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  • VINCENT'S NEW TESTAMENT
    WORD STUDIES - ACTS 12

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    CHAPTER XII

    1. That time (ekeinon ton kairon). More correctly, that juncture. See on ch. i. 7. The date is A.D. 44.

    Herod the king. Called also Agrippa, and commonly known as Herod Agrippa I., the grandson of Herod the Great.

    Stretched forth his hands (epebalen tav ceirav). Lit. laid on his hands. The A.V. is wrong, and so is the Rev. Render, laid hands on certain of the church to afflict them.

    Vex (kakwsai). Vex is used in the older and stronger sense of torment or oppress. See Exod. xxii. 21; Num. xxv. 17; Matt. xv. 22. Its modern usage relates rather to petty annoyances. Rev., better, afflict.

    2. Killed - with the sword. While the martyrdom of Stephen is described at length, that of James, the first martyr among the apostles, is related in two words.

    3. He proceeded to take (proseqeto sullabein). Rev., seize. Lit., he added to take. A Hebrew form of expression. Compare Luke xix. 11, he added and spake; Luke xx. 12, again he sent a third; lit., he added to send.

    4. Quaternions. A quaternion was a body of four soldiers; so that there were sixteen guards, four for each of the four night-watches.

    The passover. The whole seven days of the feast.

    Bring him forth (anagagagein auton). Lit., lead him up; i.e., to the elevated place where the tribunal stood, to pronounce sentence of death before the people. See John xix. 13.

    5. Without ceasing (ektenhv). Wrong. The word means earnest. See on fervently, 1 Pet. i. 22; and compare instantly, Acts xxvi. 7; more earnestly, Luke xxii. 44; fervent, 1 Pet. iv. 8. The idea of continuance is, however, expressed here by the finite verb with the participle. Very literally, prayer was arising earnest.

    6. Would have brought. Rev., correctly, was about to bring.

    Kept (ethroun). See on reserved, 1 Pet. i. 4. The imperfect, were keeping.

    7. Came upon (epesth). Better, as Rev., stood by. See on ch. iv. 1; and compare Luke ii. 9.

    Prison (oikhmati). Not the prison, but the cell where Peter was confined. So, rightly, Rev. 8. Garment (imation). The outer garment, or mantle. See on Matthew v. 40.

    10. Ward (fulakhn). Better, watch: the soldiers on guard. Explanations of the first and second watch differ, some assuming that the first was the single soldier on guard at the door of Peter's cell, and the second, another soldier at the gate leading into the street. Others, that two soldiers were at each of these posts, the two in Peter's cell not being included in the four who made up the watch.

    12. When he had considered (sunidwn). The verb strictly means to see together, or at the same time. Hence, to see in one view, to take in at a glance. Peter's mental condition is described by two expressions: First, he came to himself (ver. 12), or, lit., when he had become present in himself; denoting his awaking from the dazed condition produced by his being suddenly roused from sleep and confronted with a supernatural appearance (see ver. 9). Secondly, when he had become aware (suniswn); denoting his taking in the situation, according to the popular phrase. I do not think that any of the commentators have sufficiently emphasized the force of sun, together, as indicating his comprehensive perception of all the elements of the case. They all refer the word to his recognition of his deliverance from prison, which, however, has already been noted in ver.

    11. While it may include this, it refers also to all the circumstances of the case present at that moment. He had been freed; he was there in the street alone; he must go somewhere; there was the house of Mary, where he was sure to find friends. Having taken in all this, perceived it all, he went to the house of Mary. 19

    13. Door of the gate. The small outside door, forming the entrance from the street, and opening into the pulwn, or doorway, the passage from the street into the court. Others explain it as the wicket, a small door in the larger one, which is less probable.

    A damsel (paidiskh). Or maid. The word was used of a young female slave, as well as of a young girl or maiden generally. The narrative implies that she was more than a mere menial, if a servant at all. Her prompt recognition of Peter's voice, and her joyful haste, as well as the record of her name, indicate that she was one of the disciples gathered for prayer. Rhoda. Rose. The Jews frequently gave their female children the names of plants and flowers: as Susannah (lily); Esther (myrtle); Tamar (palm-tree). "God, who leaves in oblivion names of mighty conquerors, treasures up that of a poor girl, for his church in all ages" (Quesnel).

