Acts 12

Acts 123456, 7, 891011, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28

Acts 12:1

Κατ’ ἐκεῖνον δὲ τὸν καιρὸν ἐπέβαλεν Ἡρῴδης ὁ βασιλεὺς τὰς χεῖρας κακῶσαί τινας τῶν ἀπὸ τῆς ἐκκλησίας.

Now during that time, Herod, the king, threw hands to harm certain of those from the church.

Paraphrase:  Now it was at this time, that Herod got the idea to curry favor with the Jews by mistreating the Christians.  When the opportunity presented itself, he arrested some of the Christians, dragged them out of their assemblies, and threw them into prison.




Acts 12:2

ἀνεῖλεν δὲ Ἰάκωβον τὸν ἀδελφὸν Ἰωάννου μαχαίρῃ.

Then he made an end of James, the brother of John, by the sword.

Paraphrase:  Herod was especially glad that he was able to capture James since he was one of the apostles.  This James was the son of Zebedee and the brother of John.  Herod ordered James to be beheaded.


See the family tree of Herod.


Acts 12:3

ἰδὼν δὲ ὅτι ἀρεστόν ἐστιν τοῖς Ἰουδαίοις προσέθετο συλλαβεῖν καὶ Πέτρον (ἦσαν δὲ ἡμέραι τῶν ἀζύμων),

Then seeing that agreeable it is to the Jews, he went on to arrest even Peter (now these days were of unleavened breads)

Paraphrase:  It didn’t take Herod long to see how happy the Jews were with what he had done to James.  Eager to advance this good will even farther, he had Peter arrested.  Since it was Passover week, however, Herod was somewhat limited in what he could do with Peter. (Mark 14:1-2) 


Note the present tense ἐστιν; Burton §18.


Acts 12:4

ὃν καὶ πιάσας ἔθετο εἰς φυλακήν, παραδοὺς τέσσαρσιν τετραδίοις στρατιωτῶν φυλάσσειν αὐτόν, βουλόμενος μετὰ τὸ πάσχα ἀναγαγεῖν αὐτὸν τῷ λαῷ.

whom even seizing, he placed into prison, giving over to four squads of soldiers to guard him planning after the Passover to lead him out before the people.

Paraphrase:  Because of this, he put Peter into prison and gave the responsibility for guarding him to four squads of soldiers who would take turns watching Peter around the clock.  Once Passover week was passed, Herod planned on making Peter’s trial a grand spectacle which all the people could see.


Agrippa had a special love for theatrical performances.


Acts 12:5

ὁ μὲν οὖν Πέτρος ἐτηρεῖτο ἐν τῇ φυλακῇ· προσευχὴ δὲ ἦν ἐκτενῶς γινομένη ὑπὸ τῆς ἐκκλησίας πρὸς τὸν θεὸν περὶ αὐτοῦ.

Then, Peter, on the one hand, was kept in prison, but earnest prayer was happening by the church to God concerning him.

Paraphrase:  Now while Peter was in prison awaiting his trial, the church gathered regularly and earnestly petitioned God for his safe return and that Herod would not be allowed to follow through with his plans.


οὖν is an adverb expressing either logical consequence or a simple time sequence. source  Here it is the latter.

γινομένη is a periphrastic with ἦν.

Just as most English adverbs end in -ly, so most Greek adverbs end in -ως; cf ἐκτενῶς.


Acts 12:6

Ὅτε δὲ ἤμελλεν προαγαγεῖν αὐτὸν ὁ Ἡρῴδης, τῇ νυκτὶ ἐκείνῃ ἦν ὁ Πέτρος κοιμώμενος μεταξὺ δύο στρατιωτῶν δεδεμένος ἁλύσεσιν δυσίν, φύλακές τε πρὸ τῆς θύρας ἐτήρουν τὴν φυλακήν.

Now when Herod was about to lead him out, that night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers being bound with two chains, guards were keeping watch before the door.

Paraphrase:  As the Passover week drew to a close, Herod began to make plans for Peter’s grand entrance before his royal tribunal.  Peter, on the other hand, was sleeping soundly being chained, as was the custom, to two soldiers with the other two watching the door.  There was no chance of escape. 


