Peter’s Arrest and Escape

Now at that time [a]Herod [Agrippa I] the king [of the Jews] arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to harm them. And he had James the brother of John put to death with a sword; and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to have Peter arrested as well. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread [the Passover week]. When he had seized Peter, he put him in prison, turning him over to four squads of soldiers of four each to guard him [in rotation throughout the night], planning after the Passover to bring him out before the people [for execution]. So Peter was kept in prison, but fervent and persistent prayer for him was being made to God by the church.

The very night before Herod was to bring him forward, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries were in front of the door guarding the prison. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared [beside him] and a light shone in the cell. The angel struck Peter’s side and awakened him, saying, “Get up quickly!” And the chains fell off his hands. The angel said to him, “Prepare yourself and strap on your sandals [to get ready for whatever may happen].” And he did so. Then the angel told him, “Put on your robe and follow me.” And Peter went out following the angel. He did not realize that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. 10 When they had passed the first guard and the second, they came to the iron gate that leads into the city. Of its own accord it swung open for them; and they went out and went along one street, and at once the angel left him. 11 When Peter came to his senses, he said, “Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent His angel and has rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting [to do to me].” 12 When he realized what had happened, he went to the house of [b]Mary the mother of John, who was also called [c]Mark, where many [believers] were gathered together and were praying continually [and had been praying all night]. 13 When he knocked at the door of the gateway, a servant-girl named Rhoda came to answer. 14 Recognizing Peter’s voice, in her joy she failed to open the gate, but ran in and announced that Peter was standing in front of the gateway. 15 They said to her, “You are out of your mind!” But she kept insisting that it was so. They kept saying, “It is his angel!”(A) 16 But [meanwhile] Peter continued knocking; and when they opened the door and saw him, they were completely amazed. 17 But motioning to them with his hand to be quiet and listen, he described how the Lord had led him out of the prison. And he said, “Report these things to [d]James and the brothers and sisters.” Then he left and went to another place.

18 Now when day came, there was no small disturbance among the soldiers over what had become of Peter. 19 When Herod had searched for him and could not find him, he interrogated the guards and commanded that they be led away to execution. Then he went down from Judea to Caesarea [Maritima] and spent some time there.

Death of Herod

20 Now Herod [Agrippa I] was [e]extremely angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon; and their delegates came to him in a united group, and after persuading Blastus, [f]the king’s chamberlain [to support their cause], they asked for peace, because their country was fed by [imports of grain and other goods from] the king’s country. 21 On an appointed day Herod dressed himself in his [g]royal robes, sat on his throne (tribunal, rostrum) and began delivering a speech to the people. 22 The assembled people kept shouting, “It is the voice of a god and not of a man!” 23 And at once an angel of the Lord struck him down because he did not give God the glory [and instead permitted himself to be worshiped], and [h]he was eaten by worms and died [five days later].

24 But the word of the Lord [the good news about salvation through Christ] continued to grow and spread [increasing in effectiveness].

25 Barnabas and Saul came back [i]from Jerusalem when they had completed their mission, bringing with them John, who was also called Mark.(B)


  1. Acts 12:1 I.e. Herod Agrippa I was the grandson of Herod the Great. Since he was of Hasmonean descent he was partly Jewish.
  2. Acts 12:12 According to Col 4:10 this Mary was the aunt of Barnabas, so her son John Mark and Barnabas were cousins.
  3. Acts 12:12 John Mark wrote the Gospel of Mark.
  4. Acts 12:17 James, the oldest of the Lord’s half brothers, was the leader of the Jerusalem church and wrote the Letter of James.
  5. Acts 12:20 Nothing is known about the reason for Herod’s hatred. It may have had something to do with competition between Caesarea Maritima and the two northern cities, since all three were major sea ports.
  6. Acts 12:20 I.e. a trusted, highly regarded chief officer.
  7. Acts 12:21 The Jewish historian Josephus describes this as a glittering silver garment.
  8. Acts 12:23 Herod’s painful death over a five day period in a.d. 44 is recorded by Josephus, the Jewish historian.
  9. Acts 12:25 Two early mss read to Jerusalem.

Cross references

  1. Acts 12:15 : Matt 18:10; Heb 1:14
  2. Acts 12:25 : Acts 11:28-30