The Critics and the Cure: Acts 11:1-18
“1) Now the apostles and the brethren who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. 2) And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those who were circumcised took issue with him, 3) saying, “You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.”” Acts‬ ‭11‬:‭1‬-‭3‬
It was bound to happen. It always does. The critics stepped up and became vocal. They accused Peter of wrong doing because he went into the Gentiles and dinned with them. Their traditions and legalism was more important than what God was doing.
In the context, Peter did the right thing. He could have asserted his authority, instead he openly and very humbly rehearsed the whole story. Acts 11:1-18 is basically a repeat of Acts 10. First, he shared the story of Cornelius and the angel visitation. Then he rehearsed his own visions and the Holy Spirits command to him.
Verse 18 says, “and when they heard this, they quieted down, and glorified God, saying, “Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life.” Hearing context can calm controversy.
I maintain that “it is our job to tell the story; but it is Gods job to move the mountain.” We always get in trouble when we try to force mountains to move in our flesh.
Peter wisely kept the focus on God and what He had done. The Old Testament was not silent about the gospel going to the Gentiles, the legalistic critics were merely blind to that portion of prophetic word. God was about to open their heart and minds.
The timing was perfect. Persecution quickly mounted again as a result of Stephen’s stoning. The orthodox Jewish leaders that rejected Jesus as the Messiah, the gospel message and the ministry of the Holy Spirit launched a new wave of persecution against the Jewish Christian’s.
God raised up the rapidly growing Gentile church as both shelter and aid for their persecuted Jewish counterparts. Because many of the Gentile believers were Roman citizens, the letter from the high priest did not apply to them. As Romans, they were beyond the reach of the Jewish infighting. The high priest had no authority over them and had he laid hands against a Roman, it would have amounted to an insurrection against Rome.
The love and servitude of the Gentile church toward the Jewish believers helped silence the critics. They became the very timely shelter and relief from persecution for their new Jewish friends. This helped shape theology and precipitate a strong bond between the two groups. Gods timing was perfect.
Loving your enemy is always the cure for the vocal critic. God often finds a way to silence the critic by putting them in the humble place of needing help and shelter in the time of need. Guess who He often sends to help them?
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global