Acts 12:23

Panorama from Vermont State Capitol Steps

Friday, 9 December 2022

Then immediately an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give glory to God. And he was eaten by worms and died. Acts 12:23

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 had those in the audience of Herod call out, “The voice of a god and not of a man!” With that, we now read, “Then immediately.”

These words do not mean “instantaneously” as in it happening right before the eyes of the people, but what occurred came about without delay. For example, Matthew 21:19 uses the same word, saying –

“And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, ‘Let no fruit grow on you ever again.’ Immediately the fig tree withered away.”

However, that is explained in Mark, saying –

“Now the next day, when they had come out from Bethany, He was hungry. 13 And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14 In response Jesus said to it, ‘Let no one eat fruit from you ever again.’” Mark 11:12-14

“Now in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. 21 And Peter, remembering, said to Him, ‘Rabbi, look! The fig tree which You cursed has withered away.’” Mark 11:20-21

The same is true here, as will be seen. For now, what happened was that “an angel of the Lord struck him.” The rendering is correct. The KJV says, “the angel of the Lord,” but there is no article before “angel” in the Greek. Hence, it is a messenger of death sent to dispatch Herod off to the pit “because he did not give glory to God.”

This is also attested to by Josephus, and he also explains the word “immediately” used in the previous clause, saying of Herod, “he did neither rebuke them the people nor reject their impious flattery. A severe pain arose in his belly and began in a most violent manner. And when he was quite worn out by the pain in his belly for five days, he departed this life, in the 54th year of his age, and the 7th year of his reign.”

This is not an uncommon occurrence in Scripture, meaning where death or disease is ascribed to the hand of the Lord or is directed (or allowed) by the Lord, either by His messenger or even by the hand of Satan, as was the case with Job. In this case, and because of his failure to give God the glory He alone is due, Herod was struck in a most terrible manner. As it says, “And he was eaten by worms and died.”

Again, the word “immediately” is seen to mean “right away” but not necessarily “instantly.” It was not a scene like a gory horror movie where he was consumed by worms in front of the people praising him. Rather, he was struck with pains in his belly caused by worms and his death came about according to Josephus five days later. The account is not unlike that of the wicked king Jehoram in 2 Chronicles 21 –

“And a letter came to him from Elijah the prophet, saying,
‘Thus says the Lord God of your father David:
Because you have not walked in the ways of Jehoshaphat your father, or in the ways of Asa king of Judah, 13 but have walked in the way of the kings of Israel, and have made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to play the harlot like the harlotry of the house of Ahab, and also have killed your brothers, those of your father’s household, who were better than yourself, 14 behold, the Lord will strike your people with a serious affliction—your children, your wives, and all your possessions; 15 and you will become very sick with a disease of your intestines, until your intestines come out by reason of the sickness, day by day.’
16 Moreover the Lord stirred up against Jehoram the spirit of the Philistines and the Arabians who were near the Ethiopians. 17 And they came up into Judah and invaded it, and carried away all the possessions that were found in the king’s house, and also his sons and his wives, so that there was not a son left to him except Jehoahaz, the youngest of his sons.
18 After all this the Lord struck him in his intestines with an incurable disease. 19 Then it happened in the course of time, after the end of two years, that his intestines came out because of his sickness; so he died in severe pain. And his people made no burning for him, like the burning for his fathers.” 2 Chronicles 21:12-19

Herod’s grisly death may have been speedier than that of Jehoram, but both men died in severe pain. In this, one can see that the Lord was demonstrating to His people, Israel, that their leaders were accountable for their conduct before Him. Thus, all of the people were likewise accountable to Him.

Life application: At times, the Lord allowed wicked kings to reign seemingly without any repercussions at all. At times, He removed them speedily and violently for their conduct. What may appear as random and without consistency was to teach the people lessons about their need for something better than a temporary, earthly rule.

Some good kings reigned for long periods, while others died more quickly. Likewise, some bad kings reigned for long periods and died in peace, while others like Herod died in great pain. The many different circumstances each taught Israel a lesson if they would just pay heed. Whether good or bad, whether a short rule or long, all the kings eventually died, demonstrating that they bore sin because death is the consequence of sin.

And more, the conduct of the kings during their times of rule led to the conduct of the people. When good kings reigned, the people would generally turn to the Lord, but as soon as a crummy king came in, the people would fall away from the Lord. This was to teach Israel that they were like sheep following their leader either to fair pastures or to a place of destruction.

In both lessons, and so many more, the history of the kings of Israel was recorded to teach them (and thus us) that we need a perfect king – one without sin and one who judges in perfect righteousness. Nothing else will do. And more, we need a Savior who can both forgive our sins and keep us from transgressing God’s commands. On our own, this is impossible. But because of the work of Jesus, it is not only possible, but it will also come to pass for those who are His.

Let us consider these lessons and look to Jesus for our hope, our direction, and for our conduct before God.

Glorious God, thank You for the lessons found in Your word. If we just apply them to our lives, we will live properly in Your presence because we will have Jesus in our lives to direct us. Thank You for Jesus Christ who alone will lead us in the manner that You require. Yes, thank You for Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

 

Acts 12:22

Cameron on Vermont state capitol steps.

Thursday, 8 December 2022

And the people kept shouting, “The voice of a god and not of a man!” Acts 12:22

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 that Herod sat on his throne and gave an oration to the people. Now, in response to his words, it says, “And the people kept shouting.”

It is correct. The verb is imperfect, indicating that they shouted and continued to shout. And what they cried out was, “The voice of a god and not of a man!”

Various ideas on who shouted this can be considered. As this was a particular set day, it may be assumed that not only those of Tyre and Sidon were there but also people of Israel as well. Or it could be that only those of Tyre and Sidon were in attendance. Either way, the reaction to his speech was that he was more than just a mere mortal but was rather a god.

This is confirmed by the words of Josephus as well –

“And presently his flatterers cried out, one from one place, and another from another (though not for his good), that he was a god; and they added, ‘Be thou merciful unto us; for although we have hitherto reverenced thee only as a king, yet shall we henceforth own thee as a superior to mortal nature.’”

In the account of Josephus, it is implied that there were people of Israel in attendance, meaning they called out that his was the voice of a god as well. This is more likely the case based on the coming words of verse 12:24. The words of that verse provide a stark contrast between the words of verses 12:22 & 23. They also continue to explain the rejection of the words of the true God and their subsequent destruction and dispersal from the land.

As there is no article before “God” in the Greek, it signifies that this is probably speaking in the general sense of a divine being and not necessarily the Creator God. Regardless of that, the people before Herod are giving glory to that which is not God.

Life application: As humans, we have it in our nature to exalt others in an unhealthy manner. It has always been this way, but in modern times it has grown into various obsessions for many. Movie and TV personalities are just people. They have the ability to act well. But because we allow them into our homes each day, we begin to think of them as being greater than others. And yet, if acting is their only real ability, that is a rather pathetic person to idolize. It means that they aren’t really who they present themselves as.

Likewise, we may see a person who is very wealthy and equate that with high intelligence or outstanding effort. Hence, we seek after their words as if they are specialists in all areas. A notable example of this is Bill Gates. He got rich off computer technology. And yet, because of his wealth, he is sought out for advice in matters of health, climate, and other areas of which he has absolutely no expertise at all. In fact, he is a harmful person with a perverse agenda in many ways.

Physical strength or beauty leads to an immense amount of idolatry in our society. And yet, these are the most fleeting of all commodities. One car accident can destroy the body or mar the face of someone we idolized.

All such things are temporary, they are futile, and focusing on them is harmful. Let us think about Jesus, contemplate Him at all times, and worship God alone through Him. He is our Mediator. He is our Savior. He alone is the God/Man. He is Jesus.

O, Glorious God, forgive us for having idols set up in our hearts and in our minds. May we turn our eyes away from such things and focus on You. Nothing here can satisfy for more than a moment, and then it is gone. But in You is satisfaction forever and ever. May we look to You alone with eyes of love, thanks, and praise. Great are You, O God. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acts 12:21

Dome lady. Vermont state capitol, Montpelier.

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).

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 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acts 12:20

Things that go boom. Vermont capitol.

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)

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 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acts 12:19

Tree hedge. Vermont state capitol.

