2. The gospel spreads into Palestine, 6:1-12:25

xviii] Herod gets his due


Herod has moved back to his seat of government in Caesarea and now finds himself in a dispute with the governors of Tyre and Sidon. They present themselves before Herod, but during a speech to them he is struck down and "eaten by worms." On the other hand, Barnabas and Saul, having returned to Jerusalem with famine-aid from the church in Syrian Antioch, after their yearlong ministry there, prepare to return to Antioch along with John Mark.


Despite the machinations of secular powers, the gospel prospers


i] Context: See 11:19-30.


ii] Background:

iThe movement of the gospel from Jerusalem to Rome, 1:1-11;


iii] Structure: Herod gets his due:

Herod's sudden and gruesome death, v19a-23;

Barnabas and Saul return to Jerusalem, v24-25.


iv] Interpretation:

Luke now winds up his account of the evangelistic mission of the Jerusalem church among the Jews of the dispersion. It is the final moment when Barnabas takes the lead over Saul (v25) and where the Jerusalem church is responsible for planting the church of the Way throughout Palestine and beyond. From now on, Paul will take the lead, and Syrian Antioch will be the hub for gospel expansion among the Gentiles, and into the centre of the Empire, Rome.

Josephus, the Jewish historian of the time, tells us that the events Luke records were during a festival in honour of Caesar. Luke adds extra background information by telling us that a dispute had developed between Herod and the governing authorities in Tyre and Sidon, and that through Blastus, a trusted government official, they had sought reconciliation with Herod. Josephus tells us that on the day of the festival, Herod appeared at daybreak in a garment woven in silver, wondrously radiant, inspiring fear and awe. "Seeing an owl sitting above his head, he recognised it to be a messenger of evil, in accordance with a prophecy once made to him, and, being immediately seized with violent internal pains, was carried home and died five days later", Bruce, Gk., ref. Josephus. Longenecker suggests that Luke's account of Herod's death by worms, probably describes "an infection of intestinal roundworms, which grow as long as ten to sixteen inches and feed on the nutrient fluids in the intestines. Bunches of roundworms can obstruct the intestines, causing severe pain, copious vomiting of worms, and death."

For Luke, the issue is simple enough, Herod accepted the worship of men that is owed to God alone; he failed to give glory to God, and so by accepting it for himself, he paid the ultimate price.

Although Herod goes the way of all secular powers and authorities, the gospel huxanen kai eplhquneto, "grows and increases"; "The Lord's message continued to prosper, and those accepting it increased in number", Cassirer.

Luke concludes by referring to the visit of Barnabas and Saul to Jerusalem with much needed aid for the Jerusalem church. The Greek text is unclear at this point with its use of the phrase uJpestreyan eiV Ierousalhm, "returned into Jerusalem." The variants of apo and ex, "from", replacing eiV, "to, into", are not generally accepted as original. So, are Barnabas and Saul arriving at Jerusalem with John Mark, or are they leaving? See Metzger for a summary of the possible solutions, but the point probably is that Barnabas and Saul have arrived in Jerusalem with aid for the Jerusalem church, and having completed their business there, they now head back to Antioch with John Mark, ie., a comma is placed after uJpestreyan, and eiV is read as en, "in = at"; "Barnabas and Saul returned, after they had fulfilled at Jerusalem their mission, bringing with them John whose other name was Mark", Metzger ref., H.H. Wendt.

Text - 12:19b

Herod gets his due, v19a -25. i] Herod's sudden and gruesome death, v19a-23. Herod's seat of power is the coastal city of Caesarea. Herod the Great had undertaken many major building projects in the city, modernising it and the port, so his grandson was inclined to reside there rather than in Jerusalem. The population was mainly Gentile.

katelqwn (katercomai) aor. part. "[then Herod] went" - [and] having come down [from judea into caesarea, he was remaining there]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "to remain, stay."


Even as far back as the time of Solomon, the independent city states of Tyre and Sidon made treaties with neighbouring countries for the supply of food. Obviously, any dispute with Herod needs to be resolved.

de "then" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the narrative.

h|n ... qumomacwn (qumomacew) pres. part. "he had been quarrelling with" - [but/and] he was very angry, furious, irate at [tyrians and sidonians]. The participle with the imperfect verb to be forms an imperfect periphrastic construction, possibly used to emphasise durative aspect. The verb qumomacew, "to be angry at", takes a dative of direct object, as here; "Herod was enraged with the people of Tyre and Sidon", TNT.

de "now" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the narrative.

oJmoqumadon adv. "joined together" - with one accord [they were coming toward him]. This adverb of manner may express the idea of single-mindedness, but as NIV, it probably expresses togetherness, so "some from both cities presented themselves together"; "they came to him in a body", Barclay, TNT.

