Satan’s relentless attacks continued against the church.
The persecution came from a new source—Herod the king.
This Herod was Herod Agrippa I, a grandson of Herod the Great.
He was appointed king over Judea by the Roman Emperor, Claudius.
He observed the law of Moses and sought to please the Jewish rulers.
It was in pursuance of this policy that he afflicted certain of the church and killed James, the brother of John.
James: James is nearly always mentioned in relation to John. There were two disciples of Christ who were named James:
James the son of Alphaeus
James the brother of John.
There was also another James—the brother of the Lord.
He was the writer of the epistle of James.
James, the brother of John, was one of the favored three.
This then was the disciple whom Herod killed.
Peter: Peter was arrested just after the death of James (which had pleased the Jews greatly) and was put in prison. Peter was an important prisoner; sixteen soldiers were commissioned to guard him.
For Peter to be in prison was no new experience. This was the third time. Chapter 4:3. Chapter 5:18.
The last time he was imprisoned he had a remarkable escape.
Why did God choose to allow Herod to kill James, but see fit to deliver Peter in a spectacular way?
Verse 5 begins, Peter, therefore, was kept in the prison.
Outside the prison, the church had gathered for prayer in the house of Mary, John Mark’s mother. Verse 12.
The church was having an all night prayer meeting and was praying, no doubt for Peter’s safety.
This imprisonment was far more serious. Herod was spilling the blood of martyrs, and would kill Peter just as he had James.
The church realized this and met together to employ a mightier force than Herod, mightier than the forces of hell.
“They prayed to God without ceasing” Verse 5.
Verse 6 Peter is calmly sleeping manacled to two soldiers.
Verse 7 An angel came and touched Peter, waking him, and his chains fell off.
Verses 8-10 He followed the angel past the first and second guard, through the main gate which opened as they approached.
Verse 11 Then the angel left him.
Verse 12 He made his way to Mary’s house.
Verse 13 In response to his knocking, Rhoda came to the door.
Verse 14 She recognized Peter’s voice and in her confusion ran into the prayer meeting without opening the door and told them the news.
Verse 15 They thought she was crazy.
Then they thought it could be his guardian angel or worse still his “disembodied spirit.”
Verse 16 Peter continued knocking—they opened the gate—and there stood the man that they had been praying for.
Explain here the value of fervent prayer with the exercise of faith.
There is a very sad yet significant thing here.
Verse 17 “And Peter departed and went into another place.”
This is descriptive of Peter’s disappearance from the page of history.
We see no more of him in the book of the Acts.
Where Peter went, no one knows.
John also disappears from the public scene.
Verse 2 of this chapter is the last reference to him in the Acts.
The Death Of Herod Agrippa I
For some unknown reason Herod had become angry with Tyre and Sidon. They took advantage of his being on holiday in Caesarea, and by befriending Blastus, a very high official of the king, they sought with his help to restore diplomatic relations.
Verse 21 One day Herod came out in his royal robes to address the people.
Verse 22 At the close of his speech the people were delirious and shouted saying, “It is the voice of a god, and not of a man.” See Acts 14:11-15
Verse 23 He made no effort to refuse such divine honors, or to give God the glory.
Therefore the angel of the Lord smote him with a dreadful disease and he died.
He was 54 years old when he died.
God is described as a Judge in many parts of the scripture.
Acts 10:42 Peter said that Christ has been “ordained of God to judge the living and the dead.”
Hebrews 12:23 The writer describes Him here as the “Judge of all.”
Hebrews 9:27 “It is appointed unto man once to die but after this, the judgment.”
“Be not deceived, God is not mocked” etc.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10
“Don’t you know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor extortionists, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”
“For whatever a man sows that shall he also reap.”
Hosea 8:7 “For they have sown to the wind, and they shall reap a whirlwind.”
Proverbs 22:8 “He that soweth iniquity shall reap vanity” = emptiness – futility.
Job 4:8 “They that plow iniquity and sow wickedness shall reap the same.”
“He that soweth to the flesh—shall of the flesh reap corruption.”
Matthew 7:24-27 The parable of the two builders—two foundations.
The last great assize.
Revelation 20:11-15. Read this slowly.
The prophet says: “Flee from the wrath to come.”
In closing quote John 5:24 “Shall not come into judgment.”