Questions From Readers

Upon hearing that the imprisoned Peter was at the door, why did the disciples say: “It is his angel”?​—Acts 12:15.

The disciples may erroneously have assumed that an angelic messenger representing Peter stood at the gate. Consider the context of this passage.

Peter had been arrested by Herod, who had put James to death. So the disciples had good reason to believe that Peter would meet a similar end. Bound by chains, the imprisoned Peter was guarded by four shifts of four soldiers each. Then, one night he was miraculously freed and led out of the prison by an angel. When Peter finally realized what was happening, he said: “Now I actually know that Jehovah sent his angel forth and delivered me out of Herod’s hand.”​—Acts 12:1-11.

Peter immediately went to the house of Mary the mother of John Mark, where a number of the disciples were gathered. When he knocked on the door of the gateway, a servant girl named Rhoda went to answer. Upon recognizing Peter’s voice, she ran to tell the others without even letting him in! At first, the disciples could not believe that Peter was at the gate. Instead, they erroneously assumed: “It is his angel.”​—Acts 12:12-15.

Did the disciples believe that Peter had already been put to death and that his disembodied spirit was at the gate? This could hardly be the case, for Jesus’ followers knew the Scriptural truth about the dead​—that they are “conscious of nothing at all.” (Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10) What, then, could the disciples have meant when they said: “It is his angel”?

Jesus’ disciples knew that throughout history, angels rendered personal assistance to God’s people. For example, Jacob spoke of “the angel who has been recovering me from all calamity.” (Genesis 48:16) And regarding a young child in their midst, Jesus told his followers: “See to it that you men do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that their angels in heaven always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven.”​—Matthew 18:10.

Interestingly, Young’s Literal Translation of the Holy Bible renders the word agʹge·los (“angel”) as “messenger.” It appears that there was a belief among some Jews that each servant of God had his own angel​—in effect, a “guardian angel.” Of course, this view is not directly taught in God’s Word. Still, it is possible that when the disciples said, “It is his angel,” they were assuming that an angelic messenger representing Peter stood at the gate.