King Herod Agrippa persecuted the church (Acts 12:1). And he killed James the brother of John with the sword (Acts 12:2). And because this pleased the Jews, Herod seized Peter also. This event must have occurred about one year before Herod’s death (Acts 12:20–23), which took place in A.D. 44. The King arrested Peter during the Days of Unleavened Bread. And he appointed four squads of soldiers to guard Peter, intending to judge him after the Passover (Acts 12:4).
The church earnestly prayed for Peter’s deliverance (Acts 12:5). From the general persecution of the church, it may be assumed that these prayers were lifted by groups of believers meeting in private homes (Acts 12:12). In prison, Peter was bound with two chains between two soldiers; and the guards before the door were also protecting the entrance to the cell (Acts 12:6).
During the night, the angel of the Lord came to the prison and struck Peter on the side and raised him up, saying, arise quickly! And Peter’s chains fell off his hands. Then, the angel said to him, gird yourself, tie on your sandals, put on your garment and follow me. So, Peter followed the angel. But he did not know that what was done by the angel was real. He thought he was seeing a vision (Acts 12:8-10).
When the angel and Peter 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. It seems that the prison was inside the city. It could have been in the Tower of Antonia.
And immediately the angel departed from Peter. When supernatural help was no longer necessary, the angel allowed Peter to take the further steps to secure his escape. At this point, Peter understood for certain that the Lord has sent His angel, and has delivered him from the hand of Herod and from the wicked Jews.
The Apostle Reunites With the Believers
Then, the apostle, went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together praying as they were in an hour of crisis (Acts 12:12). And as the apostle knocked at the door of the gate, a girl named Rhoda came to answer. But when she recognized Peter’s voice, in her joy, she did not open the gate. Instead, she ran in and announced that the apostle stood before the gate. But the believers said to her, “You are beside yourself!” Yet she kept insisting that it was so. So they said, “It is his angel” (Acts 12:13-15).
When the believers opened the door and saw God’s apostle, they were astonished. Why would good people be astonished to believe that their prayers can definitely and specifically be answered? Jesus had given the fullest guarantee to His followers that their prayers of faith would be answered (John 14:13, 14).
The Death of Herod
In the morning after the escape, there was a great disturbance and wonder from the soldiers. When Herod had searched for the apostle and didn’t find him, he commanded that the guards be put to death (Acts 12:19).
Later, on a day appointed for holding a festival to make vows for the safety of Caesar, King Herod dressed in his royal attire, sat on his throne and gave an oration. At hearing his voice, the people shouted, this is the voice of a god and not of a man! 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 (Acts 12:22, 23). For a graphic description of this incident read Josephus Antiquities xviii. 6–8; xix. 8. 2.
In His service,