About this time, King Herod arrested some people who belonged to the church. He planned to make them suffer greatly.
He had James killed with a sword. James was John's brother.
Herod saw that the death of James pleased the Jews. So he arrested Peter also. This happened during the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
After Herod arrested Peter, he put him in prison. Peter was placed under guard. He was watched by four groups of four soldiers each. Herod planned to put Peter on public trial. It would take place after the Passover Feast.
So Peter was kept in prison. But the church prayed hard to God for him.
It was the night before Herod was going to bring him to trial. Peter was sleeping between two soldiers. Two chains held him there. Lookouts stood guard at the entrance.
Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared. A light shone in the prison cell. The angel struck Peter on his side. Peter woke up. "Quick!" the angel said. "Get up!" The chains fell off Peter's wrists.
Then the angel said to him, "Put on your clothes and sandals." Peter did so. "Put on your coat," the angel told him. "Follow me."
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.
They passed the first and second guards. Then they came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself. They went through it. They walked the length of one street. Suddenly the angel left Peter.
Then Peter realized what had happened. He said, "Now I know for sure that the Lord sent his angel. He set me free from Herod's power. He saved me from everything the Jewish people were hoping for."
When Peter understood what had happened, he went to Mary's house. Mary was the mother of John Mark. Many people had gathered in her home. They were praying there.
Peter knocked at the outer entrance. A servant named Rhoda came to answer the door.
She recognized Peter's voice. She was so excited that she ran back without opening the door. "Peter is at the door!" she exclaimed.
"You're out of your mind," they said to her. But she kept telling them it was true. So they said, "It must be his angel."
Peter kept on knocking. When they opened the door and saw him, they were amazed.
Peter motioned with his hand for them to be quiet. He explained how the Lord had brought him out of prison. "Tell James and the others about this," he said. Then he went to another place.
In the morning the soldiers were bewildered. They couldn't figure out what had happened to Peter.
So Herod had them look everywhere for Peter. But they didn't find him. Then Herod questioned the guards closely. He ordered that they be put to death. Herod went from Judea to Caesarea. He stayed there awhile.
He had been quarreling with the people of Tyre and Sidon. So they got together and asked for a meeting with him. This was because they depended on the king's country to supply them with food. They gained the support of Blastus and asked for peace. Blastus was a trusted personal servant of the king.
The appointed day came. Herod was seated on his throne. He was wearing his royal robes. He made a speech to the people.
Then they shouted, "This is the voice of a god. It's not the voice of a man."
Right away an angel of the Lord struck Herod down. Herod had not given praise to God. So he was eaten by worms and died.
But God's word continued to increase and spread.
Barnabas and Saul finished their task. Then they returned from Jerusalem. They took John Mark with them.