Acts 12:10
When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(10) When they were past the first and the second ward.—It would seem from this that Peter had been placed in the innermost dungeon, and had to pass the two court-yards. Lightfoot supposes the prison to have been between the inner and outer walls of the city, the direction of Peter’s movements being from the outer to the inner.

The iron gate.—The touch of topographical precision may be noticed as characteristic of St. Luke.

Passed on through one street.—The word implies one of the narrow streets or lanes of the city. (See Note on Matthew 6:2.)

12:6-11 A peaceful conscience, a lively hope, and the consolations of the Holy Spirit, can keep men calm in the full prospect of death; even those very persons who have been most distracted with terrors on that account. God's time to help, is when things are brought to the last extremity. Peter was assured that the Lord would cause this trial to end in the way that should be most for his glory. Those who are delivered out of spiritual imprisonment must follow their Deliverer, like the Israelites when they went out of the house of bondage. They knew not whither they went, but knew whom they followed. When God will work salvation for his people, all difficulties in their way will be overcome, even gates of iron are made to open of their own accord. This deliverance of Peter represents our redemption by Christ, which not only proclaims liberty to the captives, but brings them out of the prison-house. Peter, when he recollected himself, perceived what great things God had done for him. Thus souls delivered out of spiritual bondage, are not at first aware what God has wrought in them; many have the truth of grace, that want evidence of it. But when the Comforter comes, whom the Father will send, sooner or later, he will let them know what a blessed change is wrought.The first and second ward - The word which is here rendered "ward" φυλακήν phulakēn properly denotes "the act of guarding"; but it is most commonly used to denote "a prison, or place of confinement." In this place it seems to denote the guard itself - the soldiers stationed at intervals in the entrance into the prison. These were passed silently, probably a deep sleep having been sent on them to facilitate the escape of Peter.

The iron gate - The outer gate, Secured with iron, as the doors of prisons are now.

That leadeth unto the city - Or rather into εἰς eis the city. The precise situation of the prison is unknown. It is supposed by some (compare Lightfoot on this place) that the prison was between two walls of the city, and that the entrance to the prison was immediately from the inner wall, so that the gate opened directly into the city.

Of his own accord - Itself. It opened spontaneously, without the application of any force or key, thus showing conclusively that Peter was delivered by miraculous interposition.

And passed on through one street - Until Peter was entirely safe from any danger of pursuit, and then the angel left him. God had effected his complete rescue, and now left him to his own efforts as usual.

10. first and the second ward … the iron gate that leadeth unto the city—We can only conjecture the precise meaning of all this, not knowing the position of the prison.

passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him—when he had placed him beyond pursuit. Thus "He disappointeth the devices of the crafty, so that their heads cannot perform their enterprise" (Job 5:12).

The first and the second ward; guard or sentinels.

The iron gate that leadeth unto the city; the outermost gate that led out of the prison into the city, not that the prison itself was out of the city.

Which opened to them of his own accord: God worketh a series of miracles in their fit place and time; he could have done them all together, and have opened his iron gate beforehand, when he conducted Peter through the first, then through the second watch; but it is good for Peter, and us, to be convinced that we stand every moment in need of God’s conduct and deliverance.

When they were past the first and the second ward,.... Or watch, which were set within the prison, and might be some of the quaternions of soldiers to whom Peter was delivered; two of them were with him, and others might be placed at these two wards for further security; and these circumstances make the deliverance the more wonderful and remarkable; the watch must either be asleep, or their eyes were holden, or the angel and Peter passed by so swiftly that they were unobserved:

they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city: which was not one of the gates of the city, as if the prison was without the walls of it; but was the great and strong gate of the prison, which for the security of the prisoners was made of iron, and this gate led directly into the city of Jerusalem:

which opened to them of his own accord; as the gates of the temple are said to do (g), forty years before the destruction of Jerusalem: this was done by a divine power; and because no human creature had any hand in it, it is said to be done of its own accord:

and they went out. The Cambridge copy of Beza's adds, "they went down seven steps"; that is, from the prison into the city:

and passed on through one street; what street this was is not certain; there were several streets in Jerusalem: See Gill on Acts 9:11 and forthwith the angel departed from him: he being now safe and out of danger, he left him to himself, to betake himself to what house he should think fit.