    14. She knew. Or recognized.

    15. Constantly affirmed (diiscurizeto). Better, confidently affirmed; constant is used in its older sense of consistent. The verb contains two ideas: strong assertion (iscuv), and holding to the assertion through all contradiction (dia); hence, she strongly and consistently asserted.

    Angel. Guardian angel, according to the popular belief among the Jews that every individual has his guardian angel, who may, on occasion, assume a visible appearance resembling that of the person whose destiny is committed to him.

    17. Beckoning (kataseisav). Lit., having shaken downward with his hand, in order to bespeak silence and attention. It was a familiar gesture of Paul. See ch. xxi. 40; xxvi. 1.

    19. Examined (anakrinav). See on Luke xxiii. 14; and compare ch. iv. 9. Put to death (apacqhnai). Lit., led away; i.e., to execution. A technical phrase like the Latin ducere. Compare Matt. xxvii. 31.

    Abode (dietriben). Originally, to rub away, or consume; hence, of time, to spend.

    20. Highly displeased (qumomacwn). Originally, to fight desperately: but as there is no record of any war of Herod with the Tyrians and Sidonians, the word is to be taken in the sense of the A.V. Only here in New Testament.

    Chamberlain (ton epi tou koitwnov). Lit., the one over the bedchamber.

    21. Set (takth). Appointed. Only here in New Testament. What the festival was, is uncertain. According to some, it was in honor of the emperor's safe return from Britain. Others think it was to celebrate the birthday of Claudius; others that it was the festival of the Quinquennalia, observed in honor of Augustus, and dating from the taking of Alexandria, when the month Sextilis received the name of the Emperor - August.

    Arrayed (endusamenov). More literally, having arrayed himself.

    Royal apparel. Josephus says he was clothed in a robe entirely made of silver.

    Throne. See on ch. vii. 5. The elevated seat or throne-like box in the theater, set apart for the king, from which he might look at the games or address the assembly.

    Made an oration (edhmhgorei). Only here in New Testament. The word is used especially of a popular harangue (dhmov, the commons). "At Jerusalem Agrippa enacted the Jew, with solemn gait and tragic countenance, amidst general acclamation; but at Caesarea he allowed the more genial part of a Greek to be imposed on him. It was at a festival in this Hellenic capital, after an harangue he had addressed to the populace, that they shouted, "It is the voice of a God and not of a man" (Merivale, "History of the Romans under the Empire").

    22. The people (dhmov). The assembled people.

    A God. As most of the assembly were heathen, the word does not refer to the Supreme Being, but is to be taken in the pagan sense - a God.

    23. An angel of the Lord smote him. An interesting parallel is furnished by the story of Alp Arslan, a Turkish prince of the eleventh century. "The Turkish prince bequeathed a dying admonition to the pride of kings. 'In my youth,' said Alp Arslan, 'I was advised by a sage to humble myself before God; to distrust my own strength; and never to despise the most contemptible foe. I have neglected these lessons, and my neglect has been deservedly punished. Yesterday, as from an eminence, I beheld the numbers, the discipline, and the spirit of my armies; the earth seemed to tremble under my feet, and I said in my heart, surely thou art the king of the world, the greatest and most invincible of warriors. These armies are no longer mine; and, in the confidence of my personal strength, I now fall by the hand of an assassin'" (Gibbon, "Decline and Fall").

    Eaten of worms (skwlhkobrwtov). Only here in New Testament. Of Pheretima, queen of Cyrene, distinguished for her cruelties, Herodotus says: "Nor did Pheretima herself end her days happily. For on her return to Egypt from Libya, directly after taking vengeance on the people of Barca, she was overtaken by a most horrid death. Her body swarmed with worms, which ate her flesh while she was still alive" (4, 205). The term, as applied to disease in the human body, does not occur in any of the medical writers extant. Theophrastus, however, uses it of a disease in plants. The word skwlhx is used by medical writers of intestinal worms. Compare the account of the death of Antiochus Epiphanes, the great persecutor of the Jews. "So that the worms rose up out of the body of this wicked man, and whiles he lived in sorrow and pain, his flesh fell away, and the filthiness of his smell was noisome to all his army" (2 Macc. ix. 9). Sylla, the Roman dictator, is also said to have suffered from a similar disease. Gave up the ghost. See on ch v. 5.

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