Acts 12:23 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Acts 12:23, NIV: "Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died."

Acts 12:23, ESV: "Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last."

Acts 12:23, KJV: "And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost."

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

Acts 12:23, NLT: "Instantly, an angel of the Lord struck Herod with a sickness, because he accepted the people's worship instead of giving the glory to God. So he was consumed with worms and died."

Acts 12:23, CSB: "At once an angel of the Lord struck him because he did not give the glory to God, and he was eaten by worms and died."

What does Acts 12:23 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Herod Agrippa I generally spent his three years in power accommodating and even protecting the Jewish religion and respecting the Jewish God; the Jews respected him for it. The ancient historian Josephus fills in some of the details about this event not mentioned in Acts (Antiquities 19.8.2 343–361). According to Josephus, on the second morning of games Agrippa has inaugurated for Caesar, he addresses the audience wearing clothes made of silver. The sunlight catches the silver, and he glows like the Phoenician sun god. The audience goes mad, saying, "The voice of a god, and not of a man!" (Acts 12:22).

Ordinarily, Agrippa might have denied their praise, but this day he hesitates. Perhaps he's caught up in the games. Perhaps he wants to display his glory to his antagonists from Tyre and Sidon (see Acts 12:20). Either way, he has made himself somewhat of a religious leader among God's people, and God will not stand for it. Agrippa is immediately overcome by severe pains in his abdomen and dies. Josephus indicates this involved five days of agony. Adoring Jews suspect poison. Modern researchers have many theories, but nothing concrete (Josephus' Antiquities 19.8.2 343–361).

Agrippa I had many similarities with his grandfather Herod the Great. He understood Judaism, he was the first to be called king by the Roman emperor since his grandfather, and he died a horrible death. Modern scholars think Herod the Great died of chronic kidney disease exacerbated by maggot-infected gangrene of the genitals. It's been noticed that Agrippa I, the silver-bedecked king who died with maggots in his gut, is the perfect illustration of a white-washed tomb (Matthew 23:27). His external appearance, and actions, have one appearance, while the reality of what's inside is awful.

This is in contrast to Barnabas and Paul in Acts 14:8–18. When the people of Lystra declare Barnabas Zeus and Paul Hermes, the two immediately tear their robes and stop the people from sacrificing to them. Paul spends his ministry understanding his place before God. Despite all his credentials as a faithful Jew, Paul considers all his good works "rubbish" (Philippians 3:8). Only Christ matters.

The word for "struck" is the same used in Acts 12:7 when the angel "struck" Peter. The angel struck Peter to wake him and rescue him from prison. Now, the angel strikes Agrippa to afflict and destroy him.