The Spirit brings a Roman Centurion and his family and friends together with the apostle Peter to hear the Gospel of Jesus. Both have visions. Cornelius sees and angel; Peter sees a bunch of unclean animals and hears a voice from heaven telling him to eat them. This is both a literal overturning of the Levitical food laws (Leviticus 11) and a metaphor that he is to receive the unclean Gentile Cornelius into his home and interact with him. When Peter preaches Christ in a Gentile-understandable way, the Spirit falls on them so that they speak in tongues, praise God and seek baptism.
Christ in the Text
Jesus is presented as Lord and judge over all (10:36, 42). The Old Testament idea that He is God's anointed servant is present but a bit muted (10:38). His death and resurrection remain central, and we can have healing from sickness, relief from devilish oppression (38) and forgiveness for our sins (43) through Him.
Parts of the Old Testament Law, mainly the ceremonial and ritual aspects, were meant to pass away with the coming of Christ. This allowed for greater interaction and unity between Jew and Gentile, as the Jewish apostles go into all the world to bring the Gospel to every nation.
1. Peter asserts Jesus is Lord of all, a direct contrast for the Gentiles with Caesar. He may be "soft-pedaling" the Old Testament context, but only to make more understandable the radical step they will need to take in putting Christ before Caesar.
2. Liberal progressives in our day wrongly apply verse 47 to LGBT people. The argument goes that a similar wall is up between LGBT and the rest of the church that was up between Jew and Gentile, and it should come down. The church should realize that God accepts them. This argument confuses a ritual distinction with a moral one. God accepts anyone when they repent of their sin and turn away from it (any sin, including homosexual practice) and trust Jesus' work at the cross for their forgiveness.
1. While this is a unique moment in redemptive history, we should expect the Holy Spirit to continue bringing together seekers with those who are ready to explain the claims of Christ and call for a response.
2. Be ready to interact with unexpected types of people. For Peter it was a higher-up in the Roman military. Don't confine God or your church to a narrow slice of a demographic type.