The State of the Church at Jerusalem (44 A.D.)
In the first 24 verses of this chapter, Luke digresses from his narrative on the famine. He is going back in time (about one year) to speak briefly on the state of the Church in Jerusalem immediately before and after the death of Herod. At that time, Herod had James the brother of John put to death. When he saw that this action pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to apprehend Peter. This is usually the chief motivation of a politician—to win the favor of the people. Later that year, Herod himself was struck by the Lord and died. The time of his death is an established date in secular history. Herod's death was in 44 A.D. He was 54 years old.
Easter is a Greek word for “Passover.” Therefore, the time is April, A.D. 44.
This is Herod Agrippa I, the grandson of Herod the Great who tried to kill the infant Jesus. Herod was made king over territories north-east of Palestine in 37 A.D. When Herod the tetrarch was deposed of his rulership of Galilee and Peraea in A.D. 39, these were given to Herod Agrippa I. Later, when Claudius Caesar became emperor in 41, he further expanded Agrippa's kingdom by giving him Judea and Samaria. Therefore, Herod Agrippa ruled virtually all of Palestine, and more.
The Herod's were very wicked. Herod the Great killed all the innocent children when Jesus was born. Herod Antipas had John the Baptist beheaded. Now Herod Agrippa was responsible for the murder of James, the brother of John. This was in 44 A.D., fourteen years after Pentecost. James was the first of the twelve apostles to give his life for Christ. The other James mentioned in Acts is the Lord's brother, the presiding elder of the Jerusalem Church, and also the writer of the Epistle of James. When Herod saw that the slaying of James pleased the Jews, he also arrested Peter.
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