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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament
Acts 12



Other Authors
Verse 1

About that time (κατ εκεινον τον καιρονkat' ekeinon ton kairon). Same phrase in Romans 9:9. That is, the early part of a.d. 44 since that is the date of Herod‘s death. As already suggested, Barnabas and Saul came down from Antioch to Jerusalem after the persecution by Herod at the end of 44 or the beginning of 45.

Herod the king (ηρωιδης ο βασιλευςHērōidēs ho basileus). Accurate title at this particular time. Herod Agrippa I, grandson of Herod the Great, was King of Palestine a.d. 42 to 44; only for these three years was a Herod king over Palestine since the death of Herod the Great and never afterwards. Archelaus never actually became king though he had the popular title at first (Matthew 2:22).

Put forth his hands (επεβαλεν τας χειραςepebalen tas cheiras). Second aorist active indicative of επιβαλλωepiballō old verb, to cast upon or against. The same idiom with τας χειραςtas cheiras (the hands, common Greek idiom with article rather than possessive pronoun) in Acts 4:3; Acts 5:18.

To afflict (κακωσαιkakōsai). First aorist active infinitive of κακοωkakoō old word to do harm or evil to (κακοςkakos), already in Acts 7:6, Acts 7:19. Outside of Acts in the N.T. only 1 Peter 5:13. Infinitive of purpose. Probably the first who were afflicted were scourged or imprisoned, not put to death. It had been eight years or more since the persecution over the death of Stephen ceased with the conversion of Saul. But the disciples were not popular in Jerusalem with either Sadducees or Pharisees. The overtures to the Gentiles in Caesarea and Antioch may have stirred up the Pharisees afresh (cf. Acts 6:14). Herod Agrippa I was an Idumean through his grandfather Herod the Great and a grandson of Mariamne the Maccabean princess. He was a favourite of Caligula the Roman Emperor and was anxious to placate his Jewish subjects while retaining the favour of the Romans. So he built theatres and held games for the Romans and Greeks and slew the Christians to please the Jews. Josephus (Ant. XIX. 7, 3) calls him a pleasant vain man scrupulously observing Jewish rites. Here we have for the first time political power (after Pilate) used against the disciples.

Verse 2

James the brother of John (Ιακωβον τον αδελπον ΙωανουIakōbon ton adelphon Iōanou). He had been called by Jesus a son of thunder along with his brother John. Jesus had predicted a bloody death for both of them (Mark 10:38.; Matthew 20:23). James is the first of the apostles to die and John probably the last. He is not James the Lord‘s brother (Galatians 1:19). We do not know why Luke tells so little about the death of James and so much about the death of Stephen nor do we know why Herod selected him as a victim. Eusebius (H.E. ii. 9) quotes Clement of Alexandria as saying that a Jew made accusations against James and was converted and beheaded at the same time with him.

Killed with the sword (ανειλεν μαχαιρηιaneilen machairēi). The verb is a favourite one with Luke (Acts 2:33; Acts 5:33, Acts 5:36; Acts 7:28; Acts 9:23-29; Acts 10:39, etc.). Instrumental case and Ionic form of μαχαιραmachaira The Jews considered beheading a shameful death as in the case of the Baptist (Matthew 14:10).

Verse 3

That it pleased the Jews (οτι αρεστον εστιν τοις Ιουδαιοιςhoti areston estin tois Ioudaiois). Indirect assertion with the present tense εστινestin retained. ΑρεστονAreston is the verbal adjective from αρεσκωareskō followed by the dative as in John 8:29.

Proceeded to seize (προσετετο συλλαβεινprosetheto sullabein). A patent Hebraism in Luke 20:11. already, and nowhere else in the N.T. It occurs in the lxx (Genesis 4:2; Genesis 8:12; Genesis 18:29, etc.). Second aorist middle indicative of προστιτημιprostithēmi and the second aorist active infinitive of συλλαμβανωsullambanō Literally, he added to seize, he seized Peter in addition to James.

The days of unleavened bread (ημεραι των αζυμωνhēmerai tōn azumōn). By this parenthesis Luke locates the time of the year when Peter was arrested, the passover. It was a fine occasion for Agrippa to increase his favour among the crowds of Jews there by extra zeal against the Christians. It is possible that Luke obtained his information about this incident from John Mark for at his Mother‘s house the disciples gathered (Acts 12:12).

