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Acts 12

SUMMARY.--The First Apostolic Martyr. Peter Seized by Herod. The Prayers of the Church. Peter's Prison Opened by an Angel. His Appearance to the Praying Disciples. Herod Pronounced a God. His Pitiful Death.

      13-17. A damsel came to hearken. It was in the night, and they were Christians. The knocker might be an enemy or a friend. The damsel, a maid-servant, had charge of the door. When she knew Peter's voice. In answer to her question who might be at the door. Instead of opening, in her gladness, she flew to tell the good news, a touch of nature. It is his angel. The Jews held that every one had his guardian angel, and they thought his angel had assumed Peter's voice. A mistake, and Luke does not say whether the idea on which it was based is true or not. They were astonished. They could hardly believe their own eyes. Beckoning . . . hold their peace. Their joy was so tumultuous that he could not be heard. Go shew these things to James. Not the apostle, but the brother of the Lord, so conspicuous after this as the pastor of the church at Jerusalem. Peter's message seems to recognize the fact that he was a leading man. Perhaps the apostles had retired from the city for fear of Herod. For notices of James, see Acts 15:13 Acts 21:18 Galatians 1:19 Galatians 2:9 Galatians 1:12 .

      18, 19. As soon as it was day. The sleeping soldiers did not discover that the prisoner was gone until morning. They were answerable for him. Examined the keepers. Tried them for neglect of duty. Commanded. That those on guard, the four, should be executed. Went down from Judaea to Cæsarea. In this city by the sea, the Roman capital of Palestine, he made his abode a part of the time, though Jerusalem was his usual residence. Josephus says that he went now to Cæsarea to conduct games in honor of the Emperor Claudius.

      20. Herod was highly displeased with them of Tyre and Sidon. The reason of this displeasure is not known. These cities were on the sea-coast, but Herod's dominions occupied the country behind them. Having made Blastus, the king's chamberlain, their friend. Probably by a bribe. The chamberlain guarded his bed-chamber and would be a trusted friend and adviser.

      21. On a set day Herod. Josephus (Antiq. 19: 8, 2) confirms Luke's account. He states why Herod was at Cæsarea, speaks of the assembly, the royal robe, the oration, the impious shout of the people, the sudden death of Herod, and pronounces it a judgment.

      22. The people gave a shout. The people of Cæsarea were, many of them at least, heathen. As we learn from Josephus, on the second day of the games, Herod, clad in robes of silver cloth, entered the theater, and standing in the sunshine, his robes reflected his splendor. Then he made an oration, and the people raised their shout: It is the voice of a god. It is thought that his speech was an announcement of his decision in the matter of difficulty with Tyre and Sidon, and that the embassadors were present.

      23. The angel of the Lord smote him. Josephus says he lingered five days in great agony. This harmonizes with Luke's account. He was eaten of worms. Josephus says he was taken with abdominal pains; Luke explains the cause. The disease is by no means unknown. Many cases of death from the same cause are on record. Among others the Emperor Galerius, the predecessor of Constantine the Great, so died.

      24. But the word of God grew. Its influence kept extending, and all these exciting events.

      25. Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem. This verse is introductory to the next chapter, which introduces the era of Gentile missions. Acts 11:29 Acts 11:30 explains why they had gone to Jerusalem. See note. Took with them John, whose surname was Mark. He was a relative of Barnabas ( Col. 4:10 ). In the next chapter ( 13:5 ) he appears as an associate in their missionary labors.

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