The hubris of King Herod Agrippa I in how he abused his power to persecute Christians in Acts 12 is similar to persecutors of Christians in the world today. Examine his character traits and you will discover how persecutors throughout all time periods operate. I noticed the following:
1. Herod assumed that if he removed certain Christians from the public eye by homicide and imprisonment, Christianity would disappear. Persecutors of Christians today believe the same way. However, they assume incorrectly since Christ is the head of the church and the church’s ability to continue on Earth, even if it goes underground, is based on God’s power which is far greater than any human’s.
2. Herod saw persecuting Christians as a way to curry favor with the Jews, which strengthened his popularity and by default, his power. In our time, persecutors go after Christians to increase their popularity with certain groups or individuals and/or to preserve or expand their influence.
3. Herod’s pride, fear, and hate were the impetus for his actions. The same is true for persecutors today.
In the end, the things that Agrippa thought would strengthen him became his downfall. He became so prideful that he took things too far when he encouraged the crowd at Tyre and Sidon to worship him as a god. Then God sent an angel to strike him dead with intestinal worms. While seeking to kill the gospel, he was the one who died instead, just like all the other unrepentant persecutors who came after him–yet the gospel has continued to multiply (Acts 24:12).