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Acts 12 – Skeptic's Annotated Bible answered

A response and reply to the notes on Acts 12 in the Skeptic's Annotated Bible (SAB).

King James Version

SAB comment

My comment

1 Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church.

2 And he killed James the brother of John with the sword.

(12:1-3) "He killed James ... because he saw it pleased the Jews."
Herod kills James the brother of John and imprisons Peter "because he saw it pleased the Jews."
Well, did he kill James? Did it please the Jews? Or does Luke just make this up?
The Jews had four capital punishments and being beheaded was counted to be the worst of the four and given to deceivers of the people. Note that James became a martyr as Jesus had prophesied, see Matthew 20:23. He died in 44 AD, the first martyr. According to Eusebius, the person who had given false testimony against James, was very moved by how James behaved when before the judgment seat and felt compelled to become a Christian himself:

He says that the one who led James to the judgment-seat, when he saw him bearing his testimony, was moved, and confessed that he was himself also a Christian.
They were both therefore, he says, led away together; and on the way he begged James to forgive him. And he, after considering a little, said, “Peace be with thee,” and kissed him. And thus they were both beheaded at the same time.

3 And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.)

4 And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.

5 Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.

6 And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison.

7 And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands.

8 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.

9 And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision.

10 When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him.

Open Sesame
"They came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord."
If it hadn't, they wouldn't have escaped, would they?

11 And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.

12 And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying.

13 And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda.

14 And when she knew Peter’s voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate.

15 And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel.

(12:12-15) "It is his angel."
The Christians pray for Peter, but when he shows up, they don't believe it. They think he was "his angel" instead. (Everyone has an angel that looks just like them.)
It is indeed a Jewish belief that angels can assume the form of a particular man. But this finds no confirmation in the Bible, so it must therefore remain in the realm of speculation. Therefore the phrase “his angel” should be understood as an angel in the form of Peter. It should not be read as if the Jews at that time believed people had a personal angel. But as said, the Bible doesn't confirm this teaching. And as can be seen in subsequent verses, that belief was quite wrong. It was more unbelief.

16 But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished.

17 But he, beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, Go shew these things unto James, and to the brethren. And he departed, and went into another place.

18 Now as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers, what was become of Peter.

19 And when Herod had sought for him, and found him not, he examined the keepers, and commanded that they should be put to death. And he went down from Judaea to Caesarea, and there abode.

20 And Herod was highly displeased with them of Tyre and Sidon: but they came with one accord to him, and, having made Blastus the king’s chamberlain their friend, desired peace; because their country was nourished by the king’s country.

Ezekiel (26:14, 21; 27:36) prophesied that Tyre would be completely destroyed by Nebuchadrezzar, never to be built again. Yet it wasn't destroyed, as is evident from this verse.

21 And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them.

22 And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man.

"And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man."
When Herod gave his speech the people shouted, "It is the voice of God, and not a man."
The Herod here is Herod Agrippa, the grandson of Herod the great.

23 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.

"And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him ... and he was eaten of worms."
The "angel of the Lord" killed Herod by having him "eaten of worms" because "he gave not God the glory."
How many has God killed? (Complete list and estimated total)

24 But the word of God grew and multiplied.

25 And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark.