Acts 12:8

ESV And the angel said to him, “Dress yourself and put on your sandals.” And he did so. And he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.”
NIV Then the angel said to him, 'Put on your clothes and sandals.' And Peter did so. 'Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,' the angel told him.
NASB And the angel said to him, 'Put on your belt and strap on your sandals.' And he did so. And he *said to him, 'Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.'
CSB "Get dressed," the angel told him, "and put on your sandals." And he did. "Wrap your cloak around you," he told him, "and follow me."
NLT Then the angel told him, 'Get dressed and put on your sandals.' And he did. 'Now put on your coat and follow me,' the angel ordered.
KJV And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me.

What does Acts 12:8 mean?

Peter has been sleeping in prison. His execution is scheduled for the next day. James has already been beheaded (Acts 12:1–2). The only suggestion Peter has that he may not die is Jesus' prophecy that he will be "old" (John 21:18–19), but Jesus didn't clarify how old was "old."

When an angel awakens him and his chains fall off, Peter is likely dazed. In fact, he thinks it's a vision or a dream (Acts 12:9). During the vision of the sheet that lowered from heaven filled with animals and the voice that told Peter to kill and eat, he didn't actually act on the command (Acts 10:9–16). This time, the angel has to tell him exactly what to do: dress for fight or flight. Or, more literally, "get dressed for action."

"Dress yourself" is literally "fasten your belt." This is a common turn of phrase found in many languages: where a part of the whole, here the last part, infers the entire action. In this case, Peter was probably wearing everything but his belt and outer robe, so the command is literal.

The Greek root word for "wrap" is periballō and is sometimes translated "gird." For a man of that era to "gird" himself meant to arrange the hem of his tunic, which could sometimes be ankle-length, so it doesn't get in the way. The man would gather the cloth up to mid-thigh and pull the bulk into a kind of tail in front of him. The tail would go between his legs. He'd then divide the tail into to two portions behind him and draw the tails around the outsides of his thighs where he would tie them in the front or tuck them into his wide belt. He'd then be ready for anything that required running or strenuous movement such as labor or fighting. Symbolically, to "gird one's loins" means to get ready. The guards are coming to take Peter to his execution; he needs to move.
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