Acts 12:21

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Wednesday, 7 December 2022

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

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 tenses of the verbs as given by the NKJV are lacking. It should read: “And on a set day, Herod having arrayed himself in royal apparel, and having sat upon the throne, was making an oration unto them” (CG). This will be used to analyze the verse.

The previous verse referred to the conflict between King Herod and the people of Tyre and Sidon, and how those cities were attempting to reconcile their differences. Having noted that, this verse begins with, “And on a set day.”

Here, the word taktos is used. It is found only here in the New Testament. It is a day that is arranged or appointed. It is apparently not speaking of a day appointed between the two parties, but a day appointed as a festival. Vincent’s Word Studies says –

“According to some, it was in honor of the emperor’s safe return from Britain. Others think it was to celebrate the birthday of Claudius; others that it was the festival of the Quinquennalia, observed in honor of Augustus, and dating from the taking of Alexandria, when the month Sextilis received the name of the Emperor – August.”

Albert Barnes is one to believe it was the birthday of Claudius, stating –

“This was the second day of the sports and games which Herod celebrated in Caesarea in honor of Claudius Caesar. Josephus has given an account of this occurrence, which coincides remarkably with the narrative here. The account is contained in his ‘Antiquities of the Jews,’ book 19, chapter 8, section 2, and is as follows: ‘Now when Agrippa had reigned three years over all Judea, he came to the city Caesarea, which was formerly called Strato’s Tower; and there he exhibited shows in honor of Caesar, upon his being informed that there was a certain festival celebrated to make vows for his safety. At which festival a great multitude was gotten together of the principal persons, and such as were of dignity throughout his province.’”

With that noted, the words continue with, “Herod having arrayed himself in royal apparel.” Turning again to Josephus, he writes the following:

“He put on a garment made wholly of silver, and of wonderful contexture, and early in the morning came into the theater place of the shows and games, at which time the silver of his garment, being illuminated by the first reflection of the sun’s rays upon it, shone after a surprising manner, and was so resplendent as to spread a horror over those that looked intently on him.”

Of this surprising account, Luke next records, “and having sat upon the throne.” The word translated as throne is béma. Rather than a royal throne, this is an elevated throne where judgments are made. One might more literally translate it as a tribunal chair where justice is administered from. And this is essentially what they had sought from Blastus in the previous verse. The account is methodically taking the reader through each step of what took place. While on this elevated throne it next says he “was making an oration unto them.”

Here is another word unique in the New Testament, démégoreó, or “oration.” Elsewhere in classical Greek, it is a word used to denote popular harangue. Thus, he spoke to the people in their common language and with the intent of impressing his words upon them in a manner they would readily accept.

Life application: The citing of Josephus here is intended to fill in information that is not found in the Bible, but it is not intended to be considered inspired. As it agrees with Scripture in the overall picture being presented, it can be considered an acceptable reference.

However, there are times when what Josephus says does not align with the Bible. Therefore, one should not assume that what he says is to be taken at face value at all times. When the Bible and Josephus conflict, it is common for scholars to side with Josephus. That shows a bias against the Bible. But the same could be said of someone who dismisses the account of Josephus.

But if two accounts are given and they don’t align, either one is right or the other is, or both are wrong. It cannot be that both are true. And so, at times, we must decide where we will hang our hats. As the Bible has proven itself fully reliable in other areas, the wise choice would be to go with Scripture.

Keep this in mind as you read extra-biblical sources. Don’t be led off onto strange paths. If the Bible is the word of God, then it is fully trustworthy. Study to show yourself approved and think on the word at all times. Let it fill your mind with its wonderful goodness.

Lord God, help us in our pursuit of understanding Your precious word. Give us insights into the difficult portions of it so that we will be grounded in our faith. And, Lord, help us to live our lives in faith as we consider Your word in relation to our lives and to the world around us. To Your glory, we pray. Amen.