|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
12:1-5 James was one of the sons of Zebedee, whom Christ told that they should drink of the cup that he was to drink of, and be baptized with the baptism that he was to be baptized with, Mt 20:23. Now the words of Christ were made good in him; and if we suffer with Christ, we shall reign with him. Herod imprisoned Peter: the way of persecution, as of other sins, is downhill; when men are in it, they cannot easily stop. Those make themselves an easy prey to Satan, who make it their business to please men. Thus James finished his course. But Peter, being designed for further services, was safe; though he seemed now marked out for a speedy sacrifice. We that live in a cold, prayerless generation, can hardly form an idea of the earnestness of these holy men of old. But if the Lord should bring on the church an awful persecution like this of Herod, the faithful in Christ would learn what soul-felt prayer is.
Verse 1. - Put for stretched, A.V.; afflict for vex, A.V. The phrase, About that time, as in Acts 19:23, points to what had just before been related (Meyer). The interposition of the narrative in this chapter between Acts 11:20 and Acts 12:25 evidently implies that the bulk or rather the chief of the events narrated happened in the interval. Which of the events was the chief in the mind of the narrator with reference to his general narrative, and what are the coincidences which he wished to note, it is not easy to say with certainty. The narrative in this chapter doubtless overlaps at both ends the embassy of Paul and Barnabas, but perhaps the object was to show the harassed state of the Church from famine and persecution at the time that Paul and Barnabas were at Jerusalem. Herod the king here mentioned is Herod Agrippa I., grandson of Herod the Great, and son of Aristobulus and Bernice. During the reign of Tiberius he resided at Rome, in alternate favor and disgrace, sometimes banished, sometimes a prisoner, sometimes a guest at the imperial court. He was a great friend of Caius Caesar Caligula, and, on his succeeding to the empire on the death of Tiberius, was promoted by him to the tetrarchy of Herod Philip, with the title of king. He was further advanced three years afterwards to the tetrarchy of Herod Antipas; and, on the accession of Claudius to the throne, Judaea and Samaria were added to his dominions, which now comprised the whole kingdom of his grandfather, Herod the Great. Agrippa, in spite of his close intimacy with Drusus, Caligula, Claudius, and other Roman magnates, was "exactly careful in the observance of the laws of his country, not allowing a day to pass without its appointed sacrifice;" and he had given proof of his strong Jewish feeling by interposing his whole influence with Caligula to prevent his statue being placed in the holy of holies. This spirit accounts for his enmity against the Church. He was a man of very expensive and luxurious habits, but not without some great qualities.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Now about that time,.... That the famine was in Judea, and Saul and Barnabas were sent thither with what the church at Antioch had collected.
Herod the king; not Herod the great that slew the infants at Bethlehem, nor Herod Antipas that beheaded John, but Herod Agrippa; and so the Syriac version adds here, "who is surnamed Agrippa"; he was a grandson of Herod the great, and the son of Aristobulus: this prince
stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church; Beza's ancient copy adds, "in Judea": it seems to be the church at Jerusalem; perhaps some of the principal members of them; and so the Ethiopic version renders it, the rulers of the house of God. It is scarcely credible that he should lay hands on any of them himself in person; but it is very likely he encouraged his soldiers, or his servants, to abuse them, reproach them, strike and buffet them, as they met with them in the streets; or when at worship, might disturb them, and break them up.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Ac 12:1-19. Persecution of the Church by Herod Agrippa I—Martyrdom of James and Miraculous Deliverance of Peter.
1-3. Herod the king—grandson of Herod the Great, and son of Aristobulus. He at this time ruled over all his father's dominions. Paley has remarked the accuracy of the historian here. For thirty years before this there was no king at Jerusalem exercising supreme authority over Judea, nor was there ever afterwards, save during the three last years of Herod's life, within which the transactions occurred.
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