Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 30 December 2018; Revised 30 July 2021
Scripture Text: The Scripture text used in this commentary is prepared by Blaine Robison and based on the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. The essentially literal translation seeks to reflect the Jewish character of the author and writing. See my web article The Jewish New Testament. Scripture quotations may be taken from different versions. Click here for abbreviations of Bible versions. Quotations marked with the initials "BR" indicate the translation of the commentary author.
Sources: Bibliographic data for works cited may be found at the end of the chapter commentary. Works without page numbers are cited ad loc. Important Jewish sources include the following:
● DSS: Citations marked as "DSS" are from the Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of Jewish manuscripts of Scripture and sectarian documents found in the Qumran caves. Most of the Qumran MSS belong to the last three centuries BC and the first century AD. Online DSS Bible.
● LXX: The abbreviation "LXX" ("70") stands for the Septuagint, the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, which was in use among Jews by the mid-2nd century B.C. Online.
● Josephus: Citations for Josephus, the first century Jewish historian (Yosef ben Matityahu), are from The Works of Flavius Josephus (c. 75–99 A.D.) trans. William Whiston (1737). Online.
● MT: The Masoretic Text is the authoritative Hebrew text of the Tanakh for Rabbinic Judaism. Work on developing a uniform Hebrew Bible began in the 2nd century under Rabbi Akiva, but completed by Jewish scholars known as the Masoretes between the 7th and 10th centuries A.D. The oldest extant manuscripts date from around the 9th century. Online.
● Talmud: Unless otherwise indicated references to the Talmud are from the Soncino Babylonian Talmud (1948); available online at Halakhah.com. The Jerusalem Talmud, identified with "TJ," may be found here. Click here for Talmud abbreviations.
● Targums: The targums are early Aramaic translations of the Hebrew text with commentary: Targum Jerusalem (1st c. AD), Targum Neofiti (1st c. AD), Targum Onkelos (c. 35–120 AD) and Targum Jonathan (2nd c. AD). See an index of targum texts here.
Syntax: Unless otherwise noted the meaning of Greek words is from F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (2009), and the meaning of Hebrew words is from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981), abbreviated as "BDB." See the Greek Guide for the meaning of grammar abbreviations and pronunciation of Greek words. Parsing data for Greek words is from Anthony J. Fisher, Greek New Testament. The numbering system of the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible is identified with "SH" (Strong's Hebrew number) and "SG" (Strong's Greek number). Strong's Online.
Terminology: In order to emphasize the Jewish nature of the apostolic canon and its central figure I use the terms ADONAI (for 'LORD' when quoting a Tanakh source), Yeshua (Jesus), Messiah (Christ), Tanakh (Old Testament), and Besekh (New Testament).
See the article Introduction to Acts for background information on Luke and the book of Acts. For a suggested timeline of Acts see the dating chart of George Edmundson. All dates given for the narrative of Acts are estimates.
In Chapter Twelve Luke recounts the murder of Jacob (aka "James"), brother of John, and the imprisonment of Peter by King Herod Agrippa I. Even though the king took extraordinary measures to secure Peter, an angel provided a miraculous escape. The rescue is followed by a humorous story of Peter arriving at the house of Miriam, mother of John Mark, and presumed location of the last supper. Here the maidservant Rhoda left Peter at the gate and had difficulty convincing the disciples that he was really there. Peter spoke briefly with them and then departed for Antioch. The chapter concludes with the death of Herod brought about by a angel because he failed to give glory to God.
Persecution of the Apostles, 12:1-5
Escape from Prison, 12:6-11
At the House of Miriam, 12:12-17
The Search for Peter, 12:18-19
Death of King Herod, 12:20-23
Return to Antioch, 12:24-25
Rome: Caesar Claudius (AD 41-54)
King of Judaea: Herod Agrippa I (AD 41-44)
Jewish High Priest: Simon Kantheras, son of Boethus (AD 41-44)
Persecution of the Apostles, 12:1-5
1 Now about that time Herod the king put forth hands to mistreat some of those from the congregation.
Now: Grk. de, conj. used to indicate (1) a contrast to a preceding statement or thought, "but;" (2) a transition in presentation of subject matter, "now, then;" or (3) a connecting particle to continue a thought, "and, also," sometimes with emphasis, "indeed," "moreover" (Thayer). The second meaning applies here. about: Grk. kata, prep., the root meaning is "down," but with the noun following denoting time, the resultant meaning is 'about' or 'during' (Thayer). that: Grk. ekeinos, demonstrative pronoun typically used to refer to a noun (person or thing) immediately preceding in the Greek text; that, that one there.
time: Grk. kairos may refer to (1) an appropriate or set temporal segment of time; or (2) a period, definite or approximate, in which an event takes place; time, period. The second meaning applies here. Bruce suggests that the temporal reference "about that time" refers to the events narrated in 11:27-30 and the events of 12:1-23 fell between the prophecy of Agabus (11:28) and the Jerusalem visit of Barnabas and Saul (11:30). The opening phrase could even mean "Now about that time Agabus was prophesying in Antioch." Luke's narrative of Herod functions as an interlude to the narrative of the apostolic ministry that will resume in verse 24 below.
Herod: Grk. Hērōdēs, a personal name perhaps meaning "son of a hero." The Herod mentioned here is Agrippa I, grandson of Herod the Great, and son of Aristobulus IV and Berenice. the king: Grk. basileus, king or chief ruler. In the LXX basileus appears frequently to translate Heb. melek (SH-4428). In the Tanakh the title "king" was not associated with the size of territory governed (often a city), but the authority wielded. The executive and judicial functions (and sometimes legislative) of government were vested in one person. In AD 37 Caesar Caligula made Agrippa governor of the territories of Batanaea and Trachonitis that his cousin Herod Philip I had held. He was then appointed to the tetrarchy of Lysanias, with the title of "king."
In 39 Agrippa returned to Rome and secured the banishment of his uncle Antipas, whose tetrarchy of Galilee and Perea he was then granted. After the accession of Caesar Claudius in 41, Agrippa was given the government of Judea. As king Agrippa was noted among Jews for his zeal for Pharisaic Judaism, as recorded by Josephus (Ant. XVIII, Chap. 5−8; XIX, Chaps. 4−9); Philo of Alexandria (On the Embassy to Gaius, 55, 56), and the rabbinic Sages (Pesachim 88b; Sotah 7:8; 41a). The Jewish Encyclopedia relates that, in Rome: "The evil consequences of a ruler's unbridled passions and tyranny... had taught him moderation and strict self-control. His people regarded him with love and devotion, because he healed with a tender hand the deep wounds inflicted upon the national susceptibilities by brutal Roman governors. He ruled his subjects with compassion and friendliness."
The above Jewish sources indicate that Agrippa honored the Torah and Jewish customs. He personally carried his sacrificial basket of first-fruits to the Temple of Jerusalem and celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles with the common people. He devoted to the sanctuary a golden chain with which Caligula had honored him. On one occasion, while in the street, he met a bridal procession which drew up to let him pass, but he halted and bade it take precedence. He also sought to lighten taxation, and on the coins minted by him he carefully avoided placing any idolatrous symbols which could offend religious sentiment. However, against Messianic Jews he took an adversarial stance.
put forth: Grk. epiballō, aor., to move something so as to put it over or on something; put on, lay on; frequently with a suggestion of violence by grasping with "the hand." hands: pl. of Grk. ho cheir, the anatomical limb of the hand. to mistreat: Grk. kakoō, aor. inf., to abuse or mistreat. The verbal phrase probably denotes subordinates whom Herod directed to begin a campaign of physical bullying. The period of mistreatment could have lasted for some weeks before the events of the next two verses. some: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun; a certain one, someone, anyone, anything. of those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a relative pronoun. from: Grk. apo, prep. with the root meaning of "off, away from" (DM 101), generally used to denote separation or a point of origin; from.
the congregation: Grk. ekklēsia, assembly, gathering, meeting, or congregation. This is the sixth use of the term in Acts for the corporate organization of Yeshua's disciples. In Greek culture ekklēsia referred to a political body or a public meeting of citizens (Acts 19:32, 39, 41), but it primarily occurs in the Besekh for a religious body. In the LXX ekklēsia translates the Heb. qahal (DNTT 1:292-295), which means assembly, convocation, or congregation (BDB 874). In the Tanakh qahal denotes the people of God in a corporate sense, often in the context of being gathered for worship or instruction (Deut 4:10; 31:30; Ps 35:18).
Christian Bibles almost unanimously translate ekklēsia in this verse as "church." The word "church" is clearly an ecclesiastical term of Christianity. (See my background note on this subject here.) A few Christian versions opt for a different translation: "assembly" (DARBY, WEB, YLT), and "congregation" (JUB, NMB). Messianic Jewish versions (CJB, MW and TLV) have "community." I prefer to translate ekklēsia with "congregation," since its definition incorporates both organic and organizational characteristics and is more neutral in tone than "church." The "congregation" of Yeshua's followers is the one in Jerusalem, although the mistreatment could have extended into surrounding villages.
2 Moreover, he killed Jacob the brother of John with a sword.
Moreover: Grk. de, conj. The conjunction emphasizes an escalation of hostilities, this time targeting Messianic leaders. he killed: Grk. anaireō, aor., lit. "to take up," and used here to mean to remove by causing death; kill, slay. This verb is also used in describing the intention of the chief priests to kill Yeshua (Luke 22:2), whereas Matthew, Mark and John use apokteinō, to murder or end someone's life by force (Matt 26:4; Mark 14:1; John 7:1). Jacob: Grk. Iakōbos is a Grecized form of Iakōb ("Jacob"), which transliterates the Heb. Ya'akov ("Jacob"), "James" in Christian versions. See my comment on Mark 1:19 for the literary history of the translation of the apostle's name. Jacob was the son of Zebedee and engaged in the business of fishing from the Sea of Galilee until called to be a disciple by Yeshua (Matt 4:21).
The first Jacob in Scripture was the son of Isaac, ancestor of Yeshua (Matt 1:2) The son of Isaac held great honor among the people of Israel and so it is not surprising that five different men bear this name in the Besekh: also Jacob the son of Alphaeus (Mark 3:18); Jacob the Less (Mark 15:40); Jacob the father of Judas (aka 'Thaddaeus,' Luke 6:16; John 14:22) and Jacob the half-brother of Yeshua (Matt 13:55). (For more on the background of the name and the first "Jacob" see my web article Our Father Jacob.) Barker commits the faux pas of saying, "Strangely, no one is named James in the Old Testament" (161). Actually, there is no one named "James" in the New Testament either. For the literary history of how "Jacob" came to be "James" see my note on Mark 1:19.
The Jacob mentioned here is usually distinguished from the others by the mention of his relation to John. Generally in the Synoptic narratives Jacob's name appears before John when listed together, suggesting that Jacob was older. As one of the twelve disciples, he, with Peter and John, formed Yeshua's innermost circle of associates and was present for some of Yeshua's more significant miracles, including the transfiguration and the raising of Jairus' daughter. He and he brother were known as "sons of thunder" (Grk. Boanērges, Mark 3:17). Commentators generally attribute the name to having a stormy temper. It's more likely that since thunder is often associated with God's wrath in Scripture, the brothers gained the name by their suggestion that a Samaritan village be destroyed by fire from heaven (Luke 9:54).
the brother: Grk. adelphos, lit. "of the same womb," and in secular Greek meant a male sibling; brother. In the apostolic narratives adelphos primarily refers to blood siblings or fellow Israelites who are of the same blood by virtue of descent from Jacob. In the LXX adelphos is used for the Heb. ach, meaning (1) brother, a male sibling born of the same mother and father (Gen 4:2); also half-siblings (Gen 20:5). of John: Grk. Iōannēs attempts to transliterate the Heb. Yōchanan and means "the Lord is gracious." In the Besekh there are four other men with the name Iōannēs: (1) Yochanan the Immerser (Matt 3:1), (2) the father of Simon Peter (John 1:42); (3) a relative of the high priest, Caiaphas, Acts 4:6; and (4) the son of Miriam (verse 12 below). This John was the son of Zebedee (Matt 4:21) and he and had a brother Jacob (aka "James").
