Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible, by John Wesley, [1754-65], at sacred-texts.com
act 12:1About that time - So wisely did God mix rest and persecution in due time and measure succeeding each other. Herod - Agrippa; the latter was his Roman, the former his Syrian name. He was the grandson of Herod the Great, nephew to Herod Antipas, who beheaded John the Baptist; brother to Herodias, and father to that Agrippa before whom St. Paul afterward made his defence. Caligula made him king of the tetrarchy of his uncle Philip, to which he afterward added the territories of Antipas. Claudius made him also king of Judea, and added thereto the dominions of Lysanias.
act 12:2James the brother of John - So one of the brothers went to God the first, the other the last of the apostles.
act 12:3Then were the days of unleavened bread - At which the Jews came together from all parts.
act 12:4Four quaternions - Sixteen men, who watched by turns day and night.
act 12:5Continual prayer was made for him - Yet when their prayer was answered, they could scarce believe it, Act 12:15. But why had they not prayed for St. James also? Because he was put to death as soon as apprehended.
act 12:6Peter was sleeping - Easy and void of fear; between two soldiers - Sufficiently secured to human appearance.
act 12:7His chains - With which his right arm was bound to one of the soldiers, and his left arm to the other.
act 12:8Gird thyself - Probably he had put off his girdle, sandals, and upper garment, before he lay down to sleep.
act 12:10The first and second ward - At each of which doubtless was a guard of soldiers. The gate opened of its own accord - Without either Peter or the angel touching it. And they went on through one street - That Peter might know which way to go. And the angel departed from him - Being himself sufficient for what remained to be done.
act 12:11Now I know of a truth - That this is not a vision, Act 12:9.
act 12:12And having considered - What was best to be done. Many were gathered together - At midnight.
act 12:13The gate - At some distance from the house; to hearken - If any knocked.
act 12:14And knowing Peter's voice - Bidding her open the door.
act 12:15They said, Thou art mad - As we say, Sure you are not in your senses to talk so. It is his angel - It was a common opinion among the Jews, that every man had his particular guardian angel, who frequently assumed both his shape and voice. But this is a point on which the Scriptures are silent.
act 12:17Beckoning to them - Many of whom being amazed, were talking together. And he said, Show these things to James - The brother or kinsman of our Lord, and author of the epistle which bears his name. He appears to have been a person of considerable weight and importance, probably the chief overseer of that province, and of the Church in Jerusalem in particular. He went into another place - Where he might be better concealed till the storm was over.
act 12:19Herod commanded them to be put to death - And thus the wicked suffered in the room of the righteous. And going down from Judea - With shame, for not having brought forth Peter, according to his promise.
act 12:20Having gained Blastus - To their side, they sued for, and obtained peace - Reconciliation with Herod. And so the Christians of those parts were, by the providence of God, delivered from scarcity. Their country was nourished - Was provided with, corn, by the king's country - Thus Hiram also, king of Tyre, desired of Solomon food or corn for his household, Kg1 5:9.
act 12:21And on a set day - Which was solemnized yearly, in honour of Claudius Cesar; Herod, arrayed in royal apparel - In a garment so wrought with silver, that the rays of the rising sun striking upon, and being reflected from it, dazzled the eyes of the beholders. The people shouted, It is the voice of a god - Such profane flattery they frequently paid to princes. But the commonness of a wicked custom rather increases than lessens the guilt of it.
act 12:23And immediately - God does not delay to vindicate his injured honour; an angel of the Lord smote him - Of this other historians say nothing: so wide a difference there is between Divine and human history! An angel of the Lord brought out Peter; an angel smote Herod. Men did not see the instruments in either case. These were only known to the people of God. Because he gave not glory to God - He willingly received it to himself, and by this sacrilege filled up the measure of his iniquities. So then vengeance tarried not. And he was eaten by worms, or vermin - How changed! And on the fifth day expired in exquisite torture. Such was the event! The persecutor perished, and the Gospel grew and multiplied.
act 12:25Saul returned - To Antioch; taking John, surnamed Mark - The son of Mary, (at whose house the disciples met, to pray for Peter,) who was sister to Barnabas.