Acts 12:20

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Tuesday, 6 December 2022

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. Acts 12:20

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

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The previous verse ended the narrative concerning Peter and it continued that of Herod. It just noted that he had gone down from Judea to Caesarea and stayed there. Luke next records, “Now Herod had been very angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon.”

The Greek more precisely reads, “Now Herod had been very angry with the Tyrians and Sidonians.” These are the people to the north of Caesarea. Albert Barnes gives a good description of them –

“These were cities of Phoenicia, formerly very opulent, and distinguished for merchandise. They were situated on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, and were in the western part of Judea. They were therefore well known to the Jews. Tyre is frequently mentioned in the Old Testament as being the place through which Solomon derived many of the materials for building the temple, 2 Chronicles 2:11-16. It was also a place against which one of the most important and pointed prophecies of Isaiah was directed. … Both these cities were very ancient. Sidon was situated within the bounds of the tribe of Asher Joshua 19:28, but this tribe could never get possession of it, Judges 1:31. It was famous for its great trade and navigation. Its inhabitants were the first remarkable merchants in the world, and were much celebrated for their luxury. In the time of our Saviour it was probably a city of much splendor and extensive commerce.”

As for the term “very angry,” that comes from a word found only here in Scripture, thumomacheó. It comes from thumos, an outburst of wrath, and machomai, to engage in battle, fight, and so on. The sense is that he was so miffed at them that he was contemplating hostilities with them. Understanding Agrippa’s fierce anger, it next says, “but they came to him with one accord.”

Both cities joined in diplomacy to quell the wrath of Agrippa. It would do no good for them to have Agrippa as an enemy. Rather, it would be harmful to their existence, as will be seen. Therefore, it next says, “and having made Blastus the king’s personal aide their friend.”

The name Blastus is found only here. It is believed to be derived from blastanó, to sprout or bud. If so, perhaps it indicates that he was raised as a slave in the house of Herod, having sprung up in that role. Or he could be a friend or a trusted officer of the Roman empire. Nothing is stated, so one can only guess. The words “the king’s personal aide” are more of a paraphrase. The Greek reads, “who is over the bed-chamber of the king.”

This was a highly trusted position because of its intimate nature. If an attack against the king took place, this would be a good place for it to occur. As such, only the most faithful of servants or officers would be entrusted to serve in this capacity. A comparable position is found in Esther 2 –

“In those days, while Mordecai sat within the king’s gate, two of the king’s eunuchs, Bigthan and Teresh, doorkeepers, became furious and sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus. 22 So the matter became known to Mordecai, who told Queen Esther, and Esther informed the king in Mordecai’s name. 23 And when an inquiry was made into the matter, it was confirmed, and both were hanged on a gallows; and it was written in the book of the chronicles in the presence of the king.” Esther 2:21-23

The word translated as “doorkeepers” in those verses implies that they were attendants to the door of the king’s bed-chamber. As for Blastus, obtaining an alliance with him would be a way of obtaining the ear of the king. In accomplishing this, “they asked for peace.”

Rather than trying to bribe Blastus to attack his king, they entreated him to seek peace for them. If they had tried to bribe him and failed to draw him to their side, it would have only further incited the king. War might be the result. But even if not, they would certainly suffer great harm “because their country was supplied with food by the king’s country.”

Agrippa’s area of rule included rich and fertile land that was close, it was sufficient for their needs, and without it they would need to reach out through trade with other countries that would have Tyre and Sidon at their mercy. Herod’s blocking of their food supplies would be a catastrophic situation for them. Hence, appealing to the king through seeking peace was by far the best option for them.

Life application: Whether those of Tyre and Sidon had read the proverbs or not, they acted in accord with Solomon’s words –

“As messengers of death is the king’s wrath,
But a wise man will appease it.” Proverbs 16:14

Agrippa was certainly not happy with them, but instead of getting him further riled up, they sought to appease him. Though most places don’t have kings anymore, we do have those appointed over us who can certainly cause grief if we get on their wrong side. Paul speaks of this in Romans 13:1-6.

Attempting to live at peace with those appointed over you is a good way to avoid trouble. And yet, there is a time to oppose the conduct of the wicked. For most today, that is through grassroots movements leading to election day. If these people are not properly serving their constituents, they need to be voted out.

Unfortunately, when most people have taken the immoral path, they will elect leaders suited to their immoral ways. When this occurs, as it is in much of the world today, there is little that can be done without violence ensuing. There is often no easy answer to the dilemmas Christians may find themselves in, but we must always carefully consider our position with the Lord Jesus first and foremost.

The wicked will only grow worse as society devolves into the end times. We need to not be a part of their depraved journey to perdition.

Lord God, help us to always do the right and moral thing, even if the rest of the world has taken a trip down Immoral Avenue. Help us to always remember our allegiance to You and to act in accord with our position as Your redeemed people. Amen.