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Bible Study: Acts 12

Chapter 12: Acts 12: 1-25, Saved by an angel

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, we pray for calm, concentration, attention, clear-mindedness, fresh insights, revelation, readjustment, realignment, renewal, refreshment, and sensitive ears to hear You, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

In Acts 9, Saul was converted. In Acts 10, Cornelius was converted. In Acts 12, Herod was killed. In Acts 1, the first-century Christian church was born in Jerusalem. By Acts 12, first-century Christian churches were born in Judea, Samaria, Lydda, Joppa, Caesarea, and Damascus.

VV 1-4, 1 Now, about that time Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church. 2 Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword. 3 And because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also. Now it was during the Days of Unleavened Bread. 4 So when he had arrested him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him, intending to bring him before the people after Passover.

The camera angle shifted back from Paul in Antioch to Peter in Jerusalem. Herod Agrippa the first was the king of Israel, and the grandson of Herod the Great. He was a cruel man, who brutally beheaded James, the brother of John. James was the first apostle martyr. Persecutions of Christians started with the Sadducees to Herod Agrippa the first. Herod arrested and imprisoned Peter during the Passover, chaining him between 2 soldiers while 2 more soldiers guarded the prison door.

Passover fell on 15th Nisan, followed by the feast of unleavened bread, from 16th to the 22nd Nisan, on the Jewish religious calendar.

V5, Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church.

When Peter was imprisoned by Herod, the church prayed for him in the house of Mary, the mother of John Mark, a cousin of Barnabas, a disciple of Peter, and the author of Mark’s gospel.

V6, And when Herod was about to bring him out, that night Peter was sleeping, bound with two chains between two soldiers, and the guards before the door were keeping the prison.

Peter was fast asleep even though he was chained between two Roman soldiers in a heavily guarded prison. He was not afraid of martyrdom.

VV 7-8, 7 Now behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him, and a light shone in the prison, and he struck Peter on the side and raised him up, saying, “Arise quickly!” And his chains fell off his hands. 8 Then the angel said to him, “Gird yourself and tie on your sandals”; and so he did. And he said to him, “Put on your garment and follow me.”

An angel of God woke Peter up, broke his chains, instructed him to get up and follow him.

VV 9-11, 9 So he went out and followed him, and did not know that what was done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. 10 When they were past the first and the second guard posts, they came to the iron gate that leads to the city, which opened to them of its own accord, and they went out and went down one street, and immediately the angel departed from him. 11 And when Peter had come to himself, he said, “Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent His angel, and has delivered me from the hand of Herod and from all the expectation of the Jewish people.”

The angel of God took Peter out of the prison into the street and disappeared. Peter was dumbfounded. When he came back to his senses, he realised that God had rescued him from the hand of Herod.

V 12, So, when he had considered this, he came to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together praying.

Peter came to Mary’s house where the disciples were meeting and praying for him. There are many Mary’s in the New Testament. This Mary was the mother of John Mark, a cousin of Barnabas, a disciple of Peter, and the author of Mark’s gospel.

VV 13-15, 13 And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a girl named Rhoda came to answer. 14 When she recognized Peter’s voice, because of her gladness she did not open the gate, but ran in and announced that Peter stood before the gate. 15 But they said to her, “You are beside yourself!” Yet she kept insisting that it was so. So they said, “It is his angel.”

When Peter knocked on the door, a girl named Rhoda came out and heard Peter’s voice but did not open the gate because she was too excited. She reported to the group that Peter was at the door, they did not believe her.

VV 16-19, 16 Now Peter continued knocking, and they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. 17 But motioning to them with his hand to keep silent, he declared to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, “Go, tell these things to James and to the brethren.” And he departed and went to another place. 18 Then, as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers about what had become of Peter. 19 But when Herod had searched for him and not found him, he examined the guards and commanded that they should be put to death. And he went down from Judea to Caesarea and stayed there.

Peter continued knocking until the disciples opened the door and saw him. Peter told them what happened, instructed them to tell James, the half-brother of Jesus, the other apostles, disappeared and went into hiding. The next morning when Herod found out that Peter had escaped, he ordered the execution of the prison guards, left Judea, and went to Caesarea.

VV 20-24, 20 Now Herod had been very angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon, but they came to him with one accord and having made Blastus the king’s personal aide their friend, they asked for peace because their country was supplied with food by the king’s country. 21 So on a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat on his throne and gave an oration to them. 22 And the people kept shouting, “The voice of a god and not of a man!” 23 Then immediately an angel of the Lord struck him because he did not give glory to God. And he was eaten by worms and died. 24 But the word of God grew and multiplied.

Representatives of Tyre and Sidon came to Herod to reconcile with Herod because he was angry with them. The people of Tyre and Sidon were afraid of Herod because they depended on him for the provision of food. One day, Herod, in his royal apparel, gave a speech to the people of Tyre and Sidon. They praised Herod and called him a god. Immediately, an angel of God killed Herod and worms ate up his body. The word of God grew and multiplied. In Acts 12:1, Herod opposed God. In Acts 12:23, God killed Herod.

Romans 1: 21, “because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

Philippians 2: 10-11, ‘’at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father’’.

V 25, And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their ministry, and they also took with them John whose surname was Mark.

After Jerusalem, Barnabas and Saul returned to Antioch of Syria bringing with them John Mark, a cousin of Barnabas, a disciple of Peter, and the author of Mark’s gospel.

Application:

When Peter was in the prison, the church prayed for him but when God answered their prayer, they missed it! You need to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, otherwise, you may miss God’s answered prayer.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank You that You are miracle-working God. Thank You for healing, protection, miracles, salvation, justification, sanctification, eternal life, and the promise of resurrection, in Jesus’ name, Amen.