The fifth persecution.
Satan’s relentless attack on the Church continues.
Verse 1 This Herod was a grandson of Herod the great.
He was an observer of the law of Moses and went to great length to please the Jews.
In pursuit of this policy he afflicted certain in the church.
Verse 2 And killed James the brother of John.
This was the James of the mount of transfiguration.
His mother requested that he, with John his brother, sit beside Christ in His kingdom.
This chapter is an interesting study of God’s ways in connection with His people.
James and Peter were put in prison.
James was put to death.
Peter was miraculously delivered.
Human reason asks why preference should be shown to Peter.
Faith rests on the love and wisdom of God.
Verse 4 When Peter was imprisoned it was the Passover season (Easter), inappropriate for executions.
He was kept under strict security (16 soldiers guarded him night and day).
Verse 5 The Church at prayer, for Peter. Prayer changes things. Prayer moves the hand of Him who moves the universe.
“That force of earnest, halting prayer was mightier than Herod, and mightier than hell.” Without ceasing = fervently – earnestly. How ridiculous it looked prayer versus the mighty arm of the law.
Verses 6-11 The power of prayer seen in the deliverance of Peter. Prayer removes mountains. This was a mountain. “Verily I say unto you, that whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith” Mark 11:20-24.
Verse 6 Notice Peter’s composure…Sleeping, etc. Someone has called this sleep “the triumph of faith.” Peter was leaning on the Lord. Someone has suggested that Peter was the only saint sleeping in the city, the others were praying.
No doubt Peter had prayed and was now resting in the Lord. “Thou will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee.”
Verse 7 Suddenly the cell was filled with light—an angel appeared—struck Peter on the side—aroused him—and as he stood up, his handcuffs and shackles fell off.
Verse 8 The angel told him to dress and to follow him.
Verse 9 Though in a daze Peter followed the angel.
Verse 10 Past the first guard—then the second.
When they came to the main gate it opened automatically. The angel accompanied Peter one block into the city, then left him.
Verse 11 Peter came to himself and realized it was not a dream but that God had miraculously delivered him from the hand of Herod and the Jews.
Verse 12 Peter probably knew that the church would be praying in Mary’s house—so he went there.
Verses 13-17 records the events after he knocked at the door.
Verse 13 Rhoda answered his knock. She was so excited when she saw Peter, she ran back into the house with the news that Peter was outside, and forgot to open the gate to let him in. Verse 14.
Verse 15 They thought she was crazy—when she insisted they said it must be Peter’s angel (disembodied spirit).
Verse 16 In the meantime, Peter was standing on the doorstep knocking. When they finally opened the door and he stepped in, all their doubts vanished and they broke into expressions of joy.
Verse 17 Peter quieted them down—gave a brief description of his miraculous deliverance—asked them to convey the news to James (the son of Alphaeus).
Then it says that “Peter departed, and went to another place.”
This is Peter’s disappearance from the page of history.
We see no more of him in the book of Acts.
He disappears for good reason.
Paul is about to be brought in—to him God had given the revelation of the mystery of the church, which takes preeminence in this day of grace.
The execution of James and the disappearance of Peter was a tremendous loss to the early church.
These believers have often been chided for their unbelieving prayers.
They were surprised when their prayers were answered.
How do we act when God answers our prayers?
Instead of chiding others we should be greatly comforted that God answers such faithless prayer.
Verses 18-19 Herod’s anger over Peter’s escape.
When Peters escape was discovered there was no small stir in the prison among the soldiers and also in the king’s palace. The sixteen guards were put to death.
Verses 20-25 The death of Herod.
The Progress Of The Church
For some unknown reason Herod had become angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon.
They had befriended Blastus who was very close to his master; through him they requested the restoration of diplomatic relations.
Verse 21 One day Herod came forth in all his royal finery to address the people.
Verse 22 When he had finished speaking they shouted deliriously that his voice was the voice of a god and not of a man.
He made no effort to refuse such divine honors, or to give God glory.
Verse 23 Immediately an angel of the Lord smote him with a fearful disease and he died. A.D. 44.
“The wheels of God’s wrath grind slowly but they grind surely.”
The one who had executed James to please the Jews, is himself slain at the hands of Him who is able to destroy bath, body and soul in hell.
Herod reaped what he sowed. Galatians 6.
Verse 24 In the meantime the Gospel continues to expand.
God makes the wrath of man to praise Him. Psalm 76:10.
“The Word of God grew and multiplied.”
Verse 25 After Barnabas and Saul had completed their mission in Jerusalem, See Chapter 11:29-30, they returned to Antioch.
They took John Mark with them, he was a nephew to Barnabas and the writer of the second Gospel.