were under the devil's control, for God was with him.
39 We can testify to all that he did in Judea and Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a cross. 40 But God raised him back to life on the third day, and had him appear, 41 not to everyone, but to those witnesses chosen by Godincluding us, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He gave us the responsibility of publicly telling this to the people, to testify that he is the one God chose as the Judge of the living and the dead. 43 He is the one all the prophets spoke about, that everyone who trusts in him will receive forgiveness through his name.”
44 While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell on all of them who were listening to the message. 45 The Jewish believers who had come with Peter were astonished, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was also poured out on the foreigners. 46 They heard them speaking in tongues, glorifying God. 47 Then Peter asked, “Is anybody going to prevent them being baptized in water, since they have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 He gave orders for them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they pleaded with him to spend some time with them.
* 10:9 Houses of the time had flat roofs, and served as open-air rooms. 10:45 Literally, “those of the circumcision that believed.”