Acts 12

King Herod does bad things to the believers

1 At that time, King Herod took hold of some of the group of believers in Jerusalem. He wanted to do bad things to them. 2 He sent his soldiers to cut off James's head. James was John's brother.

12:2James and John were sons of Zebedee. King Herod killed him about 10 years after Jesus became alive again.

3 King Herod saw that the Jews were happy because he had killed James. So he sent his soldiers to take hold of Peter too. This happened during the festival when the Jews eat flat bread.

12:3flat bread is bread which has no yeast in it. The Jews usually made bread with yeast, flour and water. But during the week of the Passover festival they did not use any yeast in their bread.

4 After the soldiers caught Peter, they put him in prison. While he was in prison, four different groups of soldiers guarded him. There were four soldiers in each group. Herod wanted to judge Peter in front of everybody. After the Passover festival had finished, he would bring Peter out of the prison to do this.

12:4Each group of soldiers guarded the prison for four hours. When one group stopped the next group started. They did this day and night.

5 So Herod kept Peter in prison. But during that time, the group of believers prayed that God would help Peter.

Peter walks out of the prison

6 It was the night before King Herod wanted to bring Peter out of the prison and judge him. The soldiers had tied Peter to themselves with chains. So Peter was sleeping between two soldiers. Some other soldiers were guarding the doors of the prison. 7 Then, an angel from the Lord God suddenly appeared in the prison. A bright light shone in the room where Peter was sleeping. The angel touched Peter's shoulder so that Peter woke up. He said to Peter, ‘Hurry! Stand up!’ Immediately the chains fell off Peter's hands.

8 Then the angel said to him, ‘Put on your clothes and your shoes.’ Peter did what the angel told him to do. Then the angel said, ‘Now put on your coat and follow me.’ 9 So Peter followed the angel out of the prison. He was not sure that all these things were really happening to him. He thought that he might be dreaming. 10 Peter and the angel walked past the first group of soldiers in the prison. Then they walked past the second group of soldiers. After that, they came to the big metal gate in the wall of the prison. The gate opened by itself in front of them. The city was outside this gate. So Peter and the angel went out of the prison through the gate. They walked together along one street and then, suddenly, the angel went away.

11 Then Peter understood what had happened. He said to himself, ‘Now I know that these things really have happened to me. The Lord God sent one of his angels to help me. He has let me go free so that Herod could not hurt me. The Jewish leaders wanted Herod to do bad things to me. But God has saved me from those bad things.’ 12 When Peter understood all these things, he went to Mary's house. She was the mother of John Mark. Many people were meeting together in her house. They were praying to God.

12:12It is possible that John Mark wrote Mark's book about Jesus. Mary was the aunt of Barnabas.

13 Peter knocked on the outside door of the house. A servant girl called Rhoda came to the door. 14 She recognised Peter's voice and she was very happy. But she did not open the door. Instead, she ran back into the house and she said to all the people there, ‘Peter is standing outside the door!’

15 The people in the house said to her, ‘You are crazy.’ But she told them again that Peter really was there. So then they said, ‘It is not him, but it is his angel.’

12:15At that time, some people believed that everyone had an angel. These angels kept them safe.

16 While all this was happening, Peter was still knocking at the door. Then someone went and opened the door. They were all very surprised when they saw him there. 17 Peter raised his hand towards them so that they would all be quiet. Then he explained to them how the Lord God had brought him out of the prison. He said to them, ‘Tell James and all the other believers what has happened to me.’ Then he left the house and he went away to another place.

18 When morning arrived, there was a lot of trouble at the prison. The soldiers did not understand what had happened to Peter. 19 When Herod knew about it, he said to the soldiers, ‘Go and look for Peter!’ But they could not find him anywhere. Herod then asked the soldiers who guarded the prison some questions. They could not explain what had happened. So Herod ordered other soldiers to cut off their heads.

After this happened, Herod went away from Judea. He went to Caesarea and he stayed there for some time.

King Herod dies

20 At that time, King Herod was angry with the people who lived in Tyre and Sidon. A group of men from these cities went together to speak to Herod about the problem. A man called Blastus was an important servant in King Herod's house. The group of men said to Blastus, ‘Please help us when we speak to King Herod.’ Then they went and they said to Herod, ‘Please stop being angry with our people. We want to be friends again.’ They said this because they needed to buy food in King Herod's country.

12:20The Romans ruled Tyre and Sidon. These were not Jewish cities. And the people did not want Herod to rule them. But they bought their food from Galilee. And the problem was that Herod ruled in Galilee.

21 Herod decided on which day he would meet with them. He put on his beautiful clothes and he sat in his special seat as king. Then he spoke his message to all the people. 22 When he spoke, the people shouted, ‘This is not just a man who is speaking to us. This is the voice of a god!’

23 Herod let the people praise him, instead of God. So, immediately, an angel of the Lord God caused him to become very ill. Worms ate his body and later he died.

Barnabas and Saul return to Antioch

24 Everywhere that the believers went, they told people God's message. People heard the message in more and more places and many of them believed in Jesus.

25 Barnabas and Saul had gone to Jerusalem to help the believers there. When they finished their work, they returned to Antioch. They took John Mark with them.