Acts 12:1-25 Comments by Stephen Ricker
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Peter's Miraculous Excape From Prision
Comments for Study 14

Acts 12:1-25
Memory Verse: 11


I. Wrap Your Cloak Around You and Follow Me (1-18)

>1. What did Herod do and what was his plans? (1)

* Acts 12:1 "It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them."

* "It was about this time" -Luke sticks to a chronological account of the events that took place after Jesus' resurrection, though not always that strict. He says "about" indicating what most believe as a grouping of events in Herod's life.

* "King Herod" -Not the Herod the Great at Jesus' birth, nor his son during Jesus' crucifixion. The family of Herod the Great kept his name. This Herod was the grandson of Herod the Great. He died in 44 A.D.

* The last verse of the former chapter states that Barnabas and Saul brought the gift to Jerusalem. The Holy Spirit told the church about the famine before it happened to give it time to collect the offering. Exactly when Barnabas and Saul brought the gift to Jerusalem is not clear and does not need to be before Herod's persecution of the church. However, verse 25 indicates that they returned to Antioch after Herod died.

* Paul's account in Galatians 2:1-10 seems to refer to this time. It states, "Fourteen years later I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. I went in response to a revelation and set before them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. But I did this privately to those who seemed to be leaders, for fear that I was running or had run my race in vain. Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek. [This matter arose] because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you. As for those who seemed to be important--whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not judge by external appearance--those men added nothing to my message. On the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as Peter had been to the Jews. For God, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles. James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews. All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do."

* "arrested some who belonged to the church" -The reason for the arrest is not stated. Perhaps they were arrested for reasons similar to Jesus' arrest. Some were arrested, others weren't. James would be killed, and Peter would be let out. Some may ask, "Why do some seem to go through more persecutions than others?" It is God's will for his eternal purpose for the person. Other may ask, "Why was James killed and Peter remained?" I think the better question is, "Why was James allowed to go home and Peter had to remain as an alien in a strange world?" The answer to either is the same as the first question; God's sovereign eternal will for the person.

* "intending to persecute them" -This is stated from the Luke's point of view, not Herod's. Herod would have called it justice.

* Acts is loaded with accounts of the church being persecuted. Jesus said that all of his followers would be persecuted in one way or another. If you are not persecuted then you better reconsider your salvation.

>What happened to James? (2)

* Acts 12:2 "He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword."

* "James, the brother of John" -James was a common name at the time. This James is one of the twelve apostles. Most believe that James was the first apostle to die. He like almost all the rest of the apostles were martyred. James, Jesus' brother is mentioned in chapters 15 and 21 who became one of the leaders of the Jerusalem church.

* "put to death with the sword" -This means his head was cut off, the same as John the Baptist. As I write this many more Christians right now are being beheaded.

* During Jesus' ministry James and John's mother asked for them to sit at his right and left in his kingdom. Jesus' response was, "You don't know what you are asking," Jesus said to them. "Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?" "We can," they answered. Jesus said to them, "You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father." (Matt. 20:22-23) The cup he spoke of was suffering and death for God, of which this is the fulfilment.

>why was Herod doing this?

* Herod like Pilate and many other politians since then do not seek justice and righteousness. Rather, they'll do anything to stay in power and gain more power. A leader who looks out for the welfare of others is rare and much welcomed. That is why Christians wait and hope for the kingdom of God, we wait for Jesus' second coming when he will establish his rule here on this earth.

* King David wrote, "Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word." (Psalms 119:36-37)

* Jesus taught the nature of his kingdom to his disciples. "Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, "If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all." (Mark 9:35)

>Who did he arrest next? (3a)

* Acts 12:3a "When he saw that this pleased the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also."

* "pleased the Jews" -Of course the meaning is the Jewish religious leaders, not all Jews for many of the common Jews accepted that Jesus is both Messiah and Lord, all in the first church were Jews or Jewish converts.

* "he preceded" -Herod's arrest of Peter was not based on the breaking of a law. Peter, like Jesus had done nothing illegal.

