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Acts Chapter Twelve


I. Content of the Chapter


The Church in Jerusalem Overcame the Persecution of the Enemy

I.  The reason for prayer------the persecution of Herod the king:

  A. Herod the king killed James the apostle (v.1-2).

  B. Herod the king imprisoned Peter the apostle (v.3-4, 6).

  C. Constant prayer was offered to God for Peter by the church (v.5).

II. The result of prayer------the overcoming of the church:

  A. God sent the angel to deliver Peter from the hand of Herod (v.7-11).

  B. Peter reported to the church and then went to another place (v.12-17).

  C. The disorder of the power of Herod (v.18-20).

  D. The miserable final ending of Herod (v.21-23).

  E. The word of God grew and multiplied (v.24).

III. Barnabas and Saul, taking with them John, returned to Antioch (v.25).


II. Verse by Verse commentary


Acts. 12:1 “Now about that time Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church.

   YLT: “And about that time, Herod the king put forth his hands, to do evil to certain of those of the assembly,”

   Literal Meaning: “now about that time” Usually, “now about that time” is supposed to be the time when the land of Judea suffered the great famine and the church in Antioch sent relief to the church in Jerusalem by the hands of Barnabas and Saul (Acts. 11:27-30). However, according to the historical facts, the famine of the land of Judea took place in A.D. 47-48 and Herod the king died in A.D. 44. The times did not seem to agree with each other. And therefore a more accurate saying should be that it refers to the time when Barnabas and Saul taught and edified the church in Antioch (Acts. 11:25-26).

  There may be two reasons for Luke to put v.1-24 of this chapter between Acts. 11:30 and Acts. 12:25: 1) Luke made a summary for the ministration of Peter to the Jews and from then on he specially recorded the ministration of Paul; 2) Luke, through the matter that Peter was delivered by the angel from the prison, brought in “John whose surname was Mark” and made clear the relationship among Mark, Peter and Paul (v.12, 25).

  Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church” “Herod the king” refers to Herod Antipas I and he was in power from A.D. 41-44. He was the grandson of Herod I (Herod the great) and he ruled the whole area of Palestine. He was the father of Antipas II (Acts. 25:13).

  “Stretched out his hand to harass” It describes that Herod the king stretched out his hand to do harm to the leaders of the church in Jerusalem in order to please the Judaic leaders. “Harass” includes imprisonment, tribulation, hitting, mocking, expropriating, slaying and etc.

  “Some from the church” refers to the apostles who still stayed in Jerusalem (Acts. 8:1).


Acts. 12:2 “Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword.

   YLT: “and he killed James, the brother of John, with the sword,”

   Literal Meaning: “kill”: behead, it is a legal punishment of the Roman Government (Matt. 14:10). The Jews are only allowed to stone criminals to death (Acts. 7:58).

  It is said that it was all of a sudden that James the apostle was killed by Herod the king and therefore the church did not have any opportunity to pray for James constantly (See v.5).

  James the brother of John” The Lord Jesus once predicted that James and John would drink His cup (Matt. 20:23) and He meant that the two brothers would suffer tribulation for the testimony of the Lord. James was the first martyr among the apostles and John was exiled to the isle that is called Patmos later in his old age (Rev. 1:9).

  James the apostles was the first one who was martyred for the Lord among the apostles and only his death was recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. It shows that the ministration of James is bearing witness to the slain Lamb. He identified with His death and it was the foundation of all ministrations.

  Among the three great disciples of the Lord (Matt. 17:1; 26:37), the work of Peter was vigorous and the writing of John was abundant. Only James seemed to be unknown to the public. Neither an obvious sign done by him was recorded in the Bible nor an Epistle written by him was left. However, the event that he was martyred for the Lord made him have the greatest stature among the apostles.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) When James was killed, God did not send His angel to save him like what He did upon Peter (Acts. 5:19; 12:7-11). It shows us a fact that God may not protect or save us, however, we should not lose faith because of this.

