King Herod executes James and imprisons Peter. That night, an angel extracts Peter from prison. King Herod dies. The Word of God increases and spreads.
King Herod. This is Agrippa I. He was partly Jewish and partly Hasmonean. His grandfather was Herod the Great
He killed James. King Herod executes the apostle James.
Matthew 20:23. He said to them, “You will indeed drink my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with, but to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but it is for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”
VERSE 3. When he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This was during the days of unleavened bread.
VERSE 4. 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.
he had arrested him. King Herod had Peter arrested
four squads of four soldiers each. It says “soldiers,” not “guards.” They were military soldiers, not ordinary jailers. This indicates that Peter was in a maximum security prison.
To any observer, Peter was totally incapacitated. There were 16 miliary soldiers assigned to guard him.
Peter would have been double-chained to two soldiers, one on each side. Just outside the door there would have been more guards. Outside that was an iron gate that kept him from the city. But the angel of the Lord easily delivered Peter out of all of that.
And the Lord can easily deliver us from all that keeps us from God’s best. Nothing can keep us from God’s best.
VERSE 5. Peter therefore was kept in the prison, but constant prayer was made by the assembly to God for him.
This verse is referred to in a famous book on continuous prayer called The Way of a Pilgrim.
prison … prayer. Peter was bound, but prayer was loosed!
VERSE 6. The same night when Herod was about to bring him out, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains. Guards in front of the door kept the prison.
Peter was sleeping. Peter did not fear for his life. Perhaps it was because Jesus Christ had said he would live to an old age:
John 21:18. Most certainly I tell you, when you were young, you dressed yourself and walked where you wanted to. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you don’t want to go.
VERSE 7. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side, and woke him up, saying, “Stand up quickly!” His chains fell off his hands.
VERSE 8. The angel said to him, “Get dressed and put on your sandals.” He did so. He said to him, “Put on your cloak and follow me.”
VERSE 9. And he went out and followed him. He didn’t know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he saw a vision.
VERSE 10. When they were past the first and the second guard, they came to the iron gate that leads into the city, which opened to them by itself. They went out, and went down one street, and immediately the angel departed from him.
VERSE 11. When Peter had come to himself, he said, “Now I truly know that the Lord has sent out his angel and delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from everything the Jewish people were expecting.”
VERSE 12. Thinking about that, he came to the house of Mary, the mother of John who was called Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying.
Mary, the mother of. Mary the mother of John Mark may have been wealthy. She may have been a widow, since John Mark’s father is not named.
John who was called Mark. That is, the apostle Mark.
VERSE 13. When Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer.
VERSE 14. When she recognized Peter’s voice, she didn’t open the gate for joy, but ran in, and reported that Peter was standing in front of the gate.
VERSE 15. They said to her, “You are crazy!” But she insisted that it was so. They said, “It is his angel.”
It is his angel. They believed in personal angels. That is, angels who are assigned to individuals:
Daniel 10:21. But I will tell you that which is inscribed in the writing of truth. There is no one who holds with me against these, but Michael your prince.
Matthew 18:10. See that you don’t despise one of these little ones, for I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.
Acts 12:15. They said to her, “You are crazy!” But she insisted that it was so. They said, “It is his angel.”
VERSE 16. But Peter continued knocking. When they had opened, they saw him, and were amazed.
VERSE 17. But he, beckoning to them with his hand to be silent, declared to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. He said, “Tell these things to James and to the brothers.” Then he departed and went to another place.
VERSE 18. Now as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers about what had become of Peter.
VERSE 19. When Herod had sought for him, and didn’t find him, he examined the guards, then commanded that they should be put to death. He went down from Judea to Caesarea, and stayed there.
they should be put to death. Herod ruthlessly orders the execution of 16 guards. Perhaps Herod had a volatile temper or made decisions rashly.
VERSE 20. Now Herod was very angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon. They came with one accord to him, and, having made Blastus, the king’s personal aide, their friend, they asked for peace, because their country depended on the king’s country for food.
VERSE 21. On an appointed day, Herod dressed himself in royal clothing, sat on the throne, and gave a speech to them.
VERSE 22. The people shouted, “The voice of a god, and not of a man!”
VERSE 23. Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him, because he didn’t give God the glory. Then he was eaten by worms and died.
NIV 1984 translation. But the Word of God continued to increase and spread.
grew and multiplied. In spite of opposition and persecution, the Lord sovereignly prospered the work of his people. Despite the the setbacks and negative things that been happening, more and more people were coming to faith in Jesus Christ.
VERSE 25. Barnabas and Saul returned to Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their service, also taking with them John who was called Mark.
John who was called Mark. Who is John Mark? He is one of Peter’s relatives. He joins up with Paul and Barnabas for their ministry among the Gentiles. Later, he will write the Gospel of Mark.
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.