Who Killed Herod?

In the past week numerous websites have sprung up declaring that Christchurch’s recent earthquake was God punishing the city for its sin. But as I explained in an earlier post, God’s remedy for sin is not earthquakes, hurricanes or terrorism. God dealt with all our sin at the cross. If God used natural disasters to judge cities, that would be like saying that the cross was an insufficient remedy for sin. Sin is destructive, but it won’t lead to a holy smiting. God is done with sin (1 Pe 4:1). The punishment that brought us peace was upon Him (Is 53:5). The only sin that’ll send you to hell is unbelief in the goodness of God as revealed in Jesus and His work on the cross (Jn 16:8-9).

So if God is no longer in the punishment business, who killed Herod?

On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. They shouted, “This is the voice of a god, not of a man.” Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died. (Acts 12:21-23)

If God is really done with sin, how do we explain this? Herod is a good test case for he is the only person in the New Testament who appears to have been struck or punished by God. Before the cross entire cities and nations were wiped out on account of sin. But after the cross, Herod is the only candidate. (If you’re wondering about Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5 or Elymas the sorcerer, see my note in the comments below.) So who killed Herod? I’m going to present the evidence for and against five suspects, then you can decide for yourself. This is a little bit tongue-in-cheek, but I am going to make a serious point at the end.

1.    God killed Herod

To prove a crime you need to demonstrate means, motive, and opportunity. God certainly had the means and opportunity to strike Herod but He had no motive. “What about Herod’s sin of pride?” I hear you say with indignation. “He had it coming and deserved to get whacked!” Maybe he did, but God does not treat us as our sins deserve (Ps 103:10). The truth is we all had it coming, yet God gave His Son as the ultimate sin offering for the whole world. Through Christ He has reconciled the world to Himself and is no longer counting our sins against us (2 Cor 5:19). If God was counting Herod’s sin, it would be bad news indeed for it would mean that the cross was not the perfect remedy for sin that the Bible says it is (Heb 10:12).

“What about God’s righteous demands for justice?” These were fully satisfied on the cross. God is no longer obliged to punish sin because He already has (Is 53:5). “But Herod never repented.” God’s grace does not depend on man’s performance. He still wouldn’t punish him. Remember, the Son of Man came to see and save the lost (Lk 19:10). He came to die for unbelievers like Herod. If Herod went to his grave unrepentant, then, yes, there will be eternal consequences. But men are appointed to face judgment after they die, not before (Heb 9:27). In this post we are talking about Herod’s first death, not his second (Rev 21:8).

God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34). He had no more reason to strike Herod than He has to strike you. The fact that you’re still breathing despite all you’ve done is testimony to the grace of a good God. You are just one of six billion living witnesses of God’s mercy and grace. The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, including Herod. He doesn’t deserve grace any more than you do, but here we are.

Not only is there no motive, but God’s defense (as if He needed one) is supported by an outstanding character witness: Jesus. To interpret the heart of the Father we only need to look at the Son (Jn 14:9). Jesus met plenty of people who were proud like Herod. Some were so full of themselves that they warranted sober warnings: “Woe to you – how will you escape being condemned to hell?” (Mt 23). Yet every sinner that Jesus confronted walked away with the opportunity to repent. Jesus smote none of them and He died for all of them. Was God judging Herod? Jesus says no (Jn 5:22). Although many are quick to blame God for killing Herod, the facts are He had no motive and Jesus said He didn’t do it. Case dismissed.

2.    An angel killed Herod

Luke wrote that an “angel of the Lord” killed Herod. In the Hebrew Old Testament, the phrase “angel of the Lord” sometimes referred to the Lord Himself (Ex 3:2, Jdg 6:22). But there are plenty of places in the New Testament where it simply meant an angel from the Lord (Mt 28:2, Lk 2:9). So one possibility raised by my friend Simon Wilson, is that an angel struck Herod. This is not to say that it was the Lord’s will for Herod to be struck. But if saints can act independently of God’s will, why can’t angels? Angels aren’t robots.

Have you ever heard of a Christian acting rashly and doing something dumb for Jesus? How about Peter? In a moment of passion Peter tried to remove the head of the high priest’s servant (Jn 18:10). If Peter can swing a sword in a misguided attempt to defend the Lord’s name, why not an angel? I admit it’s hard to imagine, but as far as I can tell there’s nothing in scripture to rule out this possibility.