2) Whether God protects and saves us is of His will. Every circumstance that we encounter is of His goodwill and we should just commit ourselves unto His hand at rest.


Acts. 12:3 “And because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also. Now it was during the Days of Unleavened Bread.

   YLT: “and having seen that it is pleasing to the Jews, he added to lay hold of Peter also -- and they were the days of the unleavened food --”

   Literal Meaning: And because he saw that it pleased the Jews” It shows that though James was killed by Herod the king, actually the action was of the jealousy and incitement of the Jews (See v.11). It shows that Satan usually uses two power------the religion and the politics------to oppress the children of God and the two power usually colludes with and utilizes each other.

  Now it was during the Days of Unleavened Bread” It refers to the seven days of the feast of the Passover during which the Jews had to eat unleavened bread. And therefore it was also called the Days of Unleavened Bread (Exod. 12:18-20; Luke. 22:7). At that time, there were many Jews coming from various places to Jerusalem for the feast.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) The thing which pleases all people is always not in accordance with the truth and the one who determines to please men will always do things that harm the truth.

2) Herod the king had the power seemingly, however, he was the bondman of “pleasing all men” because he wanted to please men. Such men do not have freedom in truth.

3) We believers shall please God and shall not please men. If we yet pleased men, we should not be the servant of Christ (Gal. 1:10).

4) During “the Days of Unleavened Bread”, the Jews are supposed to fast, perform their ablution and cleanse themselves from sins in order to remember that their ancestors came forth out of the land of Egypt and had freedom (Deut. 16:3-8). However, they merely kept the form of letters and they were full of tricks of malice and murder within them. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth (1Cor. 5:7-8).


Acts. 12:4 “So when he had arrested him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him, intending to bring him before the people after Passover.

   YLT: “whom also having seized, he did put in prison, having delivered [him] to four quaternions of soldiers to guard him, intending after the passover to bring him forth to the people.”

   Literal Meaning: and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him” According to the Roman chronometry, there were four watches and in every watch a squad of soldiers kept the prison. And therefore there were four squads. There was quaternion in every squad and two of them had to sit on the two sides of the prisoner and each of them used the chain to handcuff his inner arm with the arm of the convict and the other two of them were responsible for keeping the prison (See v.6). Such strict guard was only applied to the especially important convict sentenced to death in order to ensure that he would not escape from prison. Peter was once delivered from prison mysteriously (Acts. 5:22-24) and therefore they dealt with him very seriously.

  “Intending to bring him before the people after Passover” “Passover” here refers to the whole seven days of the feast. During the feast, there were usually tens of thousands of people crowding the streets in Jerusalem and therefore the one who was in power did not dare to rashly carry out the sentence publicly, lest there be riot (Matt. 26:5; Mark. 14:2).

    “The Passover” is translated as “the Easter” in some English versions because the Lord Jesus was raised up the day after the Sabbath of the Passover. And therefore the Passover of the Jews became the Easter weekend in the eyes of Christians.


Acts. 12:5 “Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church.

   YLT: “Peter, therefore, indeed, was kept in the prison, and fervent prayer was being made by the assembly unto God for him,”

   Literal Meaning: but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church” In the original, the length of the prayer of the church for Peter is not stressed on but the eagerness and depth of the prayer is stressed on. The word “constant” refers to the eagerness and sincerity of prayer. “Prayer to God” shows that the object of the prayer is God instead of men.

  From this verse, the church seemed to show partiality to Peter: prayer was offered to God for Peter and prayer was not offered to God for James so that James was killed (v.2). Actually, it is unlikely that the prayer was not offered to God for James by the church. Luke just did not record it. And James’ being killed stirred up the burden of the church and “constant” prayer was offered to God for Peter by the church.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) Peter was waiting for the execution in the prison. Neither power nor influence did the church have to save Peter. When the earthly help was useless, the heavenly help was helpful. They prayed to God constantly and God sent His angel to deliver Peter from the prison (See v.7-11). Prayer is the excellent way of the church to overcome the forces of darkness.