(g) T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 39. 2.

When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Acts 12:10. φυλακὴν: “ward,” perhaps the best translation here with διελθόντες so often used of traversing a place. The first ward might be the place outside the cell where the other soldiers of the quaternion were on guard, and the second ward might refer to some other part of the prison or fortress Antonia (see Blass in loco) where sentinels were stationed. Weiss apparently takes the expression to refer to the two φύλακες, Acts 12:6, cf. 1 Chronicles 26:16.—σιδηρᾶν: specially noted since such a gate, when shut, would effectually bar their way; but it opened αὐτομάτη, only here in N.T. and in Mark 4:28, cf. Leviticus 25:5; Leviticus 25:11, 2 Kings 19:29, Wis 17:6, and in classical writers the striking parallel, Hom., Iliad, ver. 749 (Wendt, Blass); Virgil, Æneid, vi., 81 (Wetstein).—φέρουσαν εἰς: only here in N.T., but quite usual in classical Greek. If the narrative means that immediately they were out of the prison they were in the street (so Weiss), evidently the prison was in the city, and εἰς τὴν π. would simply mean the open town, in contrast to the confined prison-house (so Weiss and Wendt, 1899). Blass decides for the tower of Antonia on account of .—ἠνοίχθη, see critical notes.—ἐξελθόντες: for remarkable addition in [251] see critical notes.—εὐθέως: used several times in Acts, but εὐθύς only once, see Acts 10:16.—ἀπέστη: when there were no further hindrances to the Apostle’s flight, then the angel departed (Chrys.).

[251] Codex Claromontanus (sæc. vi.), a Græco-Latin MS. at Paris, edited by Tischendorf in 1852.

10. When they were past the first and the second ward] i.e. the warders, who were stationed one nearer to the inner door of the prison and another at some further distance away.

they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto [into] the city] This description, with the words which immediately follow about the street into which they came, make it probable that the prison in which Peter was kept was in the midst of the city.

which opened to them of his own accord] It is better to discard in sentences like the present the old English form “his” and read “its.” “His” was good and almost the only English use when the A. V. was made, but is now obsolete.

For the expression “of its own accord” cp. Leviticus 25:5, “That which groweth of its own accord;” Wis 17:6, “A fire kindled of itself,” where, as here, what is meant is that there was no human agency employed in what was done.

the angel departed from him] Leaving the other steps, in which supernatural aid was unnecessary, to be taken by the Apostle of himself.

Acts 12:10. Καὶ δευτέραν, and the second) in which also there appears to have been a portion of the soldiers.—αὐτομάτη, of its own accord) so that neither Peter applied his hand to it, nor did lie see any hand applied to it by the angel.—ῥύμην μίαν, one street) lest there should be any doubt on Peter’s part what house he should repair to: Acts 12:12.—ἀπέστη, departed) For by this time Peter was sufficient to take care of himself.

Verse 10. - And when for when, A.V.; into for unto, A.V. ; its for his, A.V.; straightway for forthwith, A.V. The first and the second ward. The φυλακή, here rendered "ward," may mean either the station where the guard was posted or the guard itself. One street; ῤυμή, as in Acts 9:11, note. Departed; ἀπέστη, in contrast to ἐπέστη, rendered "stood by" in ver. 7. Acts 12:10Ward (φυλακὴν)

Better, watch: the soldiers on guard. Explanations of the first and second watch differ, some assuming that the first was the single soldier on guard at the door of Peter's cell, and the second, another soldier at the gate leading into the street. Others, that two soldiers were at each of these posts, the two in Peter's cell not being included in the four who made up the watch.

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