peisanteV (peiqw) aor. part. "after securing the support of [Blastus]" - [and] having persuaded [blastus]. The NIV treats the participle as adverbial, temporal, but it could also be taken as causal; "when they had gained the support of Blastus", Barclay.

ton "-" - the one [upon = over the bed-chamber of the king]. The article serves as an adjectivizer, turning the prepositional phrase "upon the bed-chamber" into an attributive modifier of "Blastus". In the ancient world, the Chamberlain functioned as the king's adviser, which position gave him influence and power.

dia to + inf. "because [they depended]" - because the [to be fed the country of them]. The preposition dia with the articular infinitive serve to introduce a causal clause, as NIV; "They went to Herod and asked him for peace, because their country got their food supplies from the king's country", TEV.

apo + gen. "for" - from [the king (king's country)]. The preposition expresses source / origin.


Luke tells us that the events culminate on a takth/ hJmera/, "a set day." The Western text spells this out with "on the occasion of his reconciliation with the Tyrians (and Sidonians)." Josephus tells us the particular day was one held in honour of Caesar. Luke's use of "set, appointed", indicates it was indeed a special day, one attended by the great and mighty. Herod speaks from a bhma, "raised platform", although according to Josephus he doesn't get to say much before he falls ill. His presence alone produced the adulation of "fear and awe" expressed by the audience.

hJmera/ (a) dat. "on the [appointed] day" - in [set] day. The dative is adverbial, temporal, as NIV.

endusamenoV (enduw) aor. mid. part. "wearing [his royal robes]" - [herod] having put on [royal clothing and having sat down upon the platform, was making a speech toward them]. This participle, along with "having sat down", is often handled as attendant on the main verb "to make a speech"; "A day was fixed, and on it Herod put on his royal robes, and took his seat on the bench in his court, and made an oration to them", Barclay, so TNT. It is also possible to treat the participles as adverbial, temporal or modal, modifying the main verb "to make a speech"; "Herod addressed them after clothing himself ...... / having clothed himself ........"


oJ de "-" - but/and the [crowd was crying out]. Transitional, indicating a change in subject from Herod to the audience.

qeou (oV) gen. "[the voice] of a God" - [voice, speech, utterance] of a god [and not of a man]. As for anqewpou, "of man", the genitive is adjectival, verbal, subjective, "a speech (that is) uttered by a god", or idiomatic / source, "a voice (that is) from a god."


Even Josephus agrees that Herod was smitten by God (patassw, "struck down") and this because "the king did not rebuke them nor did he reject their flattery as impious."

anq (anti) w|n "because" - [but/and immediately] because [he did not give the glory]. This preposition with a genitive pronoun forms an idiomatic causal construction serving to introduce a causal clause.

tw/ qew/ (oV) dat. "to God" - to god. Dative of indirect object.

kuriou (oV) gen. "[an angel] of the Lord" - [an angel] of the lord [struck down him]. The genitive is adjectival, descriptive, idiomatic / source; "an angel from the Lord."

genomenoV (ginomai) aor. part. "he was eaten [by worms]" - [and] having become [worm-eaten, he died]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "to die."


ii] Barnabas and Saul return to Jerusalem, v24-25. Evil tyrants may rage against God's people, but the gospel continues to spread, and those who accept it increase in number. This reading assumes that the two verbs huxanen, "was growing", and eplhquneto, "was increasing", are not doublets, "used to emphasise the degree to which God's message spread", Culy; "The word of the Lord flourished increasingly", Barclay. A typical, but important summary statement for the progress of Luke's narrative, cf., 2:47, 4:4, .....

tou qeou (oV) gen. "[but the word] of God" - [but/and the word] of god [was growing and was increasing]. The genitive is adjectival, either verbal, "the word facilitated by God", or idiomatic / source, "the word from God."


For the exegetical issue concerning the phrase uJpestreyan eiV Ierousalhm, "returned to Jerusalem", see Interpretation above. "Barnabas and Saul returned, after they had fulfilled at Jerusalem their mission, bringing with them John whose other name was Mark", Metzger ref., H.H. Wendt. This translation is followed below, rather than the NIV. Luke now leaves off his account of the mission of the Jerusalem church to the Jews of the dispersion, and concentrates on the mission to the Gentiles led by "Saul, known as Paul."

de "-" - but/and. Transitional, indicating the next step in the narrative.

plhrwsanteV (plhrow) aor. part. "after they had fulfilled" - [barnabas and saul] having completed [into jerusalem the ministry of distributing the funds raised in Antioch]. The participle is adverbial, best treated as temporal.

sumparalabonteV (sumparalambanw) aor. part. "bringing with them" - having taken along [john]. The participle is adverbial, best treated as modal, expressing the manner of their return.

ton epiklhqenta (epikalew) aor. pas. part. "whose other name [was Mark]" - the one having been called [mark]. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "John". The noun "Mark" serves as the nominative complement of the adjective "the one having been called", standing in a double nominative construction.


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