Acts 10:12
Wherein were all manner of four footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(12) All manner of four-footed beasts . . .—The classification seems to imply the sheep, the oxen, or the swine that were used as food by the Gentiles, as coming under this head, the deer and goats, and conies and hares under that of “wild beasts.” Stress in each case is laid upon there being “all manner” of each class, those that were allowed, and those also that were forbidden by the Jewish law.

10:9-18 The prejudices of Peter against the Gentiles, would have prevented his going to Cornelius, unless the Lord had prepared him for this service. To tell a Jew that God had directed those animals to be reckoned clean which were hitherto deemed unclean, was in effect saying, that the law of Moses was done away. Peter was soon made to know the meaning of it. God knows what services are before us, and how to prepare us; and we know the meaning of what he has taught us, when we find what occasion we have to make use of it.Wherein ... - This particular vision was suggested by Peter's hunger, Acts 10:10. It was designed, however, to teach him an important lesson in regard to the introduction of all nations to the gospel. Its descending from heaven may have been an intimation that that religion which was about to abolish the distinction between the Jews and other nations was of divine origin. See Revelation 21:2. 12. all manner of four-footed beasts, &c.—that is, the clean and the unclean (ceremonially) all mixed together. As well unclean beasts, such as were forbidden by the law, as clean, such as by the law might be eaten. Wherein were all manner of four-footed beasts of the earth,.... Not as if they were painted upon it, and these were only pictures and representations of them made on the linen sheet; but as if they really add actually were upon it alive; since Peter is afterwards called upon to kill and eat: and these design four-footed beasts of every kind, that are tame, as distinct from the wild ones, after mentioned, as horses, camels, oxen, sheep, hogs, dogs, &c.

and wild beasts; lions, tigers, panthers, bears, &c. This clause is left out in the Alexandrian copy, and in the Vulgate Latin and Syriac versions:

and creeping things; the above copy and versions here add, "of the earth", which they omit in the first clause; these intend serpents, snakes, worms, &c:

and fowls of the air; birds of all sorts: now the whole of this signifies, that the church of Christ, under the Gospel dispensation, consists of all sorts of persons, of all nations, Jews and Gentiles, the one being reckoned clean, the other unclean; of men of all sorts of tempers and dispositions, comparable to wild or tame beasts; and of all sorts of sinners, who before conversion have been greater or lesser sinners; as well as denotes that the distinction of food under the ceremonial law was now ceased. This is not designed to represent that there are good and bad in Gospel churches, as there certainly are and much less that immoral persons are to be received and retained there; but that those who have been of the blackest character, if called by grace, should be admitted into them; and chiefly to show that Gentiles reckoned unclean, when converted, are not to be rejected.

Wherein were {h} all manner of {i} fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and {k} creeping things, and fowls of the air.

(h) Here is this word all which is general, plainly used for something indefinite and uncertain, that is to say, for some of all sorts, not for all of every sort.

(i) That is, such as were proper for men's use.

(k) To see what is meant by these creeping things see Le 11:2-47.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Acts 10:12. τετράποδα κ.τ.λ.: fish are not mentioned, perhaps because the vessel was not represented as containing water (so Blass, Weiss, Wendt), although fish also were divided into clean and unclean, Leviticus 11:9, Deuteronomy 14:9.12. wherein were] i.e. appeared to be in the vision.

all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts] The oldest MSS. omit the last six words. They have been inserted here that the text might more exactly correspond with what St Peter says in Acts 11:6 (see note on Acts 10:6). The vision represented the whole animal creation. There were in it living creatures typical of each kind, not a multitude of the same sort of birds and beasts.Acts 10:12. Πάντα τὰ τετράποδα καὶ τὰ ἑρπετὰ τῆς γῆς, all four-footed animals and creeping things of the earth) Under the name all four-footed animals Luke comprises wild beasts also, which however recent transcribers have inserted here, from ch. Acts 11:6.[60] By these symbols not only was it signified, that Peter is allowed to eat all kinds of food (of every nation), but that the Gentile nations themselves, who had been heretofore designated as unclean animals, are now clean: Acts 10:28.

[60] For this reason the reading καὶ τὰ θηρία, which the larger Ed. thought was not to be omitted, is deemed an inferior reading by Ed. 2, and is omitted also in the Germ. Vers.—E. B.

Ee support τὰ θηρία after τῆς γῆς. Orig. 1,249a has it before τῆς γῆς. Rec. Text, with later. Syr., reads τὰ θηρία before καὶ τὰ ἕρπετα. But ABC corrected, Vulg. Orig. 1,386b, 388b, omit τὰ θηρία.—E. and T.Verse 12. - Beasts and creeping things of the earth for beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, A.V. and T.R.; heaven for air, A.V. The distinction between clean and unclean was very sharply drawn in the Levitical Law (Leviticus 11; see especially vers. 41-44 and Leviticus 20:25; Deuteronomy 14:3-20). Peter's astonishment must, therefore, have been exceeding great at the command to slay and eat. And so his answer in ver. 14 shows. And yet our Lord had taught him the same truth (Matthew 15:10-20, or still more distinctly Mark 8:14-23). All manner of four-footed beasts (πάντα τὰ τετράποδα)

Lit., all the four-footed beasts. Without exception, clean and unclean. Not, of very many kinds.

Wild beasts

The best texts omit.

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