Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament
Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church.Acts 12:1. Κατʼ ἐκεῖνον δὲ τὸν καιρὸν, but [now] at that time) The apostolical Church had rest and persecution blended together, of which, when the one or other much prevails, a more severe Divine judgment either will come or is not present.—κακῶσαι, to afflict) The art of the world. Herod did this, influenced by his own mind [over-ruled by Providence], on account of the time [the juncture, which God saw required such a sore discipline,—τὸν καιρὸν], and on account of [the loving purposes of] grace.
And he killed James the brother of John with the sword.Acts 12:2. Ἰάκωβον τὸν ἀδελφὸν Ἰωάννου, James the brother of John) The one of these two brothers left the world at the earliest time, the other at a time long subsequent. At the time that Luke wrote, John, who survived, was better known than James, who is designated from John.
And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.)Acts 12:3. Ἰδὼν, having seen) Two incentives, leading; men to act ill and omit to do good: the desire to please others, and fear; the one is the worse, the other the more violent (active) of the two, even in the case of kings.—τοῖς Ἰουδαίοις, the Jews) These were hostile, owing to conscience, but that a perverted conscience; Herod from wantonness, at the cost of believers, wishes to gratify them.—τῶν ἀζύμων, of the unleavened bread) It was at the same time of the year formerly that they had taken Jesus. The people were congregated together.
And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.Acts 12:4. Τέταρσι τετραδίοις, four quaternions) So that they might keep watch by turns, and in several places: Acts 12:10.—ἀναγαγεῖν, to bring him forth) Such proceedings used to be carried on in elevated places. Therefore ἀναγεῖν is employed, and this by a Metonymy of the antecedent for the consequent, viz. the punishment.
Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.Acts 12:5. Προσευχὴ, prayer) Philem., Acts 12:22, “I trust that through your prayers I shall be given unto you.”—ἐχτενὴς) instant and earnest,—ὑπὲρ αὐτοῦ, for him) They prayed concerning a thing which was even of such a kind that, when it was come to pass, it seemed incredible to them, Acts 12:15. How marvellous and subtle (recondite) is the nature of faith and prayer! Why did they not also pray for James? Because he had been speedily slain.
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.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”].
And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands.Acts 12:7. Φῶς, a light) miraculous.—οἰκήματι, in the dwelling) A general term for the special one, prison.
And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me.Acts 12:8. Εἶπε, said) It was not the angel himself who clothed Peter; for there was no need. Decorum was observed.—περίζωσαι, gird thyself around) His girdle, sandals, and garment, either Peter himself had laid aside when going to sleep, or else the guards had taken away: now he is ordered to put them on. Still Peter had his time for walking uninterfered with (at his disposal): John 21:18, “(περιεπάτεις) whither thou wouldest; but when thou shalt be old,—another shall grid thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.”
And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision.
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.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.
And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.Acts 12:11. Εἶπε, he said) with a ready, grateful, pious, joyful mind.—οἶδα ἀληθῶς, I know of a truth) The antithesis is, he thought, Acts 12:9. All things externally accorded with the internal vision.—ἐξείλετό με, hath delivered me) It was not yet the time that Peter should die: John 21:18.
And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying.Acts 12:12. Συνιδὼν, having considered) viz. what he ought to do. The same verb occurs, ch. Acts 14:6, συνίδοντες, having become conscious of it.—συνηθροισμένοι, gathered together) at midnight.
And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda.Acts 12:13. Τοῦ πυλῶνος, the vestibule or porch) [atrium, entrance room] before the house itself. Πύλη, is the gate: πυλὼν implies something larger and more spacious, and expresses either the large gate or even the entrance next to it, the unclosed Subdiale, ὑπαίθριον, open gallery. Peter entered through the gate into this πυλὼν, atrium, and then into the house. What Mark, Mark 14:68, calls the προαύλιον, is the πυλὼν of Matthew 26:71, the porch.—προῆλθε) came forward. The antithesis is εἰσδραμοῦσα, having run in, Acts 12:14.—ὑπακοῦσαι, to answer the knock, to hearken) ענה, LXX. ὑπακούειν.
 The reading προσῆλθε had been preferred by the larger Ed.; but the reading προῆλθε was elevated from the sign ε to the sign γ in the margin of Ed. 2, and is presented to us by the Germ. Vers. along with the Gnomon.—E. B.
Lachm. and Tisch., with the oldest authorities, read προσῆλθεν.—E. and T.
And when she knew Peter's voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate.Acts 12:14. Εἰσδραμοῦσα, having run in) speedily.
And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel.Acts 12:15. Μαίνῃ, thou art mad) [Some subjoin the mark of interrogation after this word. But the margin of both Gr. Editions leaves it undecided.—E. B.] A formula used in case of a thing which is not believed.—διϊσχυρίζετο, she perseveringly affirmed) Quite differently from what they are wont to do, who are either mad or sleeping.—ὁ ἄγγελος αὐτοῦ, his angel) So they inferred from the similarity of the voice. From the opinion of those saints as to the angel of Peter, whom they were supposing to be close to death, having been heard by the damsel, no solid conclusion can be inferred as to a single angel being the attendant on each individual among men. [Scripture assigns frequently to one holy man the guardianship rather of many angels.—V. g.] However even Peter speaks definitely with the article τὸν, Acts 12:11, τὸν ἄγγελον αὐτοῦ: whereas ordinarily the article is not always added to possessive pronouns. Comp. Matthew 19:28, δόξης αὐτοῦ; Acts 3:2, μητρὸς αὐτοῦ.
