Acts 12:19
And when Herod had sought for him, and found him not, he examined the keepers, and commanded that they should be put to death. And he went down from Judaea to Caesarea, and there stayed.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(19) Commanded that they should be put to death.—Literally, that they should be led awayi.e., to execution. The phrase was half-technical, half-euphemistic. Capital punishment was, according to Roman usage, the almost inevitable penalty for allowing a prisoner to escape. So at Philippi, the gaoler, when he thought the prisoners had escaped, was on the point of anticipating the sentence by suicide (Acts 16:28). See Note on Acts 27:42.

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.He examined the keepers - The soldiers who were entrusted with his custody. Probably only those who had the special care of him at that watch of the night. The word "examine" here means "to inquire diligently, to make investigation." He subjected them to a rigid scrutiny to ascertain the manner of his escape; for it is evident that Herod did not mean to admit the possibility of a miraculous interposition.

Should be put to death - For having failed to keep Peter. This punishment they had a right to expect for having suffered his escape.

And he went down ... - How soon after the escape of Peter he went down to Caesarea, or how long he abode there, is not known. Caesarea was rising into magnificence, and the Roman governors made it often their abode. See the notes on Acts 8:40. Compare Acts 25:1, Acts 25:4. This journey of Herod is related by Josephus (Antiq., book 19, chapter 8, section 2). He says that it was after he had reigned over all Judea for three years.

And there abode - That is, until his death, which occurred shortly after. We do not learn that he made any further inquiry after Peter, or that he attempted any further persecutions of the Christians. The men on guard were undoubtedly put to death; and thus Herod used all his power to create the impression that Peter had escaped by their negligence; and this would undoubtedly be believed by the Jews. See Matthew 28:15. He might himself, perhaps, have been convinced, however, that the escape was by miracle, and afraid to attempt any further persecutions; or the affairs of his government might have called off his attention to other things; and thus, as in the case of the. "persecution that arose about Stephen," the political changes and dangers might divert the attention from putting Christians to death. See the notes on Acts 9:31. Thus, by the providence of God, this persecution, that had been commenced, not by popular tumult, but by royal authority and power, and that was aimed at the very pillars of the church, ceased. The prayers of the church prevailed; and the monarch was overcome, disappointed, bummed, and, by divine judgment, soon put to death.

19. examined the keepers—who, either like the keepers of our Lord's sepulchre, had "shaken and become as dead men" (Mt 28:4), or had slept on their watch and been divinely kept from awaking.

commanded that they should be put to death—Impotent vengeance!

He examined the keepers; that is, judicially; proceeding against them for the escape of St. Peter.

Commanded that they should be put to death; they were sentenced to be led away, and it is most probably thought, unto the place of execution. The instruments in persecution God many times meets with in this world, and sometimes by the persecutors themselves. And when Herod had sought for him and found him not,.... Neither in the prison, nor in any part of the city:

he examined the keepers; of the prison, and those that were upon the watch, whether they had not been accessary to his escape:

and commanded that they should be put to death: or brought forth, not before a judge to be tried and judged, because they had been examined by Herod already; but either that they should be carried and laid in bonds, or be led forth to suffer punishment; and so our version directs, and which is confirmed by the Syriac; and the Greeks say (n), that is a kind of punishment:

and he went down from Judea to Caesarea; not Peter, but Herod:

and there abode; of this journey of Agrippa's to Caesarea, Josephus makes mention (o); this place was distant from Jerusalem six hundred furlongs, or seventy five miles (p).

(n) Harpocratian. Lex. p. 32. (o) Antiqu. l. 19. c. 2. sect. 2.((p) De Bello Jud. l. 1. c. 3. sect. 5.

And when Herod had sought for him, and found him not, he examined the keepers, and commanded that they should be put to death. And he went down from Judaea to Caesarea, and there abode.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Acts 12:19. μὴ for οὐ, as often with a participle. Simcox, Language of the N. T., p. 188.—ἀνακρίνας, Acts 4:9; Acts 24:8; Acts 28:18, Luke 23:14, of a judicial investigation, cf. also 1 Corinthians 9:3 for this judicial use by St. Paul, see Grimm sub υ.ἀπαχθῆναι “to be put to death,” R.V., only here in this sense in N.T. absolutely; so Latin duci in Pliny, ad Traj., 96 (Page); Nestle, Philologia Sacra (1896), p. 53, cf. Genesis 39:22; Genesis 40:3; Genesis 42:16, LXX, use of the same verb of carrying off to prison.—κατελθών: Herod was wont to make his residence for the most part at Jerusalem, Jos., Ant., xix., 7, 3, and we are not told why he went down to Cæsarea on this occasion. Josephus, xix., 8, 2, tells us that the festival during which the king met his death was appointed in honour of the emperor’s safety, and the conjecture has been made that the thanksgiving was for the return of Claudius from Britain (see Farrar, St. Paul, i. 315), but this must remain uncertain; he may have gone down to Cæsarea “propter Tyros,” Blass, see also B.D., 12, p. 135.19. commanded that they should be put to death] The Greek is literally, “commanded that they should be led forth,” implying however that such a proceeding was the prelude to their execution. It is the verb so often rendered “lead away” in the accounts which the Gospels give of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus.

And he went down from Judea to Cesarea, and there abode] By Caligula there had been conferred on Herod Agrippa the tetrarchies of Herod, Philip and Lysanias mentioned Luke 3:1. He afterwards received the tetrarchy of Antipas, and was honoured with the title of king. He therefore, and not a Roman governor, was in power at Cæsarea at this date, for Josephus tells us (Antiq. xx. 8. 2) that he had received from Claudius Judæa and Samaria, in addition to the districts over which he had ruled under Caligula.Acts 12:19. Ἀπαχθῆναι, be led away to execution) The ungodly succeeds to the place of the righteous.—ἀπὸ τῆς Ἰουδαίας, from Judea) with shame, on account of Peter not having been forthcoming.—[Καισαρείαν, Cæsarea) There he died.—V. g.]Verse 19. - Guards for keepers, A.V.; tarried there for there abode, A.V. Examined (ἀνακρίνας)

See on Luke 23:14; and compare Acts 4:9.

Put to death (ἀπαχθῆναι)

Lit., led away; i.e., to execution. A technical phrase like the Latin ducere. Compare Matthew 27:31.

Abode (διέτριβεν)

Originally, to rub away, or consume; hence, of time, to spend.

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