Acts 12:18

Interesting architecture across from the Vermont capitol building.

Sunday, 4 December 2022 

Then, as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers about what had become of Peter. Acts 12:18

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 declared all that had occurred in bringing him out of prison. He then left the church house and departed to another place. Now, the narrative turns to events back at the prison, beginning with, “Then, as soon as it was day.”

It is unknown how long it was from the time of Peter’s being freed until the day came. All it said was that during the night Peter was sleeping when the angel came to deliver him. One would think if it was early morning, just before dawn, Luke would have stated this. Depending upon the times set for each watch, the guards may have been changed at midnight or three am. And so, it can be guessed that maybe Peter had several hours before the day came. All that is certain is that at daybreak “there was no small stir among the soldiers.”

Imagine the chaos, the fear, the possible accusations, and so on that came upon the soldiers. Allowing a prisoner to escape was punishable even up to death, and that death would not be long coming. As such, there would be the greatest consternation “about what had become of Peter.”

He was there in the cell. He was shackled. He was between two soldiers. Outside the cell were more soldiers guarding the door. That was followed by a second guard post and then an iron gate. The impossibility of an escape would have left those inside absolutely stunned at not finding him. And yet, he was not to be found.

Life application: Imagine you are suddenly facing the prospect of death within mere moments. If death was the penalty, these guards would probably not leave the prison before being executed. What if you were suddenly taken captive in a restaurant and the gunmen were executing everyone? What if you were on a ship that was sinking far out at sea, and you had only moments to live? What if you were in Hawaii and a volcano erupted, with lava completely encircling you and coming closer by the minute?

We have no idea about the future. Despite our attempts at controlling the events around us, there is no reason to assume we will be alive in an hour. All we have is the anticipated hope that it will be so. If the knowledge that our time is now up arrives, what will be our final thoughts? “I shouldn’t have yelled at the children last night.” “I wish I could have told dad I loved him.” “I wish I had talked more about Jesus to those around me.”

We cannot control every instance that arises, but we can be attentive to seeking peace with those around us. When we depart for work in the morning, we should be good to those we are leaving, just in case our time has expired. We should also attempt to be somewhat prepared for what will happen to our property and money. Otherwise, it could cause even more trouble for those we would otherwise want to spare such grief.

Time is fleeting, and our final moments shouldn’t be filled with regret. So, from time to time, make a mental note to press yourself to do what is necessary to keep that regret from setting in, just in case. Above all, be sure to redeem the time and tell those around you about Jesus. You may be the one influence in their lives that can make an eternal difference in what happens to them.

O God, we can’t be sure of even the next few moments of our lives. And so, Lord, as we continue on, help us to be about Your business. Help us to remember to tell those around us the good news that this temporary and futile life can be replaced with something eternal and joy-filled if only Jesus is included. Whenever our end comes, may it be with the knowledge that we did what we could to share this good news. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acts 12:17

Flood times. Vermont capitol.

Saturday, 3 December 2022

But motioning to them with his hand to keep silent, he declared to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, “Go, tell these things to James and to the brethren.” And he departed and went to another place. Acts 12:17

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 those inside Mary’s house opened the door and were astonished to see Peter there. Now it says, “But motioning to them.”

Rather, it is an aorist participle, “But having motioned to them.” The word kataseió is introduced here and will only be seen four times, all in Acts. It means to shake the hand up and down to attract attention as if signaling. In this case, Peter first motioned “with his hand to keep silent.”

It is a gesture common throughout the world. When someone is trying to get others to be quiet, they will make hand motions, usually accompanied by some stern facial gesture. Those inside probably started to explode with joy and words of welcome, not realizing that Peter had escaped. He would have to quiet them down and then quietly convey to them what had occurred. That begins with the words, “he declared to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison.”

As there was no article before the word “angel” in the previous verses in this account, it was an unknown divine messenger who assisted Peter in his escape. However, Peter credits the action to the Lord, as is fitting. This is noted in Hebrews 1:14 which says that angels are “all ministering spirits sent forth.” The obvious implication is that they are sent forth by the Lord God. Thus, Peter rightly ascribes the deliverance to the Lord. Next, it says, “And he said, ‘Go, tell these things to James.’”

This is James, the son of Alpheus, also known as the brother of the Lord. In Galatians 2:9, he is noted by Paul as one of the pillars of the church. He will preside over the council in Jerusalem in Acts 15. As with other clues in Acts, this shows us that this James had become the leader of the church at this time. Peter specifically singles him out now rather than any of the other apostles. Only after mentioning James does he add “and to the brethren.”

Though not explicitly stated, the implication is that James held the administrative reigns of church matters. No reason is noted, but he was obviously qualified to handle the affairs of the church in a better manner than the apostles. After his words to those in the house, the verse finishes with, “And he departed and went to another place.”

