Peter’s Miraculous Escape from Prison
1During this period King Herod incited persecution against the church, causing great harm to the believers. 2He even had the apostle Jacob, John’s brother, beheaded. 3-4When Herod realized how much this pleased the Jewish leaders, he had Peter arrested and thrown into prison during the Feast of Passover. Sixteen soldiers were assigned to guard him until Herod could bring him to public trial, immediately after the Passover celebrations were over. 5The church went into a season of intense intercession, asking God to free him.
6The night before Herod planned to bring him to trial, he made sure that Peter was securely bound with two chains. Peter was sound asleep between two soldiers, with additional guards stationed outside his cell door, 7when all at once an angel of the Lord appeared, filling his prison cell with a brilliant light. The angel struck Peter on the side to awaken him and said, “Hurry up! Let’s go!” Instantly the chains fell off his wrists. 8The angel told him, “Get dressed. Put on your sandals, bring your cloak, and follow me.”
9Peter quickly left the cell and followed the angel, even though he thought it was only a dream or a vision, for it seemed unreal—he couldn’t believe it was really happening! 10They walked unseen past the first guard post and then the second before coming to the iron gate that leads to the city—and the gate swung open all by itself right in front of them!
They went out into the city and were walking down a narrow street when all of a sudden the angel disappeared. 11That’s when Peter realized that he wasn’t having a dream! He said to himself, “This is really happening! The Lord sent his angel to rescue me from the clutches of Herod and from what the Jewish leaders planned to do to me.”
12When he realized this, he decided to go to the home of Mary and her son John Mark. The house was filled with people praying. 13When he knocked on the door to the courtyard, a young servant girl named Rose got up to see who it was. 14When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so excited that she forgot to open the door, but ran back inside the house to announce, “Peter is standing outside!”
15“Are you crazy?” they said to her. But when she kept insisting, they answered, “Well, it must be his angel.”
16Meanwhile, Peter was still outside, knocking on the door. When they finally opened it, they were shocked to find Peter standing there.
17He signaled for them to be quiet as he shared with them the miraculous way the Lord brought him out of prison. Before he left he said, “Make sure you let Jacob and all of the other believers know what has happened.”
18At the first sign of daylight, the prison guards were in a tremendous uproar because of Peter’s disappearance. Herod ordered a thorough search for him, but no one could find him. 19After he interrogated the guards, he ordered them executed. Then Herod left the province of Judea for Caesarea and stayed there for a period of time.
20Now, during those days, Herod was engaged in a violent dispute with the people of Tyre and Sidon. So they sent a united delegation to Caesarea to appeal to him and reconcile their differences with the king, for Herod controlled their food supply. First they enlisted the support of his trusted personal assistant, Blastus, who secured them an appointment with the king.
21On the chosen day, Herod came before them, arrayed in his regal robes. Sitting on his elevated throne, he delivered a stirring public address to the people. 22At its conclusion the people gave him a round of applause. The crowd shouted, “These are the words of a god, not a man!”
23Immediately, an angel of the Lord struck Herod with a sickness, an infestation of worms, because he accepted the people’s worship and didn’t give the glory to God, and he died. 24But the hope of God’s kingdom kept spreading and multiplying everywhere!
25After Barnabas and Saul had delivered the charitable offering for relief, they left Jerusalem, bringing with them a disciple named Mark (who was also known as John).