* Peter had been arrested before. (4:3)

* The first wave of persecution came from Jewish religious leaders to the church leaders. The second wave of persecution came from within the church. The next attack came from junior Jewish leaders toward junior leaders and laymen in the church. This third wave of persecution came from political leaders toward the church leaders.

>2. What day was it? (3b)

* Acts 12:3b "This happened during the Feast of Unleavened Bread."

* Jesus was arrested, tried, and crucified on the Passover fifteen years before this event.

* Verse four calls the time "Passover". Sometimes the Israelites lumped the two together when talking; either saying "Passover" or "The Feast of Unleavened Bread." Yet they are distinct events.

* Since these two feasts are on a day of the month, the day of the week they were celebrated varied from year to year. Hebrew months begin at the new moon. Jewish days begin at twilight, go through the night and the next day, and end at twilight.

>What is the original meaning of these days? (Ex 12:7-8, 14-17, Lev. 23:1-7)

* Passover and The Feast of Unleavened Bread were given to the Israelites through Moses. Exodus 23:14-16 records the Feasts of the Lord. It states, “Three times a year you are to celebrate a festival to me. Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread; for seven days eat bread made without yeast, as I commanded you. Do this at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for in that month you came out of Egypt. No one is to appear before me empty-handed. Celebrate the Feast of Harvest with the firstfruits of the crops you sow in your field. Celebrate the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in your crops from the field.”

* The first Feast of the Lord is a seven day event commemorating when the Lamb of God's blood saved Israel from death and slavery in Egypt. It starts with Passover and ends with the seven days Feast of Unleavened Bread with the Day of Wave Sheaf in the mist of it. (Ex. 23:19, and 2 Ki. 4:42) Leviticus 23:4-8 states, “The Lord's Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. On the fifteenth day of that month the Lord's Feast of Unleavened Bread begins; for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast. On the first day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. For seven days present an offering made to the Lord by fire. And on the seventh day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.'" Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread are further described and explained in Exodus 12:1-30 and Exodus 13:1-16.

* Exodus 12:1-11 states, "The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, "This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household. If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat. The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the people of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the door frames of the houses where they eat the lambs. That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast. Do not eat the meat raw or cooked in water, but roast it over the fire--head, legs and inner parts. Do not leave any of it till morning; if some is left till morning, you must burn it. This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the Lord's Passover."

* Exodus 12:14-20 states, "This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord--a lasting ordinance. For seven days you are to eat bread made without yeast. On the first day remove the yeast from your houses, for whoever eats anything with yeast in it from the first day through the seventh must be cut off from Israel. On the first day hold a sacred assembly, and another one on the seventh day. Do no work at all on these days, except to prepare food for everyone to eat--that is all you may do. "Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread, because it was on this very day that I brought your divisions out of Egypt. Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. In the first month you are to eat bread made without yeast, from the evening of the fourteenth day until the evening of the twenty-first day. For seven days no yeast is to be found in your houses. And whoever eats anything with yeast in it must be cut off from the community of Israel, whether he is an alien or native-born. Eat nothing made with yeast. Wherever you live, you must eat unleavened bread."

>How did Jesus fulfill the meaning behind the Feasts? (Jn 1:29; and 1 Cor. 5:8; Jn 6:35, 50; and 1 Pet. 2:21-24)

* The Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread corresponds with Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection.

* John 1:29 states, "The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"

* 1 Corinthians 5:6-8 states, "Your boasting is not good. Don't you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast--as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth."

* John 6:35 records, "Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty."

* John 6:50-51 records Jesus repeating, "But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."

* 1 Peter 2:21-25 states, "To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. "He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth." When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls."

>What do you think Peter was doing?

* Acts 12:4 "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."

* Peter and the church celebrated Passover in the way Jesus instituted it during what is called "The Last Supper".

* Recorded in Matt. 26:26-29, Mark 14:22-26, and Luke 22:14-20. Luke recorded, "When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God." After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, "Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes." And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you."

* Paul recorded, "For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes." (1 Cor. 11:23-26)

* Passover was considered improper by Constantine I, first Pope and a Roman Emperor (306 to 337 A.D.). He replaced Passover with Easter. The church split in two and many more did not follow his decree. Easter and Passover are celebrated around the same time.

What happened to Peter?(5)

* Acts 12:4 "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."

* "four squads of for soldiers each" -Do you think he had enough guards watching him? Herod must have known that Peter had escaped on the previous arrest.

* "public trial" -As Pilate had done with Jesus though it would appear from different reasons.

>What was the church doing? (5)

* Acts 12:5 "So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him."

* "the church" -Church is "Ekklesia" in Greek. It can also be translated "assembly" or "congregation".

* "earnestly praying to God for him" -The same word is used to describe Jesus' prayer in Gethsemane. (Luke 22:44) Everyone wanted Peter released. They did not take up arms. They did not storm the jail. They did not picket outside of Herod's palace. They did not seek an audience with Herod. They did not start up a petition for Peter's release. They did not try to bribe the guards. They did not dig a tunnel or plan an escape by their own strength. They prayed to God.

* Proverbs 15:8 states, "The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases him."

* Philippians 4:4-7 states, "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

>3. What was Peter's condition in jail? (6)

* Acts 12:6 "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."

* "The night before Herod was to bring him to trial" -God waited until the last minute to save Peter. Perhaps as a test of faith to Peter and the church. Also, deliverance just before destruction give greater testimony (i.e. Abraham raised his hand to slay his son, then God stopped him.) Thus the saying, "It is darkest just before the dawn." I believe that Jesus' coming and the rapture of the church will be when it seems all is just about to be lost.

* "Peter was sleeping between two soldiers" -Peter's ability to sleep is often repeated in the Bible. How he could sleep while being chained to two soldiers in jail is amazing. The peace that passes understanding was on Peter.

>Who appeared in the jail and what did he say? (7-8)

* Acts 12:7-8 "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. 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."

* "suddenly... appeared" -out of nowhere visible to man.

* "an angel of the Lord" -The book of Acts shows God using angles to help his people. Angels are spirits (Heb. 1:13-14; Ps. 104:4) created by God (Neh. 9:6; Col. 1;16) before the creation of man (Job 38:7).

* "and a light shone" -The text indicated that the light was not radiating from the angel. However, in other cases such as with the shepherd when Jesus was born (Luke 2:9)) light and the glory of the Lord is sometimes associated with angels in the New Testament. Since they dwell mainly in heaven and are thus close to God, his glory is with them.

* "in the cell" -Since it was night and he as in a cell, Peter would need a light to see where he was going.

* "He struck Peter on the side" -With his foot?

* "Quickly, get up!" -Hast was needed because he was escaping just before they would awake and take him away for trial. The exclamation point shows that perhaps the angel shouted. Ancient writers pressed the pen hard to show exclamation.

* "Put on your clothes and sandals" -Outer clothes, not his underwear. Peter was not naked.

* "Wrap your cloak" -Passover is in early spring. The cool weather required a cloak.

* "and follow me" -The angel did not tell him how to get out. Peter was in a cell. The gates needed to be opened.

>How did Peter respond and what did he think of the whole thing?

* Acts 12:9-10 "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. 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."

* "Peter followed him out of the prison" -Peter said nothing. He asked no questions. He just followed. The Jerusalem prison was probably the tow of Antonia, located at the north-west corner of the temple and probably the "barracks" where Paul was later held (21:34).

* "he thought he was seeing a vision" -In the past Peter had seen visions. ()

* "by itself" -Neither the angel, a guard, or Peter opened it. The hand of Jesus opened it.

* "the length of one street" -Peter was now safe and could make his own way.

* "suddenly the angel left him" -The angel went back to the presence of God.

>Why do you think he reacted this way? (Acts 10) What can we learn about how God delivers his people from trouble, persecution, and hardships?

* In chapter ten Peter had a vision to teach him to not call the Gentiles unclean and accept them as equals. Peter thought the prison escape was a vision too. He must have believed that God was teaching him something.

* Peter did not always have spiritual insight into what was happening even though Jesus was directly acting supernaturally in his life. His reaction and thoughts are comforting. Like Pter, I do not always know what God is doing until it is done too.

