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. Chapter 12.

James Killed and Peter Imprisoned (Jerusalem)

1 IT WAS ABOUT THIS TIME that King Herod attacked certain members of the church. 2 He beheaded James, the brother of John, 3 and then, when he saw that the Jews approved, proceeded to arrest Peter also. This happened during the festival of Unleavened Bread. 4 Having secured him, he put him in prison under a military guard, four squads of four men each, meaning to produce him in public after Passover. 5 So Peter was kept in prison under constant watch, while the church kept praying fervently for him to God.

6 On the very night before Herod had planned to bring him forward, Peter was asleep between two soldiers, secured by two chains, while outside the doors sentries kept guard over the prison. 7 All at once an angel of the Lord stood there, and the cell was ablaze with light. He tapped Peter on the shoulder and woke him. 'Quick! Get up', he said, and the chains fell away from his wrists. 8 The angel then said to him, 'Do up your belt and put your sandals on.' He did so. 'Now wrap your cloak round you and follow me.' 9 He followed him out, with no idea that the angel's intervention was real: he thought it was just a vision. 10 But they passed the first guard-post, then the second, and reached the iron gate leading out into the city, which opened for them of its own accord. And so they came out and walked the length of one street; and the angel left him.

11 Then Peter came to himself. 'Now I know it is true,' he said; 'the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from Herod's clutches and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.' 12 When he realized how things stood, he made for the house of Mary, the mother of John Mark, where a large company was at prayer. 13 He knocked at the outer door and a maid called Rhoda came to answer it. 14 She recognized Peter's voice and was so overjoyed that instead of opening the door she ran in and announced that Peter was standing outside. 15 'You are crazy', they told her; but she insisted that it was so. Then they said, 'It must be his guardian angel.'

16 Meanwhile Peter went on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astounded. 17 With a movement of the hand he signed to them to keep quiet, and told them how the Lord had brought him out of prison. 'Report this to James and the members of the church', he said. Then he left the house and went off elsewhere.

18 When morning came, there was consternation is among the soldiers: what could have become of Peter? 19 Herod made close search, but failed to find him, so he interrogated the guards and ordered their execution.

Afterwards he left Judaea to reside for a time at Caesarea.

The Death of Herod

20 He had for some time been furiously angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon, who now by common agreement presented themselves at his court. There they won over Blastus the royal chamberlain, and sued for peace, because their country drew its supplies from the king's territory. 21 So, on an appointed day, attired in his royal robes and seated on the rostrum, 22 Herod harangued them; and the populace shouted back, 'It is a god speaking, not a man!' 23 Instantly an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he had usurped the honour due to God; he was eaten up with worms and died.

24 Meanwhile the word of God continued to grow and spread.

25 Barnabas and Saul, their task fulfilled, returned from Jerusalem, [Some witnesses read: their task fulfilled, returned to Jerusalem; or, as it may be rendered: their task at Jerusalem fulfilled, returned.] taking John Mark with them.

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