2) Prayer is the connection of our fellowship with God and it is a bridge over the abyss and it leads us pass through danger and shortages.

3) Prayer is our spiritual weapon and the power of this weapon is very great, however, this weapon could only be used by faith------not only ask but also command. What God values on the earth is not a group of great people but men who dare to testify His greatness.

4) Our prayer is the opportunity of God and it paves the way for God. God’s works are always restrained by our prayers------the more we pray, the more works God will do; the less we prayer, the fewer works God will do; God does nothing if men do not pray.

5) The prayer in one’s sadness makes his pain turn into joy; the prayer in one’s joy could add the heavenly sweet smell to his happiness; the prayer in danger makes one gain the heavenly help. Prayer could give one all that God can do for him. God said that, “Ask what I shall give thee” (1Kings. 3:5).

6) When the church encounters great events, the power of the individual prayer is insufficient and the Saints should be gathered together and the prayer of the church could be offered to God with one accord. The effect of prayer will increase and it will become easier to deal with difficulties.

7) They pray to God “for him”; they do not pray for many things but for one thing. Concerning the prayer of the church, we’d better not pray for many things one time. The simpler the matters of prayer are, the easier it is for all the Saints to be in concordance with each other.

8) Prayer is to entreat God and therefore prayer should be offered to God. When we pray for someone or something, our hearts should not turn towards that one or that thing but towards God wholeheartedly.


Acts. 12:6 “And when Herod was about to bring him out, that night Peter was sleeping, bound with two chains between two soldiers; and the guards before the door were keeping the prison.

   YLT: “and when Herod was about to bring him forth, the same night was Peter sleeping between two soldiers, having been bound with two chains, guards also before the door were keeping the prison,”

   Literal Meaning: please note that here “two chains”, “two soldiers” and “two guard posts” in v.10 are used to describe that the enemy guarded Peter with double strength.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) Peter fell asleep peacefully in such dangerous circumstance, showing that he knew that God was before his face and God was at his right hand. Without God’s permission, none of his hair would lose. And therefore his heart rejoiced, and his tongue was glad; moreover his flesh also will rest in hope (Acts. 2:25-26).

2) Peter could see the prison as the heaven because of the presence of the Lord. Wherever the Lord is, it is the heaven.

3) The double difficulties would bring double blessings to believers. The greater the difficulty is, the greater deliverance we will experience.


Acts. 12:7 “Now behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him, and a light shone in the prison; and he struck Peter on the side and raised him up, saying, Arise quickly! And his chains fell off his hands.

   YLT: “and lo, a messenger of the Lord stood by, and a light shone in the buildings, and having smitten Peter on the side, he raised him up, saying, `Rise in haste,' and his chains fell from off [his] hands.”

   Spiritual Meaning: the description of the details in this verse is rather interesting: 1) “now behold…stood by him” shows that God’s salvation comes suddenly at the unexpected time; 2) “and a light shone in the prison” shows that the heavenly light is the beginning of God’s salvation (Acts. 9:3); 3) “struck Peter and raised him up” shows to awake one’s heart; 4) “arise quickly” shows to press one to put into practice; 5) “And his chains fell off his hands” shows to make men be on longer constrained.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) “Now behold, an angel of the Lord” It is the way of God. God’s steps always wait and come gradually until late at night. We could see that the angel came to deliver Peter from prison until the previous night when Herod was about to bring him out (See v.6). The matter that Ahasuerus the king could not sleep took place after Haman made the gallows.

2) You may have to undergo the period of darkness before the salvation comes to you. However, do not be afraid and God will save you! God may like you to wait for a moment, however, He won’t forget His oath and He will fulfill His unchangeable promise!

3) It is the most smooth and steady to trust in God’s way and God’s time.

