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King Herod. Herod Agrippa. See note on Matthew 2:1. Herod ruled all of Palestine. Even though he lived a wicked life, he was very strict in following Jewish ritual. He was hostile to Christianity, because he saw it competing with Judaism.
James, the brother of John. One of the three apostles who had formed the “inner circle” with Jesus. James was beheaded. [James the Lord’s brother appears in Acts after this (see also Galatians 1:19). He is the one who wrote the book of James.]
When he saw that this pleased the Jews. This was the time for Passover, and a large number of Jews would be in Jerusalem for the Feast. He was looking for honor and popularity from them, and probably did not think too much about pleasing God.
But the people of the church. The church is PEOPLE, and they joined together in prayer, asking God to help Peter in this problem. Prayer is much more powerful than we sometimes think. Compare James 5:16-18; Revelation 8:3-4; Romans 8:26.
The night before. Putting a man to death on Passover week, would have been a defiling of those holy days. Peter was sleeping between two guards. He was chained to each of them, while the other two stood guard. This was the Roman way to maintain security.
Suddenly an angel of the Lord. This is God’s answer to the prayer of his people. Notice Peter has time to get dressed.
He thought he was seeing a vision. That is, he thought he was dreaming. The gate opened for them by Itself. The outer gate of the prison. Now I know. After the angel leaves him outside on the street, he decides it is real.
He went to the home of Mary. She is the mother of John Mark [who is the cousin of Barnabas (Colossians 4:10).] Many people had gathered there and were praying for the release of Peter.
A servant girl named Rhoda. This was at night, and they were Christians. The one at the door could be either friend or enemy, as far as they knew. She recognized Peter’s voice. She is so happy she runs back without opening the door! It is his angel. The Jews believed everyone had a personal angel to guard him, and they thought this angel had assumed Peter’s voice. [Luke does not tell us whether there is such a thing as a “guardian angel.”] They opened the door at last. Peter has kept on knocking until they do. They are amazed to see him. Tell this to James. Not the apostle, but the Lord’s brother, who has become an important leader in the church at Jerusalem. [James is mentioned in Acts 15:13; Acts 21:18; Galatians 1:19; Galatians 2:9; Galatians 2:12.]
When morning came. The soldiers guarding Peter were probably asleep [at least the two chained to him], and did not find him missing until they woke up. Herod gave orders to search for him. Herod is angry, he has the guards questioned, and orders them to be put to death. And spent some time In Caesarea. Herod lived there part of the time, but usually lived in Jerusalem. Josephus says he went at this time to conduct the Games in honor of Emperor Claudius.
Herod was very angry. We do not know why. First they won Blastus. The people from Tyre and Sidon probably bribed this man, who was in charge of the palace, and so able to influence Herod.
On a chosen day. This implies it was some special occasion. Josephus the Jewish historian tells about all this.
But a god. This is the second day of the Games. Herod is dressed in robes of silver cloth, and he stands so the sun will flash and sparkle from his robes. It may be that he announced peace with Tyre and Sidon, and the group from there led the crowd in shouting that he was a god.
Struck Herod down. Josephus says he lived five days in great agony. This agrees with what Luke tells us.
Continued to spread. The excitement of all that was happening helped to make people listen. Note how the word of God continued to spread so rapidly among people who were no more spiritual than people are today.
Finished their mission. Acts 11:30 tells what this mission was. Taking John Mark with them. He will go with Paul and Barnabas on their next tour of missions.
These files are public domain.
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Acts 12". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11