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Book of Acts Chapter 12 - Christogenea Internet Radio 08-09-2013
We have said that the Book of Acts is a book of transition, and introducing the book in the first segment of this presentation we described some of the aspects of that transition. One of the things that we said is that it records a transition “from the rituals of the laws of the Old Covenant to a faith in the Word of God in Christ which was promised by the prophets of the Old Covenant, and which was recorded in the Gospel of the New Covenant”. Part of this transition is recorded in Acts chapters 10 and 11, where Peter witnessed and then acknowledged that the members of the household of Kornelios (Cornelius) had received the Holy Spirit upon hearing the Word of God, and ostensibly upon having accepted it, and it was specifically noted that this happened apart from a ritual of water baptism. Another of the things we said in our introduction is that Acts “records a transition of the primary subject of the Word of God from the remnant of Jerusalem to the dispersion of the children of Israel, the 'lost sheep' of the ancient dispersions.” The beginnings of this transition are also recorded in Acts chapters 10 and 11, where through Peter's vision the apostles had discovered that the Nations – which in a historical context refers to the Nations of the Adamic oikoumene – were to receive the Gospel of Christ.
Paul later establishes this interpretation in many places in his epistles, such as at Romans chapter 4 and 1 Corinthians chapter 10. In the latter he states “18 Behold Israel down through the flesh: are not those who are eating the sacrifices partners of the altar? 19 What then do I say? That that which is sacrificed to an idol is anything? Or that an idol is anything? 20 Rather, that whatever the Nations sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons, and not to Yahweh. Now I do not wish for you to be partners with demons.” Saying this to the Corinthians, Paul reveals an understanding that the nations of Europe which were practicing pagan idolatries were indeed the dispersed of Israel, Israel down through or according to the flesh. [The King James and other versions have after the flesh in 1 Corinthians 10:18. However the same exact Greek phrase is rendered according to the flesh in the King James and other versions on six other occasions where it appears in Paul's letters, and in the King James Version also at Acts 2:30.]
It is also expedient to recall here one other thing from Acts chapter 11, and that is where we are informed that “the students in Antiocheia were first to be labeled 'Christians'”, in verse 26. We had demonstrated here that the label Christ was a label which Yahshua clearly accepted as a name for Himself, which is evident in the Gospel in several places, in Matthew 24:5 and elsewhere. We had also seen that this is the name which the apostles had indeed later taken upon themselves, which is evident at Acts 26:28 and which is quite explicit in Peter's first epistle, at 1 Peter 4:16.
The adoption of the name Christian by the people of God is in fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah, where in chapter 62 Yahweh says “2 And the Nations shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name.” He called Himself Christ at Matthew 24:5, and history proves the fulfillment of the prophecy.
Once the Judaeans who followed after Christ took the name of Christians, they lost their identity as Judaeans. All the believers – the true Israelites of Judaea – taking the name of Christ upon themselves could no longer be considered as jews! Eventually the only jews left were those bad-fig Canaanites and Edomites who rejected Christ – and they are the jews of today! Christ Himself told them, as it is recorded in John 10:26: “But you do not believe, because you are not My sheep!”
Recently I have come across one old fool who claims to have absolute “truth from God” who says of Identity Christians that they must “get rid of the corrupt name 'Christian'.” Such a persuasion is obviously contrary to the Word of God. It is certainly evident from history that any name and any organizational form which the People of God assume shall be infiltrated and corrupted by the enemies of God so long as those enemies exist. That is why the apostle John warned his readers in his first epistle, found at 1 John 4:1: “Beloved, do not have trust in every spirit, but scrutinize whether the spirits are from of Yahweh, because many false prophets have gone out into Society.”
XII 1 Now throughout that time Herodas the king applied his hands to mistreat some of those from the assembly. [Here the Codex Bezae interpolates the words “in Judaea”.] 2 And he slew Iakobos the brother of Iohannes with a sword.
From the Tragic Poet, Euripides, Hippolytus, lines 962-963: "...the bastard is always regarded as an enemy to the true-born." The truth of this proverb is evident in history over and over again, beginning with Genesis chapter 4 and the story of Cain and Abel.
