Acts 12:1-2 – Why Did Herod Kill James?

The Herod mentioned in Acts 12 as a persecutor of the apostles was Herod Agrippa I (10 B.C.- A.D. 44). He was the grandson of Herod the Great and was educated in Rome. He was a friend of the imperial family, but supported Caligula as the successor to Tiberius and was imprisoned as a result. When Caligula became emperor, Agrippa was released and was given the title of King and the territories formerly held by Herod Philip and Lysanias, and later the territory given to Herod Antipas. Agrippa was a key figure in persuading Caligula to rescind his order to place an image of himself in the Temple (JW 2.206-13, Antiq. 19:236-47).

Herod Killed JamesWe are not told why Herod persecuted the church in Jerusalem, although it may be that he was in some respects interested in his “Jewish roots.” This piety was demonstrated upon his return to Judea. He donated a golden chain, given to him by Caligula when he was freed from his imprisonment, to the Temple. In addition, he undertook the sponsorship of a large number of Nazarite vows in the temple (Antiq., 12.6.1, Schürer 2:155).

During a Sabbath year, Agrippa read from the book of Deuteronomy and was moved to tears when he read the words of Deuteronomy 17:15, forbidding the appointment of a stranger over the “brothers” (i.e., a non-Israelite over Israel.) The crowd which witnesses this responded “Thou art our brother!” (See m.Sota 7.8). According to Josephus:

“He loved to live continually at Jerusalem, and was exactly careful in the observance of the laws of his country. He therefore kept himself entirely pure; nor did any day pass over his head without its appointed sacrifice.” Antiq. 19.7.3

Schürer argues Agrippa was favorable to the Pharisees and even to some extent a Jewish nationalism (2:159). This may be plausible given his zealous persecution of the Jewish Christians in Acts 12.

James’ death is about eleven years after the stoning of Stephen (Acts 7), probably about A.D. 41-42. Agrippa may have been motivated toward this persecution by zealous Pharisees (like Paul) who sought to suppress the Jews who taught that Jesus was resurrected from the dead. It even appears that the people of Jerusalem no longer support the Jewish Christians. Witherington makes this point: the city of Jerusalem has “turned against” the Jewish church (Acts, 386 ).

A further motivation for the summary execution of James may be the messianic claims of the apostles. If Caligula was inclined to demand his image be honored in the Temple, then perhaps messianic fervor among the Christians was high. Jesus himself predicted an “abomination which causes desolation” similar to the offenses of Antiochus IV Epiphanes (Dan 9:25-27, Mark 13:14 and parallels).

Agrippa is therefore acting like a pious devotee of the Jewish faith by pursuing the leaders of the Christian community who promote the teaching that Jesus is the Messiah.  If this is true, how does this play out into the overall themes we have been seeing in Luke? Is Herod the “ultimate fringe” of what it means to be Jewish?

Bibliography: David C. Braund, “Agrippa” ABD 1:98-99; Schürer , 2:150-159.

42 thoughts on “Acts 12:1-2 – Why Did Herod Kill James?

  1. In Acts 12 verse 3 we read that Agrippa arrested Peter because he saw that when he had James put to death that there was “approval among the Jews.” When I read your comment about how we aren’t told why Herod persecuted the church in Jerusalem, I thought about this verse. I think this shines a little bit of light on why Herod is doing what he’s doing. He sees that the Jews approve when he has James killed, so he arrests Peter and this shows that Herod is looking for approval from the Jews, possibly because of the reason you said, that Herod was indeed interested in his “Jewish roots.” I also think that Luke puts this in here because it is another strong “event” I guess you can say. The book of Acts has had a lot of really crazy events in it so far as we have read and this is another powerful story. We see Herod, who was persecuting the church and who had Peter arrested and James killed, get struck down by an angel. And with Herod putting Peter in jail, we also see later a miraculous escape from Peter which is another strong story in the book of Acts. I know those aren’t very in depth profound statements, but I would say it’s important to take note of how many crazy stores are in this book and how strong of a statement Luke makes with them.

    • What a wonderful summary! This will greatly help me with my Sunday School class! Thank you for making it so plain for me!