4) God has one thousand keys to open one thousand different doors to save His children. And therefore let us perform our duties faithfully------suffer for Him------the Lord will certainly perform His duty.

5) Difficulties are the earlier stage of the miracle. If it is a great sign, the condition is not only “difficult” but also “impossible”.

6) God likes His children holding on Him with their hands and therefore He always gives His children some despair.

7) Men’s end is God’s beginning. God always stretches out His hands when men are in despair.

8) When our hearts sleep soundly, wish God also “strike” us so that we shall awake out of sleep (Rom. 13:11; Eph. 5:14).

9) Only those who are awaken are able to stand up and the sleepy ones lie in wickedness (1John. 5:19).

10) Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage (Gal. 5:1).


Acts. 12:8 “Then the angel said to him, Gird yourself and tie on your sandals; and so he did. And he said to him, Put on your garment and follow me.’”

   YLT: “The messenger also said to him, `Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals;' and he did so; and he saith to him, `Put thy garment round and be following me;'”

   The Background: “gird yourself” At that time the clothing of men is the robe. During the day, they gird themselves, lest the clothing be loose. And at night when they go to bed, they loosen the bands so that they could sleep comfortably.

   Literal Meaning: “Gird yourself” means gird the clothing with band in the original.

 “Tie on your sandals” asks him to make preparation to set out.

“Put on your garment and follow me” “garment” refers to the thicker robe which is put on the outside in order to resist the cold weather.

   Spiritual Meaning: the four actions in this verse have the following meanings: 1) “gird yourself” symbolizes girding your waist with truth (Eph. 6:14); 2) “tie on your sandals” symbolizes shoeing your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace (Eph. 5:15); 3) “Put on your garment” symbolizes putting on Christ (Gal. 3:27); 4) “and follow me” symbolizes walking in the Spirit (Gal. 5:16).


Acts. 12:9 “So he went out and followed him, and did not know that what was done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision.

   YLT: “and having gone forth, he was following him, and he knew not that it is true that which is done through the messenger, and was thinking he saw a vision,”

   Meaning of Words: “what was done”: the happening.

   Literal Meaning: “So he went out and followed him” “went out” indicates that he went out of the prison cell and he had not departed from the prison (See v.10).

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) Concerning our many spiritual experiences, we were not very clear at that time and after the matter is all over, we may come to ourselves (See v.11) and know that we indeed meet the living and true God.

2) In the beginning, we may not know the place to which the Lord leads us (Heb. 11:8). However, we should merely set our minds at rest and follow Him and everything will be clear at the appointed time.


Acts. 12:10 “When they were past the first and the second guard posts, they came to the iron gate that leads to the city, which opened to them of its own accord; and they went out and went down one street, and immediately the angel departed from him.

   YLT: “and having passed through a first ward, and a second, they came unto the iron gate that is leading to the city, which of its own accord did open to them, and having gone forth, they went on through one street, and immediately the messenger departed from him.”

   Literal Meaning: When they were past the first and the second guard posts” It shows that in this prison, there were two guard posts from the inner prison to the gate that leads to the city. There were jailers guarding every gate in order to ensure the security of the inner prison.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) “The iron gate…which opened to them of its own accord” The difficulties that block us seem to be hard to be overcome, however, when we move forward in faith, the difficulties will be overcome immediately. Much of our worry is indeed unnecessary.

2) What’s important for us is to pray more, pray unceasingly, obey the call and guidance of the Holy Spirit at all times and follow Him to go forward, and then the iron gate will open of its own accord and the blocks that we are afraid of will disappear completely.

3) Beloved, there may be iron gate that holds you from going forward in your way. You, like the bird in the cage, always strike the latch. However, it is of no help and contrarily you become very tired and painful. If you have learnt the key, you won’t be in such condition. What is the key? It is to trust and pray and in this way, when you come to the iron gate, the gate will open to you of its own accord.

4) The angel led Peter until he got the safe place and then departed from him. The heavenly help will never give up halfway and it always helps us to the end until we are able to go forward freely.

