|Volume 25 Number 9 September 2023
Gary C. Hampton
Herod Agrippa decided to inflict pain on the church, particularly upon the apostles. He took James, the brother of John, captive and killed him with the sword. Herod saw this was well received by the Jews, so he immediately had Peter imprisoned, intending to put him to death as well. He held him in prison while the Passover feast was celebrated. Sixteen soldiers, divided into four groups of four, guarded the apostle. Peter’s public execution was to be held at the conclusion of the feast (Acts 12:1-4).
The church waited in prayer while Peter was in prison. Christians asked God to be with Peter. The word Luke used suggests there was prayer being offered up around the clock. Peter lay chained to two soldiers with two more outside the door the night before Herod’s intended act. An angelic messenger awakened Peter and caused the chains to fall off his hands. He told him to dress and led him out of the prison. The apostle thought he was dreaming. He followed the angel past the first and second guard posts, through the gate, which seemed to open automatically, and out into the street.
Peter realized he was free once he was in the street. The awestruck apostle realized the Lord had sent His messenger to deliver him out of the murderous hands of Herod. After thinking for a moment, Peter went to the house of Mary, the mother of John Mark, to tell the church of his miraculous release. A girl named Rhoda recognized his voice at the gate but did not let him in because of her excitement. The rest of the assembled church thought she was crazy or that she had heard Peter’s angel.
The apostle’s insistent knocking caused them to go see for themselves. They were amazed at what they saw, despite the fact that they had been praying to God on Peter’s behalf for days. Herein lies the danger of prayer; God may give you what you have been requesting! Christians need to pray, believing they will receive when they ask in accordance with God’s will (Acts 12:5-17; James 1:5-8; 1 John 5:14).