  2. I believe that the post alludes to some very important facts about the killing of James and the parallels of Stephen’s death. This is because as the post says, “Agrippa may have been motivated toward this persecution by the zealous Pharisees (Paul).” The word zealous as we mentioned in class can be related to killing in the Bible because when people were described as zealous it was typically associated with killing. This opinion in the post implies that the Pharisees were so enraged by James and the followers of Christ they wanted to put an ultimate stop to the message of Christ. Agrippa’s persecution towards the Christians, in particular James, I think parallels the aggression from the Sanhedrin’s towards Stephen. This is because similar to James, the most likely assumption was that he and the Christians enraged the Pharisees, as did Stephen. In the case of Stephen, it was further detailed why the Pharisees were so upset with him, because they could not silence him and the message of Christ. This leads me to believe that Agrippa persecuted James because the Pharisees were so enraged by James and the message of Christ because they felt the power of Christ and the influence, and could not counter it so they turned to killing Christ’s messenger. The Pharisees in this day had a major social clout and could influence the decisions of Agrippa, which is what most likely happened because Agrippa wanted to please the religious leaders (Acts 12:3). I believe that we can infer that the killing of James was not motivated solely on Agrippa’s decision but instead Agrippa chose to murder James in order to maintain support from the Jews and use the persecution of Christians as a positive political pawn for him. This is because persecuting Christians would have been seen as favorable in the eyes of the Jews, in the same way as being pro-life is favorable in the eyes of most conservative west Michigan republicans.

  3. The reason that Herod Agrippa killed James is unknown, but certain influences that may have contributed can be discovered. I tend to take Nick’s side of the argument, that Herod was influenced by the Pharisees to kill James. It may be that the Pharisees were putting pressure on Herod to persecute the church, or it may be the Herod was trying to gain favor in the eyes of the Jewish people. Another theory is that Herod was a pious Jew that believed the persecution of Christians was necessary. “Agrippa is therefore acting like a pious devotee of the Jewish faith by pursuing the leaders of the Christian community who promote the teaching that Jesus is the Messiah.” I think that the reason Herod persecuted the Christians may have to do with both of the theories stated above. I would say that Herod is on the fringes on Judaism, not only because of his education and cultural background that he gained in Rome, but because of his support of the Roman Empire which at the time is the suppressor of the nation of Israel. I feel as if the thought of that age was of the coming messiah of deliverance, which is primary in the Jewish Culture, and as a part of that oppression Herod is very unlike the Jews. He is however pious to a certain degree, his gift to the temple is proof of that, but he is accepted by the Jewish community. I would say that although he is on the fringes of Judaism, he can still be considered Jewish.

    • After reading Acts 12 and the actions that Herod took in persecuting the church, I would say that Herod was probably both on the fringes of Judaism and also motivated by the Jew’s reaction to James’ death as Scott says. I think it is important to note that Herod had already started persecuting the church and had already killed James when the Jews ‘were pleased’ with Herod’s actions. Verse 3 says, “when he saw that this pleased the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also.” So it seems to me that he was first motivated by his own beliefs in persecuting the church and killing James, and then was motivated even further when he saw the Jews’ reaction. So I would say that he was extremely devoted to Judaism.
      The theme we have seen in Acts is the movement of the Christianity outward from Jerusalem, and also theologically through the Holy Spirit. As Luke’s theology expands to where the Holy Spirit is given to Gentiles, Jewish Christians are becoming more and more of a target. Jewish Christians are now doing things and associating with Gentiles which would not be acceptable for devout Jews like Herod. So as the Jewish Christians theology is developing, the more they are being persecuted and being separated from the Pharisees which is seen in Acts 12.

