|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 5. - The prison for prison, A.V.; earnestly for without ceasing, A.V. (ἐκτενὴς, or as in the R.T. ἐκτενῶς, has the sense of intensity rather than duration; see Luke 22:14, T.R.; 1 Peter 1:22; 1 Peter 4:8). As the last of the days of unleavened bread approached, the prayers of the Church would be more and more intense in their earnestness. We have but to read the preceding chapters to judge how precious to the Church the life of Peter must have been.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Peter therefore was kept in prison,.... Till the feast of the passover was at an end:
but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him; this was not done by them as a body together, but either by them in several bands at different places, or by some of the principal of the church at some one certain place, and where they might frequently change companies, and keep on a continual incessant prayer for days together; and whereas it is very likely it might be at the beginning of the passover, when Peter was taken up, and it was now at the close of it, when he was delivered, the church might be engaged by companies alternately, a whole week together, in prayer, on this occasion.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
5, 6. prayer was made without ceasing—rather, "instant," "earnest," "urgent" (Margin); as in Lu 22:44; Ac 26:7; and 1Pe 4:8 (see Greek).
of the church unto God for him—not in public assembly, for it was evidently not safe to meet thus; but in little groups in private houses, one of which was Mary's (Ac 12:12). And this was kept up during all the days of unleavened bread.
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