Verse 4

When he had taken him (πιασαςpiasas). See note on Acts 3:7 for same form.

He put him in prison (ετετο εις πυλακηνetheto eis phulakēn). Second aorist middle indicative of τιτημιtithēmi common verb. This is the third imprisonment of Peter (Acts 4:3; Acts 5:18).

To four quaternions of soldiers (τεσσαρσιν τετραδιοις στρατιωτωνtessarsin tetradiois stratiōtōn). Four soldiers in each quaternion (τετραδιονtetradion from τετραςtetras four), two on the inside with the prisoner (chained to him) and two on the outside, in shifts of six hours each, sixteen soldiers in all, the usual Roman custom. Probably Agrippa had heard of Peter‘s previous escape (Acts 5:19) and so took no chances for connivance of the jailors.

After the passover (μετα το πασχαmeta to pascha). The passover feast of eight days. “The stricter Jews regarded it as a profanation to put a person to death during a religious festival” (Hackett). So Agrippa is more scrupulous than the Sanhedrin was about Jesus.

To bring him forth (αναγαγειν αυτονanagagein auton). Second aorist active infinitive of αναγωanagō to lead up, old verb, used literally here. Peter was in the inner prison or lower ward and so would be led up to the judgment seat where Herod Agrippa would sit (cf. John 19:13).

To the people (τωι λαωιtōi laōi). Ethical dative, in the presence of and for the pleasure of the Jewish people.

Verse 5

Therefore (μεν ουνmen oun). Because of the preceding situation.

Was kept (ετηρειτοetēreito). Imperfect passive, continuously guarded, waiting for the feast to be over.

But prayer was made earnestly (προσευχη δε ην εκτενως γινομενηproseuchē de ēn ektenōs ginomenē). Probably δεde here is not adversative (but), merely parallel (and) as Page argues. It was a crisis for the Jerusalem church. James had been slain and Peter was to be the next victim. Hence “earnestly” (late adverb from εκτενηςektenēs strained, from εκτεινωekteinō to stretch. In the N.T. only here, Luke 22:44; 1 Peter 1:22) prayer was going up (γινομενηginomenē present middle participle, periphrastic imperfect with ηνēn). It looked like a desperate case for Peter. Hence the disciples prayed the more earnestly.

Verse 6

Was about to bring him forth (ημελλεν προσαγαγεινēmellen prosagagein or προαγαγεινproagagein). The MSS. vary, but not αναγαγεινanagagein of Acts 12:4.

The same night (τηι νυκτι εκεινηιtēi nukti ekeinēi). Locative case, on that (very) night.

Was sleeping (ην κοιμωμενοςēn koimōmenos). Periphrastic middle imperfect.

Bound with two chains (δεδεμενος αλυσεσιν δυσινdedemenos halusesin dusin). Perfect passive participle of δεωdeō to bind, followed by instrumental case. One chain was fastened to each soldier (one on each side of Peter).

Kept (ετηρουνetēroun). Imperfect active, were keeping. Two guards outside before the door and two inside, according to Roman rule. Did Peter recall the prophecy of Jesus that he should be put to death in his old age (John 21:18)? Jesus had not said, as Furneaux does, that he would die by crucifixion.

Verse 7

Stood by him (επεστηepestē). Ingressive second aorist active indicative of επιστημιephistēmi intransitive. This very form occurs in Luke 2:9 of the sudden appearance of the angel of the Lord to the shepherds. Page notes that this second aorist of επιστημιephistēmi occurs seven times in the Gospel of Luke, eight times in the Acts, and nowhere else in the N.T. Note also the same form απεστηapestē (departed from, from απιστημιaphistēmi stood off from) of the disappearance of the angel in Acts 12:10.

In the cell (εν τωι οικηματιen tōi oikēmati). Literally, a dwelling place or habitation (from οικεωoikeō to dwell, οικοςoikos house), but here not the prison as a whole as in Thucydides, but the room in the prison (cell) where Peter was chained to the two guards. Old word, but only here in the N.T.

He smote Peter on the side (παταχας την πλευραν του Πετρουpataxas tēn pleuran tou Petrou). More exactly, “smote the side of Peter.” Strongly enough to wake Peter up who was sound asleep and yet not rouse the two guards. It was probably between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m., hours when changes in the guards were made.

Rise up (ανασταanasta). Short form (Koiné{[28928]}š) of αναστητιanastēthi second aorist active imperative of ανιστημιanistēmi intransitive. So also Acts 9:11 (Westcott and Hort text); Ephesians 5:14.

