There was a man in Caesarea named Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment.
He was a devout man and feared God along with his whole household. He did many charitable deeds for the [Jewish] people and always prayed to God.
At about three in the afternoon he distinctly saw in a vision an angel of God who came in and said to him, "Cornelius!"
Looking intently at him, he became afraid and said, "What is it, Lord?" And he told him, "Your prayers and your acts of charity have come up as a memorial offering before God.
Now send men to Joppa and call for Simon, who is also named Peter.
He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea."
When the angel who spoke to him had gone, he called two of his household slaves and a devout soldier, who was one of those who attended him.
After explaining everything to them, he sent them to Joppa.
The next day, as they were traveling and nearing the city, Peter went up to pray on the housetop at about noon.
Then he became hungry and wanted to eat, but while they were preparing something he went into a visionary state.
He saw heaven opened and an object coming down that resembled a large sheet being lowered to the earth by its four corners.
In it were all the four-footed animals and reptiles of the earth, and the birds of the sky.
Then a voice said to him, "Get up, Peter; kill and eat!"
"No, Lord!" Peter said. "For I have never eaten anything common and unclean!"
Again, a second time, a voice said to him, "What God has made clean, you must not call common."
This happened three times, and then the object was taken up into heaven.
While Peter was deeply perplexed about what the vision he had seen might mean, the men who had been sent by Cornelius, having asked directions to Simon's house, stood at the gate.
They called out, asking if Simon, who was also named Peter, was lodging there.
While Peter was thinking about the vision, the Spirit told him, "Three men are here looking for you.
Get up, go downstairs, and accompany them with no doubts at all, because I have sent them."
Then Peter went down to the men and said, "Here I am, the one you're looking for. What is the reason you're here?"
They said, "Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who has a good reputation with the whole Jewish nation, was divinely directed by a holy angel to call you to his house and to hear a message from you."
Peter then invited them in and gave them lodging. The next day he got up and set out with them, and some of the brothers from Joppa went with him.
The following day he entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends.
When Peter entered, Cornelius met him, fell at his feet, and worshiped him.
But Peter helped him up and said, "Stand up! I myself am also a man."
While talking with him, he went on in and found that many had come together there.
Peter said to them, "You know it's forbidden for a Jewish man to associate with or visit a foreigner. But God has shown me that I must not call any person common or unclean.
That's why I came without any objection when I was sent for. So I ask, 'Why did you send for me?'"
Cornelius replied, "Four days ago at this hour, at three in the afternoon, I was praying in my house. Just then a man in a dazzling robe stood before me
and said, 'Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your acts of charity have been remembered in God's sight.
Therefore send someone to Joppa and invite Simon here, who is also named Peter. He is lodging in Simon the tanner's house by the sea.'
Therefore I immediately sent for you, and you did the right thing in coming. So we are all present before God, to hear everything you have been commanded by the Lord."
Then Peter began to speak: "In truth, I understand that God doesn't show favoritism,
but in every nation the person who fears Him and does righteousness is acceptable to Him.
He sent the message to the sons of Israel, proclaiming the good news of peace through Jesus Christ-- He is Lord of all.
You know the events that took place throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John preached:
how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and curing all who were under the tyranny of the Devil, because God was with Him.
We ourselves are witnesses of everything He did in both the Judean country and in Jerusalem; yet they killed Him by hanging Him on a tree.
God raised up this man on the third day and permitted Him to be seen,
not by all the people, but by us, witnesses appointed beforehand by God, who ate and drank with Him after He rose from the dead.
He commanded us to preach to the people, and to solemnly testify that He is the One appointed by God to be the Judge of the living and the dead.
All the prophets testify about Him that through His name everyone who believes in Him will receive forgiveness of sins."
While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came down on all those who heard the message.
The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.
For they heard them speaking in [other] languages and declaring the greatness of God. Then Peter responded,
"Can anyone withhold water and prevent these from being baptized, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?"
And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay for a few days.
The apostles and the brothers who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles had welcomed God's message also.
When Peter went up to Jerusalem, those who stressed circumcision argued with him,
saying, "You visited uncircumcised men and ate with them!"
Peter began to explain to them in an orderly sequence, saying:
"I was in the town of Joppa praying, and I saw, in a visionary state, an object coming down that resembled a large sheet being lowered from heaven by its four corners, and it came to me.
When I looked closely and considered it, I saw the four-footed animals of the earth, the wild beasts, the reptiles, and the birds of the sky.
Then I also heard a voice telling me, 'Get up, Peter; kill and eat!'
" 'No, Lord!' I said. 'For nothing common or unclean has ever entered my mouth!'
But a voice answered from heaven a second time, 'What God has made clean, you must not call common.'
"Now this happened three times, and then everything was drawn up again into heaven.
At that very moment, three men who had been sent to me from Caesarea arrived at the house where we were.
Then the Spirit told me to go with them with no doubts at all. These six brothers accompanied me, and we went into the man's house.
He reported to us how he had seen the angel standing in his house and saying, 'Send to Joppa, and call for Simon, who is also named Peter.
He will speak words to you by which you and all your household will be saved.'
"As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came down on them, just as on us at the beginning.
Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, 'John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.'
Therefore, if God gave them the same gift that He also gave to us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, how could I possibly hinder God?"
When they heard this they became silent. Then they glorified God, saying, "So God has granted repentance resulting in life to even the Gentiles!"
Those who had been scattered as a result of the persecution that started because of Stephen made their way as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, speaking the message to no one except Jews.
But there were some of them, Cypriot and Cyrenian men, who came to Antioch and began speaking to the Hellenists, proclaiming the good news about the Lord Jesus.
The Lord's hand was with them, and a large number who believed turned to the Lord.
Then the report about them reached the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to travel as far as Antioch.
When he arrived and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he encouraged all of them to remain true to the Lord with a firm resolve of the heart--
for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith-- and large numbers of people were added to the Lord.
Then he went to Tarsus to search for Saul,
and when he found him he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught large numbers, and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.
In those days some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch.
Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and predicted by the Spirit that there would be a severe famine throughout the Roman world. This took place during the time of Claudius.
So each of the disciples, according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brothers who lived in Judea.
This they did, sending it to the elders by means of Barnabas and Saul.
About that time King Herod cruelly attacked some who belonged to the church,
and he killed James, John's brother, with the sword.
When he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter too, during the days of Unleavened Bread.
After the arrest, he put him in prison and assigned four squads of four soldiers each to guard him, intending to bring him out to the people after the Passover.
So Peter was kept in prison, but prayer was being made earnestly to God for him by the church.
On the night before Herod was to bring him out [for execution], Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, while the sentries in front of the door guarded the prison.
Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared, and a light shone in the cell. Striking Peter on the side, he woke him up and said, "Quick, get up!" Then the chains fell off his wrists.
"Get dressed," the angel told him, "and put on your sandals." And he did so. "Wrap your cloak around you," he told him, "and follow me."
So he went out and followed, and he did not know that what took place through the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision.
After they passed the first and second guard posts, they came to the iron gate that leads into the city, which opened to them by itself. They went outside and passed one street, and immediately the angel left him.
Then Peter came to himself and said, "Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent His angel and rescued me from Herod's grasp and from all that the Jewish people expected."
When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John Mark, where many had assembled and were praying.
He knocked at the door in the gateway, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer.
She recognized Peter's voice, and because of her joy she did not open the gate, but ran in and announced that Peter was standing at the gateway.
"You're crazy!" they told her. But she kept insisting that it was true. Then they said, "It's his angel!"
Peter, however, kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astounded.
Motioning to them with his hand to be silent, he explained to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. "Report these things to James and the brothers," he said. Then he departed and went to a different place.
At daylight, there was a great commotion among the soldiers as to what could have become of Peter.
After Herod had searched and did not find him, he interrogated the guards and ordered their execution. Then Herod went down from Judea to Caesarea and stayed there.
He had been very angry with the Tyrians and Sidonians. Together they presented themselves before him, and having won over Blastus, who was in charge of the king's bedroom, they asked for peace, because their country was supplied with food from the king's country.
So on an appointed day, dressed in royal robes and seated on the throne, Herod delivered a public address to them.
The populace began to shout, "It's the voice of a god and not of a man!"
At once an angel of the Lord struck him because he did not give the glory to God, and he became infected with worms and died.
Then God's message flourished and multiplied.
And Barnabas and Saul returned to Jerusalem after they had completed their relief mission, on which they took John Mark.