|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 15. - Confidently for constantly, A.V. (for the same use of διι'σχυρίζομαι, see Luke 22:59); and they said for then said they, A.V. It is his angel; meaning probably his guardian angel (Matthew 18:10). But the expression is obscure, and we do not know exactly the nature of the belief on which it was grounded. They must have thought that perhaps Peter had been put to death in prison that very night, and that his angel, speaking with his voice, was sent to announce it to the Church. The narrative is a striking instance how "slow of heart to believe" are even the most devout. They were praying very earnestly for Peter's life; their prayer was granted; and yet the announcement of it only draws out the answer, "Thou art mad!" and then, as an alternative, the explanation, "It is his angel!"
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And they said unto her, thou art mad, &c. "Or art thou not mad?" as the Ethiopic version, and two of Beza's exemplars read, and some others: they thought the girl must be out of her senses; they looked upon the thing impossible; for though they were praying for him, and praying in faith, yet they might have no expectation of a deliverance; but were praying that they might be supported under such a trial, and that it might be sanctified to them; and for Peter, that he might be strengthened and made steadfast, and kept faithful to the last; and bear, by his sufferings and death, a glorious and honourable testimony for Christ:
but she constantly affirmed that it was even so; she asserted it over and over, and was positive in it; nothing they could say could put her off of it; she was sure of it; which when they observed, they could not tell what to say to it, but as follows: then said they,
it is his angel; not his tutelar or guardian angel, everyone having, as some think, a particular angel to attend him; whereas sometimes one angel attends many persons, and sometimes many angels encamp about, and are a guard to a single saint; nor did they think it was an angel sent to give notice of his death, as some persons, by one means or another, have had previous notices of the death of their friends; but rather, that it was an angel in Peter's shape, who had something to communicate: and this agrees with the notions of the Jews, who think that angels do assume the shapes of men on certain occasions: so they say (i), when Moses was in danger in Pharaoh's court, God sent Michael, the prince of the host of heaven, "in the shape of an executioner"; who brought him at once out of Egypt, and set him at the border of it, the distance of three days journey: Bar Kaphra says (k), an angel descended , "in the likeness of Moses", and caused him to flee, and they thought the angel had been Moses: and so it is elsewhere said (l), that an angel descended "in the likeness of Solomon", sitting upon his throne: there are some who think, that the sense of the brethren praying for Peter, was not that it was an angel, a celestial spirit, but a messenger sent by Peter from the prison on some errand: who represented him, or mentioning his name, the damsel took him for Peter himself. Beza's ancient copy reads, "then said they unto her, perhaps it is his angel", and so the Syriac version.
(i) Chronicon Mosis, fol. 6. 1.((k) Debarim Rabba, sect. 2. fol. 237. 1.((l) Midrash Kohelet, fol. 64. 4.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
15. Thou art mad—one of those exclamations which one can hardly resist on hearing what seems far "too good to be true."
she constantly affirmed—"kept steadfastly affirming."
that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel—his disembodied spirit, his ghost; anything, in fact, rather than himself. Though this had been the burden of their fervent prayers during all the days of unleavened bread, they dispute themselves out of it as a thing incredible. Still, it is but the unbelief of the disciples who "believed not for joy and wondered" at the tidings of their Lord's resurrection. How often do we pray for what we can hardly credit the bestowment of, when it comes in answer to our prayers! This, however, argues not so much hard unbelief as that kind of it incident to the best in this land of shadows, which perceives not so clearly as it might how very near heaven and earth, the Lord and His praying people, are to each other.
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