¶ Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to
vex certain of the church.
2 And he killed James the brother of John with the sword.
3 And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.)
.4 And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.
4 And having taken him, he put him in prison, with four bands of armed men to keep watch over him; his purpose being to take him out to the people after the Passover. (BBE)
| 1 -
that time Herod Agrippa I died in AD 44. The first part of the
chapter would be before this.
1 - Stretched forth his hands ... Or "made cruel attacks on the Christians." (BBE).
2 - He killed James As we yield our lives for the service and glory of God, it is not ours to choose what happens to us on this earth. We may know, however, our eternal destiny and in the perspective of the ages we will see the real value of divine wisdom.
3 - Days of unleavened bread This referred to the whole time of Passover. See lu2201.
4 - Easter "Passover" is the correct translation for pascha. "Easter" is is from the Norse word, Eôstre, and from Anglo-Saxon. Eôstre was a pagan fertility festival celebrated at the yearly vernal equinox. This was one of the christianized pagan worship practices added to the church in seeking a common religion. You can see how Easter eggs and rabbits fit into the picture. The Roman Bishops insisted that Easter be always on a Sunday. Easter was substituted for the Jewish Passover in the 2nd Century (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, v. 23-25). In the Acts story the king planned to execute Peter after the Passover which was celebrated for several days.
Should we celebrate Easter? We should always rejoice over the resurrection of Christ which Paul connects with baptism ro06. Without His resurrection, we would have no hope. We can remember the resurrection with others at the time of Easter.
4 - Four quaternions Peter would have been chained to two of the four in one band.
| 5 ¶ Peter therefore was
kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto
God for him.
6 And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison.
.7 And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands.
7 Suddenly an angel of the Lord stood by him, and a light shone in the cell; and, striking Peter on the side, he woke him and said, "Rise quickly." Instantly the chains dropped off his wrists. (Weymouth)
8 And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me.
9 And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision.
| 5 -
... in prison Apparently for several days.
6 - Sleeping Peter's confidence is significant here, but the guards were all apparently sleeping, too, or God may have otherwise shut their senses to what was happening 1sa2612.
7 - The angel of the Lord Rather, "An angel ..."
7 - Came upon From ephistemi meaning "to stand over." This verb was also used by luke in describing the appearance of the angels to the Shepherds lu0208,9.
7 - Light shined as the glory of the Lord that appeared to the shepherds at a time of great spiritual darkness when Jesus was born.
7 - Raised him up Rather aroused him or awakened him. He did not lift him up. This is in harmony with the next verse.
8 - Gird thyself When preparing to sleep, Peter would have loosened his clothes to be comfortable. See the use of the term in preparing for a journey ex1211, 2ki0429.
8 - Garment From himation, the outer robe or mantel.
There are many passages of Scripture which skeptical critics have declared
to be uninspired, but which, in their tender adaptation to the needs of
men, are God's own messages of comfort to His trusting children. A beautiful
illustration of this occurs in the history of the apostle Peter. Peter
was in prison, expecting to be brought forth next day to death; he was
sleeping at night "between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the
keepers before the door kept the prison. And, behold, the angel of the
Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter
on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains
fell off from his hands." Peter, suddenly awaking, was amazed at the brightness
that flooded his dungeon, and the celestial beauty of the heavenly messenger.
He understood not the scene, but he knew that he was free, and in his bewilderment
and joy he would have gone forth from the prison unprotected from the cold
night air. The angel of God, noting all the circumstances, said, with tender
care for the apostle's need: "Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals." Peter
mechanically obeyed; but so entranced was he with the revelation of the
glory of heaven that he did not think to take his cloak. Then the angel
bade him: "Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me. And he went out,
and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel;
but thought he saw a vision. When they were past the first and the second
ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened
to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one
street; and forthwith the angel departed from him." The apostle found himself
in the streets of Jerusalem alone. "And when Peter was come to himself,
he said, Now I know of a surety,"--it was not a dream or a vision, but
an actual occurrence,--"that the Lord hath sent His angel, and hath delivered
me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people
of the Jews."
Skeptics may sneer at the thought that a glorious angel from heaven should give attention to a matter so commonplace as caring for these simple human needs, and may question the inspiration of the narrative. But in the wisdom of God these things are recorded in sacred history for the benefit, not of angels, but of men, that as they should be brought into trying positions they might find comfort in the thought that heaven knows it all. Jesus declared to His disciples that not a sparrow falls to the ground without the notice of the heavenly Father, and that if God can keep in mind the wants of all the little birds of the air, He will much more care for those who may become the subjects of His kingdom and through faith in Him may be the heirs of immortality. Oh, if the human mind were only to comprehend--in such measure as the plan of redemption can be comprehended by finite minds--the work of Jesus in taking upon Himself human nature, and what is to be accomplished for us by this marvelous condescension, the hearts of men would be melted with gratitude for God's great love, and in humility they would adore the divine wisdom that devised the mystery of grace! (Ellen White, Testimonies, v.5 pp. 748, 749).
10 When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto
the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own
accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith
the angel departed from him.
.11 And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.
12 And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying.
| 13 And as Peter knocked
at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda.
14 And when she knew Peter's voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate.
.15 And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel.
16 But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished.
17 But he, beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, Go shew these things unto James, and to the brethren. And he departed, and went into another place.
- Peter knocked There was no need for evidence of the hand
of God. "Gate" is from pulon. See mt2671.
13 - Rhoda This has to be one of the most delightful stories in the Bible. It reminds us of something Jesus said mr1015.
14 - Peter's voice ... gladness Is our prayer of faith as simple as was this girl's? See jn1413,14.
15 - His angel Each of us has an angel. The angels are also God's. See v11.
17 - Shew ... unto James This would have been the James who presided at the Jerusalem council ac1513.
17 - Another place This wisdom follows the advice of Jesus mt1023. The place may not have been disclosed for safety reasons.
| 18 Now as soon as it
was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers, what was become of
.19 And when Herod had sought for him, and found him not, he examined the keepers, and commanded that they should be put to death. And he went down from Judaea to Caesarea, and there abode.
|19 - Examined Greek anakrino. See the word meaning at ac1711. A mindless penalty.|
¶ And Herod was highly displeased with them of Tyre and Sidon: but
they came with one accord to him, and, having made Blastus the king's chamberlain
their friend, desired peace; because their country was nourished by the
21 And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them.
22 And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man.
23 And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost.
- Highly displeased We are not sure why.
20 - Peace We have no evidence of war. The cities were not under Herod's jurisdiction and were seeking a more friendly relationship See 1ki0511, ez2717.
You can think of the lessons in this episode. There are several.
21 - Set day According to the Jewish historian, Josephus, it was a festival day to make vows for the safety of Caesar.
22 - Voice of a god Caesar who claimed worship.
23 - Angel ... smote (struck) him. The angel struck Peter verse 7. Compare striking in judgment 1sa2538, 2ki1935, ac2303.
| 24 But the word of God
grew and multiplied.
.25 And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark.
- Paul and Saul returned From Jerusalem ac1127-30.
25 - Took ... John See co0410. He had been witnessing ac1305,13, ac1537, 2ti0411.