Question 24: In Acts 12, Herod Agrippa has James beheaded and plans to kill Peter. We know that earlier Stephen was stoned. Isn’t it true that under the law, only the Romans could order an execution? Was Herod acting outside the law?

Answer:  Herod Agrippa was a Roman officer. He was designated as king by the Roman government, and therefore that title is used of him in Acts 12:1. He was viewed as ruling the land as a Roman, not as a Jew. This is comparable to his grandfather’s status: Herod the Great was an Idumean, not a Jew, and he too had been given authority by the Romans to rule the land.

Herod Agrippa was ruling the land in place of any procurators during the period of A.D. 40-44. Just like his grandfather, he had the Roman authority to execute. The fact that he used this authority can be seen in Acts 12.

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Arnold Answers is a bi-weekly Q & A with founder and director of Ariel Ministries, Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum.