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James Killed and Peter Imprisoned


About that time King Herod laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the church. 2He had James, the brother of John, killed with the sword. 3After he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. (This was during the festival of Unleavened Bread.) 4When he had seized him, he put him in prison and handed him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending to bring him out to the people after the Passover. 5While Peter was kept in prison, the church prayed fervently to God for him.

Peter Delivered from Prison

6 The very night before Herod was going to bring him out, Peter, bound with two chains, was sleeping between two soldiers, while guards in front of the door were keeping watch over the prison. 7Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He tapped Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his wrists. 8The angel said to him, “Fasten your belt and put on your sandals.” He did so. Then he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” 9Peter went out and followed him; he did not realize that what was happening with the angel’s help was real; he thought he was seeing a vision. 10After they had passed the first and the second guard, they came before the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they went outside and walked along a lane, when suddenly the angel left him. 11Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hands of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.”

12 As soon as he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many had gathered and were praying. 13When he knocked at the outer gate, a maid named Rhoda came to answer. 14On recognizing Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed that, instead of opening the gate, she ran in and announced that Peter was standing at the gate. 15They said to her, “You are out of your mind!” But she insisted that it was so. They said, “It is his angel.” 16Meanwhile Peter continued knocking; and when they opened the gate, they saw him and were amazed. 17He motioned to them with his hand to be silent, and described for them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he added, “Tell this to James and to the believers.” Then he left and went to another place.

18 When morning came, there was no small commotion among the soldiers over what had become of Peter. 19When Herod had searched for him and could not find him, he examined the guards and ordered them to be put to death. Then he went down from Judea to Caesarea and stayed there.

The Death of Herod

20 Now Herod was angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon. So they came to him in a body; and after winning over Blastus, the king’s chamberlain, they asked for a reconciliation, because their country depended on the king’s country for food. 21On an appointed day Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat on the platform, and delivered a public address to them. 22The people kept shouting, “The voice of a god, and not of a mortal!” 23And immediately, because he had not given the glory 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 advance and gain adherents. 25Then after completing their mission Barnabas and Saul returned to Jerusalem and brought with them John, whose other name was Mark.


7. A light shined, It is to be thought that Peter alone saw this light, and that the soldiers did either sleep so soundly, or else were so amazed, that they neither felt nor perceived any thing, And there might be two causes why God would have the light to shine; either that Peter might have the use thereof, and that the darkness might be no hindrance to him, or that it might be to him a sign and token of the heavenly glory. For we read oftentimes that the angels appeared with glistering brightness, even when the sun did shine, Assuredly, Peter might have gathered by the strange light that God was present, and also he ought to have made his profit thereof. When as the angel smiteth Peter’s side, it appeareth hereby what a care God hath for his, who watcheth over them when they sleep, and raiseth them when they are drowsy. And surely there were nothing more miserable than we, if the continuance of our prayers alone did keep God in his watching over us; for such is the infirmity of our flesh that we faint and quail, and we stand most of all in need of his help when our minds, being drawn away, do not seek him. Sleep is a certain image of death, and doth choke and drown all the senses, what should become of us if God should then cease to have respect to us? But forasmuch as when the faithful go to sleep, they commit their safety to God, it cometh to pass by this means, that even their sleep doth call upon God.

Whereas he saith, that immediately after the angel had said the word the chains were loosed, we gather by this, that there is power enough in the commandment of God alone to remove all manner [of] lets, when all ways seem to be stopt on all sides, so that if he intend to appease the motions and tumults of war, although the whole world were appointed in armor, their spears and swords shall forthwith fall out of their hands; on the other side, if he be determined to punish us and our sins with war, in a moment, (in the twinkling of an eye,) their minds, which were before given to peace, shall wax hot, and they shall lay hand on their swords. Whereas Luke setteth down severally both the words of the angel, and also the course of the matter, it serveth for the more certainty of the history, that it may in every respect appear that Peter was delivered by God.

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