John was also a fisherman when first called by Yeshua to discipleship (Matt 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-19). John and Jacob had a close working relationship with Simon Peter in fishing (Luke 5:10). It is generally thought that Salome was John's mother (cf. Matt 27:56; Mark 15:40). John was "the disciple whom Yeshua loved" and who reclined next to Yeshua during the last supper (John 13:23-26). John was the only apostle to stand by Yeshua at his crucifixion and then accepted responsibility for Yeshua's mother (John 19:27). John had been a partner with Peter in ministry from the time of Pentecost (Acts 3:1, 3, 4, 11; 4:13, 19; 8:14), but Luke does not mention his presence again after the mission to Samaria. He was apparently absent from Jerusalem when his brother was killed. For more on the background of John see my article Witnesses of the Good News.
with a sword: Grk. machaira refers to a relatively short weapon with a sharp blade, mainly used for stabbing. The term is used for a dagger and the Roman short sword. Jewish law provided four methods of capital punishment, stoning, burning, slaying with the sword and strangling (Sanhedrin 7:1). Under the Empire the Romans practiced various forms of execution, especially beheading by the axe after flogging (Tacitus, Annals of Imperial Rome, II:32; Suetonius, The Twelve Caesars, VI:49). Beheading by the sword was also common. The Sage R. Judah stigmatizes beheading by the sword as a Roman practice, and preferred the axe instead (Sanh. 52b). However, for someone that drew people away to the worship of other gods (Deut 13:14), beheading by the sword was particularly preferred (Sanh. 111b).
However, there is no mention of beheading as in the case of Yochanan the Immerser (Matt 14:10). With the lack of a mention of a trial and the murder of Jacob resulting from Agrippa's decision and the type of sword used, killing Jacob could have been a summary execution after arrest, or even possibly the act of an assassin. As King and Prefect of Judaea Agrippa did not need to consult the Sanhedrin. Lightfoot notes that the death of Jacob fulfilled the prophecy of Yeshua, "The cup that I drink you shall drink" (Mark 10:39). Of interest is that there was no effort to appoint a successor to Jacob after his death, as was done to replace Judas. Barnabas could have been considered a de facto replacement by virtue of his appointed ministry in the previous chapter.
3 And having seen that it was pleasing to the Judean authorities, he proceeded also to arrest Peter. Now these were the days of Unleavened Bread.
And: Grk. de, conj. having seen: Grk. horaō, aor. part., to perceive physically with the eye, or in an extended sense to experience something or to have extraordinary mental or inward perception. The verb implies that Agrippa had been congratulated on his action against Jacob. that: Grk. hoti, conj. that serves as a link between two sets of data, whether (1) defining a demonstrative pronoun; that; (2) introducing a subordinate clause as complementary of a preceding verb; (3) introducing a direct quotation and functioning as quotation marks; or (4) indicating causality with an inferential aspect; for, because, inasmuch as. The second usage applies here.
it was: Grk. eimi, pres., to be, a function word used primarily to declare a state of existence, whether in the past ('was, were'), present ('are, is') or future ('will be'), often to unite a subject and predicate (BAG). pleasing: Grk. arestos, adj., pleasing, gratifying, desirable. to the Judean authorities: pl. of Grk. Ioudaios, Judean, Jew, Jewish or Jewess (BAG). Danker notes that the term may be used as an adjective (Judean, Jewish) or a noun (Jew, Judean). Ioudaios designates a person by belief and practice (cf. John 4:9). In the first century the term had a particular sectarian meaning to distinguish "devout" (Hebrew-speaking Torah/tradition-observant) Jews from non-observant Jews (Acts 2:5). For more discussion on the background of Ioudaios see my comment on 9:22.
The majority of Bible versions translate the noun as "Jews," which is misleading, because there were hundreds, if not thousands, of Messianic Jews in the city. Luke uses the term for the temple rulers or members of the Sanhedrin who opposed the Messianic movement. A few versions recognize this meaning with "Jewish [or Judean] leaders" (EXB, TLB, TLV, TPT, WE). These Jewish leaders heartily approved of the administration of Agrippa, but Luke does not explain why the execution of Jacob son of Zebedee should be pleasing to them. The reason was likely related to a general animus the temple ruling council bore against the apostles for their refusal to stop proclaiming Yeshua. The rulers still exhibited the character of those Yeshua accused of killing the prophets and stoning those God sent (Matt 23:37).
he proceeded: Grk. prostithēmi, aor. mid., to put to or to add to, i.e., to join to or gather with. Danker notes that Hebrew influence is apparent in the use of this verb followed by a verb in the infinitive, thus signifying that some action or procedure is repeated. What Agrippa did to Jacob he purposed to repeat for other Messianic Jewish leaders. also: Grk. kai, conj. that marks a connection or addition. Kai has three basic uses: (1) continuative – and, also, even; (2) adversative – and yet, but, however; or (3) intensive – certainly, indeed, in fact, really, verily, yea (DM 250f). The first use applies here. There are over 50 conjunctions in biblical Greek, but kai is by far the most common in the Besekh. See my note on the significance of conjunctions in the Besekh.
to arrest: Grk. sullambanō, aor. inf., to take possession of by capture, here in the legal sense of seizing or apprehending. Peter: Grk. Petros, the translation of the Hebrew name Kêfa ("rock"), a name given to him by Yeshua (John 1:42). Peter, formerly the owner of a fishing business, was appointed an apostle early in Yeshua's ministry (Luke 6:13) and became the chief leader of the apostles. For a summary of Peter's life and ministry see my article Simon Peter: Fisherman-Apostle. Now: Grk. de. these were: Grk. eimi, impf., 3p-pl. the days: pl. of Grk. hēmera may refer to (1) the daylight hours from sunrise to sunset, (2) the civil or legal day that included the night, (3) an appointed day or time period for a special purpose or (4) a longer or imprecise period, such as a timeframe for accomplishing something or a time of life (BAG). The third meaning applies here.
of Unleavened Bread: pl. of Grk. azumos, adj. (formed from alpha "neg. prefix" and zumē, "leaven"), unfermented, free from leaven. The plural form emphasizes the multiple days in which unleavened bread was consumed. In the LXX azumos translates Heb. matzah (SH-4682), unleavened bread or cake, first in Genesis 19:3 of the bread that Lot prepared for the two angelic visitors. Thereafter, the term is used of the bread prescribed for Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread. Matzah was also consumed as part of the ordination ceremony of priests (Ex 29:2; Lev 8:2) and presented in grain offerings (Lev 2:4) and peace offerings (Lev 7:12) and eaten by priests (Lev 6:16).
Many versions insert the word "feast" or "festival" before "Unleavened Bread." The word "festival" (Grk. heortē) does not occur in the Greek text of this verse (cf. Luke 22:1), although it is implied. The festival (called Heb. Hag Matzah) began with preparation on Nisan 14 (March/April) of removing all leaven and leavened products from dwellings, and then observed seven days from Nisan 15-21 (Num 28:17). During the festival bread served at meals could only be unleavened. Given the time of year the grain would have been barley.
The calendar reference is significant for three reasons. First, Peter had returned from his year-long mission trip into the Diaspora, including Rome, in order to observe the pilgrim festival as an observant Jew. (See my note here regarding this trip.) Second, the calendar reference provides the reason for the delay of killing Peter. Third, the calendar reference also implies that Jacob was killed some days or even weeks before Passover.
4 whom also having seized, he put into prison, having delivered him to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people.
whom: Grk. hos, relative pronoun used to give significance to the mention of a person, thing, or piece of information that precedes; who, which, what;. also: Grk. kai, conj. having seized: Grk. piazō, aor. part., to physically lay hold of or take under control, used here in the sense of arrest. he put: Grk. tithēmi, aor. mid., may mean (1) to arrange for association with a site, place or put; or (2) arrange for creation of role or status, make or appoint. The first meaning applies here. into: Grk. eis, prep. with the root meaning of "within" focuses on entrance, frequently in relation to direction and limit, and in composition may be translated as into, in, to, towards, or for (DM 103). prison: Grk. phulakē may mean (1) a place for detaining a law-breaker, not a place for carrying out a specified period of detention; (2) a sentry station with a contingent of guards; or (3) a period of time for mounting guard, watch. The first meaning applies here.
In ancient times imprisonment for a specified period of time was not a form of punishment prescribed by the Torah or Jewish law. The place of confinement was only to keep someone until disposition was made of his case (cf. Lev 24:12; Num 15:34; Acts 4:3; 5:18). There are a small number of cases previously mentioned in Scripture of innocent Israelites being imprisoned: Joseph (Gen 39:20), Joseph's brother Simeon (Gen 42:16–19, 24), Samson (Jdg 16:21), Hanani the seer (2Chr 16:10); the prophet Micaiah (1Kgs 22:27), Jeremiah (Jer 37:15–16; 38:4–14) and Yochanan the Immerser (Mark 6:17). After the exile Ezra was permitted to appoint judges with the right to impose imprisonment as one of the means for compelling obedience to God's law or the law of the king (Ezra 7:25–26). In Jerusalem the Romans used the Tower of Antonia as a prison (Acts 23:10).
having delivered him: Grk. paradidōmi, aor. part., to convey from one position to another, in general "to hand over," used here in reference to subjecting someone to arrest and being held for a judicial process. to four: pl. of Grk. tessares, adj., the cardinal number four, a cardinal number. squads: pl. of Grk. tetradion, a group of four, and in this case a guard mount. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. The English word "squad" is used commonly of a group of soldiers or police officers. of soldiers: Grk. stratiōtēs, soldier in the military sense. The term is used in the Besekh of Roman soldiers. The Greek term is broad in scope and included ranks below Centurion.
to guard: Grk. phulassō, pres. inf., may mean (1) serve as sentinel; guard, watch; (2) ensure that something remains intact; keep safe, preserve, watch; (3) 'be on guard against' or 'be on the alert against;' avoid (4) 'keep something from being violated;' keep, observe. The first meaning is primarily in view. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun, which may be used to (1) distinguish a person from or contrast it with another, or to give him emphatic prominence; himself, herself (2) express the force of a simple personal pronoun of the third person; he, him, she, her, them, it, or (3) with the article function as an adjective of identity; the same. The second meaning applies here.
Agrippa as Prefect of Judea would have a contingent of Roman soldiers in Jerusalem for security purposes. The selection of four squads of four soldiers each indicates the rotation of shifts and may allude to the four watches of the night that ran from sundown to sunrise with three hours per watch. Longenecker notes (citing the Roman writer Seneca) that usually a prisoner was chained to only one guard; but in this instance the guard was doubled. Agrippa took these special precautions, because Peter was the leader of the Messianic movement and his partisans might attempt a "jail-break." The night would be the most likely time for such an attempt.
intending: Grk. boulomai, pres. mid. part., may mean (1) have in one's mind; wish, want, desire; or (2) reach a decision upon deliberation; intend, decide, plan, will. The first meaning applies here. after: Grk. meta, prep., may be used (1) as a marker of association or accompaniment; with, among; or (2) as a sequential or positional marker; after, behind. The second usage is intended here to allude to a chronological sequence of events.
the Passover: Grk. pascha, the Passover. In the LXX pascha translates Heb. pesakh (derived from a verb pasach, to pass or spring over, BDB 820). The term is used in Scripture, both the Tanakh and Besekh, to mean (1) the Israelite festival, Nisan 14–21, celebrating deliverance from Egypt; (2) the young sheep slaughtered on Nisan 14 to begin the celebration; (3) the special communion–meal at sunset of Nisan 14 (Lev 23:5), which is the beginning of Nisan 15; and (4) the festival sacrifices (Heb. chagigah) of lambs and bulls on Nisan 15–21 (cf. Num 28:16–25; Deut 16:1–3; 2Chr 30:24; 35:8–9). The first meaning is intended here.
The Passover, synonymous with the "days of unleavened bread" in the previous verse, has been celebrated by Jews since God commanded the observance and gave instructions to Moses (Ex 12:1—13:16). The purpose of Passover observance was to celebrate God’s great work of redemption (Ex 23:14-15; Lev 23:4-8; Num 28:16-25; Deut 16:1-8). The miraculous deliverance from Egypt made salvation distinctly national in scope and truly set Israel apart as a special people. For a historical summary of the institution of Passover and its observance in biblical times see my web article The Passover.
to bring: Grk. anagō, aor. inf., to conduct from a lower place to a higher, to lead or bring up. him: Grk. autos. to the people: Grk. laos, a group of humans, understood geographically or ethnically, and often in the apostolic narratives of people groups associated with the God of Israel. Often in Scripture laos is viewed in contrast with the ruling class. The term corresponds to the Heb. am-ha'aretz, "people of the land," i.e., the people of Israel. Trials for capital cases were not to be held during a festival (Sanh. 4:1). It's noteworthy that Agrippa had no intention of bringing Peter before the Sanhedrin. He already knew he would have their approval. Bringing Peter into a public venue would mimic Pilate's trial of Yeshua.