  4. Peter, James, and Josh are considered to be the three pillars. They were the leaders of the church in Jeruslaem. It was these three men, besides for Jesus, that started the Jesus movement in Jerusalem. “The Herod mentioned in Acts 12 as a persecutor of the apostles was Herod Agrippa I (10 B.C.- A.D. 44).” (P. Long). Acknowledging that Herod Agrippa was King since 10 B.C. makes it seem odd that he just started to persecute the church now. Of course there had been other Jews, like Saul, who were persecuting the church. But why did he start arresting Christians and even start killing them now? Peter, James, and John have been preaching in synagogues and in the temple that Jesus was the Messiah ever since he had appeared to me after His death. Stephen wasn’t killed for claiming Jesus as Messiah but because he was blaming the Sanhedrin and government officials for Jesus’ innocent death. I agree with Scott’s statement, “It may be that the Pharisees were putting pressure on Herod to persecute the church, or it may be the Herod was trying to gain favor in the eyes of the Jewish people”. This seems like a logical explanation why he would all of a sudden begin to persecute the church. I believe this would be one factor that would put him on the “fringes” of Judaism. For starters, if he was only killing these Christians to find favor in the Jews eyes he probably wasn’t doing other things he should have been doing to find favor in their eyes. Gamaliel was a Pharisee who was respected and honored because of how he lived out his Judaismbelifs. It is written that Herod continued to arrest Christians after killing James because it pleased the Jews (Acts 12:3). Therefore he is not even doing this out of his own zeal, like Paul was before his conversion. This may be proof of where he stood in his relationship with Judaism.

    Also. I was wondering if the context has any significance. It’s a mystery why in between Paul’s conversion and his first journey there are stories about Philip and Peter and the apostles. Does the placement of this event in Acts have any importance?

    • The interesting thing is that, although scripture gives us what we need, it doesn’t necessarily give us ALL the facts. Actually, Herod Agrippa wasn’t “King since 10 B.C.” … he was born in 10 B.C. (His life story is quite interesting.) He wasn’t given the title ‘King’ and the whole of Judea to rule until 41 AD – just 3 years before this time. Sometime in that period, he moved to Jerusalem and lived there exclusively. Also becoming quite the pious Jew.
      Let’s think a moment … he suddenly has the title ‘King of the Jews’ and essentially rules all of Judea (slightly more than even Herod the Great) and even intercedes for the Jews to Caesar. The ever-watchful Romans also noticed how much authority he seemed to be taking on: he placed sanctions on 2 cities outside his jurisdiction without Rome’s approval, was getting quite ‘friendly’ with other neighbors of Judea, and was even told to stop repairs on fortifications of the capital.
      Why would he want to stop the message of the Messiah? Hmmmm … is it possible he saw himself as a new messiah for the Jews? After all, he was loved by the people, had Ceasar’s ear, was devout, and even held the title “King of the Jews”. Maybe he thought he really had a chance to totally liberate ‘his people’ from the Romans. Kind of hard for HIM to do that as a messiah, though, when others are preaching that the Messiah has already come!
      “It may be that the Pharisees were putting pressure on Herod to persecute the church, or it may be the Herod was trying to gain favor in the eyes of the Jewish people.”
      Why would they suddenly do this after 10+ years, with no indication there had been any trouble with them in the years just previous to this? No motive. Herod could very possibly have had one. Trying to gain favor in the eyes of the people? I don’t think this was his original plan. Sounds like the execution of James was quite sudden, and the people approved. Once he saw the people approved of what he did, THEN he had Peter arrested, intending to make a big, public affair out of it this time around.
      Most scholars place the beheading of James and imprisonment of Peter in the spring of 44 AD … with Agrippa’s death soon after.

      • Although I would agree with you there is no evidence Pharisees motivated Herod Agrippa, I will point out the Pharisees (or people like them) seem to be active in Paul’s churches encouraging faithfulness to the Torah in 49-50, leading to the book of Galatians and the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15 mentions Pharisees in particular). By the time Paul returns in Jerusalem in Acts 22, there are many zealous Jews, including priests who now support the messianic movement. I do not think non-Christian Pharisees had much influence on Herod, as I state above he was motivated by his own feelings of Jewish nationalism.

        I would also point out the nature of his death in Acts 12 probably implies he thought if himself more as a Roman elite, a god like Caligula or Claudius.

        As for Herod’s dates, my original post gives his birth/death not his reign, so (10 B.C.- A.D. 44) is accurate, and you are correct he reigned A.D. 41-44. The previous comment introduced the error by assuming that was his reign in his comment.