But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished.
But he, beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, Go shew these things unto James, and to the brethren. And he departed, and went into another place.Acts 12:17. Κατασείους, having made a motion to them with his hand) modestly: that a cry might not be raised. They were speaking much, through astonishment.—Ἰακώβῳ, unto James) the surviving apostle of that name.—ταῦτα, these things) that they may know, what has taken place.—ἐπορεύθη, he departed) In persecution, often one person in particular is aimed at by the persecutors; and it is allowable for him to escape, rather than the rest: ch. Acts 17:14. Peter afterwards returned: ch. Acts 15:7.—εἰς ἕτερον τόπον, into another place) not very distant.
Now as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers, what was become of Peter.Acts 12:18. Ἐν τοῖς στρατιώταις, among the soldiers) These had seen the faith, patience, and prayers of Peter; and yet they had not ceased to attack (treat with unkindness) him.—τί ἄρα, what at all) The agitation of the soldiers is expressed by this peculiar phrase.
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.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.]
And Herod was highly displeased with them of Tyre and Sidon: but they came with one accord to him, and, having made Blastus the king's chamberlain their friend, desired peace; because their country was nourished by the king's country.Acts 12:20. Ἦν δὲ, but Herod was) A restless kind of life.—(θυμομαχῶν, warring in mind) θυμομαχεῖν is said of one who is borne with hostility against his enemy only in mind, when his strength has been now lost, as Raphelius, from Polybius, shows to have been the case with Herod, or else has not been yet collected. Even without recourse to arms, by withholding supplies of grain, etc., to their markets, Herod could press heavily on the people of Tyre and Sidon, as usually happens in the case of marts for commerce.—πείσαντες, having appeased or made a friend of) So the Christians also, in the providence of God, were relieved from the dearness of provisions there: comp. ch. Acts 11:28.—τὸν ἐπὶ τοῦ κοιτῶνος, the chamberlain) Such personages have often great power with kings; [and they were the more in need of peace on account of the dearness of provisions.—V. g.]—εἰρήνην, peace) They knew not to what lengths the offended king might proceed.—ἀπὸ τῆς βασιλικῆς, from the king’s) Repeat χώρας, country. Even Hiram, King of Tyre, had sought provisions for his household from Solomon: 1 Kings 5:9.
And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them.Acts 12:21. Τακτῇ δὲ ἡμέρᾳ, but on an appointed day) The solemn celebration of games for the safety of Cæsar, as Josephus says, l. 19. Ant. Jud. ch. 8, who describes at large this impiety of Herod and its punishment: “Clad in a garment which was all woven of silver by marvellous workmanship, and which, struck by the rays of the rising sun and emitting a kind of divine splendour, was inspiring the spectators with veneration accompanied with awe: and presently after pernicious (baneful) flatterers raising acclamations, each from a different quarter, were hailing him as a god, begging him that he would be favourably propitious; for that heretofore having revered him as a man, they now perceive and acknowledge that there is in him something more excellent than mortal nature: this impious adulation he did not correct or repel.—There ensued torturing pains in the belly, which were violent from the very first. Having therefore turned his eyes towards his friends, ‘Behold,’ said he, ‘I the god, as you called me, am commanded to leave life, the fatal necessity of death confuting your lie; and I, whom ye hailed as immortal, am hurried away by a mortal stroke.’—Then worn out by the torture, which did not at all abate for five days in continuation, he ended life.”—πρὸς αὐτοὺς, unto them) It is probable that among his hearers were ambassadors of the Tyrians and Sidonians.
And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man.Acts 12:22. Θεοῦ φωνὴ, καὶ οὐχ ἀνθρώπου, the voice of a god, not of a man) That divine praises were sometimes given to speakers, especially princes, by the acclamations of their hearers, is demonstrated by Ferrarius, l. 3, de acclam. ch. 13 and 14. But their customary character increases, instead of diminishing the impiety of such formulas.
And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost.Acts 12:23. Παραχρῆμα, immediately) The disparagement (insult) to the Divine honour is most speedily counteracted (prevented): comp. ch. Acts 14:14; also Revelation 19:10.—ἄγγελος Κυρίου, the angel of the Lord) a good angel. As to this important circumstance Josephus has nothing, though he enters into many matters of less consequence. To such a decree do Divine and human histories differ. The angel of the Lord led forth Peter: the angel of the Lord struck Herod. That both acts were done by angels, mortals saw not: it was only known to the saints.—οὐκ ἔδωκς, he gave not) He is not blamed for his having been praised; but because he accepted the praise. This sacrilege earned a more speedy punishment than the murder of James and his other crimes. [When the stroke was inflicted, Herod confessed (according to the statement of Josephus), that he had contracted guilt thereby.—V. g.]—σκωληκόβρωτος, eaten of worms) What a change to him! Worms, to a man in the case of death, most natural, and least natural, according as they either follow or precede death. The deaths of persecutors have been striking. The Gospel overcomes and survives them: Acts 12:24.
But the word of God grew and multiplied.
And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark.Acts 12:25. Ὑπέστρεψαν, returned) to Antioch: ch. Acts 11:30, having been sent thence with relief unto the brethren in Judea.—συμπαραλάβοντες, having taken with them) Jerusalem was a nursery (seed-bed) of workmen.—Ἰωάννην, John) Acts 12:12. He too had both a foreign and a Hebrew name. Comp. ch. Acts 13:1; Acts 13:8-9. This variety of names accords with the beginning of the union of Jews and Gentiles.