|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
12:12-19 God's providence leaves room for the use of our prudence, though he has undertaken to perform and perfect what he has begun. These Christians continued in prayer for Peter, for they were truly in earnest. Thus men ought always to pray, and not to faint. As long as we are kept waiting for a mercy, we must continue praying for it. But sometimes that which we most earnestly wish for, we are most backward to believe. The Christian law of self-denial and of suffering for Christ, has not done away the natural law of caring for our own safety by lawful means. In times of public danger, all believers have God for their hiding-place; which is so secret, that the world cannot find them. Also, the instruments of persecution are themselves exposed to danger; the wrath of God hangs over all that engage in this hateful work. And the range of persecutors often vents itself on all in its way.
Verse 13. - When he for as Peter, A.V. and T.R.; maid for damsel, A.V.; to answer for to hearken, A.V. (ὑπακοῦσαι). The door of the gate (see Acts 10:17, note). To hearken or listen seems the best rendering. It is the phrase proper to a doorkeeper, whoso business it is to go to the door and listen when any one knocks, and find out what their business is before opening the door. This is the primary sense of the word; that of answering after listening is a secondary sense. At a time of such alarm to Christians a knock at the door in the dead of the night would carry terror with it, and careful listening to ascertain whether there was more than one person, and then to ask who was there and what was his business, was the natural course.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, &c. The lesser door in the great gate, or the door of the porch through which they entered into the house. So the Jews distinguish between "the door", and "the gate"; see Judges 18:16 where the Septuagint use the same words as here. Kimchi (h) says,
"xtp, "the door" is what is of the gate, without the folding doors; for all is called "the gate", whether within or without, with the folding doors, and the outward threshold, as that is joined to the side posts and lintel.''
The door was kept shut, for fear of the Jews, lest they should be disturbed: here Peter stood and knocked:
a damsel came to hearken; hearing a knocking, she came out to the door, and listened, to try if she could know who it was, a friend or a foe, before she opened; or she came "to answer", as the Syriac version renders it, to know who was there, and what he or she wanted, and to give an answer. And the damsel was
named Rhoda, which signifies a rose in the Greek language: so the Jewish women often had their names, in the Hebrew tongue, from flowers and trees, as Susanna from a lily, or rose: and which, perhaps, was the Hebrew name of this damsel; and Esther was called Hadassah, from the myrtle tree.
(h) Sepher Shorash. rad.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
13. came to hearken—not to open; for neither was it a time nor an hour of night for that, but to listen who was there.
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