Fell off (εχεπεσανexepesan). Second aorist active with αa ending like first aorist of εχπιπτωexpiptō old verb. This miracle was necessary if Peter was to escape without rousing the two guards.

Verse 8

Gird thyself (ζωσαιzōsai). Direct middle first aorist (ingressive) imperative (Robertson, Grammar, pp. 806f.) from ζωννυμιzōnnumi (ζωννυωzōnnuō). Old verb, but in the N.T. only here and John 21:18 (twice to Peter) where the active voice and the reflexive pronoun occur in the first example. The girdle was worn round the χιτωνchitōn or undergarment.

Bind on (υποδησαιhupodēsai). Indirect middle (by yourself or for yourself) first aorist imperative of υποδεωhupodeō to bind under, old verb, only three times in the N.T. (Mark 6:9; Acts 12:8; Ephesians 6:15 (middle).

Sandals (σανδαλιαsandalia). Persian word common from Herodotus on, a sole made of wood or leather covering the bottom of the foot and bound on with thongs. In the N.T. only here and Mark 6:9. In the lxx used indiscriminately with υποδημαhupodēma

Cast about thee (περιβαλουperibalou). Second aorist middle (indirect) imperative of περιβαλλωperiballō old and common verb to throw around, especially clothing around the body as here. The ιματιονhimation (outer garment) was put over the χιτωνchitōn It was not a hurried flight.

Follow me (ακολουτει μοιakolouthei moi). Present (linear) active imperative, keep on following me (associative instrumental case).

Verse 9

Wist not (ουκ ηιδειouk ēidei). Past perfect of οιδαoida used as imperfect, did not know.

Followed (ηκολουτειēkolouthei). Imperfect active, kept on following as the angel had directed (Acts 12:8). That it was true (οτι αλητες εστινhoti alēthes estin). Indirect assertion and so present tense retained. Note “true” (αλητεςalēthes) in the sense of reality or actuality.

Which was done (το γινομενονto ginomenon). Present middle participle, that which was happening.

Thought he saw a vision (εδοκει οραμα βλεπεινedokei horama blepein). Imperfect active, kept on thinking, puzzled as he was. λεπεινBlepein is the infinitive in indirect assertion without the pronoun (he) expressed which could be either nominative in apposition with the subject as in Romans 1:22 or accusative of general reference as in Acts 5:36; Acts 8:9 (Robertson, Grammar, pp. 1036-40). Peter had had a vision in Joppa (Acts 10:10) which Luke describes as an “ecstasy,” but here is objective fact, at least Luke thought so and makes that distinction. Peter will soon know whether he is still in the cell or not as we find out that a dream is only a dream when we wake up.

Verse 10

When they were past (διελτοντεςdielthontes). Second aorist active participle of διερχομαιdierchomai transitive with διαdia in composition.

The first and the second ward (πρωτην πυλακην και δευτερανprōtēn phulakēn kai deuteran). It is not clear to what this language refers. Some take it to mean single soldiers, using πυλακηνphulakēn in the sense of a guard (one before the door, one at the iron gate). But it seems hardly likely that the two soldiers with whom Peter had been stationed are meant. Probably the “first ward” means the two soldiers of the quaternion stationed by the door and the second ward some other soldiers, not part of the sixteen, further on in the prison by the iron gate. However understood, the difficulties of escape are made plain.

Unto the iron gate that leadeth into the city (επι την πυλην την σιδηραν την περουσαν εις την πολινepi tēn pulēn tēn sidērān tēn pherousan eis tēn polin). Note the triple use of the article (the gate the iron one the one leading into the city). For this resumptive use of the article see Robertson, Grammar, pp. 762, 764. This iron gate may have opened from a court out into the street and effectually barred escape.

Opened to them (ηνοιγη αυτοιςēnoigē autois). Second aorist passive indicative of ανοιγωanoigō the usual later form though ηνοιχτηēnoichthē (first aorist passive) occurs also, was opened.

Of its own accord (αυτοματηautomatē). Old compound adjective (αυτοςautos self, obsolete μαωmaō to desire eagerly, feminine form though masculine αυτοματοςautomatos also used as feminine). In the N.T. only here and Mark 4:28. It was a strange experience for Peter. The Codex Bezae adds here “went down the seven steps” (κατεβησαν τους επτα βατμουςkatebēsan tous hepta bathmous), an interesting detail that adds to the picture.

One street (ρυμην μιανrhumēn mian). The angel saw Peter through one of the narrow streets and then left him. We have no means of knowing precisely the location of the prison in the city. On “departed” (απεστηapestē) see note on Acts 12:7.

Verse 11

Was come to himself (εν εαυτωι γενομενοςen heautōi genomenos). Second aorist middle participle of γινομαιginomai with ενen and the locative case, “becoming at himself.” In Luke 15:17 we have εις εαυτον ελτωνeis heauton elthōn (coming to himself, as if he had been on a trip away from himself).

Now I know of a truth (νυν οιδα αλητωςnun oida alēthōs). There was no further confusion of mind that it was an ecstasy as in Acts 10:10. But he was in peril for the soldiers would soon learn of his escape, when the change of guards came at 6 a.m.

Delivered me (εχειλατο μεexeilato me). Second aorist middle indicative of εχαιρεωexaireō The Lord rescued me of himself by his angel.

Expectation (προσδοκιαςprosdokias). Old word from προσδοκαωprosdokaō to look for. In the N.T. only here and Luke 21:26. James had been put to death and the Jewish people were eagerly waiting for the execution of Peter like hungry wolves.

Verse 12

When he had considered (συνιδωνsunidōn). Second aorist active participle of συνειδονsuneidon (for the defective verb συνοραωsunoraō), to see together, to grasp as a whole, old verb, but in the N.T. only here and Acts 14:6, save the perfect indicative συνοιδαsunoida (1 Corinthians 4:4) and participle (Acts 5:2). It is the word from which συνειδησιςsuneidēsis (conscience) comes (Romans 2:15). Peter‘s mind worked rapidly and he decided what to do. He took in his situation clearly.

To the house of Mary (επι την οικιαν της Μαριαςepi tēn oikian tēs Marias). Another Mary (the others were Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary of Bethany, Mary Magdalene, Mary wife of Cleopas, Mary the mother of James and Joses). She may have been a widow and was possessed of some means since her house was large enough to hold the large group of disciples there. Barnabas, cousin of John Mark her son (Colossians 4:10), was also a man of property or had been (Acts 4:36.). It is probable that the disciples had been in the habit of meeting in her house, a fact known to Peter and he was evidently fond of John Mark whom he afterwards calls “my son” (1 Peter 5:13) and whom he had met here. The upper room of Acts 1:13 may have been in Mary‘s house and Mark may have been the man bearing a pitcher of water (Luke 22:10) and the young man who fled in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:51.). There was a gate and portress here as in the house of the highpriest (John 18:16). Peter knew where to go and even at this early hour hoped to find some of the disciples. Mary is one of the many mothers who have become famous by reason of their sons, though she was undoubtedly a woman of high character herself.

Were gathered together and were praying (ησαν συνητροισμενοι και προσευχομενοιēsan sunēthroisōmenoi kai proseuchomenoi). Note difference in the tenses, one periphrastic past perfect passive (συνατροιζωsunathroizō old verb, in the N.T. here only and Acts 19:25 and the uncompounded τροιζωthroizō in Luke 24:33) and the periphrastic imperfect. The praying apparently had been going on all night and a large number (many, ικανοιhikanoi) of the disciples were there. One recalls the time when they had gathered to pray (Acts 4:31) after Peter had told the disciples of the threats of the Sanhedrin (Acts 4:23). God had rescued Peter then. Would he let him be put to death now as James had been?

Verse 13

When he knocked at the door of the gate (κρουσαντος αυτου την τυραν του πυλωνοςkrousantos autou tēn thuran tou pulōnos). Genitive absolute with aorist active participle of κρουωkrouō common verb to knock or knock at. So from the outside (Luke 13:25). ΠυλωνPulōn here is the gateway or passageway from the door (τυραthura) that leads to the house. In Acts 12:14 it is still the passageway without the use of τυραthura (door, so for both door and passageway).

To answer (υπακουσαιhupakousai). To listen under before opening. First aorist active infinitive of υπακουωhupakouō common verb to obey, to hearken.

A maid (παιδισκηpaidiskē). Portress as in John 18:17. A diminutive of παιςpais a female slave (so on an ostracon of second century a.d., Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East, p. 200).