* I would like to know why God is doing what he is doing, but often I am at a loss to figure things out. When trouble, hardship, and persecution happens I would like to know the future, perpetually when they will end. I often speculate, but do not know for sure. Why doesn't God reveal these things? God seldom reveals his immediate plans of deliverance so that we and all creation gives him all the glory and we learn faith. He tells us to trust and obey. As the old hymn goes, "There's no better way to be in Jesus, than to trust and obey."

* As we approach the end of this age more and more people are claiming that they have inside to when the rapture and the end of the age is going to happen. Some claim that God will reveal to his people the date and time before it happens. All have proven wrong. If Peter did not understand his escape when it was happening, how can people say we will know the date and time of the rapture?

>4. What did Peter realize after the angel disappeared?

* Acts 12:11 "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."

* "came to himself" -Understood that he was awake and had just walked out of the prison.

* "rescued me from Herod" -Peter did not rescued me from Satan. I do not know of anyplace that when saints of old were rescued from death that they said that they were rescued from Satan's clutches.

* "everything the Jewish people" -Peter had distinguished himself as set apart from those who refused to accept Jesus as the Messiah. The Jewish leaders had the same culture and proclaimed the God of Abraham. Yet, Peter's identity was based on his relationship with God through Jesus, not Abraham, Moses, and the prophets.

* "were anticipating" -They had assumed and perhaps were involved indirectly with James death and Peter's arrest.

> How do you think he felt?

* "Now I know without a doubt" -Peter did not know for sure until the angel left and he was still standing in the street all alone.

* Peter must have been astonished. The phrases "came to himself" and "when this had dawned on him" shows a contradictory state of elated bewilderment.

> What did he do?

* Acts 12:12-13 "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. Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer the door."

* "When this had dawned on him" -Peter is often sited as not being the smartest apostle as he himself attested to. (2 Peter 3:15-16) Yet, Jesus used him often and he was considered a leader of the Jerusalem church. God does not look for intelligence though he does not exclude the intelligent. God is more than intelligent. Jesus always looked for and reacted to people who displayed faith during his earthly ministry. Jesus is stated to be amazed by those who had faith (Luke 7:9) or lacked faith (Mark 6:6). He was not astonished by wisdom, riches, or political cunning.

* "to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark" -2:12 states after Jesus' ascension the disciples had stayed in an upper room, the same on the Last Supper was in. (Luke 22:9-12) Most scholars believe that this was the home of Mark John's mother as mentioned in this verse. Mark 14:51-52 mentions a young man in the Mount of Olives when Jesus was arrested, unique to Mark's gospel. This seems to have little to do with the account except that this young man was a witness. Colossians 4:10 states that Mark was the cousin of Barnabas. Jesus' followers often meet in the believers homes for many years after Jesus' ascension. They also went to the Jewish synagogues until they were banned. This and the fact that more and more gentiles believed in Jesus eventually lead to building churches. Church buildings are not mentioned in the New Testament, the closest is a public hall that Paul used. (19:9)

* "people had gathered and were praying" -Believers did not dwell in her house all the time. They came to the house often to pray as a group. Most likely she had a very large room the largest of the congregation. Corporate prayer is good.

* "Peter knocked at the outer entrance" -Large homes of the financially well off (as this one appears to be) often had gated gardens. Mark was from apparently from the upper class. Peter must have known that a lot of believers would be there.

* "a servant girl Rhoda" -Rhoda is not mentioned elsewhere. Rhode is Greek for rose. Having a servant girl also shows Mark's upper class status.

> What was the church's response?

* Acts 12:14-17 "When she recognized Peter's voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, "Peter is at the door!" "You're out of your mind," they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, "It must be his angel." But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. 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."

* "she recognized Peter's voice" -Peter spoke a lot.

* "she was overjoyed she ran back without opening it" -The young can let their emotions control their actions. Emotions can lead us to illogical actions.

* "You're out of your mind" -The same claim that was made of Mary when she claimed that Jesus rose from the dead.