5) When believers lead the friends of gospel, we’d better lead them to be saved, until they are rooted in the Lord.


Acts. 12:11 “And when Peter had come to himself, he said, Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent His angel, and has delivered me from the hand of Herod and from all the expectation of the Jewish people.’”

   YLT: “And Peter having come to himself, said, `Now I have known of a truth that the Lord did sent forth His messenger, and did deliver me out of the hand of Herod, and all the expectation of the people of the Jews;'”

   Meaning of Words: “come to himself”: become clear-headed.

   Literal Meaning: and from all the expectation of the Jewish people” “the Jewish people” refers to the Judaic leaders and the Jews who were stiff-necked and were unwilling to believe in the Lord Jesus. They tried their best to advocate Herod’s plan to kill the apostles and “expected” to wipe out Christianity.  


Acts. 12:12 “So, when he had considered this, he came to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together praying.

   YLT: “also, having considered, he came unto the house of Mary, the mother of John, who is surnamed Mark, where there were many thronged together and praying.”

   Literal Meaning: “So, when he had considered this” In the original it indicates that one has thought seriously concerning one thing.

“He came to the house of Mary” This house is commonly called “the house of Mark”. It is surmised that the Lord Jesus had the last supper with the disciples there (Luke. 22:7-11); this house may also be the place where the one hundred and twenty dispels got together and prayed after the ascension of the Lord (Acts. 1:13-15).

Here Luke seemed to hide the foreshadowing, and was inclined to introduce the matter of “John whose surname was Mark” into the Acts of the Apostles (See v.25; Acts. 13:5, 13; 15:37-39).

“Mary, the mother of…” is one of the five Marys in the Bible: Mary the mother of the Lord Jesus (Luke. 1:27), Mary called Magdalene (Luke. 8:2), Mary the sister of Martha (Luke. 10:39), Mary the wife of Cleophas (John. 19:25) and Mary the mother of Mark.

  “Where many were gathered together praying” The house of Mary was one of the places where the church in Jerusalem gathered together. “Being gathered together” in the original means “being assembled into one”.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) Christians should not walk carelessly and rashly and we should “consider” everything------keep all these things, and ponder them in one’s heart (Luke. 2:19) and then we are able to walk in the will of God.

2) Believers should open our houses willingly and provide the church with our houses for the use of meeting, prayer, fellowship and gospel, so that we could share the burden and joy with all members.

3) The mother of Mark provided her house for the use of meeting of the church and God’s blessing came to her household and her son Mark became the Lord’s servant later (See v.25; 2Tim. 4:11). Wish we learn from the example of Mary and open our houses willing for the use of the Lord.

4) In the prayer meeting of the church, we should come and bring our hearts and spirits and pray with all Saints with one accord (Matt. 18:19) and then there will be effect.


Acts. 12:13 “And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a girl named Rhoda came to answer.

   YLT: “And Peter having knocked at the door of the porch, there came a damsel to hearken, by name Rhoda,”

   Meaning of Words: “Rhoda”: rose; “came to answer”: hearken, be obedient to.

   Literal Meaning: “came to answer” means to come to open the door, i.e. answering the knock of Peter.


Acts. 12:14 “When she recognized Peter's voice, because of her gladness she did not open the gate, but ran in and announced that Peter stood before the gate.

   YLT: “and having known the voice of Peter, from the joy she did not open the porch, but having run in, told of the standing of Peter before the porch,”

   Literal Meaning: When she recognized Peter's voice” Obviously Rhoda asked who knocked the door before she opened the door, lest someone intrude the house.

   Enlightenment in the Word: when men are overjoyed, they always forget to do the proper things. Though it is natural and normal, the experienced Christians do not forget themselves in great joy.


Acts. 12:15 “But they said to her, You are beside yourself! Yet she kept insisting that it was so. So they said, It is his angel.’”