This Iakobos, or James, is the son of Zebedee and brother of that Iohannes, John, who wrote the Gospel, the three epistles in our Bibles, and the Revelation. James and John are introduced in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 4: “21 And proceeding from there He saw two other brothers, Iakobos the son of Zebedaios and Iohannes his brother, in the vessel with Zebedaios their father mending their nets, and He called them. 22 And immediately leaving the vessel and their father they followed Him.” In his own Gospel, the apostle John does not mention by name either his brother or himself, however he makes one mention in chapter 21(:2) of the “sons of Zebedee”, which were he and James. This James is the first of the original apostles to be martyred, at least according to the surviving records.
The Iakobos or James of Acts chapters 15 and 21 is the half-brother of Yahshua, and he is surely the author of the epistle known by that name. James the half-brother of Yahshua is called James the Less in Scripture, at Mark 15:40, where speaking of Mary the mother of Christ it says: “40 There were also women looking on afar off: among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome”, and we know this is also the mother of Christ from Matthew 13:55, 27:56 and Mark 6:3 where her children are also mentioned. James the brother of Yahshua, whose death by stoning is recorded by Josephus at Antiquities 20.9.1 (20:197-200), died much later, after the death of Festus (or Phestos) the governor of Judaea mentioned in Acts chapters 24 through 26, which happened about 62 A.D. and after Paul was sent to Rome.
This James, the brother of John and son of Zebedee, is therefore the elder James. The event of his death which is recorded here must have happened either during or not long before the Spring of 44 AD, which is when the death of his murderer Herod Agrippa I which is described later in this chapter of Acts is reckoned to have occurred. Josephus records the death of this Herod, but he does not record the death of this James.
This Herod, Herod Agrippa I, was the grandson of the original Herod whom the Jews like to call “the Great”, and the son of Aristobulus and Berenice, who were also cousins. Aristobulus, this Herod's father, was slain along with one of his brothers by his own father Herod “the Great” for alleged treason in 7 BC. The line of Herod the Edomite is filled with both incest and treachery. Later, this Herod Agrippa I had helped to create the circumstances which led to the banishment of his uncle, Herod Antipas, clearing the path for his own advancement. It was Herod Antipas who was the Herod that had John the Baptist slain, and who is mentioned in the Gospels as having returned Christ to Pilate.
The emperor Claudius gave Herod Agrippa I dominion over Judaea and Samaria as a gift in return for his support after the assassination of Caligula. His brother, Herod of Chalcis, was married to both his cousin Mariamne and later to his own niece, Berenice. The son of Herod Agrippa I, called Herod Agrippa II, is the Agrippa of the latter chapters of Acts. He inherited the kingdom of his father whose death is recorded here in Acts 12, and he also later inherited the kingdom of his uncle who died in 48 AD. He was in an incestuous relationship with his own sister Berenice, the same woman who had been married to his uncle Herod of Chalcis. Here in Acts Herod Agrippa I is portrayed as an evil and cruel man. Flavius Josephus, who was only a young boy at the time of the first Herod Agrippa's death, later portrayed him in his Antiquities Book 19 as kind and generous, although Josephus basically agrees with the account in Acts where it describes the reasons for his death. It is evident that Josephus was only repeating what he himself had been taught by the anti-Christian establishment in Judaea.
3 Then seeing that it is pleasing to the Judaeans, he proceeded to seize Petros also (and it was the days of unleavened bread), 4 whom he then laying hold of put into prison, committing him to the four squads of four soldiers to watch him, planning after the Passover to lead him to the people.
The Edomite bastards have always been adversarial to Christianity, and have always wanted to destroy it, never leaving well-enough alone. This condition which is only adequately explained by the enmity of Genesis 3:15. knowing that the Edomites are indeed the offspring of serpents, as John the Baptist and Christ Himself often called them. “The bastard is always regarded as an enemy to the true-born.”
The Codex Bezae begins verse 3 with the clause “Then seeing that his attack upon the faithful is pleasing to the Judaeans...” The phrase “four squads of four soldiers is a very literal translation of the Greek phrase τέσσαρσιν τετραδίοις στρατιωτῶν. The words are from τέσσαρες, or four, τετραδεῖον (5069), which is a guard consisting of four soldiers (Thayer), and στρατιώτης (4757), which is a soldier. The fifth century Codex 0244 wants the word for soldiers. It seems that the “four squads of four soldiers” were guards of the prison who worked in shifts.
The Greek word πάσχα (3957) is Passover here, and it is the word used to describe the feast of Passover all throughout both the New Testament and the Septuagint. The substitution for Passoverwith the pagan fertility holiday Easter by the organized sects is a crime, and so is the King James Version's use of the word Easter for πάσχα here. The words Easter, Esther, and Ishtar, which is the name of an ancient Babylonian fertility goddess, are all related. Christians should keep the Passover, as Paul exhorts at 1 Corinthians chapter 5, where in the verses leading up to that exhortation he tells us to “cleanse out the old leaven”, which is a reference to the feast of unleavened bread that immediately preceded the passover, and then he gives us the reason for keeping the Passover where he says: “Since also our passover, Christ, has been sacrificed.” Therefore Christians should keep the Passover as a memorial of that sacrifice.
5 So then Petros was being kept in the prison, but prayer was fervently being made to Yahweh by the assembly concerning him. 6 Then when Herodas was about to bring him forth, in that night Petros was sleeping between two of the soldiers bound with two chains, and a guard before the door watched the prison. 7 And behold, a messenger of the Prince appeared and a light shone in the building.
The ability of this messenger, or angel, to bring Peter out of this jail under such circumstances, without causing any commotion whatsoever among the soldiers, is indeed miraculous and cannot be reasonably explained under natural circumstances. As Gamaliel was recorded saying in Acts chapter 5; “38 And now I say these things to you: distance yourselves from these men and release them, because if this counsel or this work should be of men, it shall be broken up, 39 but if it is from God, you shall not be able to break them up, lest then you are found fighting God....”
The assembly was praying fervently on behalf of Peter, that he would be spared. Christ prayed likewise in the garden Gethsemane when He knew of His impending arrest and the trials which He Himself faced, and when His supplication was ending He exclaimed in His prayer that it should be “not as I desire, rather as You do”. This is the example which we have throughout Scripture, that the hand of God effects His Own will in the world, and we praying that His will be done shall be found to be in agreement with Him. Such is true even if His will necessitates our own death, which is the example of Christ. Being Christians, in our death we shall indeed find life. Ostensibly, Peter was spared because it was the plan of Yahweh God that His Gospel be spread to the dispersed of Israel, and Herod was not going to stand in its way.
Then striking [the Codex Bezae has a verb which means nudging or poking] the side of Petros he roused him saying “Arise, quickly!” And the chains fell off from his hands. 8 Then the messenger said to him “Gird yourself and fasten your sandals,” and he did thusly. And he says to him “Throw on your garment and follow me!” 9 And departing he followed yet did not know what is happening is actually by the messenger, but he imagined to be seeing a vision.
This also indicates just how miraculous Peter's mid-night delivery from the jail was, that even Peter himself did not at first perceive that it was real. To a prison-keeper, the escape of a prisoner was a matter of serious disgrace. In Acts chapter 16, where it is recorded that there was an earthquake that opened the gates of a Greek prison, something which the guards by no means could have foreseen or prevented, it is said that “... the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled”, as the King James Version has the text of Acts 16:27.
10 Then going by the first guard, and the second, they came to the iron gate which leads to the city, which opened by itself for them, and going out they advanced one block, and at once the messenger [or angel] departed from him.
The Codex Bezae (D) has verse 10 in part “and going out they descended seven steps and they advanced”, using the symbol ζ' for seven rather than spelling the word out. The phrase one block is literally one street, and the inferred meaning is clear. The opening of the iron gate again reflects the miraculous nature of this delivery: for under normal circumstances such gates did not open easily. These are large iron gates designed to help keep cities safe from criminals and invaders, and not your average garden gates. This gate also would have had a guard posted.
11 And Petros being by himself said “Now I truly know that the Prince dispatched His messenger and delivered me from the hand of Herodas and all of the expectations of the people of the Judaeans!”
The phrase “And Peter being by himself” may have been rendered “And Peter coming to himself”, or in other words “And Peter, coming to his senses”. For that reason the King James Version has it “And when Peter was come to himself”. The account makes it clear that Peter was awakened suddenly, must have been confused, and thought he was only seeing a vision.
This event of Peter's arrest and escape took place many years after the stoning of Stephen, since Herod Agrippa I was not elevated to the position of a king until the time of Claudius Caesar, so it is no earlier than 41 AD. Yet it is fully manifest that throughout all of this time there had been hostility towards the followers of Christ by the general population of the Judaeans, the prevalently Edomite ancestors of today's jews.
12 And understanding it he went by the house of Maria the mother of Iohannes who is called Markos, where there were many gathering and praying.
This is the first mention of a Mark in the New Testament. Here in Acts Mark is only mentioned in chapters 12 and 15, and he exits the narrative when he is taken by Barnabas after some contention between Barnabas and Paul over Mark's commitment to the work of the Gospel. What is little noticed is that this Mark certainly does seem to be the same Mark who was with Paul later in his life, and therefore he must have been later reconciled to Paul. In his epistle to the Colossians at 4:10 Paul mentioned “Markos - the cousin of Barnabas (concerning whom you have received instructions, if he should come to you, receive him)”, and we see that Mark is not only one of those who were with Paul when he wrote that epistle, but this Mark who is with Paul also has a familial connection with Barnabas. That may be the reason why Barnabas defended him earlier, as it is recorded in Acts chapter 15, in the contention and split with Paul. The translators of the King James Version considered Mark to be a nephew of Barnabas instead, either nephew or cousin being a plausible translation of the Greek word in Colossians 4:10. But sister's son, as the King James Version has it, is conjecture although perhaps it comes from some tradition recorded elsewhere at a later time.
Mark is mentioned again by Paul at Philemon 1:24, and also in Paul's second letter to Timothy, both of which were written near the very end of Paul's life. Paul told Timothy to “Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry” (2 Timothy 4:11). In the King James Version, the name is spelled in Acts and in 2 Timothy as Mark, and in Paul's other epistles and in 1 Peter as Marcus. This certainly seems to be the same Mark who was also at one time with Peter, as it is recorded at 1 Peter 5:13. Here in Acts chapter 12 it is evident that the two were well-acquainted.
From all of this, if we had to piece together a proper narrative, putting these things into perspective, we may conjecture that while Paul was in Rome, he had been visited by Mark, who later departed to visit with Peter. Therefore Paul in his second epistle to Timothy wrote that “only Luke is with me”, while Colossians and Philemon were letters which Paul wrote from Rome some time before he wrote 2 Timothy, and Mark was with him then. Later, when Peter wrote his first epistle, which was written to the Christian assemblies of western Anatolia which Paul had founded, we see that Mark is mentioned in the salutation as being in Babylon with Peter.
The Gospel of Mark was, by all of the accounts of the earliest Christian writers, written while Mark was in Rome and after the death of Peter. The witnesses to that are several, and we presented them when we presented the Gospel of Mark here in the Fall of 2011. The internal evidence of that Gospel indicates that it was written for a Roman audience, which is also attested to by the early Christian writers, since although it was written in Greek it employs the use of many Latinisms as well as many Hebraisms.
Mark's Gospel, which does not bear his name, also contains the only record of an incident which occurred during the arrest of Christ in the garden Gethsemane, for which reason many believe that it was Mark himself who was being described. Here it is from the King James Version of Mark 14: “51 And there followed him a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body; and the young men laid hold on him: 52 And he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked.”
13 And upon his knocking at the door of the gate a maiden named Rhoda came forth to answer, 14 and recognizing the voice of Petros, because of her joy she did not open the gate, [the Codex Laudianus has “she did not open the door for him”] but running in announced that Petros stood by the gate. 15 And they said to her “Are you mad?”
The words may be rendered as a question, “Are you crazy?” The King James Version reads the clause as an interjection, “You are mad!”, which is also proper.
But she confidently affirmed it to be so. Then they said “It is his angel.”
The Codex Bezae (D) has “Then they said to her ‘Perhaps it is his angel.’” This is the only time that the Christogenea New Testament transliterates the Greek word ἄγγελός (32), as angel, rather than translating the word as messenger. Here it is fully apparent that it stands for either spirit, which is usually πνεῦμα or ghost, where the word φάντασμα (5326) is used at Matthew 14:26 and Mark 6:29, and often also in classical Greek writing.
