Read Acts Chapter 12
For a printable version, click HERE.
What stands out to you as you read this chapter?
Are there any words or phrases that you feel are key ideas in this chapter?
What other features do you wish you knew more about (culture, religion, customs, etc.) in order to help
you understand this chapter?
How do you think this chapter fits in the larger story of Acts and the Bible as a whole?
ACT OUT: How does the Holy Spirit want to use this text in your life, for others or for yourself?
In Acts 12, we're brought back to Jerusalem to witness the miraculous deliverance of Peter from prison
at the hands of a powerful angel. In case you struggle to believe this account, you’re in good company.
Peter himself could hardly believe it was true (Acts 12:11). The account is strange, but no stranger than
any other miraculous work done in Acts. Luke wants his readers to know God is real! And if God is real,
miracles that display his working in the circumstances of history are perfectly believable. How different
our modern anti-supernaturalism is from the assumption in Acts 12:15 that the one knocking on the
door of John Mark’s mother’s home must be his angel.
Peter’s imprisonment was orchestrated by King Herod Agrippa, the puppet-king installed by Rome. Like
his fathers before him, he meant to appease the Jews for his own good. Killing James pleased them, so
when he arrested Peter, it’s easy to assume he planned to kill him too. But Peter is sleeping! Contrast
that with frightened Peter in the boat. (See Luke 8:22-25.) Apparently he’s sleeping so soundly that he
doesn’t even know he’s awake but assumes he is dreaming. Rhoda doesn’t have the presence of mind to
let him into John Mark’s mother’s house, where he goes after being freed from his cell (Acts 12:14). The
gathered church prays for Peter’s release while he's knocking at the door (Acts 12:5, 16). The entire
chapter is full of such irony. We are meant to see it and, perhaps, laugh at our own futile worries.
It should reassure us that, even when we don’t know what’s going on, the hand of God is at work,
orchestrating everything for our good and the progress of the gospel. At the end of the chapter, Herod is
judged, and the word of God continues to spread and save. Despite martyrdom and opposition, the
church continues to grow (see Acts 12:2, 24).
Prayer: King Jesus, help me to trust you despite my circumstances. When things are bleak or seem
hopeless, help us to seek you in prayer and believe when you answer! Amen.