Acts Chapter 12

Acts 12:1
Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church.
  • Vex, by dictionary definition and biblical context here, means to persecute
  • This refers to Herod the Great's son, Herod Agrippa I, also named "Agrippa the Great"
  • His original name was Marcus Julius Agrippa(10 b.c.-44 a.d.), king of Judaea (ca. 41–44 b.c.)
  • Herod the Great was the king wanting to kill the children in Israel when Jesus was a baby
  • To give an idea of how brutal he was toward Christians.......he was a friend of CALIGULA
  • Persecution always makes the church grow
  • The persecution switches from religious Jewish leaders to government
  • The purpose would have been the same: To please the exact same Pharisees and Sadducees and keep peace with the leaders in Israel
VEX, v.t. [L. vexo.]
  1. To irritate; to make angry by little provocations; a popular use of the word.
  2. To plague; to torment; to harass; to afflict.
    Ten thousand torments vex my heart.
  3. To disturb; to disquiet; to agitate.
    White curl the waves, and the vex'd ocean roars.
  4. To trouble; to distress.
    I will also vex the hearts of many people. Ezek 32.
  5. To persecute. Acts 12.
  6. To stretch, as by hooks. [Not in use.]

VEX, v.i. To fret; to be teased or irritated.

Acts 12:2
And he killed James the brother of John with the sword.
  • Why did God allow James to die and Peter to live?
  • This is a display of God's sovereignty
  • The modern "Emergent Church Movement", "Word of Faith Movement, "Prosperity Gospel" people and the "Ecumenical Church" want you to think that James lacked faith, but Peter and his prayer warriors had "faith that can move mountains" and, therefore, Peter is released, James dies
  • In the context of all of Scripture, this is pure, rank heresy and is taught in no place
  • God allows this for His own reasons, not ours
  • See the entire book of Job. He loses all, because God allows it, and is restored by God, so that we could learn from it. Job is innocent throughout.

1 Corinthians 10:11
Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.

Hebrews 11:36-40
And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

Daniel 3:13-18
Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Then they brought these men before the king. Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up?
Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.
If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

Ecclesiastes 9:11
I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

Acts 12:3
And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.)
  • Again, the motive is men-pleasing, peace with men
  • Killing James pleased the Jews who persecuted the Church
Acts 12:4
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.
  • Easter is the correct word...not Passover
  • A quaternion is four troops, so this is sixteen soldiers
  • Peter's Gospel was apparently doing great damage to Herod's reign, Rome's power, the Jews' religious system!


The Trinitarian Bible Society Quarterly Record states:

"When Tyndale applied his talents to the translation of the New Testament from Greek into English, he was not satisfied with the use of a completely foreign word, and decided to take into account the fact that the season of the passover was known generally to English people as `Easter' ... Tyndale has ester or easter fourteen times, ester-lambe eleven times, esterfest once, and paschall lambe three times." "When he began his translation of the Pentateuch, he was again faced with the problem in Exodus 12:11 and twenty- one other places, and no doubt recognizing that easter in this context would be an anachronism he coined a new word, passover and used it consistently in all twenty-two places. It is, therefore, to Tyndale that our language is indebted for this meaningful and appropriate word"
  • "Pascha", even today, can mean Easter. The Latin is "pask" or "paske"
  • Herod would have celebrated Easter, not Passover
  • Passover is BEFORE the Feast of Unleavened Bread, not AFTER
  • The word "Passover" refers to the Passover, not the Passover plus the Feast of Unleavened Bread

Numbers 28:16-17
And in the fourteenth day of the first month is the passover of the LORD. And in the fifteenth day of this month is the feast: seven days shall unleavened bread be eaten.

Leviticus 23:5-6
In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD'S passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread.

Mark 14:12
And the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the passover, his disciples said unto him, Where wilt thou that we go and prepare that thou mayest eat the Passover?

Acts 12:5
Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.
  • The prayer is fervent and non-stop
  • It is possible that he would not have not known about this prayer chain
  • In either case, no matter the outcome, death or freedom, they prayed.
  • Remembering James was killed, it is a certainty that Peter would have followed in his footsteps
Acts 12:6
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.
  • When Jesus was in prison, Peter was denying him three times
  • Now that Peter is in prison, having seen the Risen Christ and understood "all that the prophets have spoken" (Luke 24:25), Peter falls asleep, entering into that rest
  • Peter knows that his life is not his own, and not in his own hands
1 Peter 4:12-14
Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.

