In Acts, chapter 12, there were many persecutions still going on against the people of God’s church. During this time, Herod reigned as king. It was through this wicked man that many followers of Jesus were hunted down and killed for their faith. Specifically speaking, the apostles of God were among these people that were targeted. One person specifically was James, the brother of John. He was a great disciple and apostle of Jesus, but because of the hardness and anger in Herod’s heart, he was captured and later killed by the sword. This happened while the Jews were present and they were happy. This shows you how twisted the Jews were at this time. Truly, they hated Jesus and would do anything to also silence His followers and what they had to say. It was because Herod saw how the death of James made the Jews happy, is why he also captured Peter. This is when the hand of God came into play through an angel of the Lord. It was because the church prayed without ceasing for him, is that a miracle happened. God answered their prayers, and therefore, the angel was able to wake up Peter, release his chains, and lead him safely out of the prison and into the city. This is when Peter realized that this was not a vision but that he was truly delivered from his death. Below, you can read this account in detail…
Acts 12:1-11 (KJV)
1 Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church.
2 And he killed James the brother of John with the sword.
3 And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.)
4 And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.
5 Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.
6 And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison.
7 And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands.
8 And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me.
9 And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision.
10 When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him.
11 And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.
After Peter was led out of the prison gates and into the city by the hand of the angel, he came to the house of Mary where the saints were gathered together praying. They started praying when Peter was captured and continue even to this very moment. It was then that Peter knocked on the door and Rhoda came to answer it. Peter then told her that it was him and that he had returned, but she was scared and did not let him in right away. Instead, she told the people that were praying that he was waiting at the gate. They couldn’t believe it, but at the same time, Peter kept knocking and they all heard it now. Then after a little while the people got over their fears and opened the gate to see Peter. You can just imagine how amazed they felt when they saw him there. It was surely an answer to their prayers. He then “declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison,” of which amazed them. Then after a little while, he departed from them. It was at this time that Herod noticed that Peter was missing and no longer in prison, of which he had the guards put to death for this. He was very disappointed. At this time, Herod came out among the people. He was “arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them.” This is when “the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man.” Of which Herod took all the glory to himself. However, because he did this, “he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost.” Surely, he got what was coming to him. Below, you can read this account in detail…
Acts 12:12-25 (KJV)
12 And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying.
13 And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda.
14 And when she knew Peter’s voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate.
15 And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel.
16 But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished.
17 But he, beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, Go shew these things unto James, and to the brethren. And he departed, and went into another place.
18 Now as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers, what was become of Peter.
19 And when Herod had sought for him, and found him not, he examined the keepers, and commanded that they should be put to death. And he went down from Judaea to Caesarea, and there abode.
20 And Herod was highly displeased with them of Tyre and Sidon: but they came with one accord to him, and, having made Blastus the king’s chamberlain their friend, desired peace; because their country was nourished by the king’s country.
21 And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them.
22 And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man.
23 And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost.
24 But the word of God grew and multiplied.
25 And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark.
In this story, there are many takeaways that can help us in our day. #1. The disciples of Jesus are persecuted and some are even put to death. If you have ever shared your faith, then you will know this firsthand how not everybody is happy about it. If you have ever been a Christian in a hostile land, then you will know this first hand to be true. It shows real courage to endure in our faith in Christ, even to the very end of our own lives. #2. The people of the church are to pray unceasingly. We do this not just for ourselves but for others also. Some people are sick, addicted, going through many trials or in danger, and our prayers can do miracles in their lives. #3. We are to give the glory to God and not ourselves or other people. It is when we think to highly of ourselves is when we get in trouble. Any person that elevates themselves up and idolizes another person (actor, artist or athlete) is taking away the honor and glory that only God deserves. Truly, as a Christian and follower of Jesus, we ought to give the Lord, our God, all the glory, honor and praise. These three things I mentioned are taught from Acts, chapter 12. It is the Holy Spirit that we are able to spot these three principles, though there are many other principles left to discover from these verses. You may spotted something that I did not and that is great. And this is because the Holy Spirit will speak to you differently than me and anyone else. The Lord wants to not only teach you but use you for His kingdom, if you but let Him. God bless you in your walk with Christ and stray strong in the faith.
Let us pray:
Oh Lord, truly Your words speak to us each day that we read and study them in the Bible. Thank You for opening my eyes to Your truths and the principles in the verses of Acts, chapter 12. It has surely been a blessing to read what took place with James and Peter. This has helped me learn more about persecution, prayer and honoring You. I am so glad that these verses have stood out, in order to teach me a lesson in these different areas of our faith. Surely, in my walk with You, there will be persecutions, for I have already felt it in my time evangelizing. There are days that people are interested in the gospel and other days when people are not kind and say and do mean things. This I know will happen, but I trust in You Lord for deliverance. Your presence gives me peace and helps me go forward in spreading Your gospel message. It is prayer that comforts me and gives me encouragement for the task at hand. I trust that You will lead me to the lost and those that are waiting for Your message of hope. Even a person’s sickness or addiction can be healed through prayer. I have seen such miracles take place and I give You all the glory. It was nothing I could do on my own or the person that was with me, but Your hand in the person’s life that was healed. If anyone is changed from the inside or out, it is because the Spirit of God has moved inside of them. You are our God and we give You all the praise and glory. I love You Lord. Amen.