What does Acts 12:1 mean?
ESV: About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church.
NIV: It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them.
NASB: Now about that time Herod the king laid hands on some who belonged to the church, to do them harm.
CSB: About that time King Herod violently attacked some who belonged to the church,
NLT: About that time King Herod Agrippa began to persecute some believers in the church.
KJV: Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church.
Verse Commentary:
While Barnabas and Saul spread Jesus' story in Syrian Antioch, the church in Jerusalem is facing perhaps its greatest threat since Saul (Acts 9). Josephus explains that Herod Agrippa I is the grandson of Herod the Great and the son of Aristobulus. He spent his formative years in Rome, first under the protection of Tiberius and then getting into trouble and regularly allowing his wife, Cypros, to bail him out. He switched allegiances to Caligula and was only saved when Tiberius died and Caligula was made Caesar. Caligula made Agrippa king of Philp the Tetrarch's territory, northeast of Galilee. Agrippa He arranged for the exile of Antipas—the self-styled Herod who killed John the Baptist—and gained Galilee and Perea, across the Jordan River from Judea and Samaria. Agrippa endeared himself to the Jewish leadership when he convinced Caligula to refrain from installing a statue of himself in the temple. In AD 41, Caligula was assassinated, Claudius became Caesar, and Agrippa gained Idumea, Judea, and Samaria, making him the most powerful king in the area since Herod the Great.

Whether because he was politically savvy or because he saw genuine worth in Judaism, Agrippa is supportive of the Sanhedrin and lives in Jerusalem, not the capital of Caesarea Maritima on the coast of Samaria. The Mishnah says he read the Mosaic law to the people in accordance with Deuteronomy 31:10–13. When he got to Deuteronomy 17:15, which says, "You may not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother," the people would reassure him that he was their brother.

Violently arresting Jesus-followers would strengthen the loyalty of the Sanhedrin to Agrippa even more. The Sanhedrin persecuted the church in Jerusalem, somewhat inconsistently, since its inception (Acts 4:1–22; 5:17–42; 6:8—7:60) until a young Pharisee-in-training named Saul drove many of the lay-members out of the city (Acts 8:1–3). But Saul met Jesus, and the church and the Jewish leaders have been in relative peace since (Acts 9). Although Agrippa's actions represent an escalation in hostilities, and deaths will increase, the church will remain strong.
Verse Context:
Acts 12:1–5 is the only Scripture which directly records the death of an apostle. Herod Agrippa I, who has commended himself to the Jewish leaders by protecting their religion, endears himself further by arresting and beheading James, the brother of John. The Sanhedrin is so pleased, Agrippa arrests Peter, as well. His plan is to kill Peter after the Feast of Unleavened Bread, but while Peter is chained and guarded by four squads of soldiers, the church is praying.
Chapter Summary:
Acts 12 starts with the first death of an apostle and ends with the death of a king. Herod Agrippa I beheads James and imprisons Peter. An angel rescues Peter and he quickly lets the church in Jerusalem know before he goes into hiding. Agrippa, grandson of Herod the Great and friend to the Pharisees, accepts glory due only to God and dies, likely a few days later, of internal worms. Meanwhile, the church continues to grow, and Barnabas and Saul return to Syrian Antioch. The scene is set for Paul's extensive ministry to the Gentiles.
Chapter Context:
When Acts 12 opens, at least some of the apostles are in Jerusalem, and Barnabas and Saul are in Syrian Antioch, collecting support so the church in Jerusalem can survive the coming famine (Acts 11:27–30). The church is established in Jerusalem and growing in the regions on the east coast of the Mediterranean Sea. When the chapter closes, Barnabas and Saul are poised for their missionary trip in modern-day Asia Minor. Saul will take on the Greek version of his name, Paul, and the story of Jesus will spread to Rome and beyond.
Book Summary:
The summary of the book of Acts is provided in Jesus' words in Acts 1:8: ''But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.'' In Acts 2:1–13, the Christ-followers receive the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:14—7:60 describes the rapid growth of the church in Jerusalem. Chapters 8—12 find Jewish persecution inadvertently spreading the gospel throughout Judea and Samaria. And in chapters 13—28, Paul and his companions spread the good news throughout the Roman Empire.
Accessed 4/16/2024 12:38:22 AM
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