|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
12:20-25 Many heathen princes claimed and received Divine honours, but it was far more horrible impiety in Herod, who knew the word and worship of the living God, to accept such idolatrous honours without rebuking the blasphemy. And such men as Herod, when puffed with pride and vanity, are ripening fast for signal vengeance. God is very jealous for his own honour, and will be glorified upon those whom he is not glorified by. See what vile bodies we carry about with us; they have in them the seeds of their own dissolution, by which they will soon be destroyed, whenever God does but speak the word. We may learn wisdom from the people of Tyre and Sidon, for we have offended the Lord with our sins. We depend on him for life, and breath, and all things; it surely then behoves us to humble ourselves before him, that through the appointed Mediator, who is ever ready to befriend us, we may be reconciled to him, lest wrath come upon us to the utmost.
Verse 24. - The word of God grew and multiplied in Jerusalem and the neighborhood, in spite of Agrippa's persecution. The blood of the martyr James was the seed of the Church, and the speedy vengeance taken by God upon the persecuter doubtless gave fresh courage to his people to confess the Name of Jesus Christ. As regards the preceding account of Herod Agrippa's death, it is corroborated in the most remarkable manner by the narrative in Josephus ('Ant. Jud.,' 19. 8:2). He there tells that when he had been three years King of all Judaea (see ver. 1, note) he went to Caesarea. And that on occasion of a festival celebrated "for the safety of Caesar" (some think to celebrate his return from Britain, while others, as Wieseler, think that they were the ordinary Quinquennalia, celebrated in the provinces), he exhibited games and spectacles in honor of Claudius. On the second day of these games, when a vast number of people were assembled in the theatre, Agrippa can? m, clothed in a garment wholly made of silver, which reflected the rays of the morning sun with a most dazzling and awful brilliancy. Whereupon his flatterers cried out that he was a god, and offered prayer to him. The king, he adds, did not rebuke them nor reject their impious flattery, he was presently seized with a violent pain in his bowels, which soon became so intense that he was carried out of the theatre to his palace, and expired after five days of excruciating pain. It is curious that in the above account Josephus says that Agrippa saw an owl sitting over his head, which he recognized as a messenger (ἄγγελον) of evil to him. Eusebius, quoting Josephus Eccl. Hist.,' 2. 10.), leaves out the owl, and says that Agrippa saw an angel sitting over his head, whom he recognized as the cause of his sufferings. Whiston, in a note, seeks to exonerate Eusebius from unfairness in the quotation by suggesting that the manuscript of Eusebius is in this place corrupt; but Bede quotes Josephus just as Eusebius does, unless perchance he is quoting him at second hand from Eusebius.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
But the word of God grew and multiplied. The number of those who were converted by it, and embraced and professed it, increased; otherwise the word is the same, whether the professors of it be more or fewer; and this it did, notwithstanding the persecution raised against it by Herod whilst he was living; and after his death, it still gained more ground, met with less opposition, and was more freely professed.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
24. But the word grew, &c.—that is, Not only was the royal representative ignominiously swept from the stage, while his intended victim was spared to the Church, but the cause which he and his Jewish instigators sought to crush was only furthered and glorified. How full of encouragement and consolation is all this to the Christian Church in every age!
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