The Prison Escape of Peter
The following story is about the time that Peter Escapes from Prison. His great escape from prison with the help of an Angel can be found in Acts 12:1 to Acts 12:23.
The Peter escape from prison text can be found in Acts 12:1, Acts 12:2, Acts 12:3, Acts 12:4, Acts 12:5, Acts 12:6, Acts 12:7, Acts 12:8, Acts 12:9, Acts 12:10, Acts 12:11, Acts 12:12, Acts 12:13, Acts 12:14, Acts 12:15, Acts 12:16, Acts 12:17, Acts 12:18, Acts 12:19, Acts 12:20, Acts 12:21, Acts 12:22, Acts 12:23
“Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church.”
The government of Judea was then in the hands of Herod Agrippa, subject to Claudius, the Roman emperor. Herod also held the position of tetrarch of Galilee. He was professedly a proselyte to the Jewish faith, and apparently very zealous in carrying out the ceremonies of the Jewish law.
Desirous of obtaining the favour of the Jews, hoping thus to make secure his offices and honours, he proceeded to carry out their desires by persecuting the church of Christ, spoiling the houses and goods of the believers, and imprisoning the leading members of the church.
He cast James, the brother of John, into prison, and sent an executioner to kill him with the sword, as another Herod had caused the prophet John to be beheaded. Seeing that the Jews were well pleased with these efforts, he imprisoned Peter also.
It was during the Passover that these cruelties were practised. While the Jews were celebrating their deliverance from Egypt and pretending great zeal for the law of God, they were at the same time transgressing every principle of that law by persecuting and murdering the believers in Christ.
The death of James caused great grief and consternation among believers. When Peter also was imprisoned, the entire church engaged in fasting and prayer.
Execution in Public
Herod’s act in putting James to death was applauded by the Jews, though some complained of the private manner in which it was accomplished, maintaining that a public execution would have more thoroughly intimidated the believers and those sympathizing with them.
Herod, therefore, held Peter in custody, meaning still further to gratify the Jews by the public spectacle of his death. But it was suggested that it would not be safe to bring the veteran apostle out for execution before all the people then assembled in Jerusalem. It was feared that the sight of him being led out to die might excite the pity of the multitude.
Peter Advocates the Cause of Christ
The priests and elders also feared lest Peter might make one of those powerful appeals which had frequently aroused the people to study the life and character of Jesus—appeals which they, with all their arguments, had been unable to controvert.
Peter’s zeal in advocating the cause of Christ had led many to take their stand for the gospel, and the rulers feared that should he be given an opportunity to defend his faith in the presence of the multitude who had come to the city to worship, his release would be demanded at the hands of the king.
While, upon various pretexts, the execution of Peter was being delayed until after the Passover, the members of the church had time for deep searching of heart and earnest prayer. They prayed without ceasing for Peter, for they felt that he could not be spared from the cause. They realized that they had reached a place where, without the special help of God, the church of Christ would be destroyed.
Meanwhile, worshipers from every nation sought the temple which had been dedicated to the worship of God. Glittering with gold and precious stones, it was a vision of beauty and grandeur. But Jehovah was no longer to be found in that palace of loveliness. Israel as a nation had divorced herself from God.
When Christ, near the close of His earthly ministry, looked for the last time upon the interior of the temple, He said,
“Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.”
Hitherto He had called the temple His Father’s house; but as the Son of God passed out from those walls, God’s presence was withdrawn forever from the temple built to His glory.
The Date for Peter’s Death Set
The day of Peter’s execution was at last appointed, but still, the prayers of the believers ascended to heaven; and while all their energies and sympathies were called out in fervent appeals for help, angels of God were watching over the imprisoned apostle.
Remembering the former escape of the apostles from prison, Herod on this occasion had taken double precautions.
To prevent all possibility of release, Peter had been put under the charge of sixteen soldiers, who, in different watches, guarded him day and night. In his cell he was placed between two soldiers and was bound by two chains, each chain being fastened to the wrist of one of the soldiers.
He was unable to move without their knowledge. With the prison doors securely fastened, and a strong guard before them, all chance of rescue or escape through human means was cut off.
But man’s extremity is God’s opportunity.
Peter in Prison
Peter was confined in a rock-hewn cell, the doors of which were strongly bolted and barred; and the soldiers on guard were made answerable for the safekeeping of the prisoner. But the bolts and bars and the Roman guard, which effectually cut off all possibility of human aid, were but to make more complete the triumph of God in the deliverance of Peter.
Herod was lifting his hand against Omnipotence, and he was to be utterly defeated. By the putting forth of His might, God was about to save the precious life that the Jews were plotting to destroy.
Peter Escapes from Prison
It is the last night before the proposed execution. Peter escapes from prison with the help of a mighty angel sent from heaven to rescue the apostle. The strong gates that shut in the saint of God open without the aid of human hands. The angel of the Highest passes through and the gates close noiselessly behind him. He enters the cell, and there lies Peter, sleeping the peaceful sleep of perfect trust.
The light that surrounds the angel fills the cell but does not rouse the apostle. Not until he feels the touch of the angel’s hand and hears a voice saying, “Arise up quickly,” does he awaken sufficiently to see his cell illuminated by the light of heaven, and an angel of great glory standing before him. Mechanically he obeys the word spoken to him, and as in rising he lifts his hands he is dimly conscious that the chains have fallen from his wrists.
Again, the voice of the heavenly messenger bids him,
“Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals,”
and again Peter mechanically obeys, keeping his wondering gaze riveted upon his visitor and believing himself to be dreaming or in a vision. Once more the angel commands,
“Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me.“
He moves toward the door, followed by the usually talkative Peter, now dumb from amazement. They step over the guard and reach the heavily bolted door, which of its own accord swings open and closes again immediately, while the guards within and without are motionless at their post.
No Prison Gate Can Stop Peter to Escape
The second door, also guarded within and without, is reached. It opens as did the first, with no creaking of hinges or rattling of iron bolts. They pass through, and it closes again as noiselessly.
In the same way, they pass through the third gateway and find themselves in the open street. No word is spoken; there is no sound of footsteps. The angel glides on in front, encircled by a light of dazzling brightness, and Peter, bewildered, and still believing himself to be in a dream, follows his deliverer.
Thus, they pass on through one street, and then, the mission of the angel being accomplished, he suddenly disappears.
Peter a Free Man
The heavenly light faded away, and Peter felt himself to be in profound darkness; but as his eyes became accustomed to the darkness, it gradually seemed to lessen, and he found himself alone in the silent street, with the cool night air blowing upon his brow. He now realized that he was free, in a familiar part of the city; he recognized the place as one that he had often frequented and had expected to pass on the morrow for the last time.
He tried to recall the events of the past few moments. He remembered falling asleep, bound between two soldiers, with his sandals and outer garments removed. He examined his person and found himself fully dressed and girded. His wrists, swollen from wearing the cruel irons, were free from the manacles.
He realized that his freedom was no delusion, no dream or vision, but a blessed reality. On the morrow he was to have been led forth to die; but, lo, an angel had delivered him from prison and from death. “And when Peter came to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent His angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.”
Peter or an Angel?
The apostle made his way at once to the house where his brethren were assembled and where they were at that moment engaged in earnest prayer for him. As Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda.
And when she knew Peter’s voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate. And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel.
But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. But he, beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison.
And after Peter escapes from prison he “departed, and went into another place.” Joy and praise filled the hearts of the believers because God had heard and answered their prayers and had delivered Peter from the hands of Herod.