5 Therefore indeed Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer was fervently taking place by the congregation to God concerning him.
Therefore: Grk. oun, an inferential conj., which is used here to indicate a conclusion connected with data immediately preceding, 'so, therefore, consequently, then.' indeed: Grk. mén, a particle of affirmation; indeed, verily, truly. Many versions do not translate the particle. Peter was kept: Grk. tēreō, impf. pass., may mean (1) to maintain in a secure state with a focus on personal interest or obligation; keep; or (2) to be in compliance in regard to instruction; keep, observe. The first meaning applies here. in: Grk. en, prep. generally used to mark position, lit. "in" or "within," and in composition may be translated "in, on, at, by, or with." the prison: Grk. ho phulakē. See the previous verse.
but: Grk. de, conj. prayer: Grk. proseuchē, a general word for prayer in the apostolic writings, appearing in contexts of worship, personal requests and intercession for others. In the LXX proseuchē translates Heb. tephillah (SH-8605, especially in the Psalms) a derivative of the verb palal (DNTT 2:863). Palal (SH-6419), lit. means "to intervene or to interpose" and has a wide range of usage in the Tanakh, including to arbitrate, to judge, to intercede or to pray. The context of palal in the Tanakh is pleading before a judge. Prayer is a humble petition for the favor of God and a demonstration of willingness to wait for God to act. For more information on prayer see my PowerPoint presentation Principles of Effective Prayer.
was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 3 above. fervently: Grk. ektenōs, adv., constancy in refusal to give in; earnestly, fervently, steadfastly. taking place: Grk. ginomai, pres. pass. part., to become, and here equivalent to come to pass or happen, used of historical events or something happening to someone; take place, happen, occur, arise. by: Grk. hupo, prep., under, used here to indicate agency or cause; by. the congregation: Grk. ekklēsia. See verse 1 above. to: Grk. pros, prep., lit. "near or facing" (DM 110), which may be translated as 'at,' 'to,' 'towards' or 'with.' Here the preposition denotes the direction of personal petition.
God: Grk. ho theos, properly, God, the Creator and owner of all things (John 1:1-3). The definite article probably signifies "the one called." In the LXX the singular theos translates the plural Heb. Elohim (SH-430), when used of the true God, the God of creation (Gen 1:1). In Hebrew thought the plural form represents fullness (DNTT 2:67), which excludes the possible existence of any other deity (Isa 44:6; 45:5-6; 46:9). Also, theos is not a philosophical construct for monotheism. God is a Person, and in the apostolic narratives He is particularly the God of the patriarchs and Israel (Matt 22:32; Luke 1:68).
concerning: Grk. peri, prep. with an orientational aspect relating to being near or having to do with something; in behalf of, about, concerning. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. This narrative of prayer illustrates the principles of praying specifically, boldly and persistently in unity to the God of Israel. Some of disciples would remember the two previous times that Peter had been imprisoned in Jerusalem (Acts 4:3; 5:18). The commitment to persistent prayer indicates the congregation was confident God would answer. After all, Peter had been freed by an angel the second time he was put in jail.
Escape from Prison, 12:6-19
6 Now when Herod was about to publicly try him, that night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, having been bound with two chains, guards also in front of the door were guarding the prison.
Now: Grk. de, conj. when: Grk. hote, temporal adv., at which time. The time reference indicates that the festival of Passover had concluded. Herod: See verse 1 above. was about to: Grk. mellō, impf., a future oriented verb with a pending aspect, being in the offing, be about to, be going to. publicly try: Grk. proagō, fut., may mean (1) to bring from one position to another by taking charge, to lead out; or (2) to go or come before, to precede. The first meaning is intended here as a judicial term of bringing one from detainment to trial. Some versions add "trial" as the purpose of the verb (CEV, CJB, CSB, GW, NIV, NLT). him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun, referring to Peter. that: Grk. ekeinos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 1 above. night: Grk. nux, night as a chronological period, sunset to sunrise. The noun alludes to the Jewish day beginning at sunset. The "night," was the evening before Peter was to be brought out.
Peter: See verse 3 above. was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 3 above. sleeping: Grk. koimaō, pres. mid. part., to sleep or cease being awake. Nighttime is the normal time for sleeping (cf. 1Th 5:7). The fact that Peer was sleeping meant he had no anxiety about what he might have to face the next day. between: Grk. metaxu, prep. used to denote a point at which one entity is separate from another, here as a spatial reference. two: Grk. duo, the cardinal number two. soldiers: pl. of Grk. stratiōtēs. See verse 4 above. having been bound: Grk. deō, perf. pass. part., to bind, used of physical restraint. with two: Grk. duo. chains: pl. of Grk. halusis, a chain, specifically used of a manacle or handcuff. The royal prisons in those days were doubtless managed after the Roman fashion, and chains, fetters and stocks were used as means of confinement. Chains were heavy and cumbersome enough to make escape or flight extremely difficult.
guards: pl. of Grk. phulax, guard, keeper, sentinel. also: Grk. te, conj. used to denote both connection and addition, as well as connect an idea closely to another in a manner that is tighter than with kai; and, also, both. in front of: Grk. pro, prep. indicating precedence, either (1) spatially, 'ahead, before, in front of' (2) temporally, 'earlier than, before' or (3) in rank, before or above. The first usage applies here. the door: Grk. ho thura, a device for opening and closing an entranceway; door, gate. The noun refers to the main entrance rather than interior doors. There would have been only one entry point. were guarding: Grk. tēreō, impf. See verse 5 above. the prison: Grk. phulakē. See verse 4 above. The extraordinary measures for keeping Peter in custody illustrate the difficulty for him to be freed by violent or even surreptitious means. King Agrippa may have been aware of Peter's previous escape from the public jail.
7 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood near and a light shone in the cell; then having struck the side of Peter he woke him, saying, "Get up quickly." And his chains fell off his hands.
And: Grk. kai, conj. behold: Grk. idou, aor. imp., demonstrative interjection (derived from eidon, "to see"), that arouses the attention of hearers or readers. The Greek verb, like its corresponding Heb. word hinneh (SH-2009, e.g., Gen 1:29), serves to enliven divine monologues and narratives, particularly as a call to closer consideration and contemplation of something, to introduce something new or to emphasize the size or importance of something; (you) see, look, behold (BAG). an angel: Grk. angelos, 'one sent,' a messenger, whether human or heavenly (BAG). In the LXX angelos translates Heb. malak, which means messenger, representative, courier or angel (DNTT 1:101f). The decision to translate malak or angelos as angel or messenger (i.e., human) relies primarily on the context. The term is used here to mean a heavenly messenger. See my web article The Host of Heaven.
of the Lord: Grk. kurios may mean either (1) one in control through possession, and therefore owner or master; or (2) one esteemed for authority or high status, thus lord or master. In the LXX kurios occurs over 9,000 times and is used primarily to replace the sacred name of God, YHVH. Kurios also occurs a number of times to identify men of higher rank to whom respect is owed (DNTT 2:511). Luke probably intends the title as a reference to Yeshua. Kurios is the principal title by which disciples addressed or referred to Yeshua during his earthly ministry, over twice as many times as any other title. Yeshua remarked on the occasion of his arrest that legions of angels were available to serve him (Matt 26:53).
stood near: Grk. ephistēmi, aor., to come or stand near. and: Grk. kai. a light: Grk. phōs, that which serves as a revealing or disclosing medium; light. shone: Grk. lampō, aor., to emit rays of light. in: Grk. en, prep. the cell: Grk. ho hoikēma, a place within a building complex, contextually determined as punitive. then: Grk. de, conj. having struck: Grk. patassō, aor. part., to hit with a sharp blow; strike. There is no mention of the angel striking with an object, so he could have used his hand or foot. the side: Grk. pleura, the side of a person's body. of Peter: See verse 3 above. he woke: Grk. egeirō, aor., to rise or raise, is used with a variety of meanings, here to arouse from sleep, to awaken. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun.
saying: Grk. legō, pres. part., to make a statement or utterance, whether mentally, orally or in writing, often used to introduce quoted material. The focus of the verb may be declarative, interrogative or imperative. In the LXX legō translates Heb. amar (SH-559), to utter, say, shew, command or think. Get up: Grk. anistēmi, aor. imp., to rise, stand up or get up and in its ordinary use refers to the physical motion of transition from a sitting or prone position or simply standing. In the LXX anistēmi translates Heb. qum (SH-6965), to arise, stand up, or stand, first in Genesis 4:8. quickly: Grk. en tachei, which is equivalent to the adverb tacheōs, putting into effect with rapidity; quickly, at once, without delay.
And: Grk. kai. his: Grk. autos. chains: pl. of Grk. halusis. See the previous verse. fell: Grk. ekpiptō, aor., to fall off. off: Grk. ek, prep., used to denote exit or separation from something with which there has been a close association, lit. "out of, from within" (Thayer). his hands: pl. of Grk. ho cheir. See verse 1 above. Luke clarifies the location of the manacles on Peter's body. To anyone observing this action it would seem like magic, but it does illustrate the power of angels.
8 Then the angel said to him, "Gird yourself and put on your sandals." And he did so. And he said to him, "Put on your cloak and follow me."
Then: Grk. de, conj. the angel: See the previous verse. said: Grk. legō, aor. See the previous verse. to: Grk. pros, prep. See verse 5 above. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e., Peter. Gird yourself: Grk. zōnnumi, aor. mid. imp., put a belt on, gird. The verb describes pulling a belt tightly around the waist to assure freedom of movement. Of interest is that the verb occurs only three times in the Besekh, the other two in John 21:18 where Yeshua says to Peter,
"Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself, and walked where you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish."
The command of the angel hinted that Peter's imprisonment by Agrippa was of the type Yeshua prophesied, but someday he would be imprisoned and there would be no deliverance from execution. and: Grk. kai, conj. put on: Grk. hupodeō, aor. mid. imp., to tie on so as to support from below in reference to footwear. your: Grk. su, possessive pronoun of the second person. sandals: pl. of Grk. sandalion (for Heb. na'al, Josh 9:15; Isa 20:2), flat footwear, a sole made of wood or leather, covering the bottom of the foot and bound on with thongs.
And: Grk. kai. he did: Grk. poieō, aor., a verb of physical action that may refer to (1) producing something material; make, construct, produce, create; or (2) to be active in bringing about a state of condition; do, act, perform, work. The second meaning applies here. In the LXX poieō translates chiefly Heb. asah (SH-6213), accomplish, do, make, work (first in Gen 1:7), and used of a wide range of human and divine activity. so: Grk. houtōs, adv., used to introduce the manner or way in which something has been done or to be done; thus, in this manner, way or fashion, so. And: Grk. kai. he said: Grk. legō, pres. to him: Grk. autos. Put on: Grk. periballō, aor. mid. imp., to cover around, i.e., to throw an article of clothing around one's self; put on. The verb alludes to the robe-like design of ancient clothing.
your: Grk. su. cloak: Grk. himation, a covering for the body, generally refers to clothing or apparel, but in this context it means an outer garment without reference to its quality. In the LXX himation rendered the Heb. beged, meaning both the outer garment and the clothes as a whole (DNTT 1:316). For the average Jewish man the beged was a simple rectangular cloak or robe, typically made of wool, with openings for the head and arms, and worn loosely over the under-tunic. and: Grk. kai. follow: Grk. akoloutheō, pres. imp., may mean (1) to be in motion in sequence behind someone; (2) to be in close association with someone, especially as a disciple. The first meaning of the verb applies here. me: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. The instruction of the angel implies that the guards had partially undressed Peter and his personal items were nearby.
9 And having gone out he was following, and he knew not that what was happening through the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision.
