Cornelius was a Roman soldier. He was praying to God. He was told to send men to the city of Joppa and bring back a man named Peter who was staying with Simon the tanner in Simon's house by the sea.
About noon the next day the three men approached the city of Joppa. Peter had become hungry, and while the meal was being prepared, he was up on the rooftop praying.
Peter fell into a trance, a dreamlike state, and he saw heaven opened and a huge sheet being let down by its four corners. In the sheet were all kinds of four-footed animals, birds, and reptiles.
A voice told him, "Get up Peter. Kill and eat."
According to the law of Moses, certain animals were "clean"; suitable for eating, and certain animals were "unclean".
What was Peter to do? He could not eat an unclean animal, yet the voice had said, "Kill and eat."
Peter answered, "Surely not, Lord! I have never eaten anything common or unclean".
The voice spoke a second time and told him that God had made them clean, and Peter was not to call them unclean.
Three times the voice told him to "Kill and eat', then the sheet was suddenly taken back to heaven.
While Peter was puzzling over what the vision could mean, the three men sent by Cornelius arrived, stopped at the gate, and asked if Simon Peter was staying there.
Peter went downstairs and told them he was the person for whom they were looking.
"Why have you come?" he asked.
They told how an angel had appeared to their master and told Cornelius to send to Joppa for Peter. He invited them into the house to be his guests.