   YLT: “and they said unto her, `Thou art mad;' and she was confidently affirming [it] to be so, and they said, `It is his messenger;'”

   Meaning of Words: “beside yourself”: crazy; “kept insisting”: insist continually, confidently affirm (one word in the original).

   The Background: “It is his angel” The Jews believe that everyone has an angle that guards him (Matt. 18:10; Heb. 1:14).

   Literal Meaning: So they said, It is his angel.’” It shows that they were not alert enough to understand that God had answered their prayer and therefore they cannot believe the message that Peter was delivered from the prison.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) These believers prayed for Peter and cannot believe that their prayer had been answered. We always have the faith to “ask” and lack the faith that “the prayer has been answered”.

2) The prayer with words and lacks the faith that the prayer could be answered and it is “praying within oneself” (Luke. 18:11).

3) God won’t decline our prayer because we lack faith and therefore we should still pray no matter we have faith or not. And our faith indeed increases and becomes stronger gradually when we exercise our faith in the practical experience of prayers. 


Acts. 12:16 “Now Peter continued knocking; and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished.

   YLT: “and Peter was continuing knocking, and having opened, they saw him, and were astonished,”

   Literal Meaning: in the original there is the word “but” in the beginning of this verse.


Acts. 12:17 “But motioning to them with his hand to keep silent, he declared to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, Go, tell these things to James and to the brethren. And he departed and went to another place.

   YLT: “and having beckoned to them with the hand to be silent, he declared to them how the Lord brought him out of the prison, and he said, `Declare to James and to the brethren these things;' and having gone forth, he went on to another place.”

   Literal Meaning: he declared to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison” Peter did so with the purpose of letting all of them understand that all are done by the hand of God.

  Go, tell these things to James” “James” was the brother of the Lord Jesus according to the flesh. He did not believe in Him before the Lord Jesus was killed (John. 7:5), however, the Lord specially appeared to him after His resurrection (1Cor. 15:7). He may believe in Him piously because of it and then was highly respected by all the Saints (1Cor. 9:5). At that time he had become the leader of the church in Jerusalem (Acts. 15:13; 21:18; Gal. 1:19; 2:9). Here Peter obviously honored the ministration of James.

  Some Bible exegetes held that the governing authority of the church in Jerusalem had been transferred from the apostles to the elders (Acts. 11:30). James may be ordained as the elder by the twelve apostles and therefore in the church in Jerusalem, he had the final and crucial right of speech (Acts.15:13).

  And he departed and went to another place” Probably he departed from Jerusalem temporarily so as to evade the arrest of Herod, lest the safety of other believers be influenced.


Acts. 12:18 “Then, as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers about what had become of Peter.

   YLT: “And day having come, there was not a little stir among the soldiers what then was become of Peter,”

   Literal Meaning: from this verse we could know that when the angle brought Peter out of the prison, the guards were fast asleep and it may be done by the angel also. 


Acts. 12:19 “But when Herod had searched for him and not found him, he examined the guards and commanded that they should be put to death. And he went down from Judea to Caesarea, and stayed there.

   YLT: “and Herod having sought for him, and not having found, having examined the guards, did command [them] to be led away to punishment, and having gone down from Judea to Cesarea, he was abiding [there].”

   Meaning of Words: “stay”: tarry, continue.


Acts. 12:20 “Now Herod had been very angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon; but they came to him with one accord, and having made Blastus the king's personal aide their friend, they asked for peace, because their country was supplied with food by the king's country.

   YLT: “And Herod was highly displeased with the Tyrians and Sidonians, and with one accord they came unto him, and having made a friend of Blastus, who [is] over the bed-chambers of the king, they were asking peace, because of their country being nourished from the king's;”

   Literal Meaning: Now Herod had been very angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon” We do not know why he had been angry and we could only conclude that he may force the multitude to yield obedience to him by cutting off their food provisions.

