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Acts 12:1-12

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  12:6 On that very night before Herod was going to bring him out for trial, 13  Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, while 14  guards in front of the door were keeping watch 15  over the prison. 12:7 Suddenly 16  an angel of the Lord 17  appeared, and a light shone in the prison cell. He struck 18  Peter on the side and woke him up, saying, “Get up quickly!” And the chains fell off Peter’s 19  wrists. 20  12:8 The angel said to him, “Fasten your belt 21  and put on your sandals.” Peter 22  did so. Then the angel 23  said to him, “Put on your cloak 24  and follow me.” 12:9 Peter 25  went out 26  and followed him; 27  he did not realize that what was happening through the angel was real, 28  but thought he was seeing a vision. 12:10 After they had passed the first and second guards, 29  they came to the iron 30  gate leading into the city. It 31  opened for them by itself, 32  and they went outside and walked down one narrow street, 33  when at once the angel left him. 12:11 When 34  Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued 35  me from the hand 36  of Herod 37  and from everything the Jewish people 38  were expecting to happen.”

12:12 When Peter 39  realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John Mark, 40  where many people had gathered together and were praying.

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.

13 tn Grk “was going to bring him out,” but the upcoming trial is implied. See Acts 12:4.

14 tn Grk “two chains, and.” Logically it makes better sense to translate this as a temporal clause, although technically it is a coordinate clause in Greek.

15 tn Or “were guarding.”

16 tn Grk “And behold.” Because of the difference between Greek style, which often begins sentences or clauses with “and,” and English style, which generally does not, καί (kai) has not been translated here. The interjection ἰδού (idou), often difficult to translate into English, expresses the suddenness of the angel’s appearance.

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

18 tn Grk “striking the side of Peter, he awoke him saying.” The term refers to a push or a light tap (BDAG 786 s.v. πατάσσω 1.a). The participle πατάξας (pataxa") has been translated as a finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style.

19 tn Grk “his”; the referent (Peter) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

20 tn Grk “the hands,” but the wrist was considered a part of the hand.

21 tn While ζώννυμι (zwnnumi) sometimes means “to dress,” referring to the fastening of the belt or sash as the final act of getting dressed, in this context it probably does mean “put on your belt” since in the conditions of a prison Peter had probably not changed into a different set of clothes to sleep. More likely he had merely removed his belt or sash, which the angel now told him to replace. The translation “put on your belt” is given by L&N 49.14 for this verse. The archaic English “girdle” for the sash or belt has an entirely different meaning today.

22 tn Grk “He”; the referent (Peter) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

23 tn Grk “he”; the referent (the angel) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

24 tn Or “outer garment.”

25 tn Grk “And going out he followed.”

26 tn Grk “Peter going out followed him.” The participle ἐξελθών (exelqwn) has been translated as a finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style.

27 tn The word “him” is not in the Greek text. Direct objects in Greek were often omitted when clear from the context, but must be supplied for the modern English reader.

28 tn Grk “what was done through the angel was a reality” (see BDAG 43 s.v. ἀληθής 3).

29 tn Or perhaps, “guard posts.”

30 sn The iron gate shows how important security was here. This door was more secure than one made of wood (which would be usual).

31 tn Grk “which.” The relative pronoun (“which”) was replaced by the pronoun “it,” and a new sentence was begun in the translation at this point to improve the English style, due to the length of the sentence in Greek.

32 tn The Greek term here, αὐτομάτη (automath), indicates something that happens without visible cause (BDAG 152 s.v. αὐτόματος).

33 tn Or “lane,” “alley” (BDAG 907 s.v. ῥύμη).

34 tn Grk “And when.” Because of the difference between Greek style, which often begins sentences or clauses with “and,” and English style, which generally does not, καί (kai) has not been translated here.

35 tn Or “delivered.”

36 sn Here the hand of Herod is a metaphor for Herod’s power or control.

37 sn King Herod was Herod Agrippa I, the grandson of Herod I (Herod the Great).

38 sn Luke characterizes the opposition here as the Jewish people, including their leadership (see 12:3).

39 tn Grk “he”; the referent (Peter) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

40 tn Grk “John who was also called Mark.”

sn John Mark becomes a key figure in Acts 12:25; 13:5, 13; 15:37-39.



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