      • It seems the Jewish people themselves might imagine Herod Agrippa IS the Messiah. He personally works to politically overthrow the regions Rome appointed to his uncle’s Herod Phillip and Herod Antipas’s, he pals around with Caligula, noted for his delusional bloodthirsty insanity. In this light, Herod Agrippa can be viewed as a counterpart to Caligula, having instead, been joined in a populist imagining of himself, being the “actual” King of the Jews”. with Role of King of the Jews. In the decades following the political and religious event of the crucifiction of Jesus, confusion is rife among the Jewish people. Big ideas and events capture the imagination. I think the Book of Acts is unique for the plain view of, not just words “about” the effect of the Heavenly realm of Powers and Principalities and the reality of spiritual warfare, mankind’s redemption involves. When the power of the Holy Spirit is unleased, it seems reasonable to reckon that the dark forces be stirred up, which looks like confusion and delusion. Herod Agrippa is a historical figure around which the secular world frames a collectively agreed upon version of history. The secular world of Roman power at that time, fed on the blood of one’s own family. The death of Jesus needs to be understood within that context as well.

  5. I would agree with the post by Jake Fields, this looked very suspicious when Agrippa arrested Peter right after he saw that arresting people of ‘the way’ pleased the pharisees. We also see in the very next verse, (4) that Agrippa arrested him in order to put him out for “..public trial”. I believe that this could have been the motives of Agrippa. As we look back on Paul, before his conversion, we see that Paul was very passionate about punishing people of ‘the way’ and was very zealous about that. Agrippa was obviously just like Paul… or at least it looks like that. Sometimes I would be playing baseball and get very into a play and would try to do too much because I saw that it was pleasing the crowed. Usually this would lead to me being very embarrassed and my Dad coming out to me saying, “alright, Danny boy settle down, you’re a little over-zealous.” Maybe this is what’s happening within the circle of the pharisees, and leaders of that day. People thinking that their way is right and willing to take someones life because of their conviction to their rules. I think we see this a lot in todays Church, people are so set on rules that they miss the real deal.

  6. I would have to agree with Pierpont point on why King Agrippa killed James. He was Zealous for following the law and was willing to things to the next level in order to stop the Christians who were wrong in his eyes. As P.Long pointed out in his blog “He therefore kept himself entirely pure; nor did any day pass over his head without its appointed sacrifice.” (Antiq. 19.7.3) If Agrippa spent most of his time in Jerusalem and keeping himself pure you would imagine he would be in with the zealous Pharisees that lived there. He must have known all about what they were thinking and the accusations thrown at them for murdering Jesus. Agrippa had to have been influenced by these Pharisees and therefore decided to use his authority and do what he through was correct, killing James. After he killed James he “saw that this pleased the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Feast of Unleavened Bread.” (Acts 12:2) Agrippa’s zeal for the law and most likely helping the Pharisees that had great influence on him could not have gone better. He gained favor among the people which is something that every King would desire.

  7. Reading this post, I could definitely see how Agrippa would be on the “outer fringes” of what it means to be Jewish. As it says in Acts 12:1-3, he saw that the death of James, “met with approval among the Jews,” it seems that Agrippa was more interested in gaining respect among Jews than he was in be a devout Jew himself. It seems that he observed Jewish customs merely because it made him “popular.” As seen with Pilate, keeping peace among the Jews was essential for Roman control. Agrippa was a Roman appointed official, so it could be that he was doing what was necessary to maintain order. He observed the power that the Pharisees had in Jerusalem, and also the potential threat that Jewish Christians posed to peace. In observing these two things, it is easy to see why Agrippa sided with the powerful Pharisees. Agrippa’s seems more motivated by a desire for power and popularity than actual devotion to Jewish customs.

  8. I think another possible reason for Herod Agrippa’s persecution of the Jews and executing James is that he was afraid of losing his throne. This would not be unlike the concerns the Herod the Great had back when Jesus was born. (Matthew 2) With the Jewish church claiming that Jesus was the Messiah and that he was alive and coming back soon could have caused Herod Agrippa to worry that Christ was going to come back and take his throne. Or perhaps he was concerned that the Jewish church was going to revolt like many of the zealous Jewish groups of that time period. Killing James could have been an attempted to stop either of those scenarios.

