Friday, 2 September 2022
“He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea. He will tell you what you must do.” Acts 10:6
Cornelius is still receiving instruction from the messenger from God. He was just told to send men to Joppa and to find Simon whose name is Peter. It now continues with, “He is lodging with Simon, a tanner.” This gives the reason for specifying “Simon whose name is Peter.” Normally, one would go to a residence looking for the occupier of that residence.
In this case, Simon the tanner opened his house to Simon Peter. Without identifying which Simon was to go, they both may have had to make the journey, just to be sure. Ananias was not an apostle, and yet, he was summoned to go to Straight Street and place his hands on Paul. Without this explicit instruction, they may have thought the Lord purposefully wanted a tanner to meet with a Gentile because he was used to interacting with Gentiles, or whatever.
As noted in the commentary on Acts 9:43, being a tanner was not necessarily something that caused defilement. It was a part of the normal lives of people within the society. Even if some Jews found it an unclean lifestyle, that was their problem, but it was not necessarily an issue with the law.
In the modern world, people may look down on garbagemen, but that doesn’t mean a thing about the person. The position may be filled by the greatest guy in town. And so, this cannot be used as an indication that “the Jewish law was losing its hold on Peter” (Vincent’s Word Studies). Rather, it meant that Peter was willing to stay with a person who was looked down upon by others and who may have stank to high heaven.
Next, it says, “whose house is by the sea.” This would easily identify where to go, and which tanner was being referred to if there was more than one in town. Being by the sea was a convenient place for tanning as noted in the earlier commentary referenced above. Lastly, it says, “He will tell you what you must do.”
These words are left out of various texts. Of this omission, Cambridge says –
“These words are not in the oldest MSS. In Peter’s own account of the visit to Cornelius (Acts 11:14) we have ‘who shall tell thee words whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved;’ and this is one of the numerous instances found in some later texts of the Acts where an attempt has been made to form a complete narrative in the earlier chapters by gathering together and adapting statements which appear in their proper place in later chapters.”
Cambridge immediately assumes that “older is better,” and that the omission demonstrates that this was an insert to reconcile the two accounts. However, it could just as easily be that the omission was an error in the earlier text and that text was then rejected because of it. Unless there is definite proof of one or the error, the addition of a footnote in the Bible translation is a useful tool to let the reader know the disparity between the various texts. Either way, no information is lost because Chapter 11 includes it. So, it was either stated twice or it was stated only once, but it was – in fact – stated.
Life application: Be sure to read the footnotes if your Bible includes them. And when you buy a new Bible, look for one that includes footnotes. There are many important points that are noted in them that will help the true student of the Bible to determine what is going on and to then help them think those things through clearly.
When you come to a footnote you are not fully understanding, then you can read up on that passage in longer commentaries. Eventually, you will usually find a suitable resolution to the issue you are trying to resolve.
Heavenly Father, may we be faithful and careful stewards of Your word, always thinking it through, contemplating it, and meditating upon it. It is too precious to simply ignore. It is light, and it conveys life. May we treat it with the highest care and respect all our days. Amen.