Rhoda. A rose. Women can have such beautiful names like Dorcas (Gazelle), Euodia (Sweet Aroma), Syntyche (Good Luck). Mark or Peter could tell Luke her name.

Verse 14

When she knew (επιγνουσαepignousa). Second aorist (ingressive) active participle of επιγινωσκωepiginōskō to know fully or in addition (επιepi), to recognize. She knew Peter and his voice from his frequent visits there.

For joy (απο της χαραςapo tēs charās). From her joy (ablative case), life-like picture of the maid who left Peter standing outside with the door to the passageway unopened. Note the aorist tenses for quick action (ουκ ηνοιχενouk ēnoixen), εισδραμουσαeisdramousa (from ειστρεχωeistrechō defective verb, only here in the N.T.), απηγγειλενapēggeilen

Stood (εσταναιhestanai). Second perfect active infinitive of ιστημιhistēmi intransitive, in indirect assertion with τον Πετρονton Petron (Peter) accusative of general reference. The slave girl acted as if she were a member of the family (Furneaux), but she left Peter in peril.

Verse 15

Thou art mad (μαινηιmainēi). Present middle indicative second person singular. Old verb, only in the middle voice. Festus used the same word to Paul (Acts 26:24). The maid was undoubtedly excited, but it was a curious rebuff from those who had been praying all night for Peter‘s release. In their defence it may be said that Stephen and James had been put to death and many others by Saul‘s persecution.

She confidently affirmed (διισχυριζετοdiischurizeto). Imperfect middle of διισχυριζομαιdiischurizomai an old word of vigorous and confident assertion, originally to lean upon. Only here in the N.T. The girl stuck to her statement.

It is his angel (ο αγγελος εστιν αυτουHo aggelos estin autou). This was the second alternative of the disciples. It was a popular Jewish belief that each man had a guardian angel. Luke takes no position about it. No scripture teaches it.

Verse 16

Continued knocking (επεμενεν κρουωνepemenen krouōn). Imperfect active and present participle. Now all heard the knocking.

When they had opened (ανοιχαντεςanoixantes). First aorist active participle of ανοιγωanoigō or νυμι̇numi The whole group rushed out to the courtyard this time to make sure.

They were amazed (εχεστησανexestēsan). The frequent second aorist active (intransitive) indicative of εχιστημιexistēmi Acts 12:17 There were probably loud exclamations of astonishment and joy.

Beckoning with the hand (kataseisas tēi cheiri). First aorist active participle of kataseiō old verb to signal or shake down with the hand (instrumental case cheiri). In the N.T. only in Acts 12:17; Acts 13:16; Acts 19:33; Acts 21:40. The speaker indicates by a downward movement of the hand his desire for silence (to hold their peace, sigāin present active infinitive, to keep silent). Peter was anxious for every precaution and he wanted their instant attention.

Declared (diēgēsato). First aorist middle of diēgeomai old verb to carry through a narrative, give a full story. See also Acts 9:27 of Barnabas in his defence of Saul. Peter told them the wonderful story.

Unto James and the brethren (Iakōbōi kai tois adelphois). Dative case after apaggeilate (first aorist active imperative). Evidently “James and the brethren” were not at this meeting, probably meeting elsewhere. There was no place where all the thousands of disciples in Jerusalem could meet. This gathering in the house of Mary may have been of women only or a meeting of the Hellenists. It is plain that this James the Lord‘s brother, is now the leading presbyter or elder in Jerusalem though there were a number (Acts 11:30; Acts 21:18). Paul even terms him apostle (Galatians 1:19), though certainly not one of the twelve. The twelve apostles probably were engaged elsewhere in mission work save James now dead (Acts 12:2) and Peter. The leadership of James is here recognized by Peter and is due, partly to the absence of the twelve, but mainly to his own force of character. He will preside over the Jerusalem Conference (Acts 15:13).

To another place (eis heteron topon). Probably Luke did not know the place and certainly it was prudent for Peter to conceal it from Herod Agrippa. Probably Peter left the city. He is back in Jerusalem at the Conference a few years later (Acts 15:7) and after the death of Herod Agrippa. Whether Peter went to Rome during these years we do not know. He was recognized later as the apostle to the circumcision (Galatians 2:7; 1 Peter 1:1) and apparently was in Rome with John Mark when he wrote the First Epistle (1 Peter 5:13), unless it is the real Babylon. But, even if Peter went to Rome during this early period, there is no evidence that he founded the church there. If he had done so, in the light of 2 Corinthians 10:16 it would be strange that Paul had not mentioned it in writing to Rome, for he was anxious not to build on another man‘s foundation (Romans 15:20). Paul felt sure that he himself had a work to do in Rome. Unfortunately Luke has not followed the ministry of Peter after this period as he does Paul (appearing again only in chapter Acts 15). If Peter really left Jerusalem at this time instead of hiding in the city, he probably did some mission work as Paul says that he did (1 Corinthians 9:5).

