Lessons From Acts 10:47 - By Ron Cantor




When I was writing my book Identity Theft, I came across this verse and it struck me as odd. At your first reading, unless you come from a Jewish background, you might not agree. But I will clarify.


Peter, speaking at the home of Cornelius, said, "Surely no one can stand in the way of [these Gentiles] being baptized with water" (Acts 10:47, NIV).

Isn't that hilarious? Let me explain.

Traitor!

Growing up Jewish, we were told that to be baptized in water was the ultimate act of treason against our people. To publicly go into the waters of baptism was to reject your heritage, your people and your God.
And, yet, here is a Jewish man, Peter, not proclaiming that it is OK for Jews to be baptized, but that it was OK to baptize Gentiles. Since when has it ever been controversial to baptize Gentiles? Yet, if not for the facts that:
Peter had a vision symbolizing that Gentiles could be cleansed by the blood of Jesus,
God told Peter to go with the Gentiles who would come for him at Simon the Tanner's house,
The Holy Spirit fell on the Gentiles, causing them to speak in tongues;

Peter would have never been in the position to recognize that Gentiles could be baptized.
Baptism Was Jewish


You have to understand that baptism, in the New Testament, was the way that someone confessed faith in Yeshua—it was, if you will, the sinner's prayer of the New Testament. In the beginning, it was exclusively Jews being immersed in water.

Now, 2,000 years later, we tend to think that baptism is foreign to Jewish life and culture. Not so. The reason that God chose baptism as the way to identify with the Messiah's death and resurrection is precisely because it was so familiar to the people.

The temple was surrounded with well over 50 immersion tanks (mikvot). These were used before someone would bring his sacrifice to the temple. The Torah mentions ritual cleansing through baptism:


The priests had to be ritually clean (tahor) in order to serve at the tabernacle, and Israelites who had become ritually unclean (tamay) had to restore their situation with the passing of time and bathing their whole body in fresh, ritually clean (tahor) water, according to Leviticus 15.
So What Happened?

Good question! How did something that was so Jewish become perceived as utterly anti-Judaism? Why was it a local scandal in 1983, in the Richmond Jewish community, when I was baptized as a follower of Yeshua? It is a sad history.

The Church, as early as the second century, turned against the Jewish people. Over the centuries, Jews were accused of deicide—killing God, collective guilt, which deserved collective punishment; we were presented as being incurably lost.


"Take heed to yourselves and be not like some piling up your sins and saying that the covenant is [the Jews] as well as ours. It is ours, but they lost it completely just after Moses received it."

Epistle of Barnabas, Chapter 4:6-7 (between A.D. 138 and A.D. 130).

"We may thus assert in utter confidence that the Jews will not return to their earlier situation, for they have committed the most abominable of crimes, in forming this conspiracy against the Savior of the human race ... hence the city where Jesus suffered was necessarily destroyed, the Jewish nation was driven from its country, and another people was called by God to the blessed election."

Origen of Alexandria, (185-254 A.D.) – An ecclesiastical writer and teacher who contributed to the early formation of Christian doctrines.




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