Justifying your Diet Using Peter’s Vision
Many Christians eat meats such as lobster, prawns (shrimp), and pork. And if you ask them why they eat these things when the scriptures forbid it, you will receive a variety of explanations. But one of them are the use of Peter’s vision. Many Christians use the vision of Peter as recorded in the book of Acts, chapters 10, and 11 to justify their consumption of pigs. But these Christians are not aware of the context, or the correct interpretation of this passage.
Context, Context, Context
Whenever you read the Bible, you must keep in mind that you are reading a Jewish document. The authors were all Jews! And of course, they had an orthodox Jewish world-view.
Interpretation, Level 1
That said, you must understand a few things about the vision of Peter. “Unclean animals” (dogs, foxes, pigs, etc…) have two meanings. One is the literal, earthly, materialistic interpretation. This interpretation is very literal. It means animals.
Interpretation, Level 2
The second interpretation is a spiritual, or figurative interpretation. You see, in the Jewish mind, Gentiles (non-Jews) are “unclean animals”. Yes, non-Jews are referred to as unclean animals. This is why Jesus could legally, and rightfully call Herod a “fox”, and a Canaanite woman a “dog”. That is because, in the Jewish mind, a Gentile is an animal.
God Makes it Clear – He’s Talking About Gentiles
When Peter first received the vision, he thought, on the surface, that the interpretation is literal, speaking literally of animals, not people. But God made it clear to him – he wasn’t talking about animals, he was talking about people – the Gentiles. Reading Acts 10, and 11 in context proves this. If you read beyond the vision of unclean animals, you will see that immediately following that vision, you will see that the leaders of the church must now deal with the fact that the Gentiles are coming in!
Thus the correct interpretation of Peter’s vision is that God could take the Gentiles, the “unclean animals”, and make them “clean” by the washing of the Word, faith, and repentance.
Another Piece of Evidence – Exhibit “B”
If Peter’s vision literally meant that he could now eat pigs, then obviously Peter would start eating bacon. And if he did, Peter would have been arrested, and brought before the Sanhedrin (Jewish judges) to be tried and condemned. Of course, this didn’t happen. That is because God NEVER meant that it was now ok to literally eat unclean animals.