With the news conveyed, and certainly for the safety of those inside, Peter departed. With this note, the record of the apostleship of Peter in Acts is all but over. He will be mentioned by name in the next verse and then only once again, in Acts 15 during the council at Jerusalem. From this point on, Saul (who is Paul) will become the focus of the Acts narrative until the end of the book.

Life application: The record of Acts thus far has focused mostly on the state of the Jews in relation to the gospel. However, an underlying tone of the account has also carried a strong acceptance of the message by Gentiles. This will increase immensely with the narrative moving to Paul. At the same time, there will be an underlying tone of some Jews remaining faithful to the gospel while the nation itself turns away from it more and more.

Paul will speak of this state of affairs in Romans 9-11. There he will note that “at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace” (Romans 11:5). This is referring to Jewish believers. As the epistle is written for the church at any time, it is a clear indication that there has been and will be a remnant of believing Jews throughout the church age. And this has been seen all along.

With the coming of the end times, the number of Jewish believers is exploding. Israel is now back in the land they were exiled from, and the prophecies concerning them as a nation are set to be fulfilled. Let us praise God for His faithfulness to this disobedient nation because of His faithfulness to the covenant He made with them.

And in seeing His faithfulness to a covenant that is ready to vanish away, we can be certain of His faithfulness to us in the New Covenant that will never vanish away when they as a nation enter into the New Covenant. We have an eternal hope because of what He has done in the giving of Jesus for us. Consider what it means! Eternal life is promised to us because of Jesus. Thank God for Jesus Christ our Lord.

Glorious Heavenly Father, our hearts are filled with joy because of what You have done for us through the giving of Jesus. Thank You, O God, for Jesus Christ our Lord and our certain hope of eternal life in Your presence. Yes, thank You for this sure hope. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acts 12:16

And when they opened the door…

Friday, 2 December 2022

Now Peter continued knocking; and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. Acts 12:16

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 insistence by Rhoda that Peter was at the door. With that remembered, it next says, “Now Peter continued knocking.”

It is almost a comedy at this point. Peter has knocked. Rhoda came to the door and probably asked, “Who is it?” Peter responded. Rhoda freaked out with joy and instead of opening the door, she ran inside to tell everyone. Nobody believed Rhoda (poor Rhoda!). Finally, Peter must keep knocking while the people are inside debating if Rhoda is crazy, if it is Peter’s angel, or who knows what else. The danger to Peter is unknown, but he was still within the city, and he was supposed to stand trial shortly. With that, relief finally comes, saying, “and when they opened the door and saw him.”

We can imagine those inside thronging to the door and fighting to be the one to grab the handle and unlock it, wondering what to make of Rhoda’s words. With the door open and Peter obviously standing there, it says, “they were astonished.”

The word used has been seen seven times already in Acts. This is its eighth and last time. It will be seen one more time in 2 Corinthians 5:3 where Paul states, “For if we are beside ourselvesit is for God; or if we are of sound mind, it is for you.” It literally means, “to stand aside.”  Hence, one can think of being beside oneself in amazement, and thus astonished. Rhoda wasn’t crazy, after all.

Life application: Unlike this event concerning Peter, when Jesus comes knocking, be sure to let Him in.

Lord God, how blessed was the day when You came into our lives. Now, help us to be prepared to share the good news with those we meet on the path of life. You will knock and anticipate them opening the door, but that will only happen if they first hear the word about You. May we do our part to help fill the halls of heaven with those who have heard and opened the door. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acts 12:15

It’s true! Here, I will show you. He’s there!

Thursday, 1 December 2022

But they said to her, “You are beside yourself!” Yet she kept insisting that it was so. So they said, “It is his angel.” Acts 12:15

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).

Rhoda ran into the house and announced that Peter was outside. Now, Luke records the surprised gathering’s response, saying, “But they said to her, ‘You are beside yourself!’” The Greek implies someone who is crazy, which is exactly how we would state this today, “You’re crazy.”

The word is a verb, mainomai. One can see the root of the word maniac and mania. To get the sense of its meaning, it is also used twice in Acts 26 along with its cognate noun mania, signifying insanity –

“Now as he thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, ‘Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad [insanity]!’
25 But he said, ‘I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason.’”

Hearing Rhoda’s words, this is the only thing they could conclude. Otherwise, why didn’t she just let him in when she went to the door? Despite their dismissal of her claim, Luke next records, “Yet she kept insisting that it was so.”

Rather than “kept insisting,” the word signifies confidence and more appropriately reads, “Yet she confidently affirmed.” She was adamant that the person’s voice was surely that of Peter. In response to this, and probably to rib her a little, we read, “So they said, ‘It is his angel.’”

This may be a claim based on what is said in Hebrews 1:14 when referring to angels –

“Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?”

However, there is no reason to assume that those speaking to Rhoda actually believed that Peter’s angel would come knocking at the door. It seems that they are poking fun at her because of her adamant affirmation that it was really Peter at the door.

