Act 12: "Outline:  Martyrdom of James: vv 1,2.  Peter is
imprisoned: vv 3-5.  The escape: vv 6-10.  Peter's astonishment: v 11. 
The ecclesia is taught the power of prayer: vv 12-16.  Flight of Peter: v 17.
 Confusion and anxiety of the guard: vv 18,19.  Death of Herod Agrippa: vv
20-23.  Paul, the instrument commissioned: vv 24,25" (GEM).
PUT TO DEATH WITH THE SWORD: Publicly beheaded. Since
blasphemy is punishable by stoning, this execution was prob done at the king's
orders, by military mandate.
WHEN HE SAW THAT THIS PLEASED THE JEWS: The mark of a
DURING THE FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD: Just prior to
Passover. As with Christ, the rulers of Israel showed a meticulous compliance
with the letter of the Law, but a gross denial of its spirit (John
HE PUT HIM IN PRISON: Peter is now in prison for the
third time (cp Acts 4:3; 5:18).
FOR PUBLIC TRIAL: And probable execution, as with
THE PASSOVER: Erroneously translated "Easter" in
PETER WAS KEPT IN PRISON: Possibly in Tower of Antonia,
at nw corner of Temple (cp Acts 21:34).
THE CHURCH WAS EARNESTLY PRAYING: Prayer for
deliverance from a Jewish "Pharaoh"! The angel fetched Peter out of prison, but
it was prayer that fetched the angel.
It was deemed appropriate on this occasion to get people
together in one place to pray about this particular issue. Whilst God hears our
individual prayers in secret and rewards us openly, it seems there is also room
for this more communal approach, and its effectiveness is clear: Eph 6:18,19;
1Th 5:17; Jam 5:16.
Cp Peter's attitude here with his attitude the night before
Christ's crucifixion: "Those who suffer according to God's will should commit
themselves to their faithful Creator" (1Pe 4:19). Thus faith resists fleshly
"The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and
he delivers them" (Psa 34:7).
HE STRUCK PETER ON THE SIDE: Smiting in love (here),
and in vengeance (v 23)!
PUT ON YOUR CLOTHES AND SANDALS: "Gird up your loins"
-- a Passover commandment (Exo 12:11; 1Pe 1:13). Note other allusions to
Passover (vv 3,5). Ct Joh 21:18: the time to be girded by another has not yet
THE FIRST AND SECOND GUARDS: One sentry at cell door,
another at prison door.
THE IRON GATE... IT OPENED FOR THEM: "Your descendants
will take possession of the cities [lit, gate] of their enemies" (Gen 22:17). Cp
the great stone at the tomb of Christ.
THEN PETER CAME TO HIMSELF: Until this point, Peter had
thought he was dreaming.
HE WENT TO THE HOUSE OF MARY: Poss her home was the
site of the last supper, and the gathering of the apostles in Acts 1 (SB
THE MOTHER OF JOHN, ALSO CALLED MARK: Son of Mary (Acts
12:12), cousin of Barnabas (Col 4:10, RSV), companion of Paul (Phm 1:24) and
Peter (1Pe 5:13), and author of the second Gospel. Like many other Jews of his
day, he had assumed a Latin surname (Marcus: "a large hammer") in addition to
his Heb name John. His father is not mentioned in the NT, but his mother appears
to have been a prominent and somewhat well-to-do member of the Jerusalem church
(Acts 12:12). It has been conjectured that Mark was the youth who fled from the
scene of Christ's arrest (Mar 14:51,52), and that he was the man with the
pitcher whom the disciples were to follow (Mar 14:13).
The angel who delivered him from the heavily-guarded and
fortified prison could not get him into the ordinary house where the ecclesia
"YOU'RE OUT OF YOUR MIND," THEY TOLD HER: Evidently,
since James had been slain despite their prayers, they now doubt the efficacy of
all their prayers -- which was a great mistake!
IT MUST BE HIS ANGEL: See Mat 18:10; Psa 34:7; Heb
Or, alternatively... "Angel" sig "messenger" (Mat 11:10; Mark
1:2; Luk 7:24; 9:52; Jam 2:25): Possibly they meant, 'You just thought it was
Peter; it is a messenger from Peter!' Note: Rhoda heard only; she did not see.
Perhaps the door and walls were so thick that voices were from outside were
muffled. Perhaps, also, Peter was trying to be quiet, so he didn't raise his
voice, but whispered (v 17).
PETER MOTIONED WITH HIS HAND FOR THEM TO BE QUIET: He
was prob afraid that too much noise might bring the authorities.
AND THEN HE LEFT FOR ANOTHER PLACE: Prob to some more
obscure house of Christians in the vicinity -- unknown to the authorities.
Later, he seems to have gone to Antioch (cp Gal 2:8-14).
CROSS-EXAMINED: Prob including torture.
AND ORDERED THAT THEY BE EXECUTED: "The words
translated put to death may mean 'led off to prison'; but Roman law prescribed
that if a prisoner escaped, the penalty due him should be inflicted on his
TYRE AND SIDON: There were murmurings and talk of
revolt in these areas.
THEY DEPENDED ON THE KING'S COUNTRY FOR THEIR FOOD
SUPPLY: Although Tyre and Sidon were free cities, they were dependent for
their food upon the grain of Galilee in Herod's kingdom
AN ANGEL OF THE LORD STRUCK HIM DOWN: Cp Psa 35:5: in
keeping with Passover motif, angels of the LORD may deliver -- as with Peter
(Psa 34:7) -- AS WELL AS destroy -- as here.
HE WAS EATEN BY WORMS: "Like a rotten cabbage"
AND DIED: He died 5 days later, at age of 54
"All flesh before Him is as nothing. He will not allow the
flesh to glory in His sight. Adam was banished from Eden for casting dishonour
on Him by disobedience. Moses was punished for taking to himself the credit of
the miracle at the rock of Meribah. David fell into the hands of God, in three
days' plague, for exalting in the numbers of his army. The Assyrian was brought
down for taking to himself the credit of what God did by him in the punishment
of Israel. Mighty and arrogant Nebuchadnezzar was sent to herd among the beasts
till he learnt that 'the heavens do rule.' Herod was eaten up by worms, because
he gave not God the glory; and salvation is by God in Christ, reconciling the
world to Himself -- not of works, lest any man should boast" (SC 62).
THEY RETURNED FROM JERUSALEM: They went back to Antioch
from Jerusalem -- where they had delivered the relief supplies and money
collected (Act 11:29,30).