Acts 12 - Return to Jerusalem
1. Herod in this verse is Herod Agrippa, the grandson of Herod the Great. He ruled in Palestine from 41-44. The Herods were half-Jews who ruled the Jews in Palestine on behalf of the Roman empire. Because of their divided loyalties they often performed acts to prove their patriotism the Jewish people. The actions of Agrippa persecuting the Christians is possibly one such act.
2. James, the brother of John was the first of the apostles to be martyred. And because it brought him favor with the Jews, he then arrest Peter.
3ff. This is during the Feast of Unleavened Bread which is Passover. This was an important time for both Jews and Christians. The Christians would have been celebrating the anniversary of the Resurrection. The church prayed for him during his captivity, and in spite of the guards n angel rescued him from prison.
12. From this verse many have supposed that this was the house where the upper room was. ..Mary was the mother of John Mark. St. Mark’s Church stands over the traditional site of the first Christian house of prayer in the Holy City of Jerusalem, and belongs to one of the most ancient Christian denominations in the Holy Land: the Syriac Orthodox.
The sanctuary occupies a building some eight centuries old, which is above an even older structure. A tradition developed in antiquity that the event that many Christians mark on nearby Mount Zion – the first speaking in tongues (Acts 2:1) – took place at John Mark’s house (Acts 12:13).
An inscription in the sanctuary dating to the sixth century, reads: this is the house of Mary mother of John Mark. It also says that the house was destroyed in 70 AD, but was rebuilt and used for prayer just two years later. The inscription is in Syriac, a language akin to the Aramaic that Jesus spoke, and that is still spoken by the community.
16. The people think it is Peter's guardian angel rather than him, and are astonished as well at the miracle.
20. The chapter ends with the fate of Herod Agrippa. He set himself up as a god, and presented himself in such a way that the people would proclaim him a god. This open rebellion toward God became his demise as he was eaten by worms. There is a similar story in 2 Maccabees 9:9 with person of Antiochus.
Finally we find Saul and Barnabas leaving Jerusalem for Antioch with John Mark.