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Acts 12:1-4

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.

Acts 12:23-24

Context
12:23 Immediately an angel of the Lord 11  struck 12  Herod 13  down because he did not give the glory to God, and he was eaten by worms and died. 14  12:24 But the word of God 15  kept on increasing 16  and multiplying.

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 “the angel of the Lord.” See the note on the word “Lord” in 5:19.

12 sn On being struck…down by an angel, see Acts 23:3; 1 Sam 25:28; 2 Sam 12:15; 2 Kgs 19:35; 2 Chr 13:20; 2 Macc 9:5.

13 tn Grk “him”; the referent (Herod) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

14 sn He was eaten by worms and died. Josephus, Ant. 19.8.2 (19.343-352), states that Herod Agrippa I died at Caesarea in a.d. 44. The account by Josephus, while not identical to Luke’s account, is similar in many respects: On the second day of a festival, Herod Agrippa appeared in the theater with a robe made of silver. When it sparkled in the sun, the people cried out flatteries and declared him to be a god. The king, carried away by the flattery, saw an owl (an omen of death) sitting on a nearby rope, and immediately was struck with severe stomach pains. He was carried off to his house and died five days later. The two accounts can be reconciled without difficulty, since while Luke states that Herod was immediately struck down by an angel, his death could have come several days later. The mention of worms with death adds a humiliating note to the scene. The formerly powerful ruler had been thoroughly reduced to nothing (cf. Jdt 16:17; 2 Macc 9:9; cf. also Josephus, Ant. 17.6.5 [17.168-170], which details the sickness which led to Herod the Great’s death).

15 sn A metonymy for the number of adherents to God’s word.

16 tn Or “spreading.”



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