κοιμώμενος is another periphrastic.


Acts 12:7

καὶ ἰδοὺ ἄγγελος κυρίου ἐπέστη, καὶ φῶς ἔλαμψεν ἐν τῷ οἰκήματι· πατάξας δὲ τὴν πλευρὰν τοῦ Πέτρου ἤγειρεν αὐτὸν λέγων· Ἀνάστα ἐν τάχει· καὶ ἐξέπεσαν αὐτοῦ αἱ ἁλύσεις ἐκ τῶν χειρῶν.

and behold, an angel of the Lord stood by and a light shown in the prison.  Then, hitting the side of Peter, he raised him saying, “Arise in haste!” And his chains fell from his hands.  

Paraphrase:  That night, when it seemed that all was lost, an angel of the Lord swooped down into Peter’s cell causing a blaze of glorious light to fill the place.  Peter was sleeping so  soundly that the angel actually had to hit him in the side to wake him.  “Get up! let’s get moving,” said the angel.  Then the miracle happened.  The chains which were holding Peter to the soldiers clattered to the floor in a useless heap.


For τῶν χειρῶν, see principle 18.


Acts 12:8

εἶπεν δὲ ὁ ἄγγελος πρὸς αὐτόν· Ζῶσαι καὶ ὑπόδησαι τὰ σανδάλιά σου· ἐποίησεν δὲ οὕτως. καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ· Περιβαλοῦ τὸ ἱμάτιόν σου καὶ ἀκολούθει μοι.

Then the angel said to him, to dress and to put on your sandals. Then, he did in this manner, and he said to him, “Put on your coat and follow me.”

Paraphrase:  Peter was still rather groggy from sleep and had a hard time taking in what was happening.  The angel continued to prod him, “Come on, get dressed, and don’t forget your sandals.  Grab your coat and let’s get out of here.  I’ll show you the way out.”  Peter did as he was told.


Burton says that there is only one instance in the NT of an anarthrous infinitive functioning as an imperative.  Ζῶσαι καὶ ὑπόδησαι certainly seems like another.


Acts 12:9

καὶ ἐξελθὼν ἠκολούθει, καὶ οὐκ ᾔδει ὅτι ἀληθές ἐστιν τὸ γινόμενον διὰ τοῦ ἀγγέλου, ἐδόκει δὲ ὅραμα βλέπειν.

and departing, he followed and he did not know that what is happening through the angel was true, and he was supposing a vision to see.

Paraphrase:  They made their way through the prison with Peter stumbling along behind the angel all the while having no idea what was happening to him.  He kept thinking that perhaps he was seeing some kind of vision.


Note the present tense ἐστιν; Burton §18.


Acts 12:10

διελθόντες δὲ πρώτην φυλακὴν καὶ δευτέραν ἦλθαν ἐπὶ τὴν πύλην τὴν σιδηρᾶν τὴν φέρουσαν εἰς τὴν πόλιν, ἥτις αὐτομάτη ἠνοίγη αὐτοῖς, καὶ ἐξελθόντες προῆλθον ῥύμην μίαν, καὶ εὐθέως ἀπέστη ὁ ἄγγελος ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ.

and passing through the first guard and the second, they came to the gate of iron leading into the city, which was opened for them on its own, and departing, they came to one narrow lane and immediately the angel withdrew from him.

Paraphrase:  They passed the first set of guards, and no one said anything.  Peter stared in disbelief at the guards who just let them pass right on without making even the slightest attempt to stop them or to sound the alarm.  Their lives depended on securing the inmates, but they seemed to have no comprehension  of the situation.  The same thing happened at the second guard station.  Finally, the angel and Peter arrived at the huge iron gate which was the doorway into the prison from the outside.  Again, Peter stood dumbfounded as the lock released and the door began to slowly open.  There were guards within easy striking distance, but not one of them lifted a finger.  It was as if they couldn’t even see Peter and the angel leaving the prison.  Peter stepped out and began walking down a narrow lane which led through the city.  Then without any warning, the angel vanished, and Peter was left alone to find his own way.


See the verb οιγω in MBG v-1b(2) for why ἠνοίγη is a passive form, yet has no tense formative.

Was Peter’s escape from the mighty fortress of Antonia?  It is entirely possible.