3.    A believer killed Herod

To be correct, Luke wrote that an aggelos or angelos of the Lord struck Herod. A full definition of that word raises the possibility that it could’ve been an angel, a messenger, a pastor or an ordinary Christian. For instance, Luke uses the same word angelos when describing John the Baptist (Lk 7:27), John’s disciples (Lk 7:24), and Jesus’ disciples (Lk 9:52). An angelos is simply a messenger. So now we’re looking for a messenger with a motive. Hmm. Maybe it was Peter – he certainly had motive. Afterall, Herod had tried to kill him so maybe it was self-defense (Acts 12:3). Or maybe Peter got riled when Herod started strutting like a god and he went berserk with a sword again. (This one was rusty, hence the infection that followed.) This led to a huge scandal and so as not to embarrass Peter further, Luke disguised his identity when re-telling the story.

No, I don’t really think Peter did it.

4.    The devil killed Herod

I mention the devil simply because Jesus said he’s always a suspect whenever death and destruction are involved (Jn 10:10). Of course if it was the devil, then Luke, the author of Acts, missed the mark by saying it was an angel of the Lord. If Luke was ascribing to God something done by the devil, then he would be making a very Old Testamenty mistake (see Job). In olden times people used to attribute anything supernatural – good or bad – to God. If Satan did something bad, it was because God had allowed it to happen and therefore God was ultimately responsible. If Luke was thinking like this then he was making a huge mistake. But he wouldn’t be alone. To this day there are believers who claim that because God is sovereign everything that happens is His will. Jesus would strongly disagree.

A second way that Luke could’ve misread Herod’s death is by not fully understanding the significance of the cross. He may have been a little confused about what made the new covenant new. Perhaps he thought that God was still smiting people. If so, he wouldn’t be the only New Testament believer who was confused about the covenants. (Ananias, Paul’s healer, still thought you could wash your sins away with water (Acts 22:16)!)

5.    Sin killed Herod

I don’t blame the devil for everything that goes wrong in this world. The fact is that sin is probably a far greater killer (Gen 2:17, Rm 6:33). Sin has a single purpose and that is to open the door to death (Rm 5:12). Sin can kill you quick or it can kill you slow but we are naïve if we think of sin as a purposeless thing. Paul warned that if we let sin reign in our “mortal bodies” we will become its slaves and it will lead to death (Rms 6:12-16).

Those of us who have received the gift of righteousness having nothing to fear from either sin or death (1 Co 15:55), but Herod had no such assurance. As a slave to sin he was fair game (Rm 6:16). You might say that sin was crouching at his door desiring him as it did Cain (Gen 4:7). According to Josephus, Herod knew that he was dying on account of the praises of his flatterers. I don’t put a lot of stock in what Josephus says, but his account does accord with Paul’s warnings about sin. Maybe it was Herod’s sin that killed him.

So who killed Herod?

We don’t exactly know and it doesn’t really matter. I didn’t write this to blame Peter, some Rambo-angel or even the devil. I wrote it so people would stop blaming God. My punch-line is this: If God punished Herod by killing him, then Christ’s atoning work on the cross was not perfect and you’re in serious trouble.

But the good news is that He didn’t, it was, and you’re not!
___
Related posts:
- 1 Peter 4:17 – It’s judgment time!
- Seven signs that you might be living under law
- The Christchurch earthquake: Four questions Christians can answer

Comments

  1. Note: Herod is the only New Testament character who seems to be linked with divine punishment. What about Ananias and Sapphira? There is no evidence that God killed them (Acts 5:1-11). Absolutely none. They lied to the Holy Spirit but did not die until Peter confronted them. I know some who believe Peter may have killed them. Afterall, Peter had been impressed with the way Jesus killed the fig tree with a word (Mk 11:21). Peter knew from first-hand experience that the tongue holds the power of life and death (Pro 18:21). And it wouldn’t have been the first time Peter tried to kill someone in the name of Christ (Jn 18:10).

    It’s the same thing with Elymas the sorcerer. Paul said the hand of the Lord was against him but if Paul hadn’t spoken Elymas would not have been blinded for a time (Acts 13:11). Paul is not God. Paul was acting on his own initiative. Smith Wigglesworth and other great preachers have similarly silenced enemies of God. It’s not unheard of.