And: Grk. kai, conj. having gone out: Grk. exerchomai, aor. part., to move away from a place or position, to go or come out. he was following: Grk. akoloutheō, impf. See the previous verse. and: Grk. kai. he knew: Grk. oida, aor., properly to see with the physical eyes and as a result may mean (1) to have information about or (2) have discernment about. The verb "know" is used for experiential knowledge (BAG). In the LXX oida occurs frequently to render Heb. yada (SH-3045; e.g., Num 11:16; Deut 1:39), which in most occasions refers to a personal knowledge, whether knowing by experience or by learning (DNTT 2:395). not: Grk. ou, adv., a particle used for an unqualified denial or negation of an alleged fact or proposition.
that: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 3 above. what: Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a relative pronoun. was happening: Grk. ginomai, pres. pass. part. See verse 5 above. through: Grk. dia, prep. used as a prefix to a statement, which may express (1) instrumentality; through, by means of; or (2) causality; on account of, because of. The first usage applies here. the angel: See verse 7 above. was: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 3 above. real: Grk. alēthēs, adj., unconcealed, and so 'true.' In composition the adjective may be translated as real, genuine, trustworthy, or true. but: Grk. de, conj. thought: Grk. dokeō, impf., the basic idea of receptivity to the intellect; to entertain an idea or form an opinion about something on the basis of what appears to support a specific conclusion; think, opine, regard.
he was seeing: Grk. blepō, pres. inf., may mean (1) possess the physical ability to see; (2) use one's eyes to take note of an object; (3) be looking in a certain direction; or (4) fig. to have inward or mental sight. The second meaning applies here. a vision: Grk. horama, something that is seen by virtue of a transcendent or revelatory experience; vision. The term refers to a pictographic image seen with the eyes, not a mental insight. In the LXX horama translates six different Hebrew words that mean "vision," generally in regard to divine revelatory experiences of the patriarchs and the prophets. Previously in Acts visions were experienced by Moses (7:31), Ananias (9:10), Saul (9:12), Cornelius (10:3) and Peter (10:17). So, since being freed by an unknown man was impossible, Peter thought he was having another vision.
10 Then having passed a first guard and a second, they came to the iron gate leading into the city, which opened to them by itself; and having gone out they went along one street, and immediately the angel departed from him.
Then: Grk. de, conj. having passed: Grk. dierchomai, aor. part. (from dia, "through," and erchomai, "to come or go"), to go through, go about. a first: Grk. prōtos, adj., having to do with beforeness, whether (1) indicating primary position in sequence; first, earlier, earliest; (2) standing out in significance or importance, or (3) adverbially denoting first of all, at the first. The first meaning applies here. guard: Grk. phulakē. See verse 4 above. and: Grk. kai, conj. a second: Grk. deuteros, adj., second, in the second place. The angel apparently put a cloak of invisibility about Peter as they left the prison. they came: Grk. erchomai, aor., 'to come or arrive' with focus on a position from which action or movement takes place.
to: Grk. epi, prep., lit. "upon," used mostly as a marker of position or location; and in composition may be translated 'at, by, near, on, to, upon, or over.' the iron: Grk. sidēros, adj., made of iron, one of the most abundant metals on earth. Iron metal has been used since ancient times, though lower-melting copper alloys were used first in history. Pure iron is soft (softer than aluminum). The material is significantly hardened and strengthened by impurities from the smelting process. gate: Grk. pulē, a large door; an entrance-gate to a city or fortress; a door-gate. The term typically refers to the exit people use to go out (HELPS). leading: Grk. pherō, pres. part., may mean (1) to move an entity from one position to another by physical transport or guidance; or (2) direct something that is of a cognitive nature. The first meaning applies here with the sense of "providing access."
into: Grk. eis, prep. the city: Grk. ho polis, a population center whose size or number of inhabitants could range broadly, a city or town. which: Grk. hostis, relative pronoun used as a generalizing reference to the subject of a verb or a preceding entity; who, which. opened: Grk. anoigō, aor. pass., to open, often used of doors and gates. to them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. by itself: Grk. automatos, adj., without external agency, of its own accord. The adjective denotes what Peter observed. The angel exerted his own power to open the gate. and: Grk. kai. having gone out: Grk. exerchomai, aor. part. See the previous verse. they went along: Grk. proerchomai, aor., to take an advanced position in the course of going, to go forward or go before.
one: Grk. heis, the cardinal number one. street: Grk. rhumē, a tract of way in a town shut in by buildings on both sides; thus a narrow street or lane in a town or city (Thayer). and: Grk. kai. immediately: Grk. eutheōs, adv., immediately, forthwith, or right away. The adverb is a dramatic device that energizes the narrative, often shifting the reader's attention to another scene. the angel: See verse 7 above. departed: Grk. aphistēmi, aor., may mean (1) cause to move from a reference point; or (2) withdraw oneself from a person or thing. The second meaning applies here. from: Grk. apo, prep. him: Grk. autos. One second the angel was with Peter and the next second he had disappeared.
11 And Peter having come to be within himself, said, "Now I know truly that the Lord has sent forth his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and all the expectation of the people of the Judeans."
And: Grk. kai, conj. Peter having come to be: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. part. See verse 5 above. within: Grk. en, prep. himself: Grk. heautou, reflexive pronoun of the third person to denote that the agent and the person acted on are the same. Many versions render the verbal phrase as "came to himself." Gill notes that having been awakened out of a comfortable sleep, seeing his manacles fall off, and being led out of the prison by some strange person with no one noticing, Peter was so filled with amazement, that he was not himself. He could not tell whether he was in the body or not, and whether he was in a visionary state, but upon the angel disappearing he came to himself. The amazement wore off, and he found himself thoroughly awake, and perfectly in his senses, and that the deliverance was real.
said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 7 above. Now: Grk. nun, adv., marker of time in the present; now or just now. I know: Grk. oida, pres. See verse 9 above. truly: Grk. alēthōs, adv., corresponding to what is really so; truly, really, actually. that: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 3 above. the Lord: See verse 7 above. Peter probably used the title as a reference to Yeshua. has sent forth: Grk. exapostellō, aor., send, which may focus on (1) moving persons from one place to another, send out/away/forth; or (2) dismissal, send away. The first usage is intended here and implies the angel came from heaven. his: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. angel: Grk. angelos. See verse 7 above. In Scripture angels appear as male humans, so only when Peter came to himself did he realize his rescuer was no ordinary human.
The reference "his angel" could mean the Messiah's own personal emissary, perhaps an angel of the status of an aide-de-camp to a modern commanding general of military forces. The reference to "his angel" occurs only a few times in Scripture so it is possible that this same unnamed angel is the one who led Abraham's servant to find a bride for Isaac (Gen 24:7, 40), protected the Hebrews in the fire (Dan 3:28), protected Daniel in the lion's den (Dan 6:22) and delivered the revelation to John (Rev 1:1; 22:6). and: Grk. kai. rescued: Grk. exaireō, aor., may mean (1) remove from a place, e.g., bodily organ, take out, extract; or (2) in an extended sense of removing from peril, deliver or rescue. The second meaning applies here. me: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person.
from: Grk. ek, prep., lit. "out of." See verse 7 above. the hand: Grk. cheir. See verse 1 above. The noun is likely intended in the figurative sense as a reference to judicial power. of Herod: See verse 1 above. and: Grk. kai. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj., comprehensive in scope, but without statistical emphasis; all, every. the expectation: Grk. ho prosdokia, state of expectation with the affective aspect defined in context, whether apprehensiveness or anticipation. The noun occurs only two times in the Besekh (also Luke 21:26). Some versions translate the noun as something desired or hoped for (CJB, TLB, NIRV, NIV, WE). Rather, Peter expresses something anticipated by virtue of the circumstances.
of the people: Grk. laos. See verse 4 above. The noun is used as a contrast to the ruling authorities and would be equivalent to the population. of the Judeans: pl. of Grk. Ioudaios. See verse 3 above. A few versions treat the noun as meaning the Judean leaders (CEV, NLT, NTE, TPT, WE), but more likely the noun refers to the residents of Judea, especially within the vicinity of Jerusalem. MSG offers a pejorative translation with "Jewish mob." There is no evidence that the Jewish populace had turned against the Messianic movement. The people of Judea held the apostles in high esteem (Acts 2:47; 5:13). Peter's conclusion is that the non-believing people had no expectation of a miraculous deliverance from execution, in contrast to the disciples who prayed fervently for a miracle.
Of interest is that there are only a few other accounts in Scripture of angelic deliverance from the sentence of death: (1) Lot and his daughters from Sodom (Gen 19:15-22); Jerusalem from the Assyrians (2Kgs 19:35); the three friends of Daniel in the fiery furnace (Dan 3:23-28); Daniel in the lion's den (Dan 6:16-22), and then Joseph, Miriam and baby Yeshua in Bethlehem (Matt 2:13). The circumstance does raise the age-old question of why God allows some to suffer and die and others to be delivered. Unfortunately, the answer is sealed in the secret counsels of God. Whether we live or die we must still bless the name of the God of Israel (Job 1:21; Ps 103:1; 145:17-21).
At the House of Miriam, 12:12-17
12 Also, having comprehended it he came to the house of Miriam, the mother of John, the one called Mark, where were many having gathered together and were praying.
Also: Grk. te, conj. having comprehended it: Grk. sunoraō, aor. part., having a full insightful grasp; comprehend, perceive, understand. The verb alludes to the mental reflection of the previous verse. he came: Grk. erchomai, aor. See verse 10 above. to: Grk. epi, prep. See verse 10 above. The preposition is used here to denote vicinity. the house: Grk. oikia may mean either (1) a habitable structure, house; or (2) fig. a group within a house, household or family. The first meaning applies here. of Miriam: Grk. Maria, fem. name, which is intended to stand for Heb. Miryam ("Miriam" in English). The meaning of the name is not known for certain, although Thayer suggests the name means "rebelliousness or obstinacy," a theory favored in Christianity.
The first Miriam in Scripture is the sister of Aaron and Moses (Ex 15:20) and with such a negative meaning its unlikely that the parents would have given this name to their daughter at birth. The best interpretation I've found is at BehindtheName.com which says that Miriam "was originally an Egyptian name, perhaps derived in part from mry "beloved" or mr "love." The use of Grk. Maria in the apostolic writings is inexplicable since it does not appear in any ancient Jewish writings. The LXX transliterates Heb. Miryam with Mariam. There are seven (or eight) women identified as "Miriam" in the Besekh.
Besides this Miriam there is (1) Miriam of Nazareth, mother of Yeshua (Matt 1:16), (2) Miriam of Magdala (Matt 27:56), (3) Miriam, mother of Jacob and Joseph (Matt 27:56), (4) Miriam of Bethany, sister of Lazarus (John 11:1); (5) Miriam, wife of Clopas (John 19:25), and (6) Miriam of Rome (Rom 16:6). (NOTE: most scholars think #3 and #5 refer to the same person.) The use of the English "Mary" in Christian Bibles for these women began with the Tyndale New Testament (1525) and Christians have called these Jewish women by this name ever since. The choice of English translators to use "Mary" instead of the Hebrew name "Miriam" can only be to minimize their Jewish identity.
Church tradition assigned the house of Miriam as the location of Yeshua's last supper (Geldenhuys 556). In that event the house would be well known to Peter. Of historical interest is that when Yeshua's followers who had fled to Pella shortly before the destruction of Jerusalem (A.D. 70) were again allowed to inhabit the south-western portion of the city they rebuilt the ruins of this house into a building for holding religious meetings.
the mother: Grk. mētēr (for Heb. ima) refers to a biological female parent, although occasionally the word is used for someone who served as a surrogate mother or was like a mother (Matt 12:49; Mark 3:35; John 19:27; Rom 16:13). The mention of the mother probably indicates that the father was deceased. of John: Grk. Iōannēs, for Heb. Yochanan. See verse 2 above. The Hebrew name emphasizes his Jewish lineage. Thayer commits the faux pas of saying "she was perhaps converted to Christianity by Peter." First, Christianity was invented by the church fathers, not by Yeshua and the apostles. Second, the Jews mentioned in Acts did not have to "convert;" they simply accepted the good news of Yeshua as their prophesied Messiah and Lord.
the one: Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. called: Grk. epikaleō, pres. pass. part., may mean (1) to give a name or nickname to; call, name; or (2) call upon for help, aid or intercession; invoke, appeal to, call upon for oneself. The first meaning applies here. Luke clarifies the identity of this John, due to its common use. Mark: Grk. Markos, the Greek form of the Roman name Marcus. His name occurs only eight times in the Besekh, the first mention here. How and why this John (Yochanan) assumed a Roman name is unknown. Mark was a cousin of Barnabas (Col 4:10), and like him the family probably came originally from Cyprus (cf. Acts 4:36; 15:39).