Acts 12:11

καὶ ὁ Πέτρος ἐν ἑαυτῷ γενόμενος εἶπεν· Νῦν οἶδα ἀληθῶς ὅτι ἐξαπέστειλεν ὁ κύριος τὸν ἄγγελον αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐξείλατό με ἐκ χειρὸς Ἡρῴδου καὶ πάσης τῆς προσδοκίας τοῦ λαοῦ τῶν Ἰουδαίων.


Acts 12:12

Συνιδών τε ἦλθεν ἐπὶ τὴν οἰκίαν τῆς Μαρίας τῆς μητρὸς Ἰωάννου τοῦ ἐπικαλουμένου Μάρκου, οὗ ἦσαν ἱκανοὶ συνηθροισμένοι καὶ προσευχόμενοι.


Acts 12:13

κρούσαντος δὲ αὐτοῦ τὴν θύραν τοῦ πυλῶνος προσῆλθε παιδίσκη ὑπακοῦσαι ὀνόματι Ῥόδη,


Acts 12:14

καὶ ἐπιγνοῦσα τὴν φωνὴν τοῦ Πέτρου ἀπὸ τῆς χαρᾶς οὐκ ἤνοιξεν τὸν πυλῶνα, εἰσδραμοῦσα δὲ ἀπήγγειλεν ἑστάναι τὸν Πέτρον πρὸ τοῦ πυλῶνος.


Acts 12:15

οἱ δὲ πρὸς αὐτὴν εἶπαν· Μαίνῃ. ἡ δὲ διϊσχυρίζετο οὕτως ἔχειν. οἱ δὲ ἔλεγον· Ὁ ἄγγελός ἐστιν αὐτοῦ.


Acts 12:16

ὁ δὲ Πέτρος ἐπέμενεν κρούων· ἀνοίξαντες δὲ εἶδαν αὐτὸν καὶ ἐξέστησαν.


Acts 12:17

κατασείσας δὲ αὐτοῖς τῇ χειρὶ σιγᾶν διηγήσατο αὐτοῖς πῶς ὁ κύριος αὐτὸν ἐξήγαγεν ἐκ τῆς φυλακῆς, εἶπέν τε· Ἀπαγγείλατε Ἰακώβῳ καὶ τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς ταῦτα. καὶ ἐξελθὼν ἐπορεύθη εἰς ἕτερον τόπον.


Acts 12:18

Γενομένης δὲ ἡμέρας ἦν τάραχος οὐκ ὀλίγος ἐν τοῖς στρατιώταις, τί ἄρα ὁ Πέτρος ἐγένετο.


Acts 12:19

Ἡρῴδης δὲ ἐπιζητήσας αὐτὸν καὶ μὴ εὑρὼν ἀνακρίνας τοὺς φύλακας ἐκέλευσεν ἀπαχθῆναι, καὶ κατελθὼν ἀπὸ τῆς Ἰουδαίας εἰς Καισάρειαν διέτριβεν.


Acts 12:20

Ἦν δὲ θυμομαχῶν Τυρίοις καὶ Σιδωνίοις· ὁμοθυμαδὸν δὲ παρῆσαν πρὸς αὐτόν, καὶ πείσαντες Βλάστον τὸν ἐπὶ τοῦ κοιτῶνος τοῦ βασιλέως ᾐτοῦντο εἰρήνην διὰ τὸ τρέφεσθαι αὐτῶν τὴν χώραν ἀπὸ τῆς βασιλικῆς.

Now he was frustrated with Tyre and Sidon; and with one mind, they came to him, having won over Blastus, the one over the bedroom of the king.  They were asking peace because they were fed of the country from the king.

Paraphrase:  After this, Herod got into a fierce quarrel with the leadership of the cities of both Tyre and Sidon; and as a result, passed sanctions on both cities.  No longer did he allow any shipments of food to them.  Since both Tyre and Sidon relied on these food imports from Palestine (Ezekiel 27:17), they were soon reduced to the humiliating place of having to beg Herod for peace and for the removal of these sanctions.  They laid their plans carefully, however, and even succeeded in bringing Blastus over to their side.  At this time, Blastus was Herod’s personal assistant.