    • I can’t prove this , but a likely scenario would have been a disciple in the crowd who was displeased with the governors attitude. Remembering that calling down fire was frowned upon by Jesus he decided on taking out Herod with worms. I don’t think the angel acted on his own accord or that Lord Himself ordered the hit. Truly the power of death is in the tongue of the people and someone whacked Herod that day and the Lord did not prevent the angels gift of worms inside Herod’s body.

    • Thing is, Peter said nothing of death, he only said, ” … Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.” Mostly questions, then an accusation! It continues, “Ananias hearing ‘these words’ fell down, and gave up the spirit…” Acts 5:3,4,5. Of course, one could just say its not an accurate account, and make up a better one in their minds. I Don’t advise it.

    • So, that’s just it, there is no evidence that Peter killed them either. As we know about Paul’s confrontation with Elymas, and Jesus with the fig tree. These accounts are events brought forth by speaking directly to them of the desired effect. But there is nothing but pure speculation with Peter speaking to Ananias in any such similar fashion.
      All you are doing is bringing doubt to a notable intervention of the providence of God. ! As to his dieing at the exact moment Peter asked 4 questions and spoke one accusation, is more evidence of divine providence than anything I have ever heard of. Either that or the greatest happenstance of all time!

  2. Brandon says:

    In theory I agree with most of what you’re saying, but it seems that there is a lot of speculation in your interpretation. It is a huge stretch to suggest human hands were solely responsible or that an angel in allegiance to God would go against His will. Not saying it’s not possible, only that it is very difficult to make that leap of interpretation from the material that we have. I realize that you are interpreting things through the lens of the cross and trying to bring alignment to what we know to be true about God’s character and what was accomplished in the cross, grave, & resurrection. However, it’s entirely possible for God to have been the culprit so to speak without contradicting the perfect work of the cross. God in His omniscience very likely knew Herod’s heart, and God could very well have known that Herod would never relent in his unbelief and repent of his wickedness. Matthew 12:31 mentions the unforgiveable sin of blasphemy of the Spirit. It could very well be that Herod’s actions, as well as Ananias and Saphira, could have been considered in that category. We do not know, but I do not believe it violates what was accomplished at the cross. I fully agree that all sin was dealt with at the cross, but there is something required on our part: belief, sincere repentance, and confession of Jesus as Lord. This is why we are called to preach the gospel and make disciples. I am only speculating in regard to Herod and do not presume to know for sure, but I trust in God’s perfect goodness and His sovereignty. He has things well in hand, and whatever the truth of the situation, it is certainly a difficult subject. For all we know, it may have simply been Herod’s appointed time because of God’s foreknowledge. There are numerous possibilities for how it all fits, but incompatibility with the cross is only true if you believe the gift of redemption, righteousness, and salvation are appropriated prior to belief. It seems that one is required to be “in Christ” to receive the benefit of the cross. Again, I am only suggesting possibilities. I have no doubt in the perfect work of the cross, and it is my firm belief that however God chooses to deal with various people, He never violates what was accomplished at the cross.

  3. Oh, almost forgot, I like the picture up at the top for this topic. :) Fitting!

  4. If God judged all sin at the cross, then it was all sin – before and since. To say God is no longer in the smiting business is like saying He went to an AA meeting and turned over a new leaf. I find myself giggling at the thought. Well, not exactly. Either God smites or He doesn’t. There is no before and after.

    Does saying God killed Herod make it “blame” – or is it simply acknowledging a fact? Does God kill everyone? Or no one? Or some? Death is judgment against sin. Our mortal bodies are all born into sin and all die. God determines when and He is sovereign in His authority – hence the 6th commandment. Anything Peter did or did not do with regard to Ananias and Sapphira was in the power of the Holy Spirit and not Peter acting alone. Side note: The reference to Peter’s action in the garden is (imho) irrelevant because he was not yet fully empowered by the Spirit.

    And do angels act outside the will of God? Jude 9 suggests not, even if they have some degree of free will. The very question begs a simplicity which I really don’t think exists.

    • mike phil says:

      i love this response sir

    • i agree with you on most parts and thank you for defending Peter as this man speculates too much and slandered him. but i would say that the death of Sapphira and Ananias was all God and no one else just like king Herod’s death was no one but Gods divine judgement. God rebuked such behavior of us towards another Person as we are to walk in Gods love towards the enemy. the only Sin punishable by death is blaspheme of the Holy Spirit. and out of disbelief is this sin committed whether believing that God exists or not. Sense God knows the heart He also knows who came to saving faith. Christ would have never put them down if this sin was not committed as this is the only sin that can be committed to bring forth wrath from God and no one else. but also the only sin that can be judged to punish by death(it would seem physically and spiritually by God alone) we are not to perform this judgement but only judge behavior to correct and encourage back on the right track…

      • Thanks for your comment, Joseph. The Bible is vague regarding the proximate cause of the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira. Did they have heart attacks? Did they die of fright? Did angels skewer them with swords? Their deaths are mysterious so a measure of speculation is inevitable. But your charge of slander is intriguing.

        To slander is to speak falsely of someone to the detriment of their reputation. On this thread there are two groups of speculators: (1) Those who say Peter did it and (2) those, like yourself, who say God did it. Consequently, there are only two errors that can be made: (1) Saying Peter did it when he didn’t and (2) saying God did it when he didn’t. It seems to me that the first error is the safer one to risk, yet you are happy to risk the second. This makes no sense. If you believe in a God that kills people, why would you risk slandering him?

      • Michael Lip says:

        Regarding groups of speculators, there IS a third group (of one?): those (me) who believe that Ananias and Sapphira weren’t “killed”. Per my earlier comment, THEY gave up the ghost – no one killed them. If I succumb to a heart attack, can someone be accused of killing me?

    • RE: Lance Ponder: Proverbs tells us that long life belongs to those who honor their parents…….so it would seem that God in His sovereignty has allowed man the ability to extend his earthly time by adhering to Godly principles……..reaping what you sow is not God’s judgement just a law that has been put in place by God. He advices us continually to choose life, as He has also in His sovereignty given us free will.

  5. Brandon says:

    Lance, I agree with your analysis of Peter in the garden. Peter had not yet been transformed through the resurrection and Pentecost. I can’t see the Spirit supernaturally empowering Peter to do something against the will of God. Peter “could” have acted in the natural, but I do not think Luke would have portrayed it in the way that he did if that were the case.

    Paul, in thinking about your topic regarding the earthquake, I had a thought that helped bring new perspective to this topic that I think might allow for compatibility of sorts. Whether a believer or unbeliever, people choosing to not act in alignment with God opens the door for Satan to have his way regardless of what God prefers, but even in that, God works all things for the good of those who love Him. This would bring agreement to the whole Satan/destroyer and God/lifegiver contrast. I think of it in terms of the apostle Paul’s expression of the “old” versus the “new”, whether we feed the “flesh” or the “spirit”. I don’t think it’s an issue of punishment or judgment so much as belief versus unbelief and whether we are living in agreement with God’s reality, kind of like the post you made recently regarding our experience of healing. I think there is more to this that I may be missing, but my brain is still processing it.

  6. mike phil says:

    i HAVE A RESPONSE TO THIS ARTICLE,
    When God does something its not to be taken lightly, there is a huge and clear powerful reason. The original article is not good interpretation. When it comes to Devine things we was tread carefully.
    The bible declares that Herod was struck by an angel of God not a messenger of Satan or a human being. It does by no means diss-anull the power of the cross. The power of the cross is of grace and mercy. But the only ones that live in this ARE “as many as those that receive Him”, and “they that receive (Lambano) abundance of grace shall reign in life”. Think of this, when christians die by crash or some tragic event does that meAn that the grace of God failed or His mercy or protection? No. The blessings of the cross are fully appropriated by our tongue, this rudder. For by our words are we justified or condemned. our mouth our words as the bible says “is a tree of life”. life and death is still in the power of the tongue. so if Gods grace does not fail and his protection and promises then why these tragic events? The answer is easily found in the word. So just because Christ died on the cross does not mean anyone is out of danger. Death reigned in Herod. The wages of sin is death. This wage is still in operation but christ took it for the whole world meaning salvation is AVAILABLE. To as many as receive by their free will. ONE MUST RUN TO THE CROSS, NOT TAKE IT FOR GRANTED. In the old testament sin was on Gods people Israel in time of moses and 1st born was going to be killed but only the blood of jesus by the passover feast saved all that were under the blood. Not because of israel’s righteousness for they were not. Herod was not under the blood and certain times we see angels executing judgement. this particular angel was of God. The angel smote him. It was judgement. In the bible as the children of israel left egypt God was light to them but the other side was darkness to the egyptians, and this was not talking about sunlight daytime and night-time. it was the move of God.
    God is merciful to all but it does not clear the guilty outside of the cross. Jesus took the guilt punishment for all. But it must be received not taken for granted. What HEROD DID WAS FULL FORCE AGAINST THE PREACHING OF THE GOSPEL, that time also the word of God was moving mightily and great power was evident, so Herod clearly knew who he was resisting and by his not giving God glory means God expected him to but he chose complete rebellion. If he does not gather then he scatters. His final prideful action was the end of his own line. That day was his life required, meaning declared to end. Though if he repented mercy would stop that judgement. Judgement is still there for God is just and christ took it for those that would receive, and this message is available to the whole world. Yet each man must humble their heart for today is the day of salvation.

