Part XII

The Holy Spirit's Miraculous Ministry

At the same time, the church did face some real challenges, for the apostle James was imprisoned and put to death, as we can read in Acts 12:1-2

It was about this time that king Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword.

The next person to be put in prison was Peter, as we can read in Acts 12:3-4

When he (king Herod) saw that this pleased the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. 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.

While in prison, an angel appeared to him and released him, as we can read in Acts 12:7-9

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. 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.

However, eventually the angel left, and Peter realised this was really happening so he quickly went to the house where the believers were gathered, to tell them their prayers for his release had been answered, as we can read in Acts 12:11-12

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.” 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.

They had difficulty believing that Peter had actually been released, as we can read in Acts 12:13-16.

Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer the door. When she recognised 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.

In fact, it was easier for them to believe that Peter’s angel was at the door rather than Peter. However, God had answered their prayers, and it was Peter himself who had been released.