Acts 12:10

Vermont Capitol.

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

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).

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acts 12:9

Nifty looking building in Montpelier, Vermont.

Friday, 25 November 2022

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. Acts 12:9

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, the angel that had come to Peter instructed him to gird himself, put on his sandals and his outer coat, and follow him. With that, it now says, “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.”

The NKJV does not give the proper sense of the verbs. What is much closer is a bit more cumbersome, but it more accurately portrays the nuances of the account penned by Luke. It says, “And having gone forth, he follows, and he did not know that what is happening through the angel is real, but he thinks he sees a vision” (CG). This will be the translation used for the commentary.

After being instructed to follow the angel, it next says, “And having gone forth.”

Nothing is said about how they went forth. If the angel materialized inside the prison and then freed Peter, did he just start walking out between the soldiers guarding the inside and outside of the cell? Luke simply says he (the verb is singular) went forth. Obviously, the angel was leading because it next says of Peter that “he follows.”

The account is fantastic because there are guards right there, and yet they do not perceive what is happening. As noted in the previous verse, they must have been given some type of spiritual blindness so that they could not even perceive what was going on around them. So profound is this type of blindness that it affected an entire army, as is recorded in 2 Kings 6:8-23.

In this account in Acts, the supposed spiritual blindness imposed upon the soldiers has allowed Peter to escape from the prison, even while heavily guarded. But so incredible is the event that, speaking of Peter, it next says, “and he did not know that what is happening through the angel is real.”

Peter was certainly groggy from his sleep. He was suddenly brought out of his sleep, given hurried instructions, and then led out of a seemingly impossible situation without any harm coming to him. Obviously, it would be hard for the mind to grasp such a thing. And yet, he perceives that it is happening. Trying to reconcile the two in his mind, it next says, “but he thinks he sees a vision.”

Luke’s use of imperfect and present tense verbs is marvelous, bringing the reader directly into what is happening in Peter’s mind as he walks right through the once hopeless situation without any hindrance at all. He is being freed with each step he is taking, and nothing is there to restrain him from taking another step and then another. The Lord has a purpose for him yet. It appears his execution is not going to take place after all.

Life application: It is the Lord who has total control over everything that occurs. If He does not want someone to die, that person will not die. He has His own purposes for keeping people around or for allowing them to perish. As such, we cannot blame Him when someone does die. That person’s life was lived, the Lord gave him life, and the Lord determined the ending of his life was acceptable.

Likewise, if a person is set to die (such as Peter) and does not, there must be some purpose that still exists for his continuance. Using the example of a jammed gun or an explosive that fails to detonate will get the point across. The highly unlikely event takes place, and the person lives. Was it just random chance? Was it divine intervention? We cannot know with certainty, but the Lord does.

As time unfolds, we might see the person who should have died to go on to become a great evangelist and say, “The Lord spared him for this purpose.” Or we might see that same person working in the local supermarket and think, “Boy was he lucky. He sure didn’t use his chance very well.” But are we the ones to decide that? Maybe the person in the store told someone about Jesus and that person went on to be a famous preacher.

We cannot know the stream of events that go off into the future in a million divergent paths. And so, we must simply trust that each event that happens does so to meet the Lord’s plans. And this is not meant to be a fatalistic “What does it matter then?” thing. Rather, we should look at the world with a sense of true awe and wonder, and ask the Lord that we too may be included in what He is doing in a beautiful and unique way.

Our immediate circumstances may seem minimal and unimportant, but we should never think this is so. If we are saved because of Jesus, we are having an impact that will be seen for what it truly is someday. We will stand back and see the wonder of what God has done, and we will be both awed and satisfied with what we see. Who you are and what you are doing is important. Trust this because it is so.

Wonderfully glorious heavenly Father, thank You for Jesus who gives us true purpose and meaning. Without Him, our lives are temporary and futile. But because of Him, we are a part of a marvelous plan that has true and eternal significance. Help us to realize this and to rejoice that we are an important part of what You are doing. Thank You for Jesus who has made this possible. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acts 12:8

Vermont State office building.

Thursday, 24 November 2022

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.” Acts 12:8

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).

An angel of the Lord had just come to Peter, woke him up, and told him to arise. With that, the chains fell off his hands. Next, it says, “Then the angel said to him, ‘Gird yourself.’”

The clothes worn at that time consisted of an outer garment and an inner garment. When relaxing or sleeping, the outer garment would be taken off and the inner garment (the xitōn, or tunic) would be loosened by undoing the girdle that bound it. Hence, to “gird” oneself meant to tighten up this inner garment.

By doing this, it would make it possible to travel much more easily. To not be girded would mean the tunic could trip a person up when walking quickly or running. This is seen, for example, in these words from 1 Kings 18 –

“Then the hand of the Lord came upon Elijah; and he girded up his loins and ran ahead of Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.” 1 Kings 18:46

Hence, the angel’s admonition to gird himself up implies that they would be leaving and heading out. He also said, “and tie on your sandals.”

The Greek word is sandalion. It was, like today, a shoe that protected the sole but with an open top. The sole could be made of wood or leather. Generally, it would be bound around the ankle and leg with string or straps to keep it secure. In compliance with the angel’s words, Luke notes, “and so he did.”

Remembering that Peter was just asleep, he would have been groggy. And so, noting the act of compliance tells us that nothing in the process was missed. Remembering also that Peter is between two guards, it can be assumed that the angel’s words were only heard by Peter or that the guards had been put into some sort of trance. In the Old Testament, such a state was noted a couple of times.

For example, in the account of Lot in Genesis 19, the people outside of his house were right there by the door, and yet they could not find it –

“But the men reached out their hands and pulled Lot into the house with them, and shut the door. 11 And they struck the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they became weary trying to find the door.” Genesis 19: 10, 11

The mental state of the people of Sodom was confused and their senses were blinded to keep them from properly perceiving what was happening and what they were seeing. With something like this quite possibly occurring with the guards, Luke next says, “And he said to him, ‘Put on your garment and follow me.’”

This is now what is called a himation. It is a cloak or robe that was often fabricated from wool. It had openings for the head and arms and fit loosely over the xitōn. In telling Peter to put this on, it could only mean they were leaving. He would be prepared to be outdoors when dressed in this manner.

Life application: There are times when we need to relax or sleep. But even at those times, we should be prepared to act. Peter was set to go even though he was in prison. His girdle was ready, his sandals were handy, and his outer garment was also nearby.

If we replace those things with the idea of the gospel, we can then equate our remembering it and having it handy for any situation that arises. The word should never be far from our lips, just in case there is a sudden need to share it. We should have it ready at the store, in class, while at work, or when on a picnic.

We never know when someone will suddenly enter into our life who needs to hear about Jesus. So always be ready. As Paul says –

“Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” Ephesians 6:14-18

Be ready! People need Jesus and you just may be the person to share Him with someone today.

Lord God, help us to always carry with us the sense of urgency that comes with knowing all people are one heartbeat away from eternity. With this thought in mind, we will always be ready to share the good news about Jesus. Keep us focused on this most important news, the good news of the gospel. Yes, help us with this. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acts 12:7

State house memorial plaque.

Wednesday, 23 November 2022

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. Acts 12:7

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).

The previous verse noted the condition of Peter’s incarceration, having been bound with two chains between two soldiers and with guards before the door who were keeping the prison. Next, it says, “Now behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him.”

The KJV and several other versions incorrectly say, “the angel of the Lord.” However, as in Acts 5:19, there is no definite article before “angel.” Hence, this is not a particular angel, nor is it the Lord. Rather, it is an unspecified angel sent by the Lord to accomplish a mission.

This angel came into Peter’s cell in a miraculous manner where he stood by Peter. It next says, “and a light shone in the prison.”

The word translated as “prison” is not the same as previously. Rather, it is a word found nowhere else in Scripture. However, according to Greek scholars, it was a common word in classical Greek, oikéma. It literally signifies a tenement, but it was used by those of Athens in a euphemistic manner for being in prison. Today, we say “pokey,” “stir,” “hoosegow,” “jail,” “clink,” “cooler,” “jug,” “lockup,” “pound,” “glasshouse,” “caboose,” “slammer,” “big house,” “cell,” and so on, in this manner. Choose your favorite!

When the angel appeared, the area lit up. Whether it was an external light or simply light radiating from the angel is not stated. All it says is “and light shone in the pokey.” However, the accompaniment of light with the appearance of angels is found elsewhere and signifies the divine presence regardless of how it is transmitted. With that, it next says, “and he struck Peter on the side.”

The word translated as struck can be anything from a gentle knock to a lethal blow. In this case, one can see him, like a friend, using the palm or the back of the hand and gently but firmly tapping on him to bring him from his obviously deep state of sleep. From there, it says, “and raised him up.”

This word can mean to rise or to awaken. Certainly, this means he woke him up because of the next words of Luke, “saying, ‘Arise quickly!’”

Once awake, the angel then asked Peter to get up in a hurry. There could be no delays in his actions due to the current situation. With that, it next says, “And his chains fell off his hands.”

This was obviously miraculous in at least a couple of ways. First, they came off at the very moment the angel instructed him to arise. Also, the sound and motion of the chains went undetected by the guards, as did the shining of the light and the stirring of Peter. With Peter free from the chains, the narrative will continue with miraculous events in the coming verses.

Life application: A natural explanation for the events that are occurring will only go so far. The guards fell asleep. That would be all four of them. If so, we would have to assume the angel must have used a type of gas to put them to sleep. The angel got the keys and went in and got Peter up. The gas was strong enough to make everyone sleep but not strong enough to keep Peter asleep. The angel took the keys from the jailors to get in and used them on the chains. Etc.

These are all possible explanations, but then it means that the actual words of the account were falsified. If so, the account is essentially true, but the details were not as it is written. Or is it a total fabrication? In other words, there is only so much of what is said that can be considered believable without accepting miraculous and divine intervention.

But this has already been the case in Scripture many times. God intervenes at various times and in various ways to bring about the outcome of things. Angels appear and disappear. The Lord appears and disappears as well. Such accounts require faith.

Quite often, naturalistic explanations for things are made, but in seeking such an explanation, it argues that at least the substance of the account is true. Otherwise, there would be no point in trying to explain it.

If the account is true, and if we have a reliable record of how it occurred (such as this account told by Peter and recorded by Luke), then we must either believe the words as they are written, or we need to suppose that Peter was either lying or not remembering correctly. But such an event would hardly be remembered incorrectly.

Let us consider these things and accept that what is written is true and accurate. Think about the arguments of naysayers. In the end, their position will always be untenable. Either the Bible is true, or it is not. If not, then why would we bother with it? But if it is, let us accept what it says and have faith that it is accurately portraying the events it describes.

O God, we are so thankful for Your word. There are things in it that are often hard to understand, but we can accept them by faith because we know that You can do all things. Help us in our doubts and give us a depth of faith that will withstand the many accusations that come against Your word. Help us in this, O God. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acts 12:6

Montpelier Vermont.

Tuesday, 22 November 2022

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. Acts 12:6

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).

The previous words noted Peter having been kept in prison while those of the church prayed constantly for him. With that, it now says, “And when Herod was about to bring him out.”

However long he was in prison, be it a day or more than a week, the time had arrived when the next day would see Peter’s trial, surely resulting in his execution at the hands of Herod. Despite this, it next says, “that night Peter.”

The Greek is more specific, “the night, that.” In other words, not only was Herod about to bring Peter forth, but this was on no other night than the one before the day he was to be brought forth. This highlights the importance of the events. Nobody had come to Peter’s rescue during his incarceration, and he had a few hours left before his time was set to expire. And yet, it says, he “was sleeping.”

One would think sleep would not come easily at such a time, but Peter was fast asleep. This can be deduced from the words of verse 12:11. The events that are set to come about are so incomprehensible that Peter thought he was still in a deep sleep. For now, Luke’s minutely detailed account notes that while he was sleeping, he was “bound with two chains.”

Rather, the Greek is a perfect participle, saying, “having been bound with two chains.” This is the state he was in all along and it continued right up to the present moment. The impossibility of his situation is highlighted by this. If Peter were able to free himself from one chain, there would still be a second to deal with. And more, though it does not say how he was bound to the chains, it does note that it was “between two soldiers.”

The Greek reads, “between to guards.” It is true that they are identified as soldiers elsewhere, but the soldiers are acting as guards at this time. Of this, Albert Barnes says, “Peter was bound to the two. His left hand was chained to the right hand of one of the soldiers, and his right hand to the left hand of the other. This was a common mode of securing prisoners among the Romans. See abundant authorities for this quoted in Lardner’s Credibility, part 1, chapter 10: section 9, London edition, 1829, vol. i. p. 242, 243, etc.”

Whether bound to the guards as noted by Barnes or bound to chains attached to the walls or floor, the situation is beyond any reasonable hope. If Peter were to free himself from the chains, the clinking sounds would be unmistakable as the guards were right there with him. But more, Luke continues, saying, “and the guards before the door were keeping the prison.”

Even if Peter were to free himself from his chains and then overcome two guards who were bound by their lives to not allow him to escape, there were still two more guards who would hear everything and be ready to overcome him in a moment. The utter impossibility of Peter gaining his freedom through natural means is perfectly evident by noting the description of his situation that has been so carefully detailed by Luke.

Life application: How could Peter be in a deep sleep while the prospect of his execution was only moments away? Many scholars look to the psalms as proof that Peter was satisfied with his position in the Lord and with his coming fate. Some cite the psalms, such as –

“I lay down and slept;
I awoke, for the LORD sustained me.” Psalm 3:5

“I will both lie down in peace, and sleep;
For You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8

“Remember His marvelous works which He has done,
His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth,” Psalm 105:5

It is vain for you to rise up early,
To sit up late,
To eat the bread of sorrows;
For so He gives His beloved sleep.” Psalm 127:2

It is true that we can derive comfort from the psalms in our times of distress, sadness, woe, anxiety, and so forth, but those words do not change the situation in which we find ourselves. They only give us comfort in and through them. However, Peter had something more, didn’t he? He states in his 2nd epistle –

“And we have more firm the prophetic word, to which we do well giving heed, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, till day may dawn, and a morning star may arise — in your hearts.” 2 Peter 1:19 (YLT)

Peter had a prophetic word from the Lord Himself that was an absolute guarantee that his day had not yet come –

“‘Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.’ 19 This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, ‘Follow Me.’” John 21:18, 19

Though it is not known how old Peter was at this time, he was probably not yet an old man. Only about ten years had passed since Jesus’ ascension. But more, based on how James was executed, it can be inferred that Herod’s means of execution for Peter was not what he was set to receive. The stretching out of his hands implied that he would follow Christ in crucifixion. As such, he would have accepted Jesus’ words and realized that he had nothing to worry about, at least on this evening.

Whether this is a stretch of the situation or not, and it is probably not, it is a lesson for us to consider. The Bible has given us future prophecies that are fixed in their meaning. We may not have all the details concerning them, such as exact timing, and so on, but they are events that the Lord has promised through His word that they will come about. As they tell us of the surety of glorification and eternity in His presence, what do we really have to worry about?

The prophecies are promises from God, who cannot lie. They are fixed and they are set. In due time, they will be realized. So be of good cheer and hold fast to what the word says.

Glorious Heavenly Father, thank You for giving us a sure and reliable word that tells us what lies ahead. Because of this, everything that happens in this world, no matter how distressing or evil, will come to an end. We shall be brought into Your presence, and we shall see Jesus, the Hope of our hearts and the Savior of our souls. What more could we ever hope for! Thank You for our sure hope, O God. Amen.