    I hope this shed light. When God does something its not to be taken lightley, there is a huge and clear powerful reason.

  7. In case of Ananias and Sapphira, note it was Peter who handed it out to them. He himself lied and denied the Lord 3 times (http://www.revivalorriots.org/archives/1820). Having heard Peter’s story, the good news, and tasted the powers that is to come…. maybe there is none for them left. And Herod being a high ranking government official, heard also the good news.

    Note also the one who handed the 10 commandments murdered a man….

  8. from_romania says:

    There is a sin which is not forgiven and it seems that Herod did this sin.

    Matthew 12
    32 And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.

    • If it were true that judgment comes early for those who commit the unforgiveable sin, God would have to kill thousands of people every day. Yet the wicked and the proud live on in their unbelief. You may be interested in this post on the unforgiveable sin.

  9. Worms killed him.

  10. I came across this article as I was searching for the scripture where Herod was killed.My freind and I were having a discussion about a paticular celebrity and I ended up talking about this event in the bible. I Love when I see the word being discussed intelligently, and in Love, not trying to belittle any one but rather to enlighten. I agree with both Lance and Brandon’s take on this. I too believe that when God does something it’s not to be taken lightly and this story always stuck out to me because i do/use to (not as often now) a video blog where I encourage others via the word of God. I’m always careful to give God the Glory, especially if others seem to be praising me for anything that I might have said. I also wonder if Herod’s position had anything to do with why he was “struck?” People on a daily basis don’t give God Glory for what he’s done and they are not killed. I know he’s not a respector of person’s but do you believe that because of the position that a person holds or title he carries God requires more? Just thinking out loud and would like to hear what others think about this thought.

  11. Here’s another possibility – New testament began in 30 a.d. but the old testament didn’t end until 70 a.d. when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans as Jesus prophesied in Mat 24. The death of Anaias and Saphira, Herod, and the Jews in Jerusalem at 70 a.d. were the last of the old testament law judgments. Remember Heb 8:11 says that God made a new covenant and thereby made the first covenant old and the old covenant was ready to vanish away, meaning that it was about to vanish away in 70 a.d.

    • This is an intriguing possibility. My problem with it is that it suggests God is double-minded and related to mankind through two covenants simultaneously. It also suggests that when Jesus said, “It is finished,” he was mistaken. Jesus fulfilled the old covenant requirements of the law when he went to the cross. Although the temple sacrifices continued as long as there was a temple, that says more about Jewish unbelief than God’s intent. In a manner of speaking, the old covenant continues today in the minds of those who put themselves under law.

      Men sometimes mix law with grace but God does not. If God killed Herod that would suggest sin > grace (Paul said the opposite) and the old > new (the writer of Hebrews said the opposite).

      God condemned all sin – including Herod’s – on the cross (Rom 8:3). If God punished Herod or the Jews for killing Jesus, then the chastisement for our peace was not on Jesus (Is 53:5). As he died, Jesus forgave his killers. So did his Father.

      • Michael Lip says:

        Such a great topic. It relates directly to our view of God.

        I’ve meditated on Ananias and Sapphira quite a bit. Scripture says only that they “gave up the ghost” or “yielded up the ghost”. Herod did likewise. The Greek word is “ekpsucho”, and is used only in these three instances. It seems to denote an action by those who died, not by God.

        I’m still a learner so I don’t claim to have the inside track on this. But if I believe the goal of the god of this world is to steal, kill, and destroy, then it would seem to me he is constantly seeking those whom he may devour. The only “protection” we have comes from God. I believe it was the same in the OT time as it is now – we have a choice to stay under God’s protection, or we can take our chances with the great devourer. God, the giver of life, doesn’t use death (or the devil) to fulfill his will. We have always been given a choice – life or death. Choose life!

