Now the apostles and the believers who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also accepted the word of God.
So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him,
saying, "Why did you go to uncircumcised men and eat with them?"
Then Peter began to explain it to them, step by step, saying,
"I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. There was something like a large sheet coming down from heaven, being lowered by its four corners; and it came close to me.
As I looked at it closely I saw four-footed animals, beasts of prey, reptiles, and birds of the air.
I also heard a voice saying to me, "Get up, Peter; kill and eat.'
But I replied, "By no means, Lord; for nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth.'
But a second time the voice answered from heaven, "What God has made clean, you must not call profane.'
This happened three times; then everything was pulled up again to heaven.
At that very moment three men, sent to me from Caesarea, arrived at the house where we were.
The Spirit told me to go with them and not to make a distinction between them and us. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man's house.
He told us how he had seen the angel standing in his house and saying, "Send to Joppa and bring Simon, who is called Peter;
he will give you a message by which you and your entire household will be saved.'
And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as it had upon us at the beginning.
And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, "John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.'
If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?"
When they heard this, they were silenced. And they praised God, saying, "Then God has given even to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life."
Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that took place over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, and they spoke the word to no one except Jews.
But among them were some men of Cyprus and Cyrene who, on coming to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists also, proclaiming the Lord Jesus.
The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number became believers and turned to the Lord.
News of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch.
When he came and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast devotion;
for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were brought to the Lord.
Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul,
and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for an entire year they met with the church and taught a great many people, and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called "Christians."
At that time prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch.
One of them named Agabus stood up and predicted by the Spirit that there would be a severe famine over all the world; and this took place during the reign of Claudius.
The disciples determined that according to their ability, each would send relief to the believers living in Judea;
this they did, sending it to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.
About that time King Herod laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the church.
He had James, the brother of John, killed with the sword.
After he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. (This was during the festival of Unleavened Bread.)
When he had seized him, he put him in prison and handed him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending to bring him out to the people after the Passover.
While Peter was kept in prison, the church prayed fervently to God for him.
The very night before Herod was going to bring him out, Peter, bound with two chains, was sleeping between two soldiers, while guards in front of the door were keeping watch over the prison.
Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He tapped Peter on the side and woke him, saying, "Get up quickly." And the chains fell off his wrists.
The angel said to him, "Fasten your belt and put on your sandals." He did so. Then he said to him, "Wrap your cloak around you and follow me."
Peter went out and followed him; he did not realize that what was happening with the angel's help was real; he thought he was seeing a vision.
After they had passed the first and the second guard, they came before the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they went outside and walked along a lane, when suddenly the angel left him.
Then Peter came to himself and said, "Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hands of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting."
As soon as he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many had gathered and were praying.
When he knocked at the outer gate, a maid named Rhoda came to answer.
On recognizing Peter's voice, she was so overjoyed that, instead of opening the gate, she ran in and announced that Peter was standing at the gate.
They said to her, "You are out of your mind!" But she insisted that it was so. They said, "It is his angel."
Meanwhile Peter continued knocking; and when they opened the gate, they saw him and were amazed.
He motioned to them with his hand to be silent, and described for them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he added, "Tell this to James and to the believers." Then he left and went to another place.
When morning came, there was no small commotion among the soldiers over what had become of Peter.
When Herod had searched for him and could not find him, he examined the guards and ordered them to be put to death. Then he went down from Judea to Caesarea and stayed there.
Now Herod was angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon. So they came to him in a body; and after winning over Blastus, the king's chamberlain, they asked for a reconciliation, because their country depended on the king's country for food.
On an appointed day Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat on the platform, and delivered a public address to them.
The people kept shouting, "The voice of a god, and not of a mortal!"
And immediately, because he had not given the glory to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.
But the word of God continued to advance and gain adherents.
Then after completing their mission Barnabas and Saul returned to Jerusalem and brought with them John, whose other name was Mark.
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. (New Revised Standard Bible Version Online)