  “Because their country was supplied with food by the king's countryTyre and Sidon were rich in wood. But they lacked food provisions. They had to import food provisions from Galilee which was under the dominion of Herod the king at that time.

  Blastus the king's personal aide” “personal aide” should be translated as “the one over the bedroom of the king” in the original. And he is the king’s close squire.


Acts. 12:21 “So on a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat on his throne and gave an oration to them.

   YLT: “and on a set day, Herod having arrayed himself in kingly apparel, and having sat down upon the tribunal, was making an oration unto them,”

   Literal Meaning: “on a set day Herod” According to the historical record, at that time Herod chose a special day, the birthday of the Roman Empire Claudius. He actually gathered them to blame them on the excuse of celebration.


Acts. 12:22 “And the people kept shouting, The voice of a god and not of a man!’”

   YLT: “and the populace were shouting, `The voice of a god, and not of a man;'”

   Literal Meaning: The voice of a god and not of a man!” It means that they praised him as god. According to the record of Joseph the Jewish historical, at that time the multitude fawned on and flattered Herod and called him as god. 

   Enlightenment in the Word: we should not respect men above that which is written (1Cor. 4:6). What’s the most important is that we should not regard men as god.


Acts. 12:23 “Then immediately an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give glory to God. And he was eaten by worms and died.

  YLT: “and presently there smote him a messenger of the Lord, because he did not give the glory to God, and having been eaten of worms, he expired.”

   Literal Meaning: he did not give glory to God” It means that when he was flattered by the people, he received it with pleasure. Regarding oneself as god is the blasphemy to God.

  And he was eaten by worms and died” According to the record of Joseph, at that time Herod felt pain in the internal organs suddenly and lingered five days and then died. “Being eaten by worms” may indicate that he was tormented by a kind of parasite and then died of peritonitis.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) No matter who one is, if he steals the glory of God, he indeed digs his own grave.

2) Satan was the archangel and it was driven out and became the devil because it exalted itself and wanted to be equal with God (Is. 14:12-15; Ezek. 28:1-2, 6, 11-17; Rev. 12:9). He whoever advocates “men becoming God” indeed recommits the error of Satan.

3) Herod thought that the power of life and death was in his hand. But he cannot resist worms. Our lives are in the hand of God and therefore we should not be proud and should only say that, “If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that” (James. 4:15).

4) God will never stand by with folded arms concerning the matter that believers and the church are persecuted. He will show His concern and He will judge and avenge for us when the time comes (Rev. 6:9-11).


Acts. 12:24 “But the word of God grew and multiplied.

   YLT: “And the word of God did grow and did multiply,”

   Literal Meaning: But the word of God grew” the word of God (logos). The word of God has been entrusted to believers and the word of God grows along with the increase of the number of believers and the growing of their spiritual life. And therefore “grew” not only means that the number of believers increases distinctly but also indicates that the spiritual life of believers grows and becomes mature.

  “And multiplied” it means multiplying, increasing, filling, abounding and etc.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) The word of God won’t be held back by men’s tricks and contrarily the word of God grows exceedingly.

2) The circumstances of tribulation and poverty always become the catalyst of the growth of the church and the circumstances of ease and comfort contrarily make the church become dispirited. The church history of two thousand years proves that the more the power of darkness persecuted and opposed the church, the more greatly the church grew and the gospel spread.


Acts. 12:25 “And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their ministry, and they also took with them John whose surname was Mark.

   YLT: “and Barnabas and Saul did turn back out of Jerusalem, having fulfilled the ministration, having taken also with [them] John, who was surnamed Mark.”

   Literal Meaning: and they also took with them John whose surname was Mark” They took with them Mark to let him learn to serve God (Acts. 13:5). The elder fellow-workers help, guide, train and edify the younger Saints.


