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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Acts 12



Other Authors
Verses 1-17

Acts 12:1-17. Persecution of the Church by Herod Agrippa. Peter's Escape from Prison.—On Agrippa, see p. 610. His persecution of the Christians was according to his general policy. The persecutions of the faithful have been hitherto from the Jews acting through their local courts or the Sanhedrin. Now there is a civil ruler, also a Jew, minded to injure them, and persecution becomes more deadly.

Acts 12:3. Peter, like his Master, is not to be put to death during the festival, but is arrested before it.

Acts 12:4. four quaternions, each taking three hours on guard.

Acts 12:6. A chain connecting him with each of the two guards. Each touch tells in the narrative; the king's intention, the strength of the guard, Peter's quiet sleep.

Acts 12:7. Literature has many instances of such deliverance of the faithful from prison by their deity; cf. Acts 5:19; Acts 16:26 (see Wettstein and Preuschen).

Acts 12:8. The escape is not too hurried.

Acts 12:9. true: better "real."

Acts 12:10. The first and the second guard, with the two chained to the prisoner, make up the quaternion of this watch. The prison will be in the Antonia; the Roman barrack overlooking the Temple to which Paul was carried (see Acts 22:24). D adds to the detail of the place that after passing through the iron gate to the town "they went down the seven steps."

Acts 12:11 answers to Acts 12:9; it is a reality, not a vision, that has happened to him; he has got out of Herod's hand, and the Jews will not have their will of him.

Acts 12:12. considered: rather "when he was clear about it."—house of Mary: identified since the fourth century with the Cenaculum, the house where the Lord's Supper is said to have been instituted.—mother of John: on the relation between this Mary and John, and the Mary and John of the Fourth Gospel (Acts 19:26 f.), see J. Weiss, Das älteste Evangelium, pp. 409ff. On this John-Mark and his connexion with Peter and Paul and then with Peter again, see Acts 13:13 f.*, also Menzies, The Earliest Gospel, pp. 40ff.

Acts 12:13. Rhoda: Rose, a common slave name. The house is a large one with a gateway (cf. Acts 10:17), where a domestic church could meet.

Acts 12:15. It is his angel: Matthew 2:1-12*, Matthew 18:10*

Acts 12:17. James, brother of the Lord, is the leader of the church; he is not present but is to be told.—to another place: Roman Catholic writers suggest Rome. So also Edmundson, The Church in Rome in the First Century, pp. 29, 44-58; cf. Lake, Earlier Epistles of St. Paul, pp. 375-9. Wellhausen, with more likelihood, suggests Antioch, where Peter is found in Galatians 2:11. The place is really unknown.

[The association of the two gods Zeus and Hermes was familiar in the region round Lystra, see Ramsay, The Bearing of Recent Discovery, pp. 47ff.—A. J. G.]

Verses 18-25

Acts 12:18-23. Fate of the Soldiers and of Herod.—For the soldiers, cf. Acts 5:21 ff. Here they are led away to be put to death. The story of Herod's glorification and end is told by Josephus in a similar way; but our version is at some points defective. Herod's displeasure with Tyre dates from an earlier period; no disagreement with Sidon is reported. As king of Judæa he had a hold on the two towns which depended on importation for their corn, and they might seek to work on him through Blastus, the Master of his Bedchamber; he was a good-natured man—they could get round him.

Acts 12:21 b requires some such clause as is found in D, "on his being reconciled to the Tyrians." His decision was evidently to be given at a splendid court ceremony. The scene is described by Josephus (Ant. XIX. viii. 2) who speaks of a robe made entirely of silver, which shone brilliantly in the morning sun and prompted the broad flattery, not unheard of in these days, that his voice was that of a god rather than of a man. His death was that of Antiochus (2 Maccabees 9:3 ff.), Sulla, and other presumptuous characters of antiquity.

Acts 12:24 f. Return of Barnabas and Saul to Antioch.

Acts 12:24. A very vague and general statement; to what region does it refer?

Acts 12:25 continues Acts 11:30. The reading in mg. is quite inconsistent with the narrative.


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Acts 12:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". 1919.

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Thursday, October 22nd, 2020
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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