Hebrews 4:9-11
There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

Acts 12:7
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.
  • The Angel of the LORD is none other than Jesus Christ Himself, in His Resurrected Body
  • The chains fall off with us as well, when we get saved by receiving Jesus Christ as our LORD and Saviour
  • If you are facing execution the next day, or soon thereafter, do you sleep, resting easy?
  • If you are asleep, an angel with a lot of light comes in and then has to hit you to wake you up, how asleep were you?!
  • Possibly the guards saw the light, other guards, other prisoners, and were scared
Acts 12:8
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.
  • Peter is no doubt half asleep at this time, groggy, confused
  • Imagine the guards, moments before, who were chained to Peter, witnessing the angel here!
Acts 12:9
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.
  • Earlier, Peter saw a vision and thought it was not something from God, because of the implications
  • Now he sees a real Angel of the LORD and doubts he even sees it, because he is, again, half asleep
Acts 12:10
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.
  • Chains broken, through two guard stations and a locked gate for the security of the prisoners to prevent escape, all defeated handily
  • God wants you out? You are out. God wants you in? You are locked
Acts 12:11
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.
  • Peter is now awake, a slow riser like many of us
  • "The expectation of the Jews" was that he be executed forthwith
Acts 12:12
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.
  • This Mary is not the mother of Jesus, but rather another
  • That must have been some prayer meeting, and some surprise answer!
  • It says that they were still praying


  • The sinner is held captive by the Devil “at his will” (2 Timothy 2:26)
  • The lost sinner is held captive by sin
  • The lost sinner is asleep, in the dark
  • The lost sinner is in bondage, in need of freedom from sin
  • The lost sinner needs to put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6)
  • The Lost sinner needs to recognize he is wayward, prodigal, and come to the LORD of his own accord when he realizes his sin, to follow Him freely
  • The Lost sinner needs to tell others about the Grace ofthe LORD Jesus Christ
2 Timothy 2:26
And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

John 8:34
Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.

Proverbs 5:22
His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins.

Hebrews 2:15
And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

Hebrews 9:27
And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

Isaiah 42:6-7
I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.

Ephesians 6:11-17
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

Luke 15:11-24
And he said, A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.
And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.
And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:
And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

Acts 12:13
And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda.
  • Rhoda's meaning derived from Greek(?) (rhodon) meaning "ROSE"
  • A damsel is a young, unmarried woman
DAM'SEL, n. A young woman. Formerly, a young man or woman of noble or genteel extraction; as Damsel Pepin; Damsel Richard, prince of Wales. It is now used only of young women, and is applied to any class of young unmarried women, unless to the most vulgar, and sometimes to country girls.
With her train of damsels she was gone.Dryden.
Then Boaz said, whose damsel is this? Ruth 2.
This word is rarely used in conversation, or even in prose writings of the present day; but it occurs frequently in the scriptures, and in poetry.

Acts 12:14
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.
  • She believed God had done it and that it was Peter in the flesh
Acts 12:15
And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel.
  • Not everyone was apparently as glad as Rhoda, having just prayed, now receiving the answer, they then doubt it?
  • It is prudent to note that every angel visiting earth is a wingless man
  • They are claiming that she saw a ghost, a spirit, not the real Peter
Acts 12:16
But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished.
  • Nothing like actual irrefutable proof from the one who they deny to settle the matter!
  • Rhoda is inside, leaving Peter outside, to knock, like "Um, helloooooo???? I am still out here!"
  • In all of the excitement, she may have simply run in at breakneck speed to relay the news that Peter was alive and forgot to unlatch or unlock the gate
Acts 12:17
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.
  • Peter realized that it was now absolutely certain what had happened
  • Peter had work to do
  • Holding their peace was necessary because, as anyone knows, when those who believe and those who do not come together, there is often, if not always, loud controversy
Acts 12:18
Now as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers, what was become of Peter.
  • Just imagine the conversation, soldiers claiming others were crazy, claiming they are making up excuses, not doing their job
  • It was fully known that escaped prisoners in Herod's Kingdom meant death
Acts 12:19
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.
  • Herod was like Nebuchadnezzar, with absolute brutal, ruthless authority
  • No arrest, no trial, just asking them what happened, they tell him and....execute the guards!
  • Caesarea was a vacation place at that time, so he matter-of-factly just executed the guards and went on holiday at his resort
Acts 12:20
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.
  • Business.....economy....
  • When you need goods from someone evil, you try to make peace with them
  • This implies that they were on the verge of being at war with Herod
  • This peace would have included a bribe to Blastus
Acts 12:21
And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them.
  • Politician, oratory skills
  • Josephus described this event in great detail(Josephus, Antiquities, Lib. 19, Ch. 8, sect. 2).
  • This defines pomp and circumstance, showiness
Acts 12:22
And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man.
  • Man worship is always common when one is famous, a good speaker
  • This happens today within the church, with authors, TV and radio, internet sensations, travelling preachers
  • ALL people will eventually let you down if you follow them and not God
  • Herod is just one example
  • The best speaker, loved dearly by all of mankind is coming around the corner; he will not last long either, just the last half of seven years of the Great Tribulation
Revelation 13:5
And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.