Mark was already a disciple at this point and may have become a follower of Yeshua through Peter's personal influence (cf. 1Pet 5:13). Church tradition identified Mark as the young man who accompanied Yeshua and the Twelve to the Garden of Gethsemane after the last supper and then fled naked from the garden when Yeshua was arrested (Mark 14:51-52). He is also the author of the Yeshua narrative bearing his name. According to patristic records Mark accompanied Peter when he went to Rome during the reign of Claudius, c. 42/43 A.D. (Eusebius, Church History, II, 14:1-6; 15:1-2). For more on the background of Mark see my article Witnesses of the Good News.
where: Grk. hou, adv. of place; in what place. were: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 3 above. many: pl. of Grk. hikanos, adj., of a quality or extent that is quite enough, and may mean (1) sufficient, adequate, large enough; (2) large or much of number and quantity; or (3) fit, appropriate, competent, qualified (BAG). The second meaning applies here. The adjective suggests a very large house. having gathered together: Grk. sunathroizō, perf. pass. part., cause to be in a place together; assemble, bring together, gather. The early disciples met in private homes for fellowship, prayer and worship (Acts 2:46; 8:3). and: Grk. kai, conj.
were praying: Grk. proseuchomai, pres. pass. part., to petition deity for some personal desire. In the LXX proseuchomai translates Heb. palal (SH-6419), to intervene, mediate, intercede or pray. The verb refers to earnestly petitioning God for His help regarding an urgent need. Luke does not explain the content of the praying as he does elsewhere, but the immediate concern would be to spare Peter's life. They might also have been praying that God would do justice for the murder of Jacob (see my comment on Rev 6:10).
13 Then he having knocked on the door of the gate, a maidservant named Rhoda came to answer.
Then: Grk. de, conj. he: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e., Peter. having knocked on: Grk. krouō, aor. part., to knock to gain admittance. the door: Grk. thura. See verse 6 above. of the gate: Grk. pulōn, an entrance to the forecourt of a building. HELPS says the term denotes 'the passage which led from the street through the front part of the house to the inner court,' closed by a heavy gate at the street. The mention of the gate indicates that the house of Miriam was large.
a maidservant: Grk. paidiskē, a young girl or maiden with focus on obligations or work within a family context; bondmaid, maidservant. In the LXX paidiskē translates three different words: (1) Heb. shiphchah (SH-8198), maidservant, used of servants given to Abraham by Pharaoh (Gen 12:16), of Hagar (Gen 16:1), of Zilpah (Gen 29:24), and of Bilhah (Gen 29:29); (2) Heb. amah (SH-519), maidservant, used of Hagar (Gen 21:10); and (3) Heb. na'arah (SH-5291), young girl or maiden, used of Ruth (Ruth 4:12). The mention of a maidservant suggests a family of wealth. named: Grk. onoma is used in its central sense of identifying someone with a proper name. In Hebrew literature "name" also carries the extended sense of qualities, powers, attributes or reputation.
Rhoda: Grk. Rhodē, a personal name. The name appears only here in the Besekh. It is possible that like Hagar, Zilpah and Bilhah, Rhoda had been a concubine of Mark's father, since polygamy was still practiced among Jews at this time (Josephus, Ant. XVII, 1:2; 1:3; Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, §134). came: Grk proserchomai, aor., to approach from a point to a person or place; come, go to, approach. to answer: Grk. hupakouō, aor. inf., to be in compliance, to obey. The verb is formed from the preposition hupo, 'under,' and akouō, 'to hear.' In Hebrew culture "to hear" is "to obey." So, hearing the knocking obedience required Rhoda to answer.
14 And having recognized the voice of Peter, from the joy she opened not the gate, but having run in he announced Peter to be standing in front of the gate.
And: Grk. kai, conj. having recognized: Grk. epiginōskō, aor. part., 'to know about,' which may be used (1) of familiarity with something/ someone through observation , experience or receipt of information; (2) of awareness or recognition based on previous knowledge; (3) in an increasing measure, really know, know well; or (4) with focus on acquisition of knowledge, find out. The first usage fits here. the voice: Grk. phōnē can mean (1) an auditory impression or sound defined in the context; (2) the faculty of producing speech, voice; or (3) a system of communication, language. The second meaning applies here. In the LXX phōnē generally translates Heb. qôl (SH-6963), sound, voice; first of God's voice (Gen 3:8), and second the human voice (Gen 3:17) (DNTT 3:113). of Peter: See verse 3 above.
The gate would have been locked, so Peter likely yelled in order to get the attention of someone in the house. When Rhoda came out she probably said something like "who is it?" and or "what can I do for you?" Peter responded to whatever her query was. Luke clarifies that Rhoda did not recognize Peter from sight, probably because the gate was a solid structure, but she knew his voice from long familiarity. from: Grk. apo, prep. See verse 1 above. the joy: Grk. chara, joy as an emotional response that may be experienced in a variety of circumstances or of sharing in a celebration. she opened: Grk. anoigō, aor. See verse 10 above. not: Grk. ou, adv. See verse 9 above. the gate: Grk. pulōn. See the previous verse.
but: Grk. de, conj. having run in: Grk. eistrechō, aor. part., rapidly enter an area; run in. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. she reported: Grk. apangellō, aor., may mean (1) to report back in response to a directive ; or (2) to relate as the result of personal experience, observation or other source of information; relate, report, declare. The second meaning applies here. Peter to be standing: Grk. histēmi, perf. inf., may mean (1) cause to be in a place or position; (2) to be in an upright position; (3) to set or place in a balance; (4) fig. to stand ready, to be of a steadfast mind. The first meaning applies here. in front of: Grk. pro, prep. See verse 6 above. the gate: Grk. pulōn. Rhoda's reaction injects humor into the narrative.
15 And they said to her, "You are confused!" But she kept insisting thus, holding fast, and they were saying, "It is his messenger."
And: Grk. de, conj. they said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 7 above. to: Grk. pros, prep. See verse 5 above. her: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. The opening clause describes a face-to-face encounter. You are confused: Grk. mainomai, pres. mid., 2p-sing., may mean (1) to rave, full of inner rage or fury; or (2) to act as though out of one's senses (HELPS). Danker has "utter in a manner suggesting derangement; rave, be delirious. The word is a verb describing behavior, but most all versions translate it as an adjective describing an extreme psychological condition, such as "crazy," "insane," "mad," or "out of your mind." In context the disciples in the house probably meant that to them she was being irrational or not making any sense. They were not accusing her of having a psychotic break with reality.
But: Grk. de. she kept insisting: Grk. diischurizomai, impf. mid., assert positively, insist. The verb means to assert emphatically, especially in the face of opposition. thus: Grk. houtōs, adv. See verse 8 above. holding fast: Grk. echō, pres. inf., to have, with a wide range of application: e.g., (1) having something under one's control or at one's disposal; (2) bear an article on one's person; (3) be in a position to do something; (4) to view something in a particular way; consider, hold to, hold fast, keep or (5) to experience a condition or situation. The fourth meaning applies here. The point is that Rhoda would not change her testimony in the face of unbelief. and: Grk. de. they were saying: Grk. legō, impf. It is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 3 above. his: Grk. autos. messenger: Grk. angelos. See verse 7 above.
Commentators suggest that the use of angelos alludes to the Jewish belief that every person has a guardian angel (Berachot 60b; Chagigah 16a; Sanhedrin 94a; cf. Gen 48:16; Ps 91:11; Matt 18:10; Heb 1:14). Bruce comments that Jews regarded the guardian angel as even capable of assuming the bodily appearance of the human being whom he protected. The role of Raphael in Tobit 5:4-16 probably reflects this view. However, such a metamorphosis is pure fantasy and has no biblical support. While angels do act in the interests of God's people the more natural meaning of the objection is that a human messenger had come to the house on Peter's behalf. After all, why would an angel stand outside the gate and knock? Wouldn't an angel just appear inside the house as the angel who rescued Peter appeared inside the prison? Of all the Bible versions, the YLT is the only one to translate the noun as "messenger." Obviously, they reasoned, Peter couldn't be standing outside.
16 But Peter continued knocking; then having opened the gate, they saw him and were amazed.
But: Grk. de, conj. Peter continued: Grk. epimenō, impf., may mean (1) persist in a local position; remain, stay; or (2) continue a state or activity; continued, persist. The second meaning applies here. knocking: Grk. krouō, pres. part. See verse 13 above. then: Grk. de. having opened the gate: Grk. anoigō, aor. part. See verse 10 above. they saw: Grk. horaō, aor. See verse 3 above. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. and: Grk. kai, conj. were amazed: Grk. existēmi, aor., expresses the idea of causing or undergoing a psychological change outside normal expectation. In this context the verb means to make a profound impression on by astonishing, to be amazed. The disciples were in a state of shock. They certainly believed in miracles and had probably witnessed miracles, but after the death of Jacob, John's brother, their confidence in the deliverance of Peter had been shaken.
17 But having motioned to them with his hand to be silent, he described to them how the Lord had led him out of the prison. Also he said, "Report these things to Jacob and the brothers." And having gone out he went to another place.
But: Grk. de, conj. having motioned: Grk. kataseiō, aor. part., a gesturing or waving motion for attention. to them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. with his hand: Grk. ho cheir. See verse 1 above. to be silent: Grk. sigaō, pres. inf., may mean (1) refrain from speaking or (2) refrain for a time from revealing something publicly. The first meaning applies here. The group of disciples had apparently begun exclaiming in their amazement. Such noise in the night might attract the attention of soldiers, so Peter did his best to shush them. He must have then entered the house where he could address the entire group that had gathered for prayer.
he described: Grk. diēgeomai, aor. mid., relate in full, describe, narrate. to them: pl. of Grk. autos. how: Grk. pōs, adv. introducing a query concerning manner, way, or reason in respect to a matter; how? in what manner/way? The adverb implies that the disciples asked these questions and Peter answered. the Lord: Grk. kurios. See verse 7 above. Peter probably means Yeshua, because the angel belonged to him. had led: Grk. exagō, aor., to bring, lead or take out. him: Grk. autos. out of: Grk. ek, prep. the prison: Grk ho phulakē. See verse 4 above. Also: Grk. te, conj. he said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 7 above. Report: Grk. apangellō, aor. imp. See verse 14 above. these things: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun signifying a person or thing set forth in narrative that precedes or follows it; this.
to Jacob: Grk. Iakōbos. See verse 2 above. This "Jacob" is the son of Joseph and half-brother of Yeshua (Matt 13:55) who had become a leader in the Jerusalem congregation. Jacob apparently was not in attendance at the prayer meeting. Peter's instruction indicates his recognition of Jacob's leadership of the congregation in Jerusalem (cf. Acts 15:12; 21:18; Gal 2:9). According to Hippolytus (170-236, On the Seventy Apostles), Jacob was one of the seventy men Yeshua sent out to announce the Kingdom of God (Luke 10:1-11).
Yeshua made a personal appearance to Jacob after his resurrection (1Cor 15:7) and then Jacob was among the disciples filled with the Holy Spirit on Pentecost (Acts 1:14). He also wrote a letter of encouragement and exhortation to Messianic Jews in the Diaspora, which is included in the Besekh. For more on the background and life of Jacob, son of Joseph and Miriam, as well as the literary history of how "Jacob" came to be "James," see my article The Letter of Jacob: Introduction. and: Grk. kai, conj. the brothers: pl. of Grk adelphos. See verse 2 above. The plural noun probably refers here to lay leaders who assisted Jacob.
And: Grk. kai. having gone out: Grk. exerchomai, aor. part. See verse 9 above. he went: Grk. poreuō, aor., may mean (1) to physically move from one area to another; go, make one's way; or (2) in an ethical sense regarding a manner of life; conduct oneself, live, walk (Luke 1:6). The first meaning applies here. to another: Grk. heteros, adj., a distributive pronoun that may (1) distinguish one item from another in a numerical sense, other, another; or (2) express dissimilarity of one item relative to another, whether generically or qualitatively; other, another or different. The second meaning applies here. place: Grk. topos, a spatial area, generally used of a geographical area. Luke does not give the location, but probably Antioch (cf. Gal 2:11).
None of the apostolic narratives identify Jacob, son of Joseph, as a disciple of Yeshua during his earthly ministry. Jacob may have initially shared the opinion of his siblings and mother that Yeshua had "lost his senses" (Mark 3:21). The apostle John reports that on the eve of Sukkot in the Autumn of 29 Yeshua's brothers (no mention of number or names) encouraged him to reveal himself (John 7:3-5).
By this time the brothers must have heard many reports of Yeshua's miracles and appear ready to believe if he would be more open about his identity. As other Jews of the time they would welcome the Messiah to end Roman rule. The statement "his brothers were not believing" does not necessarily connote uniformity. There is a Jewish saying that illustrates this point: "If five sons are faithful and two are not, you may cry, 'Woe is me, for my sons are unfaithful!'" (Stern 386).
