Acts 11-12 Common English Bible (CEB)
Jerusalem church questions Peter
11 The apostles and the brothers and sisters throughout Judea heard that even the Gentiles had welcomed God’s word. 2 When Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him. 3 They accused him, “You went into the home of the uncircumcised and ate with them!”
4 Step-by-step, Peter explained what had happened. 5 “I was in the city of Joppa praying when I had a visionary experience. In my vision, I saw something like a large linen sheet being lowered from heaven by its four corners. It came all the way down to me. 6 As I stared at it, wondering what it was, I saw four-legged animals—including wild beasts—as well as reptiles and wild birds.[a] 7 I heard a voice say, ‘Get up, Peter! Kill and eat!’ 8 I responded, ‘Absolutely not, Lord! Nothing impure or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ 9 The voice from heaven spoke a second time, ‘Never consider unclean what God has made pure.’ 10 This happened three times, then everything was pulled back into heaven. 11 At that moment three men who had been sent to me from Caesarea arrived at the house where we were staying. 12 The Spirit told me to go with them even though they were Gentiles. These six brothers also went with me, and we entered that man’s house. 13 He reported to us how he had seen an angel standing in his house and saying, ‘Send to Joppa and summon Simon, who is known as Peter. 14 He will tell you how you and your entire household can be saved.’ 15 When I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them, just as the Spirit fell on us in the beginning. 16 I remembered the Lord’s words: ‘John will baptize with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 If God gave them the same gift he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, then who am I? Could I stand in God’s way?”
18 Once the apostles and other believers heard this, they calmed down. They praised God and concluded, “So then God has enabled Gentiles to change their hearts and lives so that they might have new life.”
The Antioch church
19 Now those who were scattered as a result of the trouble that occurred because of Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch. They proclaimed the word only to Jews. 20 Among them were some people from Cyprus and Cyrene. They entered Antioch and began to proclaim the good news about the Lord Jesus also to Gentiles. 21 The Lord’s power was with them, and a large number came to believe and turned to the Lord.
22 When the church in Jerusalem heard about this, they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw evidence of God’s grace, he was overjoyed and encouraged everyone to remain fully committed to the Lord. 24 Barnabas responded in this way because he was a good man, whom the Holy Spirit had endowed with exceptional faith. A considerable number of people were added to the Lord. 25 Barnabas went to Tarsus in search of Saul. 26 When he found him, he brought him to Antioch. They were there for a whole year, meeting with the church and teaching large numbers of people. It was in Antioch where the disciples were first labeled “Christians.”
27 About that time, some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 One of them, Agabus, stood up and, inspired by the Spirit, predicted that a severe famine would overtake the entire Roman world. (This occurred during Claudius’ rule.) 29 The disciples decided they would send support to the brothers and sisters in Judea, with everyone contributing to this ministry according to each person’s abundance. 30 They sent Barnabas and Saul to take this gift to the elders.
Herod imprisons Peter
12 About that time King Herod began to harass some who belonged to the church. 2 He had James, John’s brother, killed with a sword. 3 When he saw that this pleased the Jews, he arrested Peter as well. This happened during the Festival of Unleavened Bread. 4 He put Peter in prison, handing him over to four squads of soldiers, sixteen in all, who guarded him. He planned to charge him publicly after the Passover. 5 While Peter was held in prison, the church offered earnest prayer to God for him.
6 The night before Herod was going to bring Peter’s case forward, Peter was asleep between two soldiers and bound with two chains, with soldiers guarding the prison entrance. 7 Suddenly an angel from the Lord appeared and a light shone in the prison cell. After nudging Peter on his side to awaken him, the angel raised him up and said, “Quick! Get up!” The chains fell from his wrists. 8 The angel continued, “Get dressed. Put on your sandals.” Peter did as he was told. The angel said, “Put on your coat and follow me.” 9 Following the angel, Peter left the prison. However, he didn’t realize the angel had actually done all this. He thought he was seeing a vision. 10 They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself. After leaving the prison, they proceeded the length of one street, when abruptly the angel was gone.
11 At that, Peter came to his senses and remarked, “Now I’m certain that the Lord sent his angel and rescued me from Herod and from everything the Jewish people expected.” 12 Realizing this, he made his way to Mary’s house. (Mary was John’s mother; he was also known as Mark.) Many believers had gathered there and were praying. 13 When Peter knocked at the outer gate, a female servant named Rhoda went to answer. 14 She was so overcome with joy when she recognized Peter’s voice that she didn’t open the gate. Instead, she ran back in and announced that Peter was standing at the gate.
15 “You’ve lost your mind!” they responded. She stuck by her story with such determination that they began to say, “It must be his guardian angel.” 16 Meanwhile, Peter remained outside, knocking at the gate. They finally opened the gate and saw him there, and they were astounded.
17 He gestured with his hand to quiet them down, then recounted how the Lord led him out of prison. He said, “Tell this to James and the brothers and sisters.” Then he left for another place.
18 The next morning the soldiers were flustered about what had happened to Peter. 19 Herod called for a thorough search. When Peter didn’t turn up, Herod interrogated the guards and had them executed. Afterward, Herod left Judea in order to spend some time in Caesarea.
20 Herod had been furious with the people of Tyre and Sidon for some time. They made a pact to approach him together, since their region depended on the king’s realm for its food supply. They persuaded Blastus, the king’s personal attendant, to join their cause, then appealed for an end to hostilities. 21 On the scheduled day Herod dressed himself in royal attire, seated himself on the throne, and gave a speech to the people. 22 Those assembled kept shouting, over and over, “This is a god’s voice, not the voice of a mere human!” 23 Immediately an angel from the Lord struck Herod down, because he didn’t give the honor to God. He was eaten by worms and died.
24 God’s word continued to grow and increase. 25 Barnabas and Saul returned to Antioch from Jerusalem[b] after completing their mission, bringing with them John, who was also known as Mark.