  9. My first point I would like to make is I always find it interesting when I hear history about people in the Bible that is not in the Bible. I know and believe that the Bible is true because the Bible says so, but the fact that the world has their own sources validating what Christians believe is pretty cool to me. It just adds an extra element of truth to whatever I read from the Bible.
    “and was moved to tears” Were Agrippa’s tears those of someone really sad? Or as Agrippa mad that a stranger was going to take what he thought belonged to a true-blue Jerusalem to the core person. I would say it would be a mixture of both. But they had to be tears of a feeling of betrayal as well because he felt so strongly that the brothers should be from one sector and not strangers. It is like one’s favorite baseball player leaving the hometown team to go play with someone else. Obviously, most people don’t cry because of this but I can imagine it was the same type of feeling.
    I think Herod killed James because it is what the people wanted him to do. Today, Barak Obama makes every politically correct statement he can because he wants to make everyone happy. In Bible times, apparently masses of people wanted certain individuals dead the Leaders did the “politically correct” thing and killed them to appease the masses. The same thing happened with Jesus. The people gathered before Pilot wanted Barnabas set free, so Pilot did what the people wanted and kept Jesus in captivity. I think it is interesting that in today’s day and age, leaders do everything they can to not step on anyone’s toes and back then they stepped on someone’s head to stay off others. Interesting connection between now and then.

  10. I like what Jake said about Herod wanting the approval of the Jews. It sounds like he is really very moved by the Scriptures and he follows the law, but he is still an outsider to the people he is ruling over. He has already done so many things to try to get people to like him it seems. When he sees the way the Jews come together and support him, he probably feels pretty good about this. Also, if he was listening to the Pharisees talk about these Jesus followers so negatively all the time, I am sure it began to wear into him, kind of like watching fox news.

  11. Dr. Long–Why was a replacement not made for James like for Judas?

    • I think that that by this point the Jerusalem community looked to James, the Lord’s brother as the “leader” of their community, not the twelve. There is a hint at this shift in 12:17, Peter tells the people who had been praying for him to “tell James what happened,” and then Peter “left for another place.” Jerusalem reformed itself with a council of elders and a single leader, James. This is not unlike Moses in Exodus, or (I tentatively suggest) the high priest and the Sanhedrin, or the Teacher of Righteousness at Qumran. The time of the Twelve Apostles was coming to an end, perhaps the death of James as an ultimate witness to the gospel is a patter for the rest, who (at least in tradition), followed him by giving up his life as a witness to the gospel.

  12. I have a question. When Herod Agrippa beheaded James and imprisoned Peter, where was John? I cannot find anything in the scriptures.

    • That is a very good question. Luke does not tell us, and I do not know of any tradition explaining his non-arrest. You would think all the disciples would have been in Jerusalem for the Passover, but it is at least eleven years after the resurrection, so some could have moved to new areas for ministry or some may have died already.

      Perhaps (and this is highly speculative), John’s ministry took him out of Jerusalem so he was not around to be arrested. On the one hand, there is a strong suspicion John did some evangelism among the Samaritans so it is possible he was there when his brother was arrested. On the other hand, Samaria is not all that far from Jerusalem, so he could have attended Passover. But if he was living with the Samaritans for a time, it is possible he would have been considered unclean, or to have defected from proper Jewish practice by his mission among the Samaritans. In fact, if this Samaritan mission true, then going to the Jewish Passover might have been offensive to the Samaritans he was trying to reach and he simply did not participate anymore. But as I say this is speculation and only that.

  13. I highly recommend reading the studies of Daniel Unterbrink on Judas the Galilean. According to Josephus, Paul had a bloody hand in persecuting and plundering James and his Jesus movements, so Paul wrote Acts after his enemies were dead, to whitewash his role in their betrayal. “Judas Iscariot” is a stand-in for Paul’s own betrayal. The name gives it away. Judas was Jesus’ real name. Iscariot is an anagram of sicarii, the name the later Jesus movement (the zealots) gave its assassin faction, led by Judas’ grandson, Menachem.