  12. andrewjohnchapman says:

    An angel of the Lord struck him. He must have been acting on God’s behalf – otherwise he would hardly be called an ἀγγελος Κυριου. If this is contrary to your way of thinking, then you need to repent and change your mind about things.

    By the way, how do you understand the book of Revelation? There seems to be a lot of punishment of cities and nations described there.

  13. Isaac Debrah says:

    There is no possibility in this so far as God’s word is complete. What happened before and after Herod’s death is what we must point. His death as explain was a horrible one. Herod stood against the will of the Creator. He trusted in himself and his strength instead of believing in the finished work of the lord. In a nut shell, he blasphemed God. He stood as god in the presence of the Lord,creating an impression that he is like God almighty.

    God never tempt anyone neither is He tempted by anyone but we are tempted when we submit ourselves under sin. Herod died because he was tempted by his own strength and delusions of the devil. He denied life and chose death.

  14. Brian Midmore says:

    Have you considered 1 Cor 5.5 ? Deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh that his spirit may be saved in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul is God’s agent on earth and he is commanding judgement on this sinning individual. Although it is Satan who does the dirty work it is God who ascribes him into Satan hands. But this is done in love to save this man from eternal damnation. Maybe the agonies that Herod endured in his dying days had exactly the same effect, we will never know.

    • re: Brian Midmore 1 Cor 5:5: The following is an excerpt taken from Impact Ministries Website http://www.impactministries.com on What’s your Question. I believe it applies quite aptly to 1 Cor. 5:5: “… People facing the consequences of their actions are not judgment. It is sowing and reaping. By staying free from judgment we can allow a person to face their consequences yet keep our hearts soft to help them. Helping them does not mean we stay in relationship with them. It does not mean we refuse to admit their faults.

      The Bibles teaches an important principle about helping people. Proverbs 19:19, “Short-tempered people must pay their own penalty. If you rescue them once, you will have to do it again.” NLT. Although this verse is speaking specifically about anger, it is a principle that applies across the board. We should not rescue people from their impulsive/addictive actions. Let them face the consequences and grow thereby…..”

    • “People facing the consequences of their actions are not judgment.” Shelly, in 1 Corinthians 11:27-32, The main verse is “If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged”. The judgements? weakness, sickness and death.

  15. The following may shed light to the topics discussed in the article:
    1). Can a man like Peter, even after he is empowered by Holy Spirit, still make mistake? If Jesus still have to grow up in wisdom as a fully man, why can’t Peter was any different than Jesus? I dare to speculate, and I am afraid to suspect Peter was the one who killed Ananias and Sapphira (although he was empowered by Holy Spirit later, he was still a work in process, and I don’t think his character changed instantly after empowerment by Holy Spirit).
    2). If the gift of God is irrevocable, then can man misuse it, misdirect it or even abuse it? In Old Testament, Elijah did it when he called fire from heaven, Elisha did it when he called the bear, Moses did it when he struck the rock with his stuff. During Jesus time, his disciples, John-Peter-James were almost calling the fire from heaven, and Judas abused the accountability that Jesus gave. It all showed that even the prophet or the disciple God can sincerely misdirected the gift or power they had from God.
    3). When the creator was insulted like the way Herod did to him, who defends God? All his creation will, this can include his angels, his saints, his people, the nature and everything in it, the donkey, the fish, the tree, the stone….
    4). Yes, but it is in the bible in black and white, what do you say then? Well, I must say I don’t understand everything in the bible. If taken literally, the bible makes no sense (a good blog: http://literalbible.blogspot.com/). But when the bible is read with the finished work of Jesus in mind, and most importantly under the revelation from the author (Jesus, the living word and His Holy Spirit), that’s when the written word becomes alive. So the bible is not to be taken literally, otherwise we can’t see Jesus unveiled in it.

    • You can’t have a one size fits all response to Scripture. Some parts of the Bible are indeed meant to be taken very literally while other parts of the Bible have obvious indications to not take it literally. The difficulty comes more from issues with translation from original language to English and understanding the historical, cultural, and textual context, as well as what it meant for the original audience.

