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Acts 12:1-5

Context
James is Killed and Peter Imprisoned

12:1 About that time King Herod 1  laid hands on 2  some from the church to harm them. 3  12:2 He had James, the brother of John, executed with a sword. 4  12:3 When he saw that this pleased the Jews, 5  he proceeded to arrest Peter too. (This took place during the feast of Unleavened Bread.) 6  12:4 When he had seized him, he put him in prison, handing him over to four squads 7  of soldiers to guard him. Herod 8  planned 9  to bring him out for public trial 10  after the Passover. 12:5 So Peter was kept in prison, but those in the church were earnestly 11  praying to God for him. 12 

1 sn King Herod was Herod Agrippa I, the grandson of Herod I (Herod the Great). His mediocre career is summarized in Josephus, Ant. 18-19. This event took place in a.d. 42 or 43.

2 tn Or “King Herod had some from the church arrested.”

3 tn Or “to cause them injury.”

4 sn The expression executed with a sword probably refers to a beheading. James was the first known apostolic martyr (Eusebius, Eccl. Hist. 2.9.1-3). On James, not the Lord’s brother, see Luke 5:10; 6:14. This death ended a short period of peace noted in Acts 9:31 after the persecution mentioned in 8:1-3.

5 tn This could be a reference to the Jewish people (so CEV) or to the Jewish leaders (so NLT). The statement in v. 4 that Herod intended to bring Peter “out to the people” (i.e., for a public trial) may suggest the former is somewhat more likely.

6 sn This is a parenthetical note by the author.

7 sn Four squads of soldiers. Each squad was a detachment of four soldiers.

8 tn Grk “guard him, planning to bring him out.” The Greek construction continues with a participle (βουλόμενος, boulomeno") and an infinitive (ἀναγαγεῖν, anagagein), but this creates an awkward and lengthy sentence in English. Thus a reference to Herod was introduced as subject and the participle translated as a finite verb (“Herod planned”).

9 tn Or “intended”; Grk “wanted.”

10 tn Grk “to bring him out to the people,” but in this context a public trial (with certain condemnation as the result) is doubtless what Herod planned. L&N 15.176 translates this phrase “planning to bring him up for a public trial after the Passover.”

11 tn Or “constantly.” This term also appears in Luke 22:14 and Acts 26:7.

12 tn Grk “but earnest prayer was being made by the church to God for him.” The order of the clauses has been rearranged to follow English style, and the somewhat awkward passive “prayer was being made” has been changed to the simpler active verb “were praying.” Luke portrays what follows as an answer to prayer.



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