It is evident that with Peter's miraculous deliverance and with his arrival at the door, the people were astonished and instead believed that he had been slain. The appearance in this passage of the word ἄγγελός, or angel, is consistent among all of the ancient manuscripts. Therefore with this it may be revealed, through the use of this word in such a context, that to these first-century Christians the messengers or angels of Yahweh God were indeed thought to be spiritual beings, and that the deceased could join their ranks. This is in spite of the fact that at times such angels are depicted in Scripture as flesh-and-blood beings, for instance in the account of the angels who were with Lot during the events described in Genesis chapter 19.
16 And Petros continued knocking, and opening they saw him and they were astonished. 17 But he motioning to them with the hand that they be silent, described for them how the Prince delivered him from the prison, and he said “Report these things to Iakobos and to the brethren!” And departing he went to another place.
The third century papyrus P45 and the Codices Sinaiticus (א) and Alexandrinus (A) want “for them”; the text follows the Codices Vaticanus (B), Bezae (D), Laudianus (E) and the Majority Text.
18 And upon the coming of day there was not a little [the Codex Bezae (D) wants the words not a little] trouble among the soldiers, what then happened to Petros. 19 And Herodas seeking after and not finding him, examining the guards commanded them to be taken away, and going down from Judaea spent time in Caesareia.
The Codex Bezae (D) has of the guards that Herod “commanded them to be slain”, having the verb ἀποκτείνω which is literally to kill or to condemn to death (Liddell & Scott). The King James Version has read the verb in the text, which is ἀπάγω (520) in that same manner, inferring a meaning which Thayer in his lexicon also attests that the word may have. Liddell & Scott do not supply such a meaning for the word, which is literally to take away, lead away, or carry off. Therefore the text does not necessarily indicate that the guards were killed, although that may have been the case. Note that later, in Philippi whee Paul was arrested, when he and his fellow prisoners were thought to have escaped (Acts 16:27), the jailer nearly committed suicide, indicating that the penalty for allowing the escape of a prisoner may well have been death.
20 And he [meaning Herod] was disputing angrily with the Turians and Sidonians, but with one accord they came near to him, and persuading Blastos, the chamberlain of the king [again meaning Herod], they requested peace, because their country was supported by that of the king’s.
Tyre and Sidon were port cities, reliant on Judaea for both trade and much of their own food supplies in order to survive. This circumstance is evident at least as early as 1 Kings chapter 5, where it says that Solomon provided the Tyrians with wheat and oil in exchange for their services in providing supplies for the building of the temple.
Flavius Josephus describes this account a little differently, and much more completely, where his history corroborates the account here in Acts. He attests that at this very time, which was just before his death, Herod indeed had a dispute with the Roman “Marcus, the governor of Syria”, as it is recorded in Antiquities Book 19:338-342 (19.8.1). The emperor Claudius, who upon his succession to the office was indebted to Herod Agrippa, had returned to him the dominions once held by his grandfather Herod “the Great”, and also extended that dominion northward into the mountains of Lebanon, according to Josephus in his Antiquities (19:274-277 [19.5.1]). Therefore the Judaea which Tyre and Sidon were at this time compelled to negotiate with was a larger kingdom than at any time during the Second Temple period, and its king was very influential with the Roman emperor. Additionally, this Herod's brother, Herod of Chalcis, was given the kingdom of Chalcis by Claudius, which was in Syria and just to the north of Lebanon and the dominion of Herod Agrippa. Later, Herod Agrippa II ruled both kingdoms. So politically, it may be said that the Herods had Tyre and Sidon surrounded, although all those lands were under the dominion of the Roman emperor.
21 And on the prescribed day Herodas, being dressed in royal clothing, sitting upon the platform was giving a speech to them.
The NA27, following the Codices Alexandrinus (A), Bezae (S), Laudianus (E) and the Majority Text, has “and sitting”; the text follows the Codices Sinaiticus (א) and Vaticanus (B).
A βῆμα (968) is “II...a step, seat...a raised place or tribune to speak from in a public assembly or law-court” (Liddell & Scott). Therefore it is a platform here, but it is a throne in the King James Version.
