Now, about that time, King Herod arrested certain members of the Church, in order to ill-treat them;
and James, John's brother, he beheaded.
Finding that this gratified the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also; these being the days of Unleavened Bread.
He had him arrested and lodged in jail, handing him over to the care of sixteen soldiers; and intended after the Passover to bring him out again to the people.
So Peter was kept in prison; but long and fervent prayer was offered to God by the Church on his behalf.
Now when Herod was on the point of taking him out of prison, that very night Peter was asleep between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and guards were on duty outside the door.
Suddenly an angel of the Lord stood by him, and a light shone in the cell; and, striking Peter on the side, he woke him and said, "Rise quickly." Instantly the chains dropped off his wrists.
"Fasten your girdle," said the angel, "and tie on your sandals." He did so. Then the angel said, "Throw your cloak round you, and follow me."
So Peter went out, following him, yet could not believe that what the angel was doing was real, but supposed that he saw a vision.
And passing through the first ward and the second, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. This opened to them of itself; and, going out, they passed on through one of the streets, and then suddenly the angel left him.
Peter coming to himself said, "Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent His angel and has rescued me from the power of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were anticipating."
So, after thinking things over, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John surnamed Mark, where a large number of people were assembled, praying.
When he knocked at the wicket in the door, a maidservant named Rhoda came to answer the knock;
and recognizing Peter's voice, for very joy she did not open the door, but ran in and told them that Peter was standing there.
"You are mad," they said. But she strenuously maintained that it was true. "It is his guardian angel," they said.
Meanwhile Peter went on knocking, until at last they opened the door and saw that it was really he, and were filled with amazement.
But he motioned with his hand for silence, and then described to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. "Tell all this to James and the brethren," he added. Then he left them, and went to another place.
When morning came, there was no little commotion among the soldiers, as to what could possibly have become of Peter.
And when Herod had had him searched for and could not find him, after sharply questioning the guards he ordered them away to execution. He then went down from Judaea to Caesarea and remained there.
Now the people of Tyre and Sidon had incurred Herod's violent displeasure. So they sent a large deputation to wait on him; and having secured the good will of Blastus, his treasurer, they begged the king to be friendly with them again, because their country was dependent on his for its food supply.
So, on an appointed day, Herod, having arrayed himself in royal robes, took his seat on the tribunal, and was haranguing them;
and the assembled people kept shouting, "It is the voice of a god, and not of a man!"
Instantly an angel of the Lord struck him, because he had not given the glory to God, and being eaten up by worms, he died.
But God's Message prospered, and converts were multiplied.
And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, having discharged their mission, and they brought with them John, surnamed Mark.