  16. It is also interesting to note the following information (can be found on Wikipedia regarding Josephus’ writings) “After Passover in 44, Agrippa went to Caesarea, where he had games performed in honor of Claudius. In the midst of his elation Agrippa saw an owl perched over his head. During his imprisonment by Tiberius a similar omen had been interpreted as portending his speedy release, with the warning that should he behold the same sight again, he would die within five days. He was immediately smitten with violent pains, and scolded his friends for flattering him and accepting his imminent death. He experienced heart pains and a pain in his abdomen, and died after five days” It is quite possible that Herod believed the ‘omen’…..and with his heart already condemning him and his belief that he would die……Also Acts 12:7 “And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands.” I wonder if that was the same angel that smote Herod. Considering the Bible is definitively clear regarding God judging the sins of mankind in Jesus, without removing our New Covenant glasses, perhaps the purpose of this angelic being was of the same intent as the angel that struck Peter…….that of being freed from prison or in Herods case to free himself from himself…..

  17. Mark Osborne says:

    I know this is an old article, but here is something that I came across while looking into the same subject – . The culprit? Internal gangrene. In the same way that we do it now, it was common in those days to attribute natural things to the super-natural, yes, even writers empowered by the Holy Spirit. It does amaze me how God worked it so that the timing would be so perfect. Herod fails to give glory to God and dies. Who gave Herod the gangrene? Probably a sad consequence of a licentious lifestyle, but it was not a punishment!

  18. I was just reading Acts and came across the verse relating to Herod’s death. I immediately did a Google and chose your write to read. Amazing article and comments. I later researched many translations and they all lead to an immediate death of Herod. Perhaps, we are not meant to know literally but that there always be a veil of mystery in God’s word. If i were to seriously contemplate what happened, I would think an instant heart attack and the scripture was written figuratively as though his callous heart literally ate him alive of his own wrath.

    http://www.biblestudytools.com/acts/12-23-compare.html

  19. It says an angel of the Lord killed him. Pretty simple.

    • Not that simple actually, because if you interpret that to mean God killed him, you have problems elsewhere. For instance, if God killed Herod he is unjust (for not killing other Herods), the Bible is wrong (because God apparently does show favoritism), and Jesus’ work remains unfinished (because Herod’s sin has not been done away with). The charge of murder by God doesn’t stack up for four reasons.

      • . The charge of murder by God does not stick , because , All of His judgments are flawlessly judicial–they are “righteous and true altogether.”Psalm 19. His declaration of the death sentence upon the whole of humanity–“The soul that sins shall die” was impeccably just, as are all of His commands.
        As far as,you say, “Jesus’ work remains unfinished (because Herod’s sin has not been done away with)”. How does Herods sin’s not being “done away with” have anything to do with Gods judgement. A mans sin’s are ”done away with” only when he believes, not until. Oh they are dealt with, but, for said one, to procure its effect , one must first believe. 1 John 5:12, “He that has the Son has life; and he that has not the Son of God has not life.” As John 3:36 say’s the same but with effect! “
        He that believes on the Son has everlasting life: and he that believes not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abides on him..”

      • Tom there are two issues here – no one is saying Herod was saved or had the life of 1 John 5:12. I am saying that Herod’s sins were included in the propitiation of 1 John 2:2. On the cross Jesus became the propitiation for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2). Not just the church, not merely those who believe, but the whole world. Jesus is the Lamb of God who carried the sins of the whole world.

        Is Herod part of the world? Then his sins have been carried away and dealt with at the cross. This does not mean Herod is saved – he doesn’t believe, so the benefits of grace aren’t experienced – but from God’s side there is no offense, nothing left to judge. The Bible is very clear about this. The message of reconciliation is that God is “no longer counting men’s sins against them” (2 Cor 5:19). It is a slippery slope to works to say that God will only forgive you if you believe. Far better to say “God is no longer counting your sins against you – believe this good news!”

  20. But that is the, ‘work of God’, ‘to believe’. John 6:29, “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that you believe on him whom he has sent.”
    But you fail to share the rest (2 Corinthians 5:20,21) which is, “..we pray you in Christ’s stead, be you reconciled to God.”And further, ” For he has made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” We are only made the righteousness of God by being ‘in him’ through faith.
    This means its important to be “reconciled” because its the only way it works, by being “in Christ” by believing. Other wise it (the not imputing, the no longer counting)) has no effect.
    John 3:18, which speaks of condemnation for those who do not “believe” !
    Again, “There is therefore now ‘no condemnation’ to them which are ‘in Christ Jesus,…” Romans 8:1. Must be in Christ and thats through faith, believing.

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