A significant piece of evidence that points to Jacob coming to that belief is the record of the church father Hippolytus (170-236), On the Seventy Apostles. In the Winter of 29-30 Yeshua sent out seventy men (Luke 10:1-11) to announce the Kingdom and gave them the same instructions that he had given the Twelve for their first mission (Matt 10:5-15). Jacob, the half-brother of Yeshua, is named first in the list of Hippolytus. There is no reason to dispute this record. We know that Yeshua made a personal appearance to Jacob after his resurrection (1Cor 15:7) and that Jacob joined with the eleven apostles and the other believers in Jerusalem to await empowerment by the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:14). In time, Jacob assumed the leadership of the Jerusalem congregation and became a prominent leader of the Body of Messiah (cf. Acts 12:17; 15:1, 13; 21:18; 1Cor 9:5; Gal 1:19; 2:9, 12).
Jacob, the Lord's brother, perceived his calling as to the "circumcised" (Gal 2:9). While commentators normally take the term to mean Jews in general, it is more likely a technical term for Hebraic Jews aligned with the Pharisees (Acts 15:5; cf. the use of the term in Acts 10:45; 11:2; 15:1; Rom 4:12; 15:8; Gal 2:12; Col 4:11; Titus 1:10). Other than his contribution to the Jerusalem meeting of apostles and other leaders (Acts 15), the Besekh says nothing more of Jacob's ministry or death. However, Jacob penned a practical letter to Messianic Jews in the Diaspora to encourage their faithfulness. See my commentary on this letter.
The earliest church father to write about Jacob was Hegesippus (of Jewish parentage, AD 110-180) and he records that Jacob was a holy man who took the vow of the Nazirite, performed numerous healings and exorcisms and prayed extensively at the Temple. Hegesippus said that the skin of Jacob's knees became "horny like that of a camel’s, by reason of his constantly bending the knee in adoration to God, and begging forgiveness for the people" (Memoirs, Book V).
Hegesippus goes on to say that Jacob's martyrdom came about by a group of scribes and Pharisees who, upset over the success of the good news in the city, took Jacob to a tower of the Temple and threw him off, but as he was not killed by the fall, he was then stoned and finally killed by a blow to the head from a fuller's staff. Both Clement of Alexandria (Church History II, 1:4) and Eusebius (Church History II, 23:3) accepted the account of Hegesippus regarding the manner of death. The narrative continues by saying that "shortly afterwards" Vespasian besieged Judaea (AD 67), which might imply that the death of Jacob occurred in the previous year.
Josephus records that the death of Jacob was at the instigation of Ananus, who was the high priest.
"Ananus, who, as we have told you already, took the high priesthood, was a bold man in his temper, and very insolent; he was also of the sect of the Sadducees, who are very rigid in judging offenders, above all the rest of the Jews, as we have already observed; when, therefore, Ananus was of this disposition, he thought he had now a proper opportunity … so he assembled the Sanhedrim of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned." (Ant. XX, 9:1)
Jeremias lists the term of Ananus as AD 62 (378), so the date of Jacob's death by this account would be 62-63 A.D. Barclay (12) and Basser (427) concur with the date of 62. OCB gives the date as 61 (339). The accounts of Josephus and Hegesippus seem to be in conflict on the date of martyrdom, but too much may be assumed in the dating reference of "shortly afterwards." Hegesippus likely made a connection between the unjust killing of Jacob the Just and divine retribution for that act meted out by the Roman armies (cf. Luke 21:20). The church father Jerome adds this final comment on the life of Jacob, confirming the year of his death:
"And so he ruled the church of Jerusalem thirty years, that is until the seventh year of Nero [AD 61-62], and was buried near the temple from which he had been cast down. His tombstone with its inscription was well known until the siege of Titus and the end of Hadrian's reign. Some of our writers think he was buried in Mount Olivet, but they are mistaken." (Lives of Illustrious Men, II)
The Search for Peter, 12:18-19
18 Now day having come, there was no small disturbance among the soldiers, "so what has become of Peter?"
Now: Grk. de, conj. day: Grk. hēmera. See verse 3 above. having come: Grk. ginomai, aor. part. See verse 5 above. there was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 3 above. no: Grk. ou, adv. small: Grk. oligos, adj., used (1) of extent or degree; little, small; (2) of quantity, few; or (3) adverbially of time. The first meaning is intended here, no doubt understatement. Luke uses the idiomatic expression "no small" seven times in Acts (14:28; 15:2; 17:4, 12; 19:23, 24). A few versions obscure the idiom of "no small" with the translation of "great" (CSB, NET, NLT, TLB). disturbance: Grk. tarachos, a disturbed state or condition; commotion, disturbance, trouble. among: Grk. en, prep. the soldiers: pl. of Grk. stratiōtēs. See verse 4 above. Luke's summary of what followed at sunrise is pure understatement for ironic effect.
so: Grk. ara, conj., a marker of inference based on a preceding matter or statement; so, then. what: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun indicating interest in establishing something definite; who, which, what, why. The grammatical constructions indicates a question that was asked by the soldiers. has become: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. of Peter: See verse 3 above. The MSG is the only version to present the question in quotation marks. The question indicates that the soldiers had performed a thorough search of the prison, and they knew this meant serious trouble for them.
19 Then Herod, having searched for him and not having found him, and having examined the guards, he ordered them to be led away to death. And, having gone down from Judea to Caesarea, he was spending time there.
Then: Grk. de, conj. Herod: See verse 1 above. having searched for: Grk. epizēteō, aor. part., may mean (1) try to find something; look for; search for; or (2) show strong interest in; seek, want. The first meaning applies here. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. The opening clause implies that Herod personally searched the prison, but he may have also sent out a search party in surrounding areas to look for Peter. and: Grk. kai, conj. not: Grk. mē, adv., a particle of qualified negation, not. It differs from the other standard negative particle, oú, in that oú is objective, dealing only with facts, while mē is subjective, involving will and thought (DM 265).
having found him: Grk. heuriskō, aor. part., to find, here meaning to come upon a person or thing by seeking. and having examined: Grk. anakrinō, aor. part., to engage in careful inquiry, make a close study of, ask questions about, to examine or investigate. the guards: pl. of Grk. phulax. See verse 6 above. Agrippa had to determine how it was possible for Peter to escape. Surely his escape was contrived by human means and a human sympathizer was at work, someone who had drugged the guards and bribed the chief jailer with the keys. Given the miraculous nature of the escape no such evidence could be produced. A conspiracy of all the prison personnel to release Peter was unthinkable. So Agrippa had to make the decision on his own. Luke is silent about whether Agrippa might have considered a divine deliverance.
he ordered them: Grk. keleuō, aor., give an authoritative order; command, order. to be led away: Grk. apagō, aor., to lead out, to lead away; used especially of those led off to trial, prison, or punishment. Under Roman law a guard who allowed a prisoner to escape became liable to the same penalty as the escaped prisoner would have suffered (Bruce). King Herod had latitude in this instance, and Peter had not been tried for a crime and sentenced to death. Herod simply wanted to kill him out of religious bias. In this instance the verb probably means being led to execution (beheading), but it could also mean being led away for flogging.
And: Grk. kai. having gone down: Grk. katerchomai, aor. part., to go down or to come down, generally of moving in a geographical context from a higher to lower elevation. from: Grk. apo, prep. Judea: Grk. Ioudaia (for Heb. Y'hudah), transliterates the Latin provincial name of Iudaea. The territorial name of Ioudaia had two uses: (1) the historic territory of Judea that lay between Samaria on the north and Idumea on the south (Luke 2:4; Acts 1:8; 8:1; 9:31). See the map. (2) the Roman province of Judaea, which at this time and the change in governors comprised Galilee, Samaria, Judea, Idumea and Perea, with its capital at Caesarea (Luke 23:5; Acts 10:37; 11:1, 29). See the map here. With the mention of the following geographical location the hilly territory of Judea surrounding Jerusalem is intended here.
to: Grk. eis, prep. Caesarea: Grk. Kaisareia, a prominent coastal city located 23 miles south of Mt. Carmel. Originally called Strato's Tower the Hasmonean ruler Alexander Jannaeus brought it under Jewish control in 96 BC, but Pompey brought it under Roman rule in 63 BC. The city was home to a thriving Jewish community. Because of the lack of natural harbor Herod the Great undertook in 22 BC to build a fine port facility and support it by a new city. Great statues of Augustus and Roma were erected at the entrance. An inner harbor appears to have been dug into the land where mooring berths and vaulted warehouses were constructed.
Herod the Great changed the name of the city to Caesarea in honor of Caesar Augustus (Josephus, Ant. XIV, 4:4; XV, 8:5). Josephus described the construction of the harbor and accompanying city in grandiose detail (Ant. XIV, 4:4; XV, 9:6). Caesarea was Hellenistic in design and style and in addition to the many buildings a platform was raised near the harbor upon which a temple was built for Caesar with a Colossus of Caesar. The city was the capital of the province of Judaea and served as the official home of the procurators. The city is mentioned in the book of Acts 15 times, first as the place where Philip had settled (Acts 8:40; 21:8), and as the location of apostolic visits and significant events.
he stayed there: Grk. diatribō, impf., to spend time, to continue or stay in a place. Caesarea was the seat of Herod Agrippa's government and his visit to Jerusalem had been short term.
Death of Herod, 12:20-23
20 Now he was very angry with the Tyrians and Sidonians; and they came to him with one accord, and having persuaded Blastus the one over the bedchamber of the king, they were asking for peace, because of their region being nourished from the king's resources.
Now: Grk. de, conj. he was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 3 above. very angry: Grk. thumomacheō, pres. part., may mean (1) to carry on war with great animosity; or (2) to be very angry, be furious, be exasperated with. The second meaning applies here. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. with the Tyrians: pl. of Grk. Turios, an inhabitant of Tyre. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. The city of Tyre was an ancient seaport of the Phoenicians situated northwest of Galilee, about 40 miles from Capernaum as the raven flies. Tyre consisted of two cities: a rocky coastal city on the mainland and a small island city just off the shore. Tyre lay about 25 miles south of Sidon. Dates of founding range from 2000 BC to 2750 BC. Tyre was known for their maritime success and as a center of trade. One of Tyre's most coveted exports was purple dye (HBD).
and: Grk. kai, conj. Sidonians: pl. of Grk. Sidōnios, adj., an inhabitant of Sidon. The adjective occurs only twice in the Besekh (also Luke 4:26). The name Sidon first appears in Scripture as the son of Canaan (Gen 10:15). Like Tyre the city of Sidon was a Phoenician coastal city in the province of Syria northwest of Galilee. Sidon was considered a sister city of Tyre, although founded earlier before 2000 BC. Sidon was the most dominant of the two cities during the early part of their histories, being called "Great Sidon" (Josh 19:28). Like Tyre the city of Sidon was known as a center of maritime trade. Tyre and Sidon were outside of the northern border of the land given to the tribe of Asher and the Israelites never conquered that territory (Josh 19:1-4).
Israel did have relations with the two cities, especially with Tyre. David employed Tyrian stonemasons and carpenters and used cedars from that area in building a palace (2Sam 5:11). Solomon depended heavily on materials and craftsmen from Tyre in the construction of the Temple in Jerusalem (1Kgs 5:1-11; 7:13-40). Later King Ahab married Jezebel, the daughter of the Phoenician king, bringing Baal worship to his capital. Eventually Tyre and Sidon would become the subjects of prophetic judgments by the Hebrew prophets. The cities of Tyre and Sidon became thoroughly Hellenistic under the Seleucid kings. Under Roman rule, Tyre and Sidon were treated as free cities and continued to be important ports of trade, but they did not enjoy the dominance they previously held.
Yeshua had visited the district of Tyre and Sidon (Matt 15:21), although he did not actually enter the cities. In that district he delivered a woman's daughter of demon oppression and reminded the Syrophoenician mother of the priority of his mission to Israel (Mark 7:25-30). It was also from that territory that many people came to hear Yeshua and were healed of various physical maladies (Mark 3:8-10). The cities are notable for being mentioned in a curse Yeshua uttered against two cities near Capernaum:
"Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have turned long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 Yet it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the Judgment than for you!" (Luke 10:13-14 TLV)
and: Grk. kai. they came: Grk. pareimi, impf., to be present, to be here. The verb may reflect the perfect tense "had come." In Greek literature the verb is used to mean to be by or near one, to be present so as to help, stand by (LSJ). In the LXX pareimi translates Heb. qarob, (SH-7138), "near, at hand" (e.g., Deut 32:35), and indicates the proximity of someone. to: Grk. pros, prep. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. with one accord: Grk. homothumadon, adv., a spontaneous meeting of minds; of one mind, of one accord, unanimity. and: Grk. kai. having persuaded: Grk. peithō, aor. part., to bring about a convinced state in regard to something; persuade, convince, submit to, conform to. Blastus: Grk. Blastos, a personal name that occurs only here in the Besekh. Nothing more is known of this person than what is stated here. The Tyrians and Sidonians sought out Blastus to act as mediator. Gill suggests that the persuasion was accomplished not merely by arguments but by offering gifts.
the one: Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. over: Grk. epi, prep. See verse 10 above. Here the preposition denotes a position of responsibility. the bedchamber: Grk. koitōn (for Heb. mishkab, Ex 8:3), a sleeping room or bed-chamber. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. The title of "the one over the bedchamber" is chamberlain, which is found in some versions (ESV, KJV, NASB, NRSV). of the king: Grk. basileus. See verse 1 above. The chamberlain was a royal official who protected the king's wives and harem. Agrippa had married Cypros, a distant relative whom he met in Rome and who bore him five children. To have a chamberlain implies that Agrippa kept concubines. His father Herod the Great had ten wives (Josephus, Ant. XVII, 1:3). Like father, like son.
they were asking for: Grk. aiteō, impf. mid., to ask in expectation of a response; ask, ask for, request. peace: Grk. eirēnē, peace, which may refer to either (1) a state of harmony as a result from cessation of hostilities, whether in political or personal relationships; or (2) a state of well-being. The first meaning applies here. In the LXX eirēnē translates Heb. shalom (SH-7965), completeness, soundness, welfare, or peace (BDB 1022). In Jewish culture shalom is never peace in the negative sense, the absence of conflict, but the possession of everything that makes for man's highest good. The biblical word "peace" is primarily relational in scope and does not necessarily depict an emotional state. The state of "having peace" denotes the absence of threats from outside.
because of: Grk. dia, prep. See verse 9 above. their: pl. of Grk. autos. region: Grk. chōra may refer to (1) a stretch of territory as contrasted with owned property or open country contrasted with city, region, area; or (2) an area under a proprietor, landed property or fields. The first meaning applies here. being nourished: Grk. trephō, pres. pass. inf., feed, nourish, provide with food. from: Grk. apo, prep. the king's resources: Grk. basilikos, adj., belonging to or connected with a king; royal. The term occurs five times in the Besekh, first of a royal official (John 4:46, 49). The term here implies the king's resources, but most versions insert "country." Luke does not use the word for "country" or "land" to qualify the adjective, so it likely means the king was supplying grain from his storehouses.
Lightfoot suggests the statement calls to mind Ezekiel 27:12, "Judah and the land of Israel, they were your traders; with the wheat of Minnith, cakes, honey, oil and balm they paid for your merchandise." The nature of the conflict between the two cities and Agrippa is not explained, but the people were concerned that Herod might retaliate by withholding necessary sustenance.
21 Now on an appointed day, Herod, having put on royal apparel, and having sat on the throne and began delivering an address to them.
Now: Grk. de, conj. on an appointed: Grk. taktos, adj., appointed, arranged, or fixed, probably implying a formal declaration. The adjective occurs only here in the Besekh. day: Grk. hēmera. See verse 3 above. Bruce explains that the "appointed day" on which the Phoenicians were to be publicly reconciled with Agrippa is commonly held to have been a festival instituted in 9 BC and celebrated every five years on March 5 in honor of the foundation of Caesarea (Josephus, Ant. XVI, 5:1; Wars I, 21:8). Herod: See verse 1 above. having put on: Grk. enduō, aor. part., provide covering, to clothe and wear. royal: Grk. basilikos, adj., belonging to or pertaining to a king. apparel: Grk. esthēs, clothing, apparel or vesture. Of interest is that the noun is occurs only three times in Acts and the other two mentions refer to the garments worn by an angel (Acts 1:10; 10:30).
and having sat: Grk. kathizō, aor. part., to sit, to take one's seat. on: Grk. epi, prep. the throne: Grk. bēma, space covered by a movement of one foot ahead of the other, a step; also a raised platform that requires steps for ascent, such as a speaker's platform; fig. of a judicial tribunal. In the LXX bēma translates Heb. migdal ("elevated stage," "pulpit" BDB 154) used in Nehemiah 8:4 of the platform on which Ezra stood to read the Torah. Most versions translate bēma with "throne," although the usual word for "throne" is thronos. Some versions have "judgment seat, "tribunal, "rostrum" or "platform." Thayer says that the structure, resembling a throne, was built in the theater at Caesarea, and from which Herod used to view the games and make speeches to the people.
and began delivering an address: Grk. dēmēgoreō, impf., make a public speech, address a multitude. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. to: Grk. pros, prep. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. Josephus provides a parallel account of this event with a description of the royal apparel:
"Now when Agrippa had reigned three years over all Judea, he came to the city Caesarea, which was formerly called Strato's Tower; and there he exhibited shows in honor of Caesar, upon his being informed that there was a certain festival celebrated to make vows for his safety. At which festival a great multitude was gotten together of the principal persons, and such as were of dignity through his province. On the second day of which shows he put on a garment made wholly of silver, and of a contexture truly wonderful, and came into the theater early in the morning; at which time the silver of his garment being illuminated by the fresh reflection of the sun's rays upon it, shone out after a surprising manner, and was so resplendent as to spread a horror over those that looked intently upon him." (Ant. XIX, 8:2)
22 And the people began shouting, "This is the voice of a god and not of a man!"
And: Grk. de, conj. the people: Grk. dēmos, people bound together by similar laws or customs and used of citizens in Hellenistic cities forming an assembly (HELPS). began shouting: Grk. epiphōneō, impf., to call out, to shout or shout out. This is the voice: Grk. phōnē. See verse 14 above. of a god: Grk. theos. See verse 5 above. Early English versions have the capitalized "God," but the lack of the definite article and the fact that the people shouting included pagans argues against the God of Israel being intended. Rather the exclamation made Agrippa equal to members of the Roman pantheon. The phrase "voice of a god" alludes to having the authority of deity. and: Grk. kai, conj. not: Grk. ou, adv. of a man: Grk. anthrōpos (Heb. ish), human being or man, here used of an adult male.
Josephus concurs with Luke, continuing the report above,
"And presently his flatterers cried out, one from one place, and another from another (though not for his good), that he was a god; and they added, 'Be thou merciful to us; for although we have hitherto reverenced thee only as a man, yet shall we henceforth own thee as superior to mortal nature.'"
23 Then immediately an angel of the Lord struck him in return for that he gave not glory to God, and having become eaten by worms he breathed his last.
Then: Grk. de, conj. immediately: Grk. parachrēma, adv., instantly, immediately, straightway. The adverb occurs 18 times in the Besekh, all but two used by Luke. an angel: Grk. angelos. See verse 7 above. of the Lord: Grk. kurios. See verse 7 above. Josephus does not mention an angel as the agent of divine retribution, but there is no reason not to accept the historicity of Luke's report. Also, there is no implication that this was the same angel that freed Peter from prison. struck: Grk. patassō, aor. See verse 7 above. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. No implement is mentioned. Considering the medical report that follows the angel could have simply touched Herod on the stomach and conveyed pain.
in return for: Grk. anti, prep., over against, opposite, instead of. In this instance the preposition denotes a reaction of retribution. that: Grk. hos. See verse 4 above. The word functions here as a demonstrative pronoun; this, that. Many versions translate anti hos as "because," but the words denote the principle of reciprocity. he gave: Grk. didōmi, aor., generally to give something to someone, often with the focus on generosity, but may be used to mean bestow, hand over, impart, entrust, yield, put, or sacrifice (BAG). In the LXX didōmi generally translates Heb. natan (SH-5414, first in Gen 1:29), to give, put or set, with the same range of meaning (DNTT 2:41).
not: Grk. ou, adv. glory: Grk. ho doxa, originally meant opinion, conjecture, praise or repute in secular Greek in regard to what one thought about a person or thing. In the LXX doxa translates Heb. kabod (pronounced "kah-vohd"), "abundance, honor, glory" (SH-3519; BDB 458). Kabod does include the meanings of dignity of position, reputation of character and the reverence due to or ascribed to someone, and is frequently used for the honor brought or given to God (e.g., Ps 29:1; Isa 42:12). In the Besekh doxa is a continuation of the underlying Hebrew concept (DNTT 2:45).
to God: Grk. ho theos. See verse 5 above. Here the noun means the God of Israel. The Hebrew idiom "give glory to God" means that God deserves respect, attention and obedience and as an act of praise to acknowledge His sovereignty (TWOT 1:427). Also, the idiom implies to openly tell the truth before the Judge of the universe, as one might be required under oath (cf. Josh 7:19; 1Sam 6:5; John 9:24). So, the man who persecuted the apostles out of religious zeal failed to live by those values at the last and did not rebuke those who flattered him with a divine attribution. If Herod had been proactive and rejected the idolatrous adulation, he could have received blessing.
and: Grk. kai, conj. having become: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. part. See verse 5 above. eaten by worms: Grk. skōlēkobrōtos, adj., from skōlēx, a gnawing worm; gnawing anguish, and bibrōskō, to eat. The adjective occurs only here in the Besekh. Being eaten by worms was considered a judgment of God (cf. Deut 28:39; Isa 14:11; Jon 4:7). One rabbinic sage opined that the ten spies who gave a bad report (Num 14:37) were punished by a plague of worms (Sotah 35a). Medical experts have suggested various causes of his condition, such as peritonitis (resulting from a perforated appendix), arsenical poisoning, acute intestinal obstruction, or the rupture of a hydatid cyst (Bruce 242). Luke emphasizes that the onset of symptoms was sudden and caused by God.
Marshall suggests the description could be taken literally and cites the Maccabean report of Antiochus Epiphanies, whom God struck with acute pain in the bowels and his body swarmed with worms as a result of his boast that he would make Jerusalem a "cemetery of Jews" (2Macc 9:5-12 RSV; cf. Josephus, Ant. XII, 9:1). Josephus notes that Herod the Great was also afflicted with worms as part of his gangrenous condition of which he died (Ant. XVII, 6:5). Some modern readers may be uncomfortable with the narrative because God is love and surely would not cause physical suffering. Scripture, however, depicts a holy God who will inflict suffering as punishment for sin (cf. 1Cor 11:27-30; Rev 2:22; 6:8).
he breathed his last: Grk. ekpsuchō, aor., to expire, to breathe out one's life (Thayer). Mounce adds "give up one's spirit." Danker has simply "died," which is followed by many versions. The verb occurs in classical Greek literature as a medical term (BAG). According to Josephus the king died five days after the onset of abdominal pain. In the LXX ekpsuchō occurs twice, first in Judges 4:21 where it translates Heb. oof (SH-5774), to faint, in reference to Jael killing Sisera, the commander of the Canaanite army that persecuted the Israelites. Then in Ezekiel 21:12 ekpsuchō translates Heb. kahah, (SH-3543), to be or grow dim or faint, in the context of Ezekiel's prophecy that the "sword of ADONAI" would strike and cut off the wicked.
This verb ekpsuchō occurs only three times in the Besekh, the other two of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:5,10). This verb emphasizes the sudden loss of the ability to breathe, but its biblical use is restricted to death by divine judgment. Josephus concluded his narrative with these words.
"Upon this the king did neither rebuke them, nor reject their impious flattery. But as he presently afterward looked up, he saw an owl sitting on a certain rope over his head, and immediately understood that this bird was the messenger of ill tidings, as it had once been the messenger of good tidings to him; and fell into the deepest sorrow. A severe pain also arose in his belly, and began in a most violent manner. He therefore looked upon his friends, and said, "I, whom you call a god, am commanded presently to depart this life; while Providence thus reproves the lying words you just now said to me; and I, who was by you called immortal, am immediately to be hurried away by death. But I am bound to accept of what Providence allots, as it pleases God; for we have by no means lived ill, but in a splendid and happy manner." When he said this, his pain was become violent. Accordingly he was carried into the palace, and the rumor went abroad every where, that he would certainly die in a little time. But the multitude presently sat in sackcloth, with their wives and children, after the law of their country, and besought God for the king's recovery. All places were also full of mourning and lamentation. Now the king rested in a high chamber, and as he saw them below lying prostrate on the ground, he could not himself forbear weeping. And when he had been quite worn out by the pain in his belly for five days, he departed this life, being in the fifty-fourth year of his age, and in the seventh year of his reign." (Ant. XIX, 8:2)
Stern comments that the report of Josephus is similar enough to confirm the reliability of Luke's narrative, yet different enough to show that the descriptions are independent of each other.
