1 Now about that time King Herod began a persecution of certain people in the [Jerusalem] church. [Note: This man was the grandson of Herod the Great. See Matt. 2:1]. 2 He had James, the brother of John, killed with the sword. 3 When he realized that this act pleased the Jews, he proceeded to have Peter arrested also. [This happened] during the Festival of Unleavened Bread [See Exodus 12:15ff]. 4 So, Peter was arrested and put in jail with four groups of four soldiers each guarding him. Herod planned to have him brought before the people after the Passover Festival was over. 5 So, Peter was kept in jail, but the church continued to pray earnestly to God for him. [See verse 12].
6 Then on the night that Herod was planning to have him brought [before the court], Peter was asleep, chained between two soldiers, with guards stationed at the jail doors. 7 [Then it happened]: [Suddenly] an angel from the Lord stood beside Peter as a light shone into his cell. [The angel] gently struck his side, waking him up, saying, "Get up quickly." His chains fell from his hands. 8 The angel [then] said to him, "Put on your belt and sandals," so he did. Then the angel said, "Throw your [outer] robe around you and follow me." 9 So, he followed the angel out [of the jail], not fully realizing what had happened, thinking [perhaps] he had seen [all this in] a vision. 10 And when they passed the first two guards, they came to the iron gate leading out into the city, which opened by itself. So, they went out and, as they walked down the street, the angel [suddenly] left him.
11 Then when Peter realized what had actually happened, he said, "Now I know for certain that [it was] the Lord who sent His angel to rescue me from Herod's custody and from all that the Jewish people had planned [to do to me]." 12 After thinking about the matter [for awhile], he decided to go to the house of Mary, mother of John Mark, where a large gathering [of Christians] was praying. 13 When Peter knocked at the entryway door, a young woman named Rhoda answered. 14 And when she recognized Peter's voice [speaking to her from outside], she ran back in [to where the prayer group was assembled] without even opening the door, and joyously told them that it was Peter [knocking].
15 And they said to her, "You are crazy." But she insisted that [what she reported] was true. They replied, "It is [only] his angel." 16 But Peter continued to knock and when they [finally] opened [the door] they saw that it [really] was Peter and were amazed.
17 [Upon entering the house] he held up his hand to quiet them, then went on to explain how the Lord had rescued him from jail. He said to them, "[Go] tell all this to James [the Lord's half-brother] and to [the rest of] the brothers." Then he left [them] and went elsewhere.
18 Now as soon as it got daylight there was a lot of commotion among the soldiers over what had become of Peter. 19 When Herod's search for him turned up nothing, he questioned the guards, then ordered them to be led away and executed. He then left Judea and went to Caesarea, where he stayed for awhile.
20 Now Herod was very angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon [Note: These were seaport cities not under his jurisdiction]. They came to him as a group, having befriended Blastus, an officer of the king [Herod], and tried to arrange a peaceful relationship [with him] because the country was dependant on him for their food supply. 21 And then, on a particular day, Herod, dressed in his royal robes, delivered a speech [to the people] from his throne. 22 The people began shouting, "His is the voice of a god and not a man." 23 Suddenly, an angel from God struck him [with a terrible condition] because he refused to honor God [by what he said in his speech], so he was consumed by worms and died. 24 But the [influence of the] message of God grew and [the number of disciples] multiplied. 25 Barnabas and Saul returned [to Antioch] from Jerusalem after they had fulfilled their mission [i.e., of taking the contribution for the famine-stricken people of Judea. See 11:27-30]. They took John Mark [back to Antioch with them].