Verse 18

As soon as it was day (Γενομενης ημεραςGenomenēs hēmeras). Genitive absolute, day having come.

No small stir (ταραχος ουκ ολιγοςtarachos ouk oligos). Litotes (ουκ ολιγοςouk oligos), occurs eight times in the Acts as in Acts 15:2, and nowhere else in the N.T. ΤαραχοςTarachos (stir) is an old word from ταρασσωtarassō to agitate. In the N.T only here and Acts 19:23. Probably all sixteen soldiers were agitated over this remarkable escape. They were responsible for the prisoner with their lives (cf. Acts 16:27; Acts 27:42). Furneaux suggests that Manaen, the king‘s foster-brother and a Christian (Acts 13:1), was the “angel” who rescued Peter from the prison. That is not the way that Peter looked at it.

What was become of Peter (τι αρα ο Πετρος εγενετοtōi ara ho Petros egeneto). An indirect question with the aorist indicative retained. ΑραAra adds a syllogism (therefore) to the problem as in Luke 1:66. The use of the neuter τιtōi (as in Acts 13:25) is different from τιςtis though nominative like ΠετροςPetros literally, “what then Peter had become,” “what had happened to Peter” (in one idiom). See the same idiom in John 21:21 (ουτος δε τιhoutos de tōi).

But this one what (verb γενησεταιgenēsetai not used).

Verse 19

He examined (ανακριναςanakrinas). First aorist active participle of ανακρινωanakrinō old verb to sift up and down, to question thoroughly, in a forensic sense (Luke 23:14; Acts 4:9; Acts 12:19; Acts 28:18).

That they should be put to death (απαχτηναιapachthēnai). First aorist passive infinitive (indirect command) of απαγωapag old verb to lead away, especially to execution as in Matthew 27:31. Here it is used absolutely. This was the ordinary Roman routine and not a proof of special cruelty on the part of Herod Agrippa.

Tarried (διετριβενdietriben). Imperfect active. Herod Agrippa made his home in Jerusalem, but he went to Caesarea to the public games in honour of Emperor Claudius.

Verse 20

Was highly displeased (ην τυμομαχωνēn thumomachōn). Periphrastic imperfect active of τυμομαχεωthumomacheō late compound of τυμοςthumos (passionate heat) and μαχομαιmachomai to fight. Only here in the N.T., to fight desperately, to have a hot quarrel. Whether it was open war with the Phoenicians or just violent hostility we do not know, save that Phoenicia belonged to Syria and Herod Agrippa had no authority there. The quarrel may have been over commercial matters.

They came with one accord (ομοτυμαδον παρησανhomothumadon parēsan). The representatives of Tyre and Sidon. See note on Acts 1:14 for ομοτυμαδονhomothumadon Tyre was a colony of Sidon and had become one of the chief commercial cities of the world by reason of the Phoenician ships.

The king‘s chamberlain (τον επι του κοιτωνος του βασιλεοςton epi tou koitōnos tou basileos). The one over the bedchamber (κοιτωνοςkoitōnos late word from κοιτηkoitē bed, here only in the N.T.).

Made their friend (πεισαντεςpeisantes). First aorist active participle of πειτωpeithō to persuade. Having persuaded (probably with bribes as in Matthew 28:14).

They asked for peace (ηιτουντο ειρηνηνēitounto eirēnēn). Imperfect middle of αιτεωaiteō kept on asking for peace.

Because their country was fed (δια το τρεπεσται αυτων την χορανdia to trephesthai autōn tēn choran). Causal sentence with διαdia and the articular infinitive (present passive of τρεπωtrephō to nourish or feed) and the accusative of general reference, “because of the being fed as to their country.” Tyre and Sidon as large commercial cities on the coast received large supplies of grain and fruits from Palestine. Herod had cut off the supplies and that brought the two cities to action.