Monday, 5 December 2022

“But when Herod had searched for him and not found him, he examined the guards and commanded that they should be put to death.
And he went down from Judea to Caesarea, and stayed there.” Acts 12:19

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 told of the stir that had arisen among the soldiers. Now, it says “But when Herod had searched for him and not found him.”

The verbs are aorist participles – “And Herod, having searched for him and having not found.” Luke is recording the events as they occurred.

One can see Herod being apprised of the situation and personally coming to the prison and looking it over, seeing if there were any rooms that Peter could have been secreted away in. Maybe there was a trap door, or maybe there was a hidden chamber. He was probably both embarrassed and perplexed at what had transpired and wanted to personally look things over before making any determination as to what he should do.

These words contain the last implied noting of Peter in the account. He was searched for and not found. Peter will not be mentioned again until Acts 15. Next, and speaking of Herod, it says, “he examined the guards.”

Again, it is an aorist participle, “having examined the guards.” The Greek word, translated as examined, signifies a process of distinguishing a matter from “down to up.” In other words, one starts at the very bottom, or beginning, of a matter and thoroughly checks every detail until the top is reached. Such an examination leaves nothing out.

In other words, the lives of the guards are at stake. It would make no sense for them to simply let Peter go, even if he offered them vast sums of money. However, if a gang had abducted the families of the soldiers and threatened to kill them unless they freed Peter, they may have acquiesced.

The examination would consider every imaginable thing that could have prompted the soldiers to do what they did. With the examination complete, and surely with no reasonable explanation for Peter’s disappearance, it next says that Herod “commanded that they should be put to death.”

The Greek reads, “commanded them to be led away.” The supposition is death, and this is what is generally accepted as what occurred. However, without knowing Herod’s command, it could simply be for punishment or for a set duration of incarceration. The word is used in Matthew 27:31, at Jesus’ trial, saying –

“And when they had mocked Him, they took the robe off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him away to be crucified.”

As can be seen, the word “crucified” is affixed to the verb. As such, it provides a definitive explanation for what occurred. This is not the case with these soldiers. The leading away could be for a future trial. The probability is that they were executed, but an adamant stand on this is unjustified.

With this thought complete, it now says of Herod, “And he went down from Judea to Caesarea, and stayed there.” Of this, Albert Barnes says, “This journey of Herod is related by Josephus (Antiq., book 19, chapter 8, section 2). He says that it was after he had reigned over all Judea for three years.”

Herod stayed in Caesarea until his death which was not much later. That will be recorded in the verses to come. The word translated as “stayed” is diatribó. One can see the obvious etymological root of the modern word “diatribe.” It is a compound word coming from words meaning “through” and “rub.”

In the case of staying, it signifies “to wear through time.” One can think of being in time (dia/through) and rubbing it away. In the case of a diatribe, one can think of thoroughly rubbing away someone through a verbal attack. As for Herod, he tarried in Caesarea after his arrival there.

Life application: As noted, it is more than probable that the soldiers who had guarded Peter were executed. It may seem unfair to someone that Peter escaped while these soldiers were taken out and punished or even executed. But God determined that Peter should be spared. It is His right to dispose of His creatures according to His wisdom. He is the Creator, and we are merely a part of His creation.

But more, if Peter had done his job, which he surely did, he at least attempted to tell the soldiers about Jesus. In fact, he had just witnessed to Gentiles in Acts 10 and re-explained what occurred in Acts 11. He was fully aware of their need for Jesus and of Jesus’ willingness to accept them. It may be for this very reason that Peter was incarcerated at this time.

And so, someday, we might be in glory and find out that one or more of these soldiers was saved because Peter opened his mouth and spoke out the words of life concerning Jesus. It is a great lesson for us. We have no idea who around us will die before we see them again. What a day of regret to hear that the person we were sitting so close to won’t be around any longer. We had the opportunity and every reason to speak, and yet we chose not to.

Let us consider this and be sure to act accordingly. Let us speak out the wonderful words of life to those we come across!

Yes, Lord God, we have a responsibility to speak out the gospel to those we encounter. May we do so with joy and with a sense of urgency. The day is almost spent, and the time is short. Help us to speak while it is day. Night is coming when that opportunity will have passed. Give us wisdom in this, O God. Amen.