Acts Chapter 12

April 7, 2011

This Preaching in Shorts Bible study is on the Book of Acts. Each chapter is read verse by verse with the major points highlighted and discussed.

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Acts 12:1-25 (NIV)
1 It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. 2 He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. 3 When he saw that this pleased the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. 4 After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover. 5 So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. 6 The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. 7 Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists. 8 Then the angel said to him, “Put on your clothes and sandals.” And Peter did so. “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,” the angel told him. 9 Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. 10 They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him. 11 Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now I know without a doubt that the Lord sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were anticipating.” 12 When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. 13 Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer the door. 14 When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, “Peter is at the door!” 15 “You’re out of your mind,” they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, “It must be his angel.” 16 But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. 17 Peter motioned with his hand for them to be quiet and described how the Lord had brought him out of prison. “Tell James and the brothers about this,” he said, and then he left for another place. 18 In the morning, there was no small commotion among the soldiers as to what had become of Peter. 19 After Herod had a thorough search made for him and did not find him, he cross-examined the guards and ordered that they be executed. Then Herod went from Judea to Caesarea and stayed there a while. 20 He had been quarreling with the people of Tyre and Sidon; they now joined together and sought an audience with him. Having secured the support of Blastus, a trusted personal servant of the king, they asked for peace, because they depended on the king’s country for their food supply. 21 On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. 22 They shouted, “This is the voice of a god, not of a man.” 23 Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died. 24 But the word of God continued to increase and spread. 25 When Barnabas and Saul had finished their mission, they returned from Jerusalem, taking with them John, also called Mark.

Acts Chapter 12

Acts Chapter 12 is a transitional Chapter in the Book of Acts. It’s main purpose is to demonstrate and confirm Israel’s rejection of Jesus as the Messiah. This animosity of Israel sets the stage for the upcoming missionary journeys of Paul.

Acts 12:1-4

King Herod starts imprisoning and executing some of the church in Jerusalem. The Herod mentioned in these verses is Agrippa II, the grandson of Herod the Great. James, the brother of John, is killed by the sword. Peter (who is known as the leader of the church) is arrested and imprisoned, presumably about to face the same threat. He is guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Most likely, these squads did 6 hour shifts, with two of the guards being chained to Peter and the other two standing watch. This large detail of guards probably has something to do with Peter’s escape from prison in Chapter 5:

Acts 5:17-25 (NIV)
17 Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. 18 They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. 19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. 20 “Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people the full message of this new life.” 21 At daybreak they entered the temple courts, as they had been told, and began to teach the people. When the high priest and his associates arrived, they called together the Sanhedrin–the full assembly of the elders of Israel–and sent to the jail for the apostles. 22 But on arriving at the jail, the officers did not find them there. So they went back and reported, 23 “We found the jail securely locked, with the guards standing at the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside.” 24 On hearing this report, the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests were puzzled, wondering what would come of this. 25 Then someone came and said, “Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple courts teaching the people.”

Acts 12:5

Peter is in prison, but the church is earnestly praying for him.

Acts 12:6

I think this verse is interesting, Peter is in prison, awaiting trial and execution, chained between two guards, and yet he is sleeping like a baby.

Acts 12:7-11

Just like in Acts 5, an angel helps prison escape from prison. The angel wakes up Peter, tells him to get dressed and follow him out of the prison. Peter thinks it is just a vision at first, but then finds himself standing outside a block away from the prison.

Acts 12:12

This verse introduces us to John Mark, who would be part of the team of the first missionary journey. He is also the writer of the Gospel of Mark. Apparently, it was at John Marks mothers house where the prayer meeting for Peter was taking place, so Peter decides to head over there.

Acts 12:13-17

These are kind of funny verses. The church is praying but is certainly not expecting such an immediate answer. The young girl who goes to answer Peter’s knocking, hears his voice and forgets to open the door and let him in. She runs back to tell the prayer meeting, they don’t believe her, Peter keeps on knocking and they finally let him in. It is almost like Peter needed the angel to come and help in break in. Peter tells them the story of what happened, tells them to relay the story to John and to James (Jesus half brother) and then he goes to another place.

Acts 12:18-19

Things don’t go so well for the sixteen guards.

Acts 12:20-23

Herod comes to a bad end himself for not giving praise to God. Did you ever look at the closely at the phrasing of verse 23.

Acts 12:23 (NIV)
23 Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.

It doesn’t say he dies and was eaten by worms. It says he was eaten by worms and dies. Of course, he had already been smote or struck down.

Acts 12:24

Even with all the persecution of the church, the word of God Continues to increase and spread

Acts 12:25

Barnabas and Saul deliver the money to the church in Jerusalem that they brought with them from the offering at the Antioch church, and they head back to Antioch with John Mark in tow.

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