* "It must be his angel" -The belief that each believer in Jesus has a guardian angel that may look and sound like us. If true I pity my guardian angel! I'd rather he'd be clothed in the glory of the Lord. Some have attested that since angels are spirit that they were saying this was his spirit and he was dead. However, the Greek word is never translated as a spirit.

* "But Peter kept on knocking" -A spirit could not knock on a wood door. It would pass through it.

> Why do you think they responded this way?

* "they were astonished" -They had been praying that Peter would be released and now were astonished he was released. They, like us, pray for something and did not know how Jesus would answer. He answers either, "Yes", "No", or "wait."

* "motioned with his hand for them to be quiet" -A loud noise could bring attention and he and perhaps they would be arrested. We should not let our emotions bring us trouble.

* "described how the Lord" -Peter did not say the angel brought him out. Peter gave credit to the Lord.

* "Tell James and the brothers" -James, Jesus' brother was one of the leaders of the Jerusalem church after James, the apostle died. They were not in this house. They must have been some place else. One could even deduce that this was a youth prayer meeting and the elders were in another.

* "and left them for another place" -Some have claimed that Peter went to Rome and remained in hiding. They state that this is the reason he is not mentioned again. However, chapter 15 shows that Peter remained in Judea. Paul states that Peter was the apostle to the Jews, so most likely he stayed in Palestine.

>How did the soldiers respond (18)

* Acts 12:18 "In the morning, there was no small commotion among the soldiers as to what had become of Peter."

* "no small commotion" -Luke sometimes uses a diminutive to describe a possible embarrassing event. (See Acts 15)

* The guards made a big deal about this because they knew it would mean death for them.

II. The Word of God Continued to Increase and Spread (19-25)

>5. What was Herod's response?

* Acts 12:19a "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."

* "thorough search" -Perhaps well beyond the fortified jail and soldiers house.

* "he cross-examined the guards" -He wanted to find out which one was a traitor. He could not believe that God would perform any miracles, especially against his will. He would rather blame others than admit that he was not in God's will. Am I like this? Do I blame others when I am the one to blame? Do I do wrong to others to save my face? I have seen many religious people do just this. Surely I have also done this too. God opposes the proud, but exults the humble.

* "ordered that they be executed" -Roman law stated that an escaped prisoners crime would be given to the guards. Later, when Paul was jailed he refused to leave because he did not want the guards to be killed. Since Peter wasn't aware that he was being lead out, no one should say that Paul was better than Peter.

>What kind of man was he?

* Herod is a typical person of the world. Self centered and afraid of opinions of men more than the blessing of God.

>What does his reaction to the church tell us of Satan's work?

* Opposition to the gospel can come from many places and from anyone.

* Luke 22:24-30 states, "Also a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. You are those who have stood by me in my trials. And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel."

>6. What happened to Herod?

* Acts 12:19b-23 "Then Herod went from Judea to Caesarea and stayed there a while. 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. On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. They shouted, "This is the voice of a god, not of a man." 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."

* "Caesarea" -Herod's Roman capital in Palestine.

* "Tyre and Sidon" -traded with Galilee for grain.

* "they asked for peace" -Herod had won the argument and they now begged for forgiveness and favor, perhaps the whole point of the quarrel from Herod's point of view.

* "delivered a public address" -How often are public addresses solely for the public's benefit?

* "because Herod did not give praise to God" -God expects all to give praise to God.

* Josephus, a Jewish historian also records this event.

>7. What was God doing during this whole time?

* Acts 12:24-25 "But the word of God continued to increase and spread. When Barnabas and Saul had finished their mission, they returned from Jerusalem, taking with them John, also called Mark."

* "the word of God" -referring to the words of Jesus.

* "continued to increase and spread" -People kept telling others of the teaching and life of Jesus.

* "Barnabas and Saul had finished their mission" -The text does not say how long they stayed in Jerusalem and it is possible that the two events only happened about the same time.

* "taking with them John, also called Mark" -Barnabas took his nephew.

>Why does God allow these persecution happen to Jesus' believers?

* Hebrews 10:32-34 reflects back to this time as it states, "Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions."

* It continues, "So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For in just a very little while, "He who is coming will come and will not delay. But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him." But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved." (Heb. 10:35-39)