22 And the people of the land called out “It is a voice of a god and not of a man!”
The Codex Bezae has here “And upon his being reconciled with the Tyrians then the people of the land called out”. That same codex has the word for voice in the plural. The Codex Sinaiticus (א) has the word for man in the plural.
23 And immediately a messenger of the Prince smote him because he did not give the honor to Yahweh, and he died being eaten by worms.
The Codex Bezae has “...and descending from the platform, being eaten by worms while living then thusly he died.”
A very similar account of Herod Agrippa’s death is given by Josephus in his Antiquities in Book 19 (19:343-354 [19.8.2]). There it is recorded that Agrippa admitted being considered a god by the people, and that he was impious for not having denied their proclamation. Josephus also records an admission made by Herod, that he was immediately going to die for that same reason. In Josephus, the messenger, or angel, was an owl, and this may present a problem to those who are convinced that all angels must be men in white gowns. While often the messengers of Yahweh God are indeed men, and sometimes they are dressed in “shining garments” (Luke 24:4), there is no reason why an owl could not act as a “messenger”, or angel, which was, according to Josephus, perceived as an omen in this instance, and there is not necessarily any conflict between the account of Luke and that of Josephus. Birds were often seen as messengers of the gods throughout ancient civilization, as attested to in the classical literature. In the ancient world their appearance or even their flight paths were seen as signs foreboding good or evil. Whether Christians see that as idolatry is immaterial, as it was a fact of antiquity, right or wrong, and it was what Herod Agrippa evidently believed, according to Josephus. As we learn from the Book of Jonah, Yahweh God often communicates with men on terms that they can understand. For example, the Assyrians, being idolatrous worshippers of a goddess who was connected with doves and fish, were in Jonah preached to by a dove (the meaning of his name) who came forth out of a fish (the whale that carried him to Nineveh).
Here is the account of the death of Herod Agrippa I from Josephus' Antiquities, Book 19:
“343 Now when Agrippa had reigned three years over all Judea, he came to the city of Caesarea, which was formerly called Strato's Tower; and there he held shows in honour of Caesar, upon his being informed that there was a certain festival celebrated to make vows for his safety. At which festival a great multitude was gotten together of the principal persons, and such as were of dignity through his province. 344 On the second day of these shows he put on a garment made wholly of silver, and of a texture truly wonderful, and came into the theatre early in the morning; at which time the silver of his garment being illuminated by the fresh reflection of the sun's rays upon it, shone out after a surprising manner, and was so resplendent as to spread a horror over those who looked intently upon him: 345 and presently his flatterers cried out, one from one place, and another from another, (though not for his good) that he was a god; and they added, 'Be merciful to us; for although we have hereto reverenced you only as a man, yet shall we henceforth own you as superior to mortal nature.' 346 Upon this the king did neither rebuke them, nor reject their impious flattery. But, as he presently afterward looked up, he saw an owl sitting on a certain rope over his head, and immediately understood that this bird was the messenger of ill tidings, as it had once been the messenger of good tidings to him; and fell into the deepest sorrow. A severe pain also arose in his belly, and began in a most violent manner. 347 He therefore looked upon his friends, and said, 'I, whom you call a god, am commanded presently to depart this life; while Providence thus reproves the lying words you just now said to me; and I, who was by you called immortal, am immediately to be hurried away by death. But I am bound to accept what Providence allots, as it pleases God: for we have by no means lived ill, but in a splendid and happy manner.' 348 When he said this, his pain was become violent. Accordingly, he was carried into the palace; and the rumour went abroad everywhere that he would certainly die in a short time. But the multitude presently sat in sackcloth, 349 with their wives and children, after the law of their country, and besought God for the king's recovery. All places were also full of mourning and lamentation. Now, the king rested in a high chamber, and as he saw them below lying prostrate on the ground, he could not himself forbear weeping. 350 And when he had been quite worn out by the pain in his belly for five days, he departed this life, being in the fifty-fourth year of his age, and in the seventh year of his reign; 351 for he reigned four years under Gaius Caesar [he was a tetrarch under Caligula - WRF], three of them were over Philip's tetrarchy only, and, on the fourth, he had that of Herod [Herod Antipas - WRF] added to it; and he reigned, besides those, three years under the reign of Claudius Caesar: in which time he reigned over the before mentioned countries, and also had Judea added to them, as well as Samaria and Caesarea. 352 The revenues that he received out of them were very great, no less than twelve millions of drachmas. Yet did he borrow great sums from others; for he was so very liberal that his expenses exceeded his incomes, and his generosity was boundless. [As it always is with Edomites ruling with tax-payer money! - WRF] 353 But before the multitude were made acquainted with Agrippa's death, Herod the king of Chalcis, and Helcias the master of his cavalry, and the king's friend, sent Aristo, one of the king's most faithful servants, and slew Silas, who had been their enemy, as if it had been done by the king's own command. 354 And thus did King Agrippa depart this life. But he left behind him a son, Agrippa by name, a youth in the seventeenth year of his age, and three daughters; one of which, Bernice, was married to Herod, his father's brother, and was sixteen years old; the other two, Mariamne and Drusilla, were still virgins; the former was ten years old, and Drusilla six.”