Life application: While the debate as to whether Peter was standing at the door and knocking to come in was going on, Peter was… well, he was standing at the door. The simplest method of determining what the truth of the matter was would be to go to the door and open it.

Likewise, Jesus told the church of Laodicea that He stood at the door and was knocking –

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” Revelation 3:20

What is He talking about? He is noting that the person on the inside is not only given a knock to alert him that someone is outside, but this person has also been explicitly told who is outside. And more, Jesus is speaking about an individual as opposed to the entire church. While the church may be lost, the person can still be saved. In other words, the Lord is using these metaphors to relay a truth.

God wants fellowship with someone who has failed to come to Him. He initiates the action, alerting him that He is there, and He then identifies Himself so that there can be no doubt about who He is. When the heart of the person is willing, he opens the door – meaning he allows the Lord in. The terminology is simple and explicit.

Further, it shows the simplicity of the process. Opening a door takes little effort. The action occurs and the fellowship is realized. Faith is the key. When a favorable response is made, and the door is opened, the Lord then says that He will come in to him and dine with him. The words clearly demonstrate that the Calvinistic doctrine of “irresistible grace” is false. God does not regenerate people in order to believe, causing them to believe, which then saves them. That is not only an illogical doctrine, but also unbiblical.

Instead, when the response is favorable and the door is opened, the Lord promises that He will dine with that person. The imagery here is that of close fellowship and intimacy. To dine with someone brings a state of closeness that is almost unmatched in human experience. To further bolster this, Jesus notes that the person will also dine with Him.

In this, there is the idea of intimacy and fellowship that the Lord is conveying. It is something only possible with the Lord through receiving Christ, allowing Him into one’s heart. The words in Revelation speak beautifully of the transmission of the gospel to a dead church. Who will respond?

Although it is fashionable to belittle those who say, “Christ is knocking on the door of your heart,” this is the exact symbolism that is being conveyed. Christ initiated the process, He identifies Himself through the message, and if a response is made, salvation is realized.

But the point is that someone must convey this message to the person. Rhoda is trying to tell those inside that Peter is at the door. We need to tell others that Jesus is awaiting our response. Be sure to tell people that He is there, right there at the door. It will be up to them after that, but your job is to ensure they at least know this wonderful news.

Lord God, give us the strong desire to tell the good news about Jesus. Time is passing quickly, and our days are short. So, Lord, may we be willing to tell of this wonderful news of salvation while there is time. Yes, may it be so. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acts 12:14

The door still isn’t open. Someone is being stubborn or something.

Wednesday, 30 November 2022

When she recognized Peter’s voice, because of her gladness she did not open the gate, but ran in and announced that Peter stood before the gate. Acts 12:14

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 girl named Rhoda came to the door of the gate to answer when Peter knocked. Now, it says, “When she recognized Peter’s voice.”

It is obvious from these words that Peter was well-known within the house. Even without seeing his face, she knew it was him. This is in accord with Peter’s words of 1 Peter 5 where Peter calls Mark “my son.” There was a longstanding intimacy between Peter and Mark that extended to the whole family and the church that met in their home. This also included Rhoda. When she heard his voice, it next says that “because of her gladness she did not open the gate.”

Some commentaries attempt to work in an additional explanation as to why she didn’t open the gate. Specifically, they say that she didn’t because of the persecution that they had previously experienced at the time when Saul was arresting those of the church and then the newer persecution of the killing of James and the arresting of Peter.

Although these things certainly occurred and probably made the believers wary, Luke explicitly tells us that Rhoda was overjoyed at the voice of Peter and simply neglected to open the gate, wanting to share the news with everyone. As it says, she “ran in and announced that Peter stood before the gate.”

Rhoda simply got caught up in the moment and rushed inside without attending to the door. The simplicity, excitement, and innocence of the event demonstrate the true love that Rhoda felt for Peter. It is not unlike the reaction of Rebekah in Genesis 24:28 and even the reaction of Rachel when she met Jacob in Genesis 29. The emotions simply overwhelmed those involved and off ran the young ladies to share the good news.

Life application: What is the best news of all? Are you willing to share it with those you know and even with those you don’t know? And just how willing are you? Do you grudgingly plod along the path of life and remember it only after being reminded that it is your duty to share it? Or do you skip along the road, joyfully anticipating the next person you can talk to about the goodness of God in sending His Son to bring us life?

Paul admonishes us to have our feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. That means we should always be ready to share this good news. And so, let us comply with this simple and necessary part of our responsibilities. The young maidens Rebekah, Rachel, and Rhoda all ran to share the good news they knew about. Let us be young in heart like them and do likewise!

Lord God, time is short. Help us to be about Your business while there is still a chance to let people know about our hope that may end through death, disaster, or rapture at any moment. So convict us now about what we need to do. To Your glory. Amen.