III. Outlines of the Spiritual Lessons


Several Kinds of Hands

I. The hand of Herod------he harassed some from the church (v.1-2).

II. The hand of the church------they lift up their hands and pray for Peter (v.5).

III. The hand of Peter------he was bound with two chains (v.6).

IV. The hand of God:

  A. He sent angel to deliver Peter from the hand of Herod (v.11).

  B. He sent angel to punish Herod (v.23).


The Eight “P”s in Acts. 12

I. Persecution------harass, kill and put in prison (v.1-5a).

II. Prayer------but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church (v.5b).

III. Peace------Peter was sleeping, bound with two chains (v.6).

IV. Power------God has sent the angel to save Peter (v.7-10).

V. Perception------Peter came to himself immediately and the Saints gradually understood it (v.11-17).

VI. Perdition------soldiers were put to death and Herod the king was eaten by worms and died (v.18-23).

VII. Prosperity------the word of God grew and multiplied (v.24).

VIII. Perfection------Barnabas and Saul also took with them John whose surname was Mark (v.25).


Three Kinds of Death

I. The death of James (v.2)------he was the witness of the Lord and was martyred for the Lord (witness and martyr have the same root of word).

II. The death of guards (v.19)------inexplicable and silly death.

III. The death of Herod (v.23)------he did not give glory to God and was punished by God to death.


The Ministrations of the Four Ministrations in the New Testament

I. The ministration of James------he testified the slain lamb and identified with His death (v.2).

II. The ministration of Peter------he testified the word of God and overcame all blocks to be the fisher of men (v.4-11, 24).

III. The ministration of Paul------he testified the body of Christ and built His church (v.25).

IV. The ministration of John------he testified the beloved life and mended the leaks of the church (v.2; Rev. 1:9-11).


The Example of the Intercession of the Church

I. “Prayer was offered…for him” (v.5b)------single-minded prayer.

II. “Constant prayer was offered to God” (v.5b)------constant prayer.

III. “Where many were gathered together praying” (v.12)------continual prayer.


The Power of the Prayer of the Church

I. Overcoming the binding of iron chains (v.6-7).

II. Overcoming the guards (v.6b).

III. Overcoming the prison with two guard posts (v.10a).

IV. Overcoming the iron gate (v.10b).


The Principle of Believers’ Walking and Faith

I. “Arise quickly” (v.7)------brace oneself up; firstly have understanding in faith.

II. “Gird yourself” (v.8a)------equip oneself; have deeper learning in faith.

III. “Follow me” (v.8b)------put into practice; have expression of faith.


See the Heavenly Salvation from that the Angel delivered Peter from the Prison

I. “Now behold” (v.7a)------it is God’s appointed time instead of men’s expectation.

II. “An angel of the Lord stood by him” (v.7b)------condescend and get close to him.

III. “A light shone in the prison” (v.7b)------the enlightenment of the truth makes him clearly see the way that he should walk.

IV. “He struck Peter on the side and raised him up” (v.7b)------the strike of love makes him come to himself suddenly.

V. “Saying, ‘Arise quickly!’” (v.7b)------the encouragement of words makes him brace his heart.

VI. “And his chains fell off his hands” (v.7c)------the power from God makes him be delivered from various binding.

VII. “Said to him, ‘Gird yourself and tie on your sandals…put on your garment” (v.8a)------it means to put on the whole armor of God (Eph. 6:11).

VIII. “And follow me” (v.8b)------guide step by step.

IX. “When they were past the first and the second guard posts…the iron gate that leads to the city, which opened to them of its own accord” (v.10a)------remove all difficulties.

X. “And they went out and went down one street, and immediately the angel departed from him” (v.10b)------until he was fully delivered from prison.


How the Young Mark was Edified by God

I. He was nurtured by his mother who loved the Lord (v.12a).

II. He was taken care of by believers who gathered together in his house (v.12b).

III. He was helped and guided by Peter the apostle (v.12; 1Pet. 5:13).

IV. He followed Barnabas and Saul to learn to serve the Lord (v.25).


── Caleb HuangChristian Digest Bible Commentary Series

   Translated by Sharon Ren