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


Acts 12:1-4, 20-24


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.


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.