Acts 10:11 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Acts 10:11, NIV: He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners.

Acts 10:11, ESV: and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth.

Acts 10:11, KJV: And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth:

Acts 10:11, NASB: and he *saw the sky opened up, and an object like a great sheet coming down, lowered by four corners to the ground,

Acts 10:11, NLT: He saw the sky open, and something like a large sheet was let down by its four corners.

Acts 10:11, CSB: He saw heaven opened and an object that resembled a large sheet coming down, being lowered by its four corners to the earth.

What does Acts 10:11 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

God is spirit; He is present everywhere in His creation (John 4:24). He doesn't live in the sky, like a satellite, yet He often uses the image of clouds parting and the sky opening as a metaphor for His visible presence on earth (Ezekiel 1:1; Matthew 3:16; Acts 7:56). Other times, God draws more clouds to hide His presence from His fragile creation (Exodus 19:16; Mark 9:7). In this case, the skies open to reveal God's message.

The four corners of the sheet may represent the "four corners" of the world. In the sheet are "all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air" (Acts 10:12). A voice tells Peter to kill and eat the animals (Acts 10:13) but some of these creatures are not allowed by Mosaic law. The animals represent the people of the world who have been elected by God—some are devout Jews and some aren't, but Jesus wants Peter to accept them all.

We tend to forget that although God promised Abraham that his line would bless the whole earth (Genesis 12:3), at the time of Peter's vision it has been about 2000 years since that promise and no one is sure what God meant. Despite having seen Jesus bless Gentiles, despite watching the Holy Spirit descend on Samaritans (Acts 8:17), it takes Peter a long time to fully understand that Jesus is for everyone, not just the Jews.