(1 Pet. 2:9)
Peter was one of Jesus’ closest apostles. Among the first selected, Peter was present at many of the major events in the ministry of Jesus. It was he who, at Caesarea Philippi, made the declaration that Jesus was the Messiah; and Peter followed his Savior to the house of Caiaphas on the night that Jesus was arrested and tried. And on the morning when the resurrected Jesus appeared to the disciples by the sea, it was Peter who received specific instructions regarding the ministry of Christ. When the first group of believers gathered on the day of Pentecost, Peter was the chief spokesperson. Certainly, if the law had been changed in any way, Peter would have known.
What does Acts 10:9-14 tell us about Peter’s adherence to the Jewish law after Jesus’ ascension? If Peter thought this way about laws concerning food, what can we imagine his view was on the perpetuity of the Ten Commandments?
Peter received his vision several years after the ascension of Jesus. As a result of the disciples’ preaching, thousands of Jews had already accepted Jesus as the Messiah. There is nothing in the biblical record to suggest that the content of the Christian message included instructions to reject the law. In a powerful way, the incident in Acts 10 demonstrates that the earliest Christians fully identified with their Jewish roots.
When Peter referred to his audience as a royal priesthood, a holy nation (NKJV), they would have recalled instantly the story of the giving of the law at Sinai. As the heirs of Israel, they were expected to abide by the terms of the covenant made explicit in the law of God. So, immediately after reminding the people of their status, Peter urges them to live lives of righteousness (1 Pet. 2:11-12). He also warns his audience to be wary of false teachers promoting a law-free gospel (2 Pet. 2:21, 2 Pet 3:2).
Remember how badly Peter messed up; and yet, look at the grace extended to him. How can we learn (1) to extend that kind of grace to others and (2) to accept grace for ourselves when we mess up?