God’s Guiding Word: Discipleship
Acts 12:1–19: King Herod (Herod Agrippa I, the grandson of Herod the Great) persecutes the followers of Jesus. Peter is arrested and imprisoned but is rescued by an angel.
1 About this time King Herod began to persecute some members of the church. 2 He had James, the brother of John, put to death by the sword. 3 When he saw that this pleased the Jews, he went ahead and had Peter arrested. (This happened during the time of the Festival of Unleavened Bread.) 4 After his arrest Peter was put in jail, where he was handed over to be guarded by four groups of four soldiers each. Herod planned to put him on trial in public after Passover. 5 So Peter was kept in jail, but the people of the church were praying earnestly to God for him.
6 The night before Herod was going to bring him out to the people, Peter was sleeping between two guards. He was tied with two chains, and there were guards on duty at the prison gate. 7 Suddenly an angel of the Lord stood there, and a light shone in the cell. The angel shook Peter by the shoulder, woke him up, and said, “Hurry! Get up!” At once the chains fell off Peter’s hands. 8 Then the angel said, “Tighten your belt and put on your sandals.” Peter did so, and the angel said, “Put your cloak around you and come with me.” 9 Peter followed him out of the prison, not knowing, however, if what the angel was doing was real; he thought he was seeing a vision. 10 They passed by the first guard station and then the second, and came at last to the iron gate that opens into the city. The gate opened for them by itself, and they went out. They walked down a street, and suddenly the angel left Peter.
11 Then Peter realized what had happened to him, and said, “Now I know that it is really true! The Lord sent his angel to rescue me from Herod’s power and from everything the Jewish people expected to happen.”
12 Aware of his situation, he went to the home of Mary, the mother of John Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. 13 Peter knocked at the outside door, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer it. 14 She recognized Peter’s voice and was so happy that she ran back in without opening the door, and announced that Peter was standing outside. 15 “You are crazy!” they told her. But she insisted that it was true. So they answered, “It is his angel.”
16 Meanwhile Peter kept on knocking. At last they opened the door, and when they saw him, they were amazed. 17 He motioned with his hand for them to be quiet, and he explained to them how the Lord had brought him out of prison. “Tell this to James and the rest of the believers,” he said; then he left and went somewhere else.
18 When morning came, there was a tremendous confusion among the guards—what had happened to Peter? 19 Herod gave orders to search for him, but they could not find him. So he had the guards questioned and ordered them put to death.
After this, Herod left Judea and spent some time in Caesarea.
Today’s Key Verse: Acts 12:5
Peter was kept in jail, but the people of the church were praying earnestly to God for him.
What action did the church take when Peter was arrested (verse 5)? How was Peter rescued and what did the angel say to him (verses 6–10)? What were Peter’s thoughts as he was leaving the prison (verse 11)? Where did he go (verse 12)? How did the members of the household react to Rhoda’s message (verse 15)? What does today’s reading teach you about belonging to a community of faith and the power of intercessory prayer?
Lord Jesus, you are always with me, and you have rescued me from the power of sin and death. Strengthen my faith in my daily walk with you. May my words and actions this day give glory and honor to you. In your holy name, I pray. Amen.
Psalm 33: A song in praise of God’s goodness and love.