About that time King Herod devoted his attention to mistreating certain members of the church.
He had James, the brother of John, executed.
When he saw how this pleased the Jews, he arrested Peter too. This happened during the days of Unleavened Bread.
After capturing Peter, Herod had him thrown into prison with sixteen soldiers in squads of four to guard him. Herod wanted to bring Peter to trial in front of the people after Passover.
So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was praying very hard to God for him.
The night before Herod was going to bring Peter to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers. His hands were bound with two chains, and guards were in front of the door. They were watching the prison.
Suddenly, an angel from the Lord stood near Peter, and his cell was filled with light. The angel nudged Peter's side, woke him up, and said, "Hurry! Get up!" At that moment the chains fell from Peter's hands.
The angel told him, "Put your shoes on, and get ready to go!" Peter did this. Then the angel told him, "Put your coat on, and follow me."
Peter followed the angel out of the cell. He didn't realize that what the angel was doing was actually happening. He thought he was seeing a vision.
They passed the first and second guardposts and came to the iron gate that led into the city. This gate opened by itself for them, so they went outside and up the street. The angel suddenly left Peter.
When Peter came to his senses, he said, "Now I'm sure that the Lord sent his angel to rescue me from Herod and from everything the Jewish people are expecting to happen to me."
When Peter realized what had happened, he went to the home of Mary, the mother of John Mark. Many people had gathered at her home and were praying.
Peter knocked on the door of the entryway, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer.
When she recognized Peter's voice, she was so happy that instead of opening the door, she ran back inside and reported, "Peter is standing at the door!"
The people told her, "You're crazy!" But she insisted that Peter was at the door. They said, "It has to be his angel."
But Peter kept knocking. When they opened the door, they were shocked to see him.
Peter motioned with his hand to quiet them down and told them how the Lord had taken him out of prison. He added, "Tell James and the other believers about this." Then he left and went somewhere else.
In the morning the soldiers were in an uproar over what had happened to Peter.
Herod searched for Peter but couldn't find him. So he questioned the guards and gave orders to have them executed. Then Herod left Judea and went to Caesarea, where he stayed for a while.
Herod was very angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon. They were going to meet with Herod. They had agreed on what they wanted to do: They enlisted the help of Blastus to ask Herod for terms of peace. This was because their cities depended on Herod for their food supply. (Blastus was in charge of the king's living quarters.)
The appointed day came. Herod, wearing his royal clothes, sat on his throne and began making a speech to them.
The people started shouting, "The voice of a god and not of a man!"
Immediately, an angel from the Lord killed Herod for not giving glory to God. Herod was eaten by maggots, and he died.
But God's word continued to spread and win many followers.
After Barnabas and Saul delivered the contribution [to the leaders in Jerusalem], they returned [to Antioch] from Jerusalem. They brought John Mark with them.