  14. Please a question do we have two James one killed by Herod the king. And another James stoned to death in Spain.?R

    • Until just now, I was unaware of the tradition that John the son of Zebedee did ministry in Spain. Although it’s probably not the best resource, I scanned through the Wikipedia article which contains references too late legendary material placing James in Spain between 40 and 44.

      As far as the Bible is concerned, James stayed in Jerusalem and was killed by Herod Agrippa.

  15. Reading through this article and these verses I have found that there is a lot of black and white in the Jewish Temple and King Herod Agrippa’s life. I like how you put it above P. Long, he is the epitome of what it means to be Jewish. Instead of welcoming Christ and this new found freedom in him, he is so stuck on the past and the rules of religion, like the Pharisees. He sees things as just black and white, rule followers and rule breakers. Just as Pontius Pilate let the people crucify Christ, King Agrippa killed James because it pleased the people (Acts 12:3). This shows just how much King Agrippa was connected to the Temple and the Jewish leaders. He wanted to make them happy and it was worth killing off this new “Christianity”.

    One of the main themes Luke has given us throughout the book of Acts is the evil among the Pharisees and leaders of the Jewish church. He shows the reader many many times, how hard hearted they are and that they are the real enemies of the new Church. Time and time again we see the Apostles proclaiming the good news and the Jewish leaders condemning and imprisoning them for it. Peter and John were arrested and gave a great speech before the council (Acts 4). Stephen was arrested and soon after stoned by these leaders because of his boldness (Acts 7). Saul now Paul, after his conversion proclaimed Jesus in the synagogue, but again the Jews plotted to kill him soon after (Acts 9:23). Luke is showing throughout this book that there was a battle going on between the Jewish leaders and the Apostles.

  16. I believe that there is a both-and with why King Herod Agrippa pursued and killed James. I think it was a mix between seeking for approval, and the act of striving for a reputable title. Herod Agrippa like stated above, was potentially “favorable to the Pharisees and even to some extent a Jewish nationalism”. Especially how the time frame works out, with the evidence we see around the time that Saul was persecuting Christians, I think that it is no doubt that Agrippa would be inspired by the “fire” that these men had for their beliefs. I think that just like anyone who goes to a basketball game, maybe doesn’t know the team or the game, but is involved in the intense atmosphere, would eventually be rooting for that team in the future just based on sheer hype. Just understanding popularity culture and how the intensity of emotions effect today, I can make at least a somewhat educated assumption on what he might have been thinking. Now also, I believe that Herod was the “ultimate fringe” of what it means to be Jewish just because of the lengths that he is taking it to stay respected with the Pharisees. Not only that, but I would dare to say that it is pretty radical for someone to murder someone else just because they do not believe what he does, and also that there might be an element about them speaking against what he believes. But still, killing is a pretty far step.

  17. I do not think Herod is the ultimate fringe of what it means to be a Jew. In the early chapters of Acts we see thousands of Jew converting to Christanity. Yes we see Jews choose Barabas to be saved and kill Jesus instead. We see the Pharisees persecute the early Church and Saul rounding up Chrtians and killing them before he turns to Paul. Like in every other religion, there are extremists. We see that in the Muslim faith with acts like 9/11 when the majority of Muslims are peaceful. Even in Chrtianity we see extremists doing the opposite of what the Bible calls us to do. So is what the World is doing such as killing James and putting Peter in jail is not necessarily what it means to be a Jew for all Jews. We see Her acting in accordance to what the Pharisees want. A possibly could be, “ Agrippa may have been motivated towards persecution by zealous Pharisees” (P. Long Why did Herod kill James). Another possible reason could be the peace between the Jews and Romans. During Jesus crucifixion tensions were high on all sides, Jewish, followers of Jesus, and Romans. A possibility would be to squatch out the middleman (Christains) so what Heord thinks peace is could be resolved for the Jews.