Now some esteem both of these accounts, that of Luke and that of Josephus, to be correct in a different manner, imagining that an angel of Yahweh appeared as an owl to men. This commentator prefers to think that Yahweh God used an owl as a messenger, in this case as an omen. It is senseless to argue, since neither way can be proven with certainty, but one or the other are certainly true - or perhaps even both.
There was once a King of Cyrenaica, the Greek settlement in Libya, who was named Battos, and his wife was Pheretima. Battos died in 530 BC and his kingdom fell to his son Arcesilaus, who made an alliance with Persia. Arcesilaus used that alliance to strengthen his rule over the Cyrenaeans beyond the constitution made under his father. In the ensuing uprising he and his mother were exiled from Cyrenaica. In the struggle to regain their kingdom, Arcesilaus being in the Cyrenaean town of Barca was murdered. When his mother returned to power with the help of the Persians, she very cruelly avenged her son against the people of Barca, who denied any culpability in his death. Herodotus describes the subsequent death of Pheretima as vengeance from the gods on behalf of the people of Barca. Here we shall quote Herodotus' Histories, 4.205, from the Macaulay translation:
“Pheretime however did not bring her life happily to an end any more than they: for as soon as she had returned from Libya to Egypt after having avenged herself on the Barcaians, she died an evil death, having become suddenly full of worms while yet alive: for, as it seems, too severe punishments inflicted by men prove displeasing to the gods. Such and so great was the punishment inflicted by Pheretime the wife of Battos on the men of Barca.” In modern times, Pheretima is the name given to a genus of earthworms. Evidently, some biologist had a sense of humor.
The disease which is most commonly attributed to Herod Agrippa's death is something called Fournier gangrene, which begins in the urinary tract and becomes manifest on the surface of the body in its late stages, on the abdomen and the genitals. Pictures of those stricken with the disease are rather repulsive.
24 And the Word of Yahweh [or God, the Codex Vaticanus has the Prince, or the Lord] grew and was multiplied. 25 And Barnabas and Saulos returned to Jerusalem completing the supply, taking along with them Iohannes who is called Markos.
The Codex Alexandrinus (A) has “from Jerusalem”, with the preposition ἐκ. The Codices Bezae (D) and Laudianus (E) have “from Jerusalem” with the preposition ἀπό, to which E adds the words “to Antiocheia”. The text is in keeping with the statements concerning this mission in Acts chapter 11, and follows the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Vaticanus (B) and the Majority Text.
The phrase “completing the supply” is literally “completing the ministry”, or “completing the service”, and this word διακονία was discussed at length in the last segment of this presentation as we discussed Acts 11:29-30, where it says “29 Then of the students, just as anyone prospered, each of them set aside for suppliesto send to those brethren dwelling in Judaea, 30 which they then did, sending to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saulos.”
Evidently with the death of Herod Agrippa I, the persecution of Christians in Judaea subsided, at least for a time. Josephus wrote very affectionately of Agrippa, and portrayed him as a noble man. However we must bear in mind that Josephus himself was only seven years old at this time and therefore his writing merely reflects how Agrippa was remembered by Judaeans in general. That Josephus' portrayal of Agrippa's nature is quite the contrary to that which is found in the New Testament only verifies the extent of the gulf between the followers of Christ and those who rejected Christ, as it is described in the New Testament.