Acts 12:21

τακτῇ δὲ ἡμέρᾳ ὁ Ἡρῴδης ἐνδυσάμενος ἐσθῆτα βασιλικὴν καὶ καθίσας ἐπὶ τοῦ βήματος ἐδημηγόρει πρὸς αὐτούς·

Then, on the set day, Herod, being clothed with royal clothes and sitting on his throne, spoke to them.

Paraphrase:  Naturally, Herod wanted to make the most of this humiliation.  So he set aside a day in which he would receive these ambassadors and give them a hearing.  He made sure that this event would be part of the public celebration of the emperor Claudius so that as many people would witness his victory over these two cities.  Right on schedule, Herod made his entrance.  He was clothed in royal robes which reflected the light of the sun and shimmered gloriously in the bright sunshine.  He took his seat before the assembled crowd and began his speech. 


Josephus says that Herod’s royal robe was made completely of silver and was shining in the sun.

What is meant here by the appointed day τακτῇ ἡμέρᾳ?  The appointed day

  1. to meet with the delegation from Tyre and Sidon (Barrett)?
  2. the second day of the festival celebrating Claudius bday (Josephus)? or
  3. celebrating Claudius’ victory successful return from Britain (Lenski)?

All of these are consistent with what historians tell us of Herod’s love for display and for flaunting his power and success.  Also, these three options are not mutually exclusive.


Acts 12:22

ὁ δὲ δῆμος ἐπεφώνει· Θεοῦ φωνὴ καὶ οὐκ ἀνθρώπου.

Then the people began calling out, “The voice of god, and not of a man!”

Paraphrase:  As the people looked at Herod shining in his royal splendor and standing straight and tall before them, they were overwhelmed with awe at his majesty.  Here and there, people began to call out, “This is the voice of one of the gods!  This is no mere human person standing before us; Herod is one of the gods!”  Herod continued to work the crowd until soon there was a unanimous cry that he truly was an incarnation of a deity.  Herod was in his element; he basked in the crowd’s applause and savored every minute of it.



Acts 12:23

παραχρῆμα δὲ ἐπάταξεν αὐτὸν ἄγγελος κυρίου ἀνθ’ ὧν οὐκ ἔδωκεν τὴν δόξαν τῷ θεῷ, καὶ γενόμενος σκωληκόβρωτος ἐξέψυξεν.

Then, at that moment, an angel of the Lord struck him because he gave not glory to God and being worm-eaten, he expired.

Paraphrase:  Now as the crowd’s applause grew louder and louder and as Herod was taking so much delight in it, he suddenly doubled over, grimacing in pain.  Herod’s attendants rushed onto the stage to steady him and to find out what was troubling him.  The astonished crowd fell silent as they watched their king being helped off the stage.  Days later, the news was published; Herod had died of an infestation of worms which had destroyed his intestines.  “This is the hand of God,” said the apostles.  “It was the angel of the Lord who struck this man down to show him and us that he was a mere mortal.  This is what God taught us in the book of Isaiah: “I am Jehovah, that is My Name; and My glory will I not give to another,” (Isaiah 42:8; 48:11)



Acts 12:24

Ὁ δὲ λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ ηὔξανεν καὶ ἐπληθύνετο.

Then the word of God expanded and multiplied.

Paraphrase:  Just as on previous occasions when great miracles had taken place, the populace could not miss the meaning of what they had seen with their own eyes.  More and more people, both Jews and Gentiles, came under the teaching of the word of God and embraced it with all their heart.



Acts 12:25

Βαρναβᾶς δὲ καὶ Σαῦλος ὑπέστρεψαν, εἰς Ἰερουσαλὴμ πληρώσαντες τὴν διακονίαν, συμπαραλαβόντες Ἰωάννην τὸν ἐπικληθέντα Μᾶρκον.

Then Barnabas and Saul returned, having fulfilled their ministry to Jerusalem, taking with John, the one being called Mark.

Paraphrase:  It was also at this time, that Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem having delivered the gift to the brothers and sisters there. (Acts 11:29, 30)  They brought back with them, a young man named John, who was often called “Mark” (his Roman name). (Acts 12:12)


For Mark’s name, see here.

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