  18. This story seems to me to be pretty similar to the stoning of Stephen earlier in the book of Acts. Like that moment, the Christians are getting persecuted for their faith and, as a result, someone got killed. The new Christian faith that was starting to grow in Jerusalem was bringing a lot of new ideas, including some that went against the Jewish beliefs and laws that were being practiced by so many people. Herod was seen by many as a man of great power. People looked up to him, as we see towards the end of Acts 12 before he gets killed by God. Since Herod may have had some Jewish roots, it is possible that he would not have wanted to kill the Jews. However, the Christians who were not worshipping him and were practicing new things that went against some of the Jewish customs, may have been a group that he did not mind killing. Persecution was not a new thing for the Christians though. One thing that really stuck out to me though when reading about the killing of James was that he was killed, but Peter was only thrown in prison. I wonder why they were not both killed or both thrown in prison. It makes me think that God may have made it this way since there was still more for Peter to do. Another possibility is that James may have done something that really angered Herod that made it so that Herod did not want to deal with him anymore and thought that it would be best to kill him.

  19. If Herod Agrippa truly felt that he was staying true to his Jewish roots, then it would make sense that he may have felt that the gospel that was being preached through James was a threat to his identity. With the Jews being as strict as they are to the laws that they have been following, to have James teach that they no longer need to do those things is disturbing. So, if Herod is trying to find his identity in his Jewish heritage, then to hear that his heritage is being uprooted would be enough to make him want to remove James. This behavior is mirrored by the Pharisees who are mentioned in the blog to be the possible motivators behind his decision to kill James. They too see their identities being challenged and do not want to lose the status that they carry which leads to a different point.
    Another aspect behind Herod Agrippa killing James is that he saw the possibility of the Jewish people turning away from him if he accepted the gospel message. Polhill mentions in his notes that his persecution of the Christians might have been his way of keeping in favor with the Jews (2106). The people of Israel seem to have respect for Herod like they do the Pharisees and to lose that respect would social suicide. The quickest way to eliminate the threat then is to remove the one who brings the threat. Thus, he kills James to continue to please his people. It would appear then that, like the Pharisees, Herod found status and popularity more important than the possibility of even listening to the gospel.

  20. Thank you Nick for elaborating this topic. It really sink in to my mind.. I habe now better understanding who killed ans why James was killed. Very well explain..

  21. In Acts 12, we find that Herod killed James. Plong (2013) brings on a few reasonings as to why Herod would kills James. First, having a better understanding of who Herod was and how he was given the name King. We aren’t told why Herod persecuted the church in Jerusalem, but some of the respects were interested from the Jewish roots. Secondly, He may have been motivated toward this decision by the zealous Pharisees, which sought to suppress the Jews. This brought on an interesting fact which shows that people of Jerusalem no longer support the Jewish Christians. Finally, the messianic claims of the apostles brings motivation. While Caligula had a demand to be honored in the Temple, this lead the messianic fervor among the Christians high.

  22. In the themes in Luke, this tension between Judaism and Christianity is a significant factor. Luke portrays Jesus as the fulfillment of Jewish prophecy and the continuation of Jewish tradition, but also emphasizes that his message and teachings extend beyond the boundaries of Judaism. Luke’s gospel emphasizes the Jesus’ message and the inclusion of all people, regardless of their religious background. In this sense, Herod represents some of Judaism that is in opposition to the message of Jesus and the expansion of his teachings beyond the boundaries of Judaism. However, it’s important to note that not all Jews were opposed to Jesus and his message, and Luke’s gospel emphasizes the diversity of perspectives within the Jewish community. Luke’s gospel portrays the tension between Judaism and Christianity as a significant theme, but also emphasizes the importance of Jesus’ message and the inclusion of all people, regardless of their religious background. Herod represents a faction of Judaism that is resistant to this message, but not necessarily the ultimate fringe of what it means to be Jewish.I believe Herod was trying to gain favor with the jewish religious leaders which is why he persecuted Christian believers.

