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Peter’s Miraculous Escape from Prison

12 During this period King Herod[a] incited persecution against the church, causing great harm to the believers. He even had the apostle Jacob,[b] John’s brother, beheaded.[c] 3–4 When Herod realized how much this pleased the Jewish leaders, he had Peter arrested and thrown into prison during the Feast of Passover.[d] Sixteen soldiers were assigned to guard him until Herod could bring him to public trial, immediately after the Passover celebrations were over. The church went into a season of intense intercession,[e] asking God to free him.

The night before Herod planned to bring him to trial, he made sure that Peter was securely bound with two chains. Peter was sound asleep between two soldiers, with additional guards stationed outside his cell door, when all at once an angel of the Lord appeared, filling his prison cell with a brilliant light. The angel struck Peter on the side[f] to awaken him and said, “Hurry up! Let’s go!” Instantly the chains fell off his wrists. The angel told him, “Get dressed. Put on your sandals, bring your cloak, and follow me.”

Peter quickly left the cell and followed the angel, even though he thought it was only a dream or a vision, for it seemed unreal—he couldn’t believe it was really happening! 10 They walked unseen past the first guard post and then the second before coming to the iron gate that leads to the city—and the gate swung open all by itself right in front of them!

They went out into the city and were walking down a narrow street when all of a sudden the angel disappeared. 11 That’s when Peter realized that he wasn’t having a dream! He said to himself, “This is really happening! The Lord sent his angel to rescue me from the clutches of Herod and from what the Jewish leaders planned to do to me.”

12 When he realized this, he decided to go to the home of Mary[g] and her son John Mark. The house was filled with people praying. 13 When he knocked on the door to the courtyard, a young servant girl named Rose[h] got up to see who it was. 14 When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so excited that she forgot to open the door, but ran back inside the house to announce, “Peter is standing outside!”

15 “Are you crazy?” they said to her. But when she kept insisting, they answered, “Well, it must be his angel.”

16 Meanwhile, Peter was still outside, knocking on the door. When they finally opened it, they were shocked to find Peter standing there.

17 He signaled for them to be quiet as he shared with them the miraculous way the Lord brought him out of prison. Before he left he said, “Make sure you let Jacob[i] and all of the other believers know what has happened.”

18 At the first sign of daylight, the prison guards were in a tremendous uproar because of Peter’s disappearance.[j] Herod ordered a thorough search for him, but no one could find him. 19 After he interrogated the guards, he ordered them executed. Then Herod left the province of Judea for Caesarea and stayed there for a period of time.

20 Now, during those days, Herod was engaged in a violent dispute with the people of Tyre and Sidon.[k] So they sent a united delegation to Caesarea to appeal to him and reconcile their differences[l] with the king, for Herod controlled their food supply. First they enlisted the support of his trusted personal assistant, Blastus, who secured them an appointment with the king.

21 On the chosen day, Herod came before them, arrayed in his regal robes. Sitting on his elevated throne, he delivered a stirring public address to the people. 22 At its conclusion the people gave him a round of applause. The crowd shouted, “These are the words of a god, not a man!”

23 Immediately, an angel of the Lord struck Herod with a sickness, an infestation of worms, because he accepted the people’s worship and didn’t give the glory to God, and he died. 24 But the hope of God’s kingdom[m] kept spreading and multiplying everywhere!

25 After Barnabas and Saul had delivered the charitable offering for relief, they left Jerusalem, bringing with them a disciple named Mark (who was also known as John).[n]


  1. Acts 12:1 Or “King Herod Agrippa.”
  2. Acts 12:2 Or “James.” Both Greek and Aramaic leave the Hebrew name as it is, Jacob. According to the Gospels, Jacob (James) and John were the first two disciples of Jesus, and Jacob was the first apostle to be martyred.
  3. Acts 12:2 Or “executed by the sword.”
  4. Acts 12:3 These events most likely took place in AD 42 or 43.
  5. Acts 12:5 The Greek phrase used here for “intense intercession” means “to stretch tightly in prayer.”
  6. Acts 12:7 The word translated “struck” is the same Greek word used for Jesus being “struck” for our sins (Matt. 26:31). Jesus was pierced in his side to awaken hearts to God. Peter was awakened from his sleep by an angel who struck him on his side.
  7. Acts 12:12 This Mary was the sister of Barnabas. See Col. 4:10.
  8. Acts 12:13 Or “Rhoda.”
  9. Acts 12:17 This was Jacob (James), the brother of Jesus.
  10. Acts 12:18 This is the last mention of Peter in the book of Acts. The remaining chapters focus on the ministry of Paul.
  11. Acts 12:20 Tyre and Sidon are coastal cities in Lebanon, north of Israel.
  12. Acts 12:20 The Aramaic can also be translated “They wanted cultivated land,” which makes sense if their food supply was running out.
  13. Acts 12:24 As translated from the Aramaic. The Greek is “the word.”
  14. Acts 12:25 This is the Mark who wrote the second Gospel included in our New Testament. John (or Yochanan) was his Jewish name; Marcus was his Roman name. Because he once abandoned Paul during a missionary journey, Paul refused to take him with him again. But later, Mark and Paul were fully restored in their ministry together. See 2 Tim. 4:11.

Peter’s Miraculous Escape From Prison

12 It was about this time that King Herod(A) arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. He had James, the brother of John,(B) put to death with the sword.(C) When he saw that this met with approval among the Jews,(D) he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Festival of Unleavened Bread.(E) 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.(F)

So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.(G)

The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains,(H) and sentries stood guard at the entrance. Suddenly an angel(I) 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.(J)

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.(K) 10 They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself,(L) and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him.

11 Then Peter came to himself(M) and said, “Now I know without a doubt that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me(N) from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were hoping would happen.”

12 When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark,(O) where many people had gathered and were praying.(P) 13 Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer the door.(Q) 14 When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed(R) she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, “Peter is at the door!”

15 “You’re out of your mind,” they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, “It must be his angel.”(S)

16 But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. 17 Peter motioned with his hand(T) for them to be quiet and described how the Lord had brought him out of prison. “Tell James(U) and the other brothers and sisters(V) about this,” he said, and then he left for another place.

18 In the morning, there was no small commotion among the soldiers as to what had become of Peter. 19 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.(W)

Herod’s Death

Then Herod went from Judea to Caesarea(X) and stayed there. 20 He had been quarreling with the people of Tyre and Sidon;(Y) they now joined together and sought an audience with him. After securing 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.(Z)

21 On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. 22 They shouted, “This is the voice of a god, not of a man.” 23 Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel(AA) of the Lord struck him down,(AB) and he was eaten by worms and died.

24 But the word of God(AC) continued to spread and flourish.(AD)

Barnabas and Saul Sent Off

25 When Barnabas(AE) and Saul had finished their mission,(AF) they returned from[a] Jerusalem, taking with them John, also called Mark.(AG)


  1. Acts 12:25 Some manuscripts to