Acts 12:23
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.
  • Many scholars like to claim that this was just a natural result of trichinosis, from eating too much pork.
  • Many people ate pork, many died from the parasites
  • The Bible relates this event, therefore it is significant
  • The Bible further states that GOD HIMSELF IMMEDIATELY SMOTE HIM (the Angel of the LORD)
  • God mentions it because Herod is taking the Glory due to God ALONE, being called a god
  • The Angel of Death is never sent to bring a message; He comes to kill (Genesis 19)
2 Kings 19:35
And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the LORD went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.

The Fruit of Man Worship In the Church

While much of Dr. Ruckman's followers seem to follow him, calling themselves "Ruckmanites", I do not-I follow Jesus and could be called a Jesus-ite. but the many points he makes below are very pertinent for today:

"Refusal to give God the glory is what cost Moses his life (Deut. 3:26), and if the Lord were as hard on twentieth-century Christians in America and Europe as he was on Herod and Moses, the Sword of the Lord would be publishing an obituary column right alongside, “With the Evangelists.” Taking credit from God is a standard practice among 90 percent of the leading Christian celebrities who profess to be giving God the credit. It is true that they give Him a passing notice with their LIPS (i.e., “We give all the glory to God for what He has done.”), but practically, they take as much glory as possible; a fact which is evident by their writings and speeches, for “out of the abundance of a man’s heart his mouth speaks.” These celebrities brag about their records and “attendance” until it runs out your ears; they promote their ministries until you would think that God had nothing to do in this age but use them; and they slander or lie about every person who disagrees with their work or hinders their ministeries (or uses the Bible to point out their errors). The standard of consecration these days at most schools and churches is LOYALTY to the INSTITUTION; the word of God is no more a real issue with most of these religious executives than it is to Union Theological Seminary. The Holy Bible is NOT the final authority at most Christian schools, and if it had never been written, they could still maintain their “authority,” for they are their own authority. (It is significant that the last three “big shots” to quote Luke 2:14 to the world omitted “Glory to GOD in the highest....” Everyone of them began right where Santa Claus and the Pope begin: “PEACE ON EARTH.” You will find that the first six words of the verse were omitted in the Christmas speeches of Jack Kennedy, Eisenhower, and Richard Nixon, as well as those of Pope John XXIII and Pope Paul VI.)"

Ruckman, Dr. Peter S. (2011-05-13). Acts Commentary (The Bible Believer's Commentary Series) (Kindle Locations 6850-6865). BB Bookstore. Kindle Edition.

Acts 12:24
But the word of God grew and multiplied.
  • One would normally think that the wholesale slaughter of Christians at any place and time means wiping out the Church
  • God always has the last word-His church endures, grows, will prevail over the gates of hell
  • This is only true for the true, real Church until the Rapture
  • The Roman Church, falsely claiming Peter as the first pope, is destroyed in Revelation 18
Matthew 16:18
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Acts 12:25
And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark.
  • Barnabas figures largely from here on out in the New Testament


Acts 13:46
Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.

Acts 13:50
But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts.

Acts 14:12
And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker.

Acts 14:14
Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul , heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out,

Acts 14:20
Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.

Acts 15:2
When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.

Acts 15:12
Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul , declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.

Acts 15:22
Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren:

Acts 15:25
It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul ,

Acts 15:35
Paul also and Barnabas continued in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.

Acts 15:36
And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do.

Acts 15:37
And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark.

Acts 15:39
And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus;

1 Corinthians 9:6
Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working?

Galatians 2:1
Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also.

Galatians 2:9
And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.

Galatians 2:13
And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.

Colossians 4:10
Aristarchus my fellowprisoner saluteth you, and Marcus, sister's son to Barnabas, (touching whom ye received commandments: if he come unto you, receive him;)


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