Acts 12:13

Rhoda at the door. But who is on the other side? Could it be Peter?

Tuesday, 29 November 2022

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

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

In the previous verse, Peter arrived at the house of Mary, the mother of John and who is also called Mark. The account said many were gathered together and were praying. With that, it now says, “And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate.”

Note: Some manuscripts do not include Peter’s name here, simply saying, “he.”

Once arriving at the house of Mary, it notes that Peter knocked on the door of the gate. The word translated as door is the common word that signifies a portal or entrance, such as a door or gate. The word translated as “gate” is pulón. HELPS Word Studies defines it as “the passage which led from the street through the front part of the house to the inner court.” As such, Vincent’s Word Studies explains the use of both words together –

“The small outside door, forming the entrance from the street, and opening into the πυλών [pulón], or doorway, the passage from the street into the court. Others explain it as the wicket, a small door in the larger one, which is less probable.”

With Peter’s knocking, it next says, “a girl named Rhoda came to answer.” The word translated as “girl” often signifies a slave. For example, Paul uses it five times in Galatians 4 to describe a bondwoman. However, Vincent’s argues against this meaning here, noting that her prompt recognition of Peter’s voice and her joyful haste makes this unlikely. He continues by arguing that she was probably a disciple gathered for prayer.

But that is an argument that does not hold up well. Slaves are fixed parts of a home and have an intimate knowledge of the comings and goings of all guests. This is evident from Mark 14 –

“Now as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came. 67 And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, ’You also were with Jesus of Nazareth.’” Mark 14:66, 67

Further, as the Bible shows several times in the New Testament, slaves are noted as believers. Their status doesn’t change simply because they come to the faith. Vincent’s also notes that “the record of her name” is another reason to believe she was not a slave. That also is not a good argument. Onesimus is mentioned by name throughout the epistle of Philemon. Further, the name of the servant in John 18:10 is explicitly stated as Malchus. Such a note shows careful attention to detail by the one writing out the events.

As for her name, Rhoda means “Rose.” As today, naming someone after a plant, flower, animal, and so on was not uncommon in the past. In Scripture there are several such names like Tamar (Palm Tree), Hadassah (Myrtle), Deborah (Bee), Tabitha/Dorcas (Gazelle), and so on.

Life application: The historical writings of the Bible detail events that really happened. Luke took the time to note a slave girl by name, and to this day she is having an impact on those who read the account and think about who she was.

Another slave girl is noted in 2 Kings 5:2-4. No record of her name is given, and yet this slave had such a profound impact on the biblical narrative that the events she initiated were even mentioned by Jesus in Luke 4:27 – Naaman came at the suggestion of a slave girl. At the same time, there are kings who are mentioned in the Bible whose names and deeds are lost to history, other than the fact that they were defeated in battles, such as the king of Jericho (Joshua 6) and the king of Makkedah (Joshua 10).

In the end, what really matters isn’t how much money we have, how great a position we have, or even if our name is remembered by others after we are gone. What matters is how we conduct our lives before the Lord God. He remembers the name of Naaman’s slave girl even if it was never recorded in Scripture.

As we are remembered by Him, we should endeavor to be remembered by Him as people of faith and of faithful deeds. We shall rise to receive our just due for the lives we have lived. Remember this and walk humbly and in a circumspect manner before the Lord all your days.

“O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.
You have hedged me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is high, I cannot attain it.” Psalm 139:1-6

Lord God, help us to remember that You are aware of our every deed. We easily forget this and go about doing things we shouldn’t. Or we may fail to do those things we should. But with our minds remembering that You are there, we can then remember to always act responsibly. Help us in this, Lord. May we live our lives rightly all our days. Amen.