And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Peter was sleeping between two soldiers.—The picture of the calm repose of the Apostle as of one to whom God had given the sleep of His beloved (Psalm 127:2), undisturbed by the fear of coming suffering and death, will be felt by most readers to be one of singular interest.
The same night - That is, the night preceding. The intention of Herod was to bring him out as soon as the Passover was over; but during the night which immediately preceded the day in which he intended to bring him to punishment, Peter was rescued.
Peter was sleeping - Here is an instance of remarkable composure, and an illustration of the effects of peace of conscience and of confidence in God. It was doubtless known to Peter what the intention of Herod was. James had just been put to death, and Peter had no reason to expect a better fate. And yet in this state he slept as quietly as if there had been no danger, and it was necessary that he should be roused even by an angel to contemplate his condition and to make his escape. There is nothing that will give quiet rest and gentle sleep so certainly as a conscience void of offence; and in the midst of imminent dangers, he who confides in God may rest securely and calmly. Compare Psalm 3:5; Psalm 4:8.
Between two soldiers - See the notes on Acts 12:4. Peter was bound to the two. His left hand was chained to the right hand of one of the soldiers, and his right hand to the left hand of the other. This was a common mode of securing prisoners among the Romans. See abundant authorities for this quoted in Lardner's Credibility, part 1, chapter 10: section 9, London edition, 1829, vol. i. p. 242, 243, etc.
And the keepers ... - See Acts 12:4. Two soldiers were stationed at the door. We may see now that every possible precaution was used to ensure the safe custody of Peter:
(1) He was in prison.
(2) he was under the charge of sixteen men, who could relieve each other when weary, and thus every security was given that he could not escape by inattention on their part.
(3) he was bound fast between two men. And,
(4) He was further guarded by two others, whose business it was to watch the door of the prison. It is to be remembered, also, that it was death for a Roman soldier to be found sleeping at his post. But God can deliver in spite of all the precautions of people; and it is easy for him to overcome the most cunning devices of his enemies.
the same night—but a few hours before the intended execution. Thus long were the disciples kept waiting; their prayers apparently unavailing, and their faith, as would seem from the sequel, waxing feeble. Such, however, is the "law" of God's procedure (De 32:36 and see on Joh 21:3).
Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains—Roman prisoners had a chain fastened at one end to the wrist of their fight hand, and at the other to the wrist of a soldier's left hand, leaving the right arm of the keeper free in case of any attempt to escape. For greater security the prisoner was sometimes, as here, chained to two soldiers, one on each side. (See Ac 21:23.) Ye think your prey secure, bloodthirsty priests and thou obsequious tyrant who, to "please the Jews," hast shut in this most eminent of the servants of Christ within double gates, guarded by double sentinels, while double keepers and double chains seem to defy all rescue! So thought the chief priests, who "made the sepulchre of the Lord sure, sealing the stone and setting a watch." But "He that sitteth in heaven shall laugh at you." Meanwhile, "Peter is sleeping!" In a few hours he expects a stingless death; "neither counts he his life dear unto him, so that he may finish his course with joy and the ministry which he has received of the Lord Jesus." In this frame of spirit he has dropped asleep, and lies the picture of peace.Brought him forth, to be put to death.
The same night: this is a night to be remembered, as that in which God delivered his Israel out of Egypt: when both were come to the utmost extremity, and at the pit’s brink, then so God does his marvellous work of deliverance, that it ought to be had in remembrance, Psalm 105:5.
Peter was sleeping: innocency hath this advantage, and a good conscience acquiesces in the providence of God; it hath God to its friend; and if he be for us, who can be against us?
Bound with two chains: see Acts 12:4: to which may be added, that with one chain St. Peter’s right hand was bound to the soldier’s left; with the other chain his left hand to the other soldier’s right; for so was their manner for their greater security, that they might not let the prisoner escape: thus persecutors are skilful to destroy; but no device can avail against any whom God will save.
the same night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers; fearless of death, being in a good cause, and having nothing to ruffle and disturb his mind; and though he was in a prison, and in such company, God gave him, his beloved, sleep:
bound with two chains; one on one hand, and one on the other, each of which were fastened to the soldiers; that on his right hand was fastened to the left hand of the soldier, that was on that side; and that on his left hand to the right hand of the soldier, on the other side him; such security was made, that he might not get away from them; to which is added,And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Acts 12:6. τῇ νυκτὶ ἐκείνῃ: “that very night,” i.e., the night before the trial.—κοιμώμενος, cf. 1 Peter 5:7 and Psalm 127:2 : “for so He giveth His beloved sleep”: “and there too it is beautiful that Paul sings hymns, whilst here Peter sleeps,” Chrys., Hom., xxvi.: cf. Acts 16:25. to τὸ πᾶν ῥίψας ἐπὶ τὸν Κύριον, Oecumenius (cf. Blass, in loco).—ἁλύσεσι δυσί, cf. Acts 21:33; on the usual Roman custom see Jos., Ant., xviii., 6, 7, in the account of Herod’s own imprisonment by Tiberius; cf. Pliny, Epist., x., 65; Seneca, Epist., i., 5, “eadem catena et custodiam (vinctum) et militem copulabat,” perhaps most natural to suppose that Peter was bound on either hand to each of the soldiers, the two chains being used perhaps for greater security on account of the former escape.—φύλακες, i.e., the other two of the quaternion to make escape impossible.6. And when Herod would have brought him forth] Literally, “was about to bring him forth,” and this should be expressed, because it is an additional note of the delay and lapse of time between the arrest and the intended punishment.
and the keepers before the door] Read, “and guards before the door,” i.e. the two soldiers of the quaternion who were not chained to the prisoner.Acts 12:6. Ὅτε, when) The aid sent, when the danger was come to its height, shows that the result was not accidental [ch. Acts 23:11].—κοιμώμενος, sleeping) There is frequent mention of men sleeping in danger, either with faith or with torpor.—μεταξὺ, between) The enemy had supposed all to have been made secure.—τὴν φυλακὴν, the prison, the place of watching) The place is meant [not “kept watch”].Verse 6. - Was about to bring for would have brought, A.V.; guards for the keepers, A.V. What a picture we have here! The dungeon; the double chain fastening the prisoner to two soldiers; the other two soldiers of the quaternion keeping watch at the first and second ward, or station; the iron gate securely fastened; the population of the great city expecting with the morning light to be gratified with the blood of the victim of their bigotry; the king having made his arrangements for the imposing spectacle which was to ingratiate him with his people and obtain the applause he so dearly loved; and then the servant of Jesus Christ sleeping calmly under the shadow of God's wings; and, a little way off, the Church keeping her solemn watch and pouring forth her intensest prayers through the silence of the night! And the issue, the triumph of the few and the weak over all the power of the many and the strong.
Rev., correctly, was about to bring.
See on reserved, 1 Peter 1:4. The imperfect, were keeping.
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