  23. Although Herod Agrippa seemed to do all the righteous requirements of the Law, he did not seem to hold a lot of fear or respect of Yahweh. I say this simply because he decided to put a picture or image of himself in the Jewish Temple. This seems to stand in direct contrast to what God says in Leviticus 26:1 which says, “Do not make idols or set up statues”. Therefore, if Agrippa truly wanted to be the model Jew, he would not have done this. This article also argues that the religious Jews sided with Agrippa. This could be for many reasons as Long lists. For example, it could be that Agrippa was also Jewish so he could be considered a brother, or he had sponsored many Nazarites, or that he participated in sacrificial offerings at the Temple, or he had admiral zeal against Jesus’ message. Whatever the reason, Agrippa had the support of some Jews because he had been a backbone for them. Therefore, when the Christian persecution occurred, Agrippa was supported, and many followed him instead of the early church. Because of Agrippa’s persecution, the church experienced many setbacks and trails due to his leadership as James was murdered and severe persecution broke out.

  24. When reading Acts 12, the obvious question that comes up is ‘Why did Herod kill James?’. We see in verse 3 that Agrippa had arrested Peter because when he killed James, there was “approval among the Jews.” This tells me that by the Jews showing a great approval for killing James, makes him think that it is the right thing to do or maybe even an ego thing. I think that he this could also have been because Agrippa was afraid of losing his thrown to James and saw him as a threat. Another example that is fresh in my mind because I remember hearing it in Sunday school was how this isn’t the first time, we have seen this either because in Matthew 2, we see that when Jesus was born, Herod was also worried that Christ was coming for his thrown as well. This to me is seems like Herod wanted to kill anyone and anything that could possibly come between him and his thrown.

  25. In the blog post, Long describes Herod Agrippa I as a strong opponent of the Jewish faith. Herod Agrippa persecutes the Jewish Christians for their beliefs. Agrippa does this “by pursuing the leaders of the Christian community who promote the teaching that Jesus is the Messiah” (Long). I do believe that Agrippa can be seen as the “ultimate fringe” of what it means to be Jewish. Agrippa took extreme actions to suppress the teachings of Jesus and the spread of Christianity. Agrippa took whatever means necessary to make sure that Jewish law and tradition were enforced. Along with all of that, Agrippa went on to persecute Jewish Christians to make sure that nothing threatened the purity of the Jewish faith. Many Jews, at the time, were open to the teachings of Jesus and became followers of Christianity. Nonetheless, Herod Agrippa I’s actions against the Jewish Christians make him the “ultimate fringe” of what it means to be Jewish.

  26. Agrippa’s pursuit of the Christian leaders in Acts 12 can be seen as an expression of his piety and devotion to the Jewish faith, which did not recognize Jesus as the Messiah. However, it is important to note that Agrippa was also acting in a political context, as Christianity was perceived as a threat to the Roman Empire and its order. In terms of the overall themes in Luke, Agrippa can be seen as representing a particular strand of Jewish thought and practice that was in opposition to the message of Jesus and his followers. This opposition was part of a larger tension within Judaism at the time, between those who accepted Jesus as the Messiah and those who did not. It is difficult to say whether Herod Agrippa can be considered the “ultimate fringe” of what it means to be Jewish, as the diversity within Judaism at the time was complex and multifaceted. However, his actions can be seen as an extreme expression of a particular view within Judaism, one that was in conflict with the message and teachings of Jesus and his followers. It is important to note that the tension between those who accepted Jesus as the Messiah and those who did not was not limited to the Jewish community. In fact, the early Christian movement faced opposition from both Jews and Gentiles who saw it as a threat to their own beliefs and practices.

  27. thats right, I asked God why Paul was executed, He replied, ”political correctness ” so then I searched
    the internet for confirmation to make sure I was hearing right. [found your reply] Nero executed the christians with Paul and Peter
    because it pleased the people of Rome and Nero to blame christians for the fire. it was in the face of letters written by the governor who sent him to Rome professing his innocence

  28. After reading the book of Act 12, I think James had been arrested before the days of the unleavened bread because Verse 3″ indicated that Peter arrest was during the days of unleavened bread meanwhile passover preceeded the days of unleavened bread, which I think means that James would have being arrested before the passover, and there was a custom then where one prisoner would be released yearly according to people’s choice. May be James was brought out during the passover and people requested for his death and Aggrippa killed him and a prisoner was released at the request of people, and having seen that suit the people the king decided to arrest Peter too. Just an opinion.

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