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Acts 12:4

    Acts 12:4 Translations

    King James Version (KJV)

    And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.

    American King James Version (AKJV)

    And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.

    American Standard Version (ASV)

    And when he had taken him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to guard him; intending after the Passover to bring him forth to the people.

    Basic English Translation (BBE)

    And having taken him, he put him in prison, with four bands of armed men to keep watch over him; his purpose being to take him out to the people after the Passover.

    Webster's Revision

    And when he had taken him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to guard him; intending after the Passover to bring him forth to the people.

    World English Bible

    When he had arrested him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of four soldiers each to guard him, intending to bring him out to the people after the Passover.

    English Revised Version (ERV)

    And when he had taken him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to guard him; intending after the Passover to bring him forth to the people.

    Definitions for Acts 12:4

    Easter - Passover.

    Clarke's Commentary on Acts 12:4

    Four quaternions of soldiers - That is, sixteen, or four companies of four men each, who had the care of the prison, each company taking in turn one of the four watches of the night.

    Intending after Easter to bring him forth - Μετα το πασχα, After the passover. Perhaps there never was a more unhappy, not to say absurd, translation than that in our text. But, before I come to explain the word, it is necessary to observe that our term called Easter is not exactly the same with the Jewish passover. This festival is always held on the fourteenth day of the first vernal full moon; but the Easter of the Christians, never till the next Sabbath after said full moon; and, to avoid all conformity with the Jews in this matter, if the fourteenth day of the first vernal full moon happen on a Sabbath, then the festival of Easter is deferred till the Sabbath following. The first vernal moon is that whose fourteenth day is either on the day of the vernal equinox, or the next fourteenth day after it. The vernal equinox, according to a decree of the council of Nice, is fixed to the 21st day of March; and therefore the first vernal moon is that whose fourteenth day falls upon the 21st of March, or the first fourteenth day after. Hence it appears that the next Sabbath after the fourteenth day of the vernal moon, which is called the Paschal term, is always Easter day. And, therefore, the earliest Paschal term being the 21st of March, the 22d of March is the earliest Easter possible; and the 18th of April being the latest Paschal term, the seventh day after, that is the 25th of April, is the latest Easter possible.

    The term Easter, inserted here by our translators, they borrowed from the ancient Anglo-Saxon service-books, or from the version of the Gospels, which always translates the το πασχα of the Greek by this term; e.g. Matthew 26:2 : Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover. Wite ye that aefter twam dagum beoth Eastro. Matthew 16:19 : And they made ready the passover. And hig gegearwodon hym Easter thenunga (i.e. the paschal supper.) Prefixed to Matthew 28:1, are these words: This part to be read on Easter even. And, before Matthew 28:8, these words: Mark 14:12 : And the first day of unleavened bread when they killed the passover. And tham forman daegeazimorum, tha hi Eastron offrodon. Other examples occur in this version. Wiclif used the word paske, i.e. passover; but Tindal, Coverdale, Becke, and Cardmarden, following the old Saxon mode of translation, insert Easter: the Geneva Bible very properly renders it the passover. The Saxon Earten, Eartne, Eartno, Eartna, and Eartnon are different modes of spelling the name of the goddess Easter, whose festival was celebrated by our pagan forefathers on the month of April; hence that month, in the Saxon calendar, is called Easter month. Every view we can take of this subject shows the gross impropriety of retaining a name every way exceptionable, and palpably absurd.

    Barnes' Notes on Acts 12:4

    And when he had apprehended him - When he had taken or arrested him.

    He put him in prison - During the solemnities of this religious festival, it would have been deemed improper to have engaged in the trial of a supposed criminal. The minds of the people were expected to be devoted solely to the services of religion; and hence, Herod chose to retain him in custody until the Passover had ended.

    To four quaternions of soldiers - A "quaternion" was a company of "four"; consequently the whole number employed here was sixteen. The Romans divided the night into four watches so that the guards could be relieved; those who were on guard occupying three hours, and being then relieved. Of the four who were on guard, two were with Peter in the prison Acts 12:6, and two kept watch before the door of the prison. The utmost precaution was taken that he should not escape; and Herod thus gave the most ample assurance to the Jews of his intention to secure Peter, and to bring him to trial.

    Intending after Easter - There never was a more absurd or unhappy translation than this. The original is simply after the Passover (μετὰ τὸ πάσχα meta to pascha. The word "Easter" now denotes the festival observed by many Christian churches in honor of the resurrection of the Saviour. But the original has no reference to that, nor is there the slightest evidence that any such festival was observed at the time when this book was written. The translation is not only unhappy, as it does not convey at all the meaning of the original, but because it may contribute to foster an opinion that such a festival was observed in the time of the apostles. The word "Easter" is of Saxon origin, and is supposed to be derived from "Eostre," the goddess of Love, or the Venus of the North, in honor of whom a festival was celebrated by our pagan ancestors in the month of April (Webster). Since this festival coincided with the Passover of the Jews, and with the feast observed by Christians in honor of the resurrection of Christ, the name came to be used to denote the latter. In the old Anglo-Saxon service-books the term "Easter" is used frequently to translate the word "Passover." In the translation by Wycliffe, the word "paske," that is, "Passover," is used. But Tyndale and Coverdale used the word "Easter," and hence, it has very improperly crept into our King James Version.

    To bring him forth to the people - That is, evidently, to put him publicly to death to gratify them. The providence of God in regard to Peter is thus remarkable. Instead of his being put suddenly to death, as was James, he was reserved for future trial; and thus an opportunity was given for the prayers of the church, and for his consequent release.

    Wesley's Notes on Acts 12:4

    12:4 Four quaternions - Sixteen men, who watched by turns day and night.