Saturday, 26 November 2022
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. Acts 12:10
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Peter was led by the angel but thought what was happening was simply a vision. With that, the event continues with the words, “When they were past the first and the second guard posts.”
More rightly, the Greek reads, “And having passed through a first guard and a second.” It is debated what is being expressed here. Vincent’s Word Studies gives two possibilities, saying, “…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.”
No matter what, Peter was led out from being chained between two soldiers and then two guards after that. Despite this, he went out wholly undetected. After passing the guards, it next says “they came to the iron gate that leads to the city.”
It is probable that the sense here is not that the prison was outside of the city, but that the iron gate was the outer gate of the prison itself. In departing this gate, one would then enter the city.
What is certain is that Luke’s description of this gate would have been something anyone of the day could go look at and verify if his words matched the actual state of things. His minute care to include such details is a common aspect of his writings, and it was something that provided sure validation that what he wrote was reliable. Next, referring to the gate, it says, “which opened to them of its own accord.”
Of all translations, the KJV uniquely and incorrectly says, “which opened to them of his own accord.” One could say this is a poetic way of speaking of the gate, but because the word gate and its accompanying adjective are both feminine, the translation is decidedly incorrect. It should read “opened to them of its own accord.”
As this gate would be locked and bolted, being the final obstacle intended to keep prisoners from escaping, this is nothing other than a divinely orchestrated miracle. However, it opened, it was something that could not be attributed to mere chance. Not only would it have required the proper keys to open, but the timing of its opening by itself also is a validation of the miraculous nature of the event. Next, Luke records, “and they went out and went down one street.”
The word translated as “street” signifies a narrow alley or lane found in a city. The root of the word gives the sense of flowing motion. Hence, it would be a lane that was usually filled with the rush of people as if a moving body. Peter’s deliverance is complete at this point. He was delivered from the guards, from the prison itself, and he was at a distance safe enough to be left to himself. With that accomplished, the verse finishes with, “and immediately the angel departed from him.”
As there was no continued need for supernatural assistance, the angel’s task was complete, and he departed without any further ado. Peter was rescued to serve the Lord another day.
Life application: We may know of someone who was in a car crash or some other disaster who alone survives out of those involved. In such an event, we may say, “We are so blessed he was saved.” However, the families of the others who died might say in their minds, “So we weren’t blessed? What kind of blessing from God is this?”
Another example may be the coming of a tornado that destroys a line of houses but completely skips over one house, leaving it totally unharmed. We might say, “They were so blessed.” Again, the other owners may feel offended and say, “Why weren’t we given God’s blessing?”
This is looking at the issue in the wrong way. Just because someone has deliverance, such as Peter, it doesn’t mean that he is more favored of God than those who were executed the next day. It is just that there was a purpose for Peter’s continued existence that necessitated his being spared.
For those who suffer in a catastrophe, we should ask, “Do you thank God for each meal, taking it as a blessing?” Or “Do you thank God for each promotion, taking that as a blessing?” If not, then you are failing to acknowledge God’s hand in your life. If so, then you are doing what is right and good. But what if we miss a meal? Do we curse God and blame Him for that? If we are not promoted, do we revile Him?
The same logic applies to greater-sized blessings or losses, such as losing a home or having only one person out of seven saved from a car accident. It is right in all circumstances to acknowledge the Lord’s blessing while also not imputing wrong to Him for the things that we don’t like.
One’s personal blessing does not necessarily equate to a particular favor that is above those who did not receive it. Therefore, let us simply be grateful for every good blessing that comes our way, no matter how small or how great it is. We cannot know the works of God from beginning to end. Therefore, we should acknowledge what we do know and not attempt to find a design that matches our presuppositions concerning those things we cannot know.
Glorious God, we are grateful to You for each and every blessing that comes our way. Help us to properly express that, especially so others can see our gratitude and know that we have given the credit where it belongs. And, Lord, when trials come, help us to remain grateful even through such times as well. Amen.