24 But the word of God was growing and being multiplied.
But: Grk. de, conj. the word: Grk. ho logos, vocalized expression, word, discourse, statement, message or speech. In the LXX logos stands principally for Heb. dabar, which has a range of meaning, including "speech, word, report, command, advice, counsel, thing, matter" (Gen 29:13; BDB 182) (DNTT 3:1087). of God: Grk. ho theos. See verse 5 above. The expression "word of God" is first used in the Besekh of a divinely inspired verbal message, first of Yochanan the Immerser (Luke 3:2), later of Yeshua (Luke 5:1; 8:21; 11:28) and then the apostles (Acts 4:31; 6:2). In Acts the verbal message included proclamation of the good news of Yeshua. The expression is also used of the Tanakh (Matt 15:6; Eph 6:17; Heb 4:12), much of which was given by verbal inspiration (Ex 20:1; 24:3-4; Deut 10:4; John 10:35; 2Tim 3:15; 2Pet 1:20-21).
was growing: Grk. auxanō, impf., cause to become greater in extent or amount; grow, increase. The verb perhaps alludes to new locales in which the good news was proclaimed, as well as the increase of synagogues, where the "word of ADONAI" was read every Shabbat, being impacted by the good news of the Messiah. and: Grk. kai, conj. being multiplied: Grk. plēthunō, impf. pass., become more in number; increase, multiply. The description of the "word of God" growing and multiplying calls to mind the parable of the sower (Luke 8:11-15) in which the seed is likened to the "word of God" and when sown in good soil produces a harvest, "thirty, sixty and hundredfold" (Mark 4:8). Here the implied sowers are the Messianic messengers. This verbal description implies something of the numbers being added to the congregation of the Messiah by virtue of confession and immersion (cf. Acts 2:41; 4:4; 6:1, 7; 8:12; 9:31; 11:21).
Luke leaves unstated the time period covered in which the numerical growth occurred. This verse functions as a contrast with the previous verse and makes the point that the expansion in outreach was made possible by the death of Herod, an enemy of the Messianic movement. Upon the death of Herod Judaea reverted to administration by Roman governors.
c. A.D. 45/46
Rome: Caesar Claudius (AD 41-54)
Procurator of Judaea: Cuspius Fadus (AD 44-46)
Jewish High Priest: Elionaius, son of Kantheras (AD 44)
Jewish High Priest: Joseph, son of Kami (AD 45/46-47)
Return to Antioch, 12:25
25 And Barnabas and Saul returned, having completed their service to Jerusalem, and having taken with them John, the one having been called Mark.
This verse properly belongs to the next chapter. Chapter and verse divisions are purely arbitrary, since the original Greek MSS had neither. Chapter divisions were introduced by Stephen Langton in 1227 and verse divisions were inserted by Robert Estienne in the 1551 edition of his Greek text (Textus Receptus). Chapter and verse divisions are not inspired by the Holy Spirit.
And: Grk. de, conj. Barnabas: Grk. Barnabas, a transliteration of Heb. Bar (רבּ)-Naba (נָבָא) (Thayer), which means "Son of Exhortation." Barnabas was a relative of John Mark, probably a cousin (Col 4:10). Scholars assume the name is Aramaic, because of the Aramaic prefix "bar," but Jews often used this prefix in Hebrew names. The Hebrew prefix "ben" also occurs in Aramaic names (Hamp 19). Barnabas would have been well-known to Luke since church fathers included Barnabas as one of the seventy along with Luke whom Yeshua sent out in Luke 10:1. (See Hippolytus, 170-235, On the Seventy Apostles.)
Barnabas was a Levite and native of the island of Cyprus, named Joseph, before the disciples called him Barnabas (Acts 4:36). He sold his property and gave the proceeds to the apostles (Acts 4:37), probably as an act of repentance since Levites were forbidden to own property. When Saul came to Jerusalem, Barnabas befriended him and introduced him to the apostles and commended his ministry in Damascus (Acts 9:27). Unlike other disciples Barnabas showed the spirit of Yeshua by choosing to believe the best about Saul and not holding his past against him.
and: Grk. kai, conj. Saul: Grk. Saulos, a Grecized version of the Heb. Sha'ul (lit. "asked for" or "prayed for"). Saul was the famed persecutor of Yeshua's followers who encountered Yeshua on the King's Highway en route to Damascus. Afterwards he became an ardent evangelist for his Lord. For a biography of Saul see my web article The Apostle from Tarsus. Luke's last mention of Saul was in chapter eleven when Barnabas recruited him to assist with the ministry in Antioch. returned: Grk. hupostrephō, aor., to go back to a position, to return or turn back. The object of the verb is Syrian Antioch.
having completed: Grk. plēroō, aor. part., may mean (1) cause to abound in content to a maximum, fill; or (2) to bring to fruition or completion, complete, fulfill, fill up, carry out. The second meaning has application here. their service: Grk. ho diakonia, service or ministration, especially in meeting the needs of others. Sometimes the term is used in the apostolic writings of dedication to a specific divine assignment, such as prayer and proclaiming the good news. Other examples include special ministrations like that of Martha (Luke 10:40) and the collection for famine relief (1Cor 16:15; 2Cor 8:4), which is the meaning here. The verbal phrase alludes to the commission given to Barnabas and Saul in 11:29-30.
to: Grk. eis, prep. Jerusalem: Grk. Ierousalēm, which transliterates Heb. Yerushalaim (SH-3389), 660 times in the LXX, first in Joshua 10:1 (DNTT 2:324). See the note on "Jerusalem" in 1:4. The city was home to the first Messianic congregation. Edmundson suggests that the apostles brought the alms from Antioch to Jerusalem in AD 46 at the time of Shavuot, which ordinarily celebrates the wheat harvest (61). and having taken with them: Grk. sumparalambanō, aor. part., take along as a companion. John: See verse 2 above. the one having been called: Grk. ho epikaleō, aor. part. Mark: See verse 12 above for this biographical reference. The point of this last clause is that John Mark went to Antioch with Barnabas and Saul. Mark was a serious disciple and an experienced traveler.
Readers may be confused by a significant difference in Bible versions regarding the translation of the object of the verb "returned."
● "returned to Jerusalem:" CEV, CSB, HCSB, HNV, LEB, NAB, NABRE, NET, NLV, NMB, NRSV, TLV, and WEB.
● "returned from Jerusalem:" KJ21, ASV, AMP, AMPC, BRG, CEB, DARBY, DRA, ESV, GNB, GW, ISV, JUB, KJV, MEV, MPNT, MRINT, MOFFATT, NOG, NASB, NEB, NIRV, NIV, NKJV, PHILLIPS, RV, REV, RSV, WE, Weymouth, and YLT
The readings of Greek MSS are as follows (GNT 464):
● eis Ierousalēm ("to Jerusalem" ), 23 MSS, including the authoritative Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, Syriac and Chrysostom. Most of the MSS are later than the 7th cent.
● ek Ierousalēm ("out of Jerusalem"), 11 MSS, including the authoritative p74, Alexandrinus, Syriac, Coptic and Chrysostom.
● apo Ierousalēm ("from Jerusalem"), 18 MSS, including the Vulgate, Syriac, and Chrysostom.
● eis Antiocheian ("to Antioch"), 6 MSS, all late.
● ek Ierousalēm eis Antiocheian ("from Jerusalem to Antioch"), 9 MSS, including Syriac, Coptic and Georgian.
● eis Ierousalēm eis Antiocheian ("to Jerusalem to Antioch"), 1 MSS, Coptic.
The first reading eis Ierousalēm is supported by the earliest and most witnesses. The second reading ek Ierousalēm is also supported by important witnesses. This is the reading adopted by the Textus Receptus and the NA21 Greek text. The UBS committee chose eis Ierousalēm but assigned it a "C" rating, meaning they had difficulty deciding which variant to use in the Greek text (Metzger 350). The eminent scholars Westcott and Hort (1881), who accepted the reading of eis Ierousalēm, proposed that the second clause be translated as "having fulfilled their mission at Jerusalem they returned" (Metzger 351).
Westcott and Hort recognized that eis Ierousalēm taken with the verb "returned" (hupostrephō) cannot be right. Bruce likewise contends that "returned to Jerusalem" makes no sense (243). In the context there is no statement of Barnabas and Saul starting from or leaving Jerusalem. Saul had left Jerusalem at least twelve years previous the present time to return to Tarsus (Acts 9:30). Barnabas had left about four years before this present time for Antioch (Acts 11:22). The two apostles were last seen together in Antioch and they were sent from there to Jerusalem for the charitable mission (11:29-30). Moreover, the narrative of Agrippa (12:1-23) is an interlude in Luke's chronology, because the famine and famine relief did not occur until after Agrippa had died.
Verse 25 thus resumes the narrative from 11:30 to have Barnabas and Saul complete their mission and return to Antioch, where the next chapter begins. A few versions offer a good interpretive translation:
Goodspeed: "When Barnabas and Saul had performed their mission to Jerusalem, they went back, taking John who was called Mark with them."
GW: "After Barnabas and Saul delivered the contribution to the leaders in Jerusalem, they returned to Antioch from Jerusalem. They brought John Mark with them."
ICB: "After Barnabas and Saul finished their task in Jerusalem, they returned to Antioch. John, also called Mark, was with them."
NLT: "When Barnabas and Saul had finished their mission to Jerusalem, they returned, taking John Mark with them."
NTE: "Barnabas and Saul had by now accomplished their ministry in Jerusalem, and they came back to Antioch, bringing John Mark with them."
Ant.: Flavius Josephus (c. 37–100 A.D.), Antiquities of the Jews (Latin Antiquitates Judaicae). trans. William Whiston (1737). Online.
BAG: Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. trans. W.F. Arndt & F.W. Gingrich. The University of Chicago Press, 1957.
BDB: The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Oxford University Press, 1907. Reprinted by Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc., 1981.
Bruce: F.F. Bruce, The Book of Acts. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1954.
Danker: Frederick William Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. The University of Chicago Press, 2009.
DM: H.E. Dana & Julius R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. The Macmillan Co., 1955.
DNTT: Colin Brown, ed., Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 3 Vols. Zondervan Pub. House, 1975.
Edmundson: Charles Edmundson, The Church in Rome in the First Century. Longmans, Green and Co., 1913. Online.
Geldenhuys: Norval Geldenhuys, Commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1951. (NICNT)
Gill: John Gill (1697-1771), Exposition of the Entire Bible. Online.
GNT: The Greek New Testament, eds. Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Bruce M. Metzger, & Allen Wiegren. American Bible Society, 1966. [NA25]
Hamp: Douglas Hamp, Discovering the Language of Jesus: Hebrew or Aramaic? CreateSpace, 2005.
HBD: Trent C. Butler, ed., Holman Bible Dictionary. Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1991. Online.
HELPS: Gleason L. Archer and Gary Hill, eds., The Discovery Bible New Testament: HELPS Word Studies. Moody Press, 1987, 2011. (Online at BibleHub.com)
Lightfoot: John Lightfoot (1602-1675), Hebrew and Talmudical Exercitations upon the Acts, A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica (1859 ed.), Vol. 4. Hendrickson Pub., 1989.
Longenecker: Richard N. Longenecker, Acts. Expositor's Bible Commentary, Vol. 9. Software version 2.6. Zondervan Corp., 1989-1999.
LSJ: Henry George Liddell (1811-1898) and Robert Scott (1811-1887), A Greek-English Lexicon. rev. ed. Sir Henry Stuart Jones. Clarendon Press, 1940. Online.
Marshall: I. Howard Marshall, Acts. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. InterVarsity Press, 1980.
Metzger: Bruce Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament. 2nd ed. United Bible Societies, 1994.
Mounce: William D. Mounce, Mounce Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament. 2011. Online.
OCB: The Oxford Companion to the Bible. ed. Bruce M. Metzger and Michael D. Coogan. Oxford University Press, 1993.
Stern: David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary, Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996.
Thayer: Joseph Henry Thayer (1828-1901), Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. Harper Brothers, 1889. Website HTML 2011 by Biblesoft, Inc. Online.
TWOT: Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, 2 Vols. ed. R. Laird Harris. Moody Bible Institute, 1980.
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