A Christ Filled Life – Getting To Know Jesus
“Peter’s Miraculous Escape From Prison”/Acts 12:1) Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the Church. 2) And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. 3) And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.) Exodus 12:14. 4) And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people. 5) Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the Church unto God for him. 6) And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison. 7) And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands. Psalm 34:7; Isaiah 37:36. 8) And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me. 9) And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision. Psalm 126:1. 10) When they were past the first and the second ward, thy came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him. Acts 16:26.
Matthew Henry’s Complete Bible Commentary – v1-4) He stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church, v. 1. He employed his officers to seize them, and take them into custody, in order to their being prosecuted. His spite was at the church, because they belonged to Christ. Christ’s suffering servants are thus trained that tribulation may work patience, and patience experience. II. He killed James the brother of John with the sword, v. 2. the martyr was: so called to distinguish him from the other James the brother of Joses. This who was one of the first three of Christ’s disciples, one of those that were the witnesses of his transfiguration and agony, whereby he was prepared for martyrdom; he was one of those whom Christ called Boanerges—Sons of thunder; and perhaps by his powerful awakening preaching he had provoked Herod, or those about him, as John Baptist did the other Herod, and that was the occasion of his coming into this trouble. He was one of those sons of Zebedee whom Christ told that they should drink of the cup that he was to drink of, and be baptized with the baptism that he was to be baptized with, Mt. 20:23 . . And now those words of Christ were made good in him; but it was in order to his sitting at Christ’s right hand; for if we suffer with him, we shall reign with him. His head was cut off with a sword, which was looked upon by the Romans to be a more disgraceful way of being beheaded than with an axe. Notice is taken of the time when Herod laid hold on Peter: Then were the days of unleavened bread. It was at the feast of the Passover. At the Passover, when the Jews came from all parts to Jerusalem to keep the feast, they irritated one another against the Christians and Christianity, and were then more violent than at other times. (v. 4): When he had laid hands on him (Peter), and, it is likely, examined him, he into the inner prison; some say, into the same prison into which he and the other apostles were cast some years before, and were rescued out of it by an angel, Ch. 5:18 . He was delivered to four quaternions of soldiers, that is, to sixteen, who were to be a guard upon him, four at a time, that he should not make his escape, nor be rescued by his friends. Thus they thought they had him fast. 5. Herod’s design was, after Easter, to bring him forth unto the people. (1.) He would make a spectacle of him. Verses 5-19 (v. 5): Peter was kept in prison with a great deal of care, so that it was altogether impossible, either by force or by stealth, to get him out. But prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him, for prayers and tears are the church’s arms; therewith she fights, not only against her enemies, but for her friends. 1. The delay of Peter’s trial gave them time for prayer. They were very particular in their prayers for him, that it would please God, some way or other, to defeat Herod’s purpose, and to snatch the lamb out of the jaws of the lion. The death of James alarmed them to a greater fervency in their prayer for Peter. Phil. 2:27 Phil. 2:27. Prayer was made without ceasing; it was, proseuche ektenes —fervent prayer. It is the word that is used concerning Christ’s praying in his agony more earnestly; it is the fervent prayer of the righteous man, that is effectual, and availeth much, Esth. 9:1, 2. It was when he (Peter) was fast bound with two chains, between two soldiers; so that if he stirs he wakes them; and, besides this, though the prison-doors, no doubt, were locked and bolted, to make sure work, the keepers before the door kept the prison, that no one might so much as attempt to rescue him. It was when he was sleeping between the soldiers, fast asleep. Not terrified with his danger, though it was very imminent. There was but a step between him and death, and yet he could lay himself down in peace. Having committed his cause to him that judgeth righteously. The angel awoke Peter, by giving him a blow on his side, a gentle touch, enough to rouse him out of his sleep, Arise up quickly. His chains fell off from his hands. God loosed his band. Tradition makes a mighty rout about these chains, and tells a formal story that one of the soldiers kept them for a sacred relic, and they were long after presented to Eudoxia the empress, and I know not what miracles are said to have been wrought by them; and The grace of God, brings light first into the prison, by the opening of the understanding, and then gives the word of command, Gird thyself, and follow me. Difficulties are to be passed through, and we shall be saved by the grace of God. When this was done, the angel departed from him, and left him to himself.