Verse 21

Upon a set day (τακτηι ημεραιtaktēi hēmerāi). Locative case and the verbal adjective of τασσωtassō to arrange, appoint, old word, here only in the N.T. Josephus (Ant. XVII. 6,8; XIX. 8,2) gives a full account of the occasion and the death of Herod Agrippa. It was the second day of the festival in honour of the Emperor Claudius, possibly his birthday rather than the Quinquennalia. The two accounts of Luke and Josephus supplement each other with no contradiction. Josephus does not mention the name of Blastus.

Arrayed himself in royal apparel (ενδυσαμενος εστητα βασιλικηνendusamenos esthēta basilikēn). First aorist middle (indirect) participle of ενδυνωendunō or ενδυωenduō common verb to put on. Literally, having put royal apparel on himself (a robe of silver tissue, Josephus says). The rays of the sun shone on this brilliant apparel and the vast crowd in the open amphitheatre became excited as Herod began to speak.

Made an oration (εδημηγορειedēmēgorei). Imperfect active of δημηγορεωdēmēgoreō old verb from δημηγοροςdēmēgoros (haranguer of the people), and that from δημοςdēmos (people) and αγορευωagoreuō to harangue or address the people. Only here in the N.T. He kept it up.

Verse 22

Shouted (επεπωνειepephōnei). Imperfect active, kept on shouting, calling out to him. Old verb, but only four times in the N.T. and all by Luke. The heathen crowd (δημοςdēmos) repeated their flattering adulation to gain Herod‘s favour.

The voice of a god (τεου πωνηtheou phōnē). In the pagan sense of emperor worship, not as the Supreme Being. But it was pleasing to Herod Agrippa‘s vanity.

Verse 23

Smote him (επαταχεν αυτονepataxen auton). Effective aorist active indicative of πατασσωpatassō old verb, used already in Acts 12:7 of gentle smiting of the angel of the Lord, here of a severe stroke of affliction. Like Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4:30) pride went before a fall. He was struck down in the very zenith of his glory.

Because (αντ ωνanth' hōn). ΑντιAnti with the genitive of the relative pronoun, “in return for which things.” He accepted the impious flattery (Hackett) instead of giving God the glory. He was a nominal Jew.

He was eaten of worms (γενομενος σκωληκοβρωτοςgenomenos skōlēkobrōtos). Ingressive aorist middle participle, “becoming worm-eaten.” The compound verbal adjective (σκωληχskōlēx worm, βρωτοςbrōtos eaten, from βιβρωσκωbibrōskō) is a late word (II Macc. Acts 9:9) of the death of Antiochus Epiphanes, used also of a tree (Theophrastus), here only in the N.T. The word σκωληχskōlēx was used of intestinal worms and Herodotus (IV. 205) describes Pheretima, Queen of Cyrene, as having swarms of worms which ate her flesh while still alive. Josephus (Ant. XIX. 8, 2) says that Herod Agrippa lingered for five days and says that the rotting of his flesh produced worms, an item in harmony with the narrative in Luke. Josephus gives further details, one a superstitious sight of an owl sitting on one of the ropes of the awning of the theatre while the people flattered him, an omen of his death to him. Luke puts it simply that God smote him.

Gave up the ghost (εχεπσυχενexepsuxen). Effective aorist active of εκπσυχωekpsuchō to breathe out, late verb, medical term in Hippocrates, in the N.T. only in Acts 5:5, Acts 5:10; Acts 12:23. Herod was carried out of the theatre a dying man and lingered only five days.

Verse 24

Grew and multiplied (ηυχανεν και επλητυνετοēuxanen kai eplēthuneto). Imperfect active and passive. Cf. Acts 6:1. The reaction from the death of James and the imprisonment of Peter.

Verse 25

From Jerusalem (εχ Ιερουσαλημexō Ierousalēm). Probably correct text, though D has αποapo Westcott and Hort follow Aleph B in reading ειςeis (to) Jerusalem, an impossible reading contradicted by Acts 11:29.; Acts 13:1. The ministration (διακονιανdiakonian) referred to is that in Acts 11:29. which may have taken place, in point of time, after the death of Herod.

Taking with them (συνπαραλαβοντεςsunparalabontes). Taking along (παραpara) with (συνsun) them, John Mark from Jerusalem (Acts 12:12) to Antioch (Acts 13:1). The aorist participle does not express subsequent action as Rackham here argues (Robertson, Grammar, pp. 861-863).


Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Acts 12:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

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Tuesday, December 1st, 2020
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