More Trouble for the Believers
During this same time, King Herod began to do harm to some of those who were part of the church. He ordered James, the brother of John, to be killed with a sword. Herod saw that many of the Jews liked this, so he decided to arrest Peter too. This happened during the Festival of Unleavened Bread. He arrested Peter and put him in jail, where he was guarded by a group of 16 soldiers. Herod planned to bring Peter before the people, but he wanted to wait until after the Passover festival. So Peter was kept in jail, but the church was constantly praying to God for him.
Peter Is Led Out of the Jail
One night, Peter, bound with two chains, was sleeping between two of the soldiers. More soldiers were guarding the door of the jail. Herod was planning to bring Peter out before the people the next day. Suddenly an angel of the Lord was standing there, and the room was filled with light. The angel tapped Peter on the side and woke him up. The angel said, “Hurry, get up!” The chains fell off Peter’s hands. The angel said, “Get dressed and put on your sandals.” Peter did as he was told. Then the angel said, “Put on your coat and follow me.”
So the angel went out and Peter followed. He did not know if the angel was really doing this. He thought he might be seeing a vision. 10 Peter and the angel went past the first guard and the second guard. Then they came to the iron gate that separated them from the city. The gate opened for them by itself. After they went through the gate and walked about a block, the angel suddenly left.
11 Peter realized then what had happened. He thought, “Now I know that the Lord really sent his angel to me. He rescued me from Herod and from everything those Jews thought would happen to me.”
12 When Peter realized this, he went to the home of Mary, the mother of John, who was also called Mark. Many people were gathered there and were praying. 13 Peter knocked on the outside door. A servant girl named Rhoda came to answer it. 14 She recognized Peter’s voice, and she was very happy. She even forgot to open the door. She ran inside and told the group, “Peter is at the door!” 15 The believers said to her, “You are crazy!” But she continued to say that it was true. So they said, “It must be Peter’s angel.”
16 But Peter continued to knock. When the believers opened the door, they saw him. They were amazed. 17 Peter made a sign with his hand to tell them to be quiet. He explained to them how the Lord led him out of the jail. He said, “Tell James and the other brothers what happened.” Then he left and went to another place.
18 The next day the soldiers were very upset. They wondered what happened to Peter. 19 Herod looked everywhere for him but could not find him. So he questioned the guards and then ordered that they be killed.
The Death of Herod Agrippa
Later, Herod moved from Judea. He went to the city of Caesarea and stayed there a while. 20 Herod was very angry with the people from the cities of Tyre and Sidon. But these cities needed food from his country, so a group of them came to ask him for peace. They were able to get Blastus, the king’s personal servant, on their side.
21 Herod decided on a day to meet with them. On that day he was wearing a beautiful royal robe. He sat on his throne and made a speech to the people. 22 The people shouted, “This is the voice of a god, not a man!” 23 Herod did not give the glory to God. So an angel of the Lord caused him to get sick. He was eaten by worms inside him, and he died.
24 The message of God was spreading, reaching more and more people.
25 After Barnabas and Saul finished their work in Jerusalem, they returned to Antioch, taking John Mark with them.