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. 12:13 When he knocked at the door of the outer gate, a slave girl named Rhoda answered. 41 12:14 When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she did not open the gate, but ran back in and told 42 them 43 that Peter was standing at the gate. 12:15 But they said to her, “You’ve lost your mind!” 44 But she kept insisting that it was Peter, 45 and they kept saying, 46 “It is his angel!” 47 12:16 Now Peter continued knocking, and when they opened the door 48 and saw him, they were greatly astonished. 49 12:17 He motioned to them 50 with his hand to be quiet and then related 51 how the Lord had brought 52 him out of the prison. He said, “Tell James and the brothers these things,” and then he left and went to another place. 53
12:18 At daybreak 54 there was great consternation 55 among the soldiers over what had become of Peter. 12:19 When Herod 56 had searched 57 for him and did not find him, he questioned 58 the guards and commanded that they be led away to execution. 59 Then 60 Herod 61 went down from Judea to Caesarea 62 and stayed there.
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
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.”
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.
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.
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).
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.
41 tn Or “responded.”
42 tn Or “informed.”
43 tn The word “them” is not in the Greek text, but is implied. Direct objects in Greek were often omitted when clear from the context, but must be supplied for the modern English reader.
44 sn “You’ve lost your mind!” Such a response to the miraculous is not unusual in Luke-Acts. See Luke 24:11; Acts 26:25. The term μαίνομαι (mainomai) can have the idea of being “raving mad” or “totally irrational” (BDAG 610 s.v.). It is a strong expression.
45 tn Grk “she kept insisting that the situation was thus” (cf. BDAG 422 s.v. ἔχω 10.a). Most translations supply a less awkward English phrase like “it was so”; the force of her insistence, however, is that “it was Peter,” which was the point under dispute.
46 tn The two imperfect tense verbs, διϊσχυρίζετο (diiscurizeto) and ἔλεγον (elegon), are both taken iteratively. The picture is thus virtually a shouting match between Rhoda and the rest of the believers.
50 tn Or “He gave them a signal.” Grk “Giving them a signal…he related to them.” The participle κατασείσας (kataseisa") has been translated as a finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style.
51 tc ‡ Most
52 tn Or “led.”
54 tn BDAG 436 s.v. ἡμέρα 1.a has “day is breaking” for ἡμέρα γίνεται (Jhmera ginetai) in this verse.
55 tn Grk “no little consternation.” The translation given for τάραχος (taraco") in this verse by BDAG 991 s.v. τάραχος 1 is “mental agitation.” The situation indicated by the Greek word is described in L&N 25.243 as “a state of acute distress and great anxiety, with the additional possible implications of dismay and confusion – ‘great distress, extreme anxiety.’” The English word “consternation” is preferred here because it conveys precisely such a situation of anxiety mixed with fear. The reason for this anxiety is explained in the following verse.
56 sn King Herod was Herod Agrippa I, the grandson of Herod I (Herod the Great).
57 tn Or “had instigated a search” (Herod would have ordered the search rather than conducting it himself).
58 tn “Questioned” is used to translate ἀνακρίνας (anakrina") here because a possible translation offered by BDAG 66 s.v. ἀνακρίνω for this verse is “examined,” which could be understood to mean Herod inspected the guards rather than questioned them. The translation used by the NIV, “cross-examined,” also avoids this possible misunderstanding.
59 tn The meaning “led away to execution” for ἀπαχθῆναι (apacqhnai) in this verse is given by BDAG 95 s.v. ἀπάγω 2.c. Although an explicit reference to execution is lacking here, it is what would usually occur in such a case (Acts 16:27; 27:42; Code of Justinian 9.4.4). “Led away to torture” is a less likely option (Pliny the Younger, Letters 10, 96, 8).
60 tn Grk “and,” but the sequence of events is better expressed in English by “then.” A new sentence is begun in the translation because of the length of the sentence in Greek, which exceeds normal English sentence length.
61 tn Grk “he”; the referent (Herod) has been specified in the translation for clarity. Since Herod has been the subject of the preceding material, and the circumstances of his death are the subject of the following verses (20-23), it is best to understand Herod as the subject here. This is especially true since according to Josephus, Ant. 19.8.2 [19.343-352], Herod Agrippa I died at Caesarea in
sn King Herod was Herod Agrippa I, the grandson of Herod I (Herod the Great), who died at Caesarea in