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Acts Chapter 12

Distributed by:  Internet Bible Studies  

Memory verses for this week:  1 Th 5:21  Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. 1 Th 5:22  Abstain from all appearance of evil.


Introduction:     In Chapter 11, we saw Peter coming back to the church and defending his position about preaching the gospel to the Gentiles.  He proved that it was of the Lord that caused him to go forth to the house of Cornelius.  We saw later in the chapter how that the followers of Christ were first called Christians in Antioch, a name that has forever been passed on to us.   What an honor, to be called one following after Jesus Christ.


I. The Fifth Persecution: The Arrest of Peter

 Acts 12:1  Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church.

Acts 12:2  And he killed James the brother of John with the sword.

Acts 12:3  And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.)

Acts 12:4  And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.

 Herod was the grandson of Herod the Great.  You may remember him as the King who commanded to put all the children to death during the time that Christ was an infant.

 Mat 2:16  Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men.

 We see in the first two verses that the persecution was against the church which was at Jerusalem.  He first killed James with the sword.  James was one of the three disciples who was part of the inner circle of friends of Christ.  These three apostles, Peter, James, and John, were there with the Mount of Transfiguration with Christ.   These were also the three were in the garden with Christ.


Mat 17:1  And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,

Mat 17:2  And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.

Mat 17:3  And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.

Mat 17:4  Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.

Mat 17:5  While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.

It says that when he saw that it pleased the people that he killed James, he proceeded to kill Peter.  The word Easter in verse 4 is from the Hebrew word ďpaschaĒ which meant the passover.  The days of unleavened bread was a week in which the passover was observed.


II.  Prayer for Peterís Deliverance

 Acts 12:5  Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him. 

While Peter was in prison, the church did not waste time but spent their time in prayer which was made without ceasing.  The church was praying together in harmony, and were praying unto God. 

1 Th 5:17  Pray without ceasing.

1 Th 5:18  In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 

This is very pleasing to God when the church is working together in prayer, especially in this case asking that Peter might be delivered.  The bible says that the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.  We see this to be the case in Peterís situation.


Mat 17:14  And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying,

Mat 17:15  Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is a lunatic, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water.

Mat 17:16  And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him.

Mat 17:17  Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.

Mat 17:18  And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.

Mat 17:19  Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?

Mat 17:20  And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.

Mat 17:21  Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.


Sometimes we pray and do not receive immediate answers to our prayers.  Normally, this means that we did not ask with the proper motive or for the right reason as James recorded in his writings.


James 4:1  From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?

James 4:2  Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.

James 4:3  Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.


Acts 12:6  And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison.

Acts 12:7  And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands.

Acts 12:8  And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me.

Acts 12:9  And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision.

Acts 12:10  When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him.

Acts 12:11  And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.

 We see that the angel of the Lord came to Peter.  The deliverance was such that Peter thought it was a vision rather than actually happening.  In verse 7, the angle tells Peter to rise up quickly and to follow the angel.    I think that it would be good if all of us had an urgency about spreading the Gospel.  The time is running out, and Jesus has warned us that the time is short.

 John 9:4  I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.

 Peter was wise to come out and be saved from the prison.  Many today are bidden to rise up and to accept the free gift of salvation that God offers all who will come.  But many do not respond to the call, and remain burdened in the prison house of sin.  God does not want us chained to sin and bondage, but offers us Christ to give us freedom to really live.  When Christ called his apostles, they did not tarry but responded immediately to the call.


Mat 4:21  And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them.

Mat 4:22  And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.

 After we are saved, we are to follow Christ every day of our lives.

 Luke 9:23  And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

Luke 9:24  For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.

Luke 9:25  For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?

Luke 9:26  For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels.


Acts 12:12  And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying.

Acts 12:13  And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda.

Acts 12:14  And when she knew Peter's voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate.

Acts 12:15  And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel.

Acts 12:16  But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished.

Acts 12:17  But he, beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, Go show these things unto James, and to the brethren. And he departed, and went into another place.


Is it not strange how that when God answers our prayers, many times we stand in unbelief and can not believe that God has responded to our requests.   It seems almost as if Peter knew the people of the church had gathered to pray for him at the house of Mary, the mother of John Mark.   Apparently, this lady had a large home and it was common for the people to come and pray together here.  It says when Rhoda came from the gate and told the others that Peter was there, they did not believe her.   She told them that she was not mad, but glad in verse 14.  If their hearts had been perfect before the Lord, I believe they would have prayed expecting Peter to be delivered.  Many times our motives are good, but our faith is weak.  Their response demonstrates their unbelief.  Peter asks them to go and tell James and the brethren these things.   The James in verse 17 is the brother of the Lord.  The James that Herod had killed in verse 2 was the son of Zebedee, the brother to John.


Acts 12:18  Now as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers, what was become of Peter.

Acts 12:19  And when Herod had sought for him, and found him not, he examined the keepers, and commanded that they should be put to death. And he went down from Judaea to Caesarea, and there abode.

 No doubt, Peterís absence startled the soldier and they wondered how he escaped.  Herod as not well pleased, and commanded that the keepers be put to death for letting Peter escape.  Apparently, this was the common practice if you were on guard and a prisoner escaped.

 Acts 16:27  And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. Acts 16:28  But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.


III.                The Death of Herod

Acts 12:20  And Herod was highly displeased with them of Tyre and Sidon: but they came with one accord to him, and, having made Blastus the king's chamberlain their friend, desired peace; because their country was nourished by the king's country.

Acts 12:21  And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them.

Acts 12:22  And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man.


We see that Herod was very upset with the people of Tyre and Sidon.  These people desired to pease with Herod since their country was nourished by the Kingís country.  I donít know what Herod had to say in his speech, but it says the people were well pleased with his oration.   They exalted him and broke into rounds of applause as he spoke to them.  They claimed he was more than a man, possibly a god.   Herod did not deny this, but rather took all the glory to himself.   God was not pleased with Herod, and took his life.

 Acts 12:23  And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost.

Acts 12:24  But the word of God grew and multiplied.

Acts 12:25  And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark.

 It says the angel of the Lord smote him.  Some say he was smitten with an incurable disease and died a few days later.  Whatever the case, he lost his life when God became upset with him.   So few today fear the Lord, when the bible clearly states that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  Herod died, but the Word of God grew and multiplied.  Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch after having completed the mission to Jerusalem.  It says they took John Mark back with them to Antioch.   We know earlier that Paul had been upset with John Mark for turning back from the first missionary journey.  In later years, Paul declared that Mark was profitable to him for the ministry.


2 Tim 4:11  Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.


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Prov 4:18  But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.


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