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Chapter 12

 

Peter delivered in answer to church prayer

12:1-4 About that time King Herod laid hands on some from the church to harm them. He had James, the brother of John, executed with a sword. When he saw that this pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter too. (This took place during the feast of Unleavened Bread.) When he had seized him, he put him in prison, handing him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him. Herod planned to bring him out for public trial after the Passover.

 

Herod was the first of many ruling monarchs to persecute true believers.   He commences by killing James the brother of John the first of the twelve disciples to be martyred.   He proceeds to do the same to Peter because he saw that by doing so he found favour with the Jews.   However because it was the preparation days for the Passover he put him in prison guarded by 16 soldiers (this was to make certain Peter didn't escape again, see Acts 5: 19, 22) intending to have him executed after.   "'

 

12:5-6 So Peter was kept in prison, but those in the church were earnestly praying to God for him. On that very night before Herod was going to bring him out for trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, while guards in front of the door were keeping watch over the prison.

 

This delay was God's opportunity given to the church to pray on Peter's behalf  and they rose to the challenge.   They immediately joined together and made constant prayer on his behalf, that is they did not cease day or night but continued for a number of days up until the time they saw Peter (V16).

 

12:7-9 Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared, and a light shone in the prison cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up, saying, "Get up quickly!" And the chains fell off Peter's wrists. The angel said to him, "Fasten your belt and put on your sandals." Peter did so. Then the angel said to him, "Put on your cloak and follow me." Peter went out and followed him; he did not realize that what was happening through the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision.

 

The night before Herod was due to execute Peter the Lord answered the prayer of His people.   Peter did not seem to be worried at all for he was sleeping soundly although chained between two soldiers.   He did not stir when the angel entered or when the glory of the Lord filled the prison.   The angel had to strike him on the side to wake him up (1 Pet. 5: 7).   Immediately the angel commands him to arise the chains that were binding him fell off without disturbing the soldiers !  Peter did not hurry but took time to put his sandals and top garment on.   All this was unreal to Peter he could not believe his eyes and thought he was having a vision.   "'

 

12:10-11 After they had passed the first and second guards, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went outside and walked down one narrow street, when at once the angel left him. When Peter came to himself, he said, "Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from everything the Jewish people were expecting to happen."

 

He was led by the angel past two guard posts and through the guarded city gate, which automatically opened by Divine power, without the soldiers seeing him !   As soon as he was safe out in the street the angel left him and it was then that Peter realised that it was no vision but for real, the Lord had delivered him (Ps. 34: 7; 2 Cor. 1: 10).   "'

 

12:12-15 When Peter realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John Mark, where many people had gathered together and were praying. When he knocked at the door of the outer gate, a slave girl named Rhoda answered. When she recognized Peter's voice, she was so overjoyed she did not open the gate, but ran back in and told them that Peter was standing at the gate. But they said to her, "You've lost your mind!" But she kept insisting that it was Peter, and they kept saying, "It is his angel!"

 

Mary's house would seem to have be where the disciples usually met for prayer for Peter makes straight for it.   On knocking, the door is opened by the servant girl Rhoda who became so excited at seeing him that she forgot to let him in !   On reporting to the disciples who were praying for Peter that he was standing at the door they did not believe that their own prayers had been answered !  They thought it was his guardian angel (Math. 18: 10).   "'

 

12:16-17 Now Peter continued knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were greatly astonished. He motioned to them with his hand to be quiet and then related how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. He said, "Tell James and the brothers these things," and then he left and went to another place.

 

However Peter continued to knock until they answered the door themselves and they were amazed to see him.   After telling them how the Lord had brought him out of prison he tells them to let James, the Lord's brother, know and went to another place in case Herod came searching for him.

 

12:18-19 At daybreak there was great consternation among the soldiers over what had become of Peter. When Herod had searched for him and did not find him, he questioned the guards and commanded that they be led away to execution. Then Herod went down from Judea to Caesarea and stayed there.

 

Which he did on finding out from the soldiers that Peter had completely disappeared.   But he could not find him so he had the soldiers put to death instead.

 

When one member of the body of Christ suffered the church suffered with him wrestling in earnest, unceasing prayer and it brought the deliverance.   This is what the Lord would have us to do also. "'

 

 

God's judgment on Herod

12:20 Now Herod was having an angry quarrel with the people of Tyre and Sidon. So they joined together and presented themselves before him. And after convincing Blastus, the king's personal assistant, to help them, they asked for peace, because their country's food supply was provided by the king's country.

 

Herod was already ripe for God's judgment to come upon him.   He had already killed James the brother of John and imprisoned Peter with the intention of having him put to death also, but the Lord delivered him.   For some reason Herod had fallen out with the people of  Tyre and Sidon, cities that were dependent upon food being supplied to them from Herod's domain.   They did not dare approach Herod directly so they befriended Blastus the king's personal assistant to help them to make friends with.

 

12:21-22 On a day determined in advance, Herod put on his royal robes, sat down on the judgment seat, and made a speech to them. But the crowd began to shout, "The voice of a god, and not of a man!"

 

A day was arranged for the reunion to take place with all pomp and ceremony and Herod appeared before the people in full regalia sitting upon his throne.  At the end of his speech, it would have been a flattering one, the people applauded him with their shouts of acclamation that  he spoke as a god.  

 

12:23 Immediately an angel of the Lord struck Herod down because he did not give the glory to God, and he was eaten by worms and died.

 

Up to this point Herod was the centre of attention then God moved.   It is to be noting that Herod was well versed in the scriptures and the religious traditions of Israel.   He knew there was no other God but the LORD (YAHWEH).   In his position of authority and his apparent ability in being able to speak he should have stopped the people and gave the glory to God, but his pride and arrogance got the better of him.  His cup was now full so the angel of the Lord struck him in judgment and on the very throne that he sat he died.

 

12:24 But the word of God kept on increasing and multiplying.

 

Herod had done all that he could to stop the Gospel message  going forth, he failed and so will everyone to attempts to do the same.    The Word of God began to spread rapidly and there were many new believers.

 

 

Saul and Barnabas called

12:25 So Barnabas and Saul returned to Jerusalem when they had completed their mission, bringing along with them John Mark.

 

Saul and Barnabas had completed their errand of mercy in taking relief to the believers in Jerusalem (Acts 11: 27-30) and so returned to Antioch taking John Mark with them.

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