Some of the Jews in Jerusalem and Judea resisted and rebuked Peter for entering the house of a converted Gentile.
Peter then explained the whole series of events to them
Acts 11:1 And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. 11:2 And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him, 11:3 Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them.
Then the whole story was repeated and expounded to the Jews at Jerusalem
11:4 But Peter rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it by order unto them, saying, 11:5 I was in the city of Joppa praying: and in a trance I saw a vision, A certain vessel descend, as it had been a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came even to me: 11:6 Upon the which when I had fastened mine eyes, I considered, and saw fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.
11:7 And I heard a voice saying unto me, Arise, Peter; slay and eat. 11:8 But I said, Not so, Lord: for nothing common or unclean hath at any time entered into my mouth. 11:9 But the voice answered me again from heaven, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. 11:10 And this was done three times: and all were drawn up again into heaven.
11:11 And, behold, immediately there were three men already come unto the house where I was, sent from Caesarea unto me. 11:12 And the Spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered into the man’s house: 11:13 And he shewed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter; 11:14 Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.
11:15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. 11:16 Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John [Baptist] indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.
11:17 Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God? 11:18 When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.
Peter’s vision of the blanket of creatures has nothing to do with making unclean creatures fit to eat. The vision only used the animals as an allegorical reference to people of all races being called to God through Christ.
A Great Persecution
The persecution and scattering of the brethren resulted in the gospel being spread abroad by the brethren, who preached the Word of God and of Christ our Salvation. Wherever the faithful zealous brethren of the Ekklesia went, they boldly entered the synagogues and taught Christ as the Messiah.
In our time the corporate assemblies of the Ekklesia will be destroyed in the tribulation and the brethren will awaken to zeal and will become a strong witness for godliness at that time; just like Saul who became Paul. Then those who awaken to zeal for the Word of God will be an example to their neighbors and in the darkest hour of persecution many will be converted.
11:19 Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only. 11:20 And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the LORD Jesus. 11:21 And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.
The Jerusalem Ekklesia then sent help to Antioch by Barnabas, sending Barnabas as far as Antioch.
11:22 Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch.
Barnabas taught them all to cleave unto Christ their espoused Husband; as a loving bride cleaves to her Beloved Husband.
11:23 Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. 11:24 For he [Barnabas] was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord.
Barnabas then sought out help from Saul
Saul means “desired” while Paul means “small, little one.” There was no recorded official change of name for Saul; the name Paul was taken by Saul reflecting his new found humility before God the Father and Jesus Christ.
The man Saul was the kind of man desired by the leaders of Judah, but God humbled him and made him fit to be a man of God, and so Saul changed his name from “Desired” of the people; to a contrite humble “Little One of God.”
11:25 Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: 11:26 And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.
Yes, there were and are New Testament prophets
11:27 And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch.
Whenever God is going to personally do something, he reveals it to the people by his servants the prophets
Amos 3:7 Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.
In this case a worldwide famine was prophesied
Acts 11:28 And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar.
The brethren then sent relief to Jerusalem and Judea by Saul [Paul] and Barnabas
11:29 Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea: 11:30 Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.
Acts 12:1 Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church.
The order is slightly garbled here and v 2 should be later in the narrative. Herod arrested Peter and when Peter escaped James was notified v 17, and shortly after that in a rage over the escape of Peter Herod killed James.
12:2 And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. [c 63 A.D.]
12:3 And because he saw it pleased the Jews [to persecute the disciples], he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.) 12:4 And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter [Easter is a mistranslation of the Greek word “Pascha” which means “Passover”] to bring him forth to the people.
The brethren prayed for Peter continually, while he was imprisoned before the Passover and Feast High Day of Unleavened Bread.
Historically these things happened about three years before the Ekklesia fled Jerusalem for Pella.
12:5 Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.
Then Christ sent an angel to deliver Peter
12:6 And when Herod would have brought him forth [to make a show of him to the priests and enemies of this way], the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison.12:7 And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands.
The angel told Peter to get dressed and follow him
12:8 And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me.
Peter did so thinking himself dreaming
12:9 And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision. 12:10 When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him.
Peter then went to the house where the apostles and disciples were praying for him
12:11 And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the LORD hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.
12:12 And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying. 12:13 And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda.
Rhoda in her excitement runs to announce Peter, forgetting to open the door for him
12:14 And when she knew Peter’s voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate. 12:15 And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel. [thinking that it was a spirit]
Peter is finally admitted and tells his story
12:16 But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished. 12:17 But he, beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. [Peter tells his friends to go and tell the others, while he goes away] And he said, Go shew these things unto James, and to the brethren. And he departed, and went into another place.
12:18 Now as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers, what was become of Peter.
Herod kills the men tasked with guarding Peter and then goes to Caesarea.
12:19 And when Herod had sought for him, and found him not, he examined the keepers, and commanded that they should be put to death. And he went down from Judaea to Caesarea, and there abode.
The people of Tyre and Sidon desired peace with Herod
12:20 And Herod was highly displeased with them of Tyre and Sidon: but they came with one accord to him, and, having made Blastus the king’s chamberlain their friend, desired peace; because their country was nourished by the king’s country.
This man was then killed by God for his arrogance and persecution of the Ekklesia, and for exalting himself above God; Just as many today exalt their word above the Word of God.
Our own correction is not far off.
How is it that there is no fear of God in the Ekklesia today?
12:21 And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them. 12:22 And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man. 12:23 And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms [usually a term for maggots], and gave up the ghost.
This miraculous death of Herod Agrippa 2 and the end of that cycle of persecution in Judea brought even more converts
12:24 But the word of God grew and multiplied.
Then Barnabas and Saul [Paul] visited Jerusalem after their ministry at Antioch; and later leaving Jerusalem they took John Mark with them.
12:25 And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark.