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Acts 12:1-4, 20-24 – The Death of Herod

Summary

Herod jails Christians, finding that such violent behavior pleases the local crowds. After killing James and imprisoning Peter, Herod himself dies because of his prideful acceptance of the crowds' idolatrous acclamation.

Analysis

The story of the death of Herod (Herod Agrippa I, the grandson of Herod the Great) is noteworthy, pointing out that any who would exalt themselves to the level of God will pay the price for their blasphemy and "fighting against God" (Acts 5:39). In 12:1-4, Herod's character is revealed by his behavior toward the followers of Jesus, including two of the Twelve. He is violent and turns to murder, seeking the favor of the crowd around him and utterly failing to consider what might be right or true or godly. Herod, like the unjust judge in Luke 18:1-8, has no regard for God or for his fellow human beings, not even the guards at the jailhouse (Acts 12:19). His heedless, self-serving behavior bespeaks his deep flaw, the propensity to think of himself as God and not a man. When the crowds give voice to this (v. 22), Herod does not stop them and dies miserably. Herod's pride is the opposite of the behavior exhibited by Peter in 10:26 and Barnabas and Paul in 14:14-18.

Acts 12:1-4, 20-24

James Killed and Peter Imprisoned

12About that time King Herod laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the church. 2He had James, the brother of John, killed with the sword. 3After he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. (This was during the festival of Unleavened Bread.) 4When he had seized him, he put him in prison and handed him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending to bring him out to the people after the Passover.

The Death of Herod

20 Now Herod* was angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon. So they came to him in a body; and after winning over Blastus, the king’s chamberlain, they asked for a reconciliation, because their country depended on the king’s country for food. 21On an appointed day Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat on the platform, and delivered a public address to them. 22The people kept shouting, ‘The voice of a god, and not of a mortal!’ 23And immediately, because he had not given the glory to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.

24 But the word of God continued to advance and gain adherents.

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