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


Acts 12:1-4, 20-24


Herod jails leaders of the Jesus movement, finding that aggressive behavior pleases the local crowds. After killing James and imprisoning Peter, Herod himself dies because of his prideful acceptance of the crowds’ idolatrous acclamation.


The story of the death of Herod (Herod Agrippa I, the grandson of Herod the Great) points 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 turns to murderous execution, seeking the favor of the crowd and utterly failing to consider what might be right, true, or godly. Like the unjust judge in Luke 18:1-8, Herod has no regard for God or for his fellow human beings, not even the guards at the jailhouse he executes for allowing Peter’s escape (Acts 12:19). Herod’s heedless, self-serving behavior betrays his deep flaw: the propensity to think of himself as God and not a man. When the crowds praise him, shouting, “The voice of a god, and not of a mortal” (12:22), Herod does not stop them and dies miserably. Herod’s pride is the opposite of the humble behavior exhibited by Peter in 10:26 and Barnabas and Paul in 14:14-18.