Peter in Prison

Peter in prison in Jerusalem

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Peter in Prison
ACTS 12 BIBLE STUDY

Acts 12:4-12 Peter in Prison

Acts 12:13-18 Rhoda
Acts 12:19 Agrippa
Acts 12:20-25 Tyre and Sidon
ACTS 12:4-5  4 So when he had arrested him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him, intending to bring him before the people after Passover. 5 Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church.

What is meant by "four squads of soldiers" (Acts 12:4)?
After putting Peter in prison, Herod Agrippa ordered him to be guarded with the maximum security arrangement at the time for a prisoner: four squads, each comprised of four soldiers, guarded Peter around the clock in shifts of three hours during the night and six hours during the day. During each shift, two soldiers were inside the prison cell and actually chained to Peter, while two soldiers stood guard outside the prison cell.

Why did Herod do that?
Peter had a habit of disappearing from prison (see Sadducees).

ACTS 12:6-10  6 And when Herod was about to bring him out, that night Peter was sleeping, bound with two chains between two soldiers; and the guards before the door were keeping the prison. 7 Now behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him, and a light shone in the prison; and he struck Peter on the side and raised him up, saying, “Arise quickly!” And his chains fell off his hands. 8 Then the angel said to him, “Gird yourself and tie on your sandals”; and so he did. And he said to him, “Put on your garment and follow me.” 9 So he went out and followed him, and did not know that what was done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. 10 When they were past the first and the second guard posts, they came to the iron gate that leads to the city, which opened to them of its own accord; and they went out and went down one street, and immediately the angel departed from him.

How many obstacles stood between Peter and freedom?
At least ten: "two chains" (Acts 12:6) on "his hands" (Acts 12:7), the "two soldiers" (Acts 12:6) at the other end of those chains, "the door" (Acts 12:6) of his prison cell, the two "guards" (Acts 12:6) on the other side of that door, "the first and the second guard posts" (Acts 12:10) and "the iron gate" (Acts 12:10).

How stealthy was the "angel of the Lord" (Acts 12:7)?
He wasn't. Upon arrival, he lit up the prison - "light shone in the prison" (Acts 12:7). He "struck" (Acts 12:7) Peter, talked to him, and since Peter had been "raised... up" (Acts 12:7), "his chains" (Acts 12:7) probably made noise when they "fell off his hands" (Acts 12:7).

Then why didn't the soldiers guarding Peter wake up?
They weren't asleep. They "were keeping the prison" (Acts 12:6) as they were supposed to, but the angel of the Lord had made them see and hear nothing.

How rushed was this prison break?
It wasn't. The angel even told and waited for Peter to get dressed properly: "Then the angel said to him, 'Gird yourself and tie on your sandals'; and so he did. And he said to him, 'Put on your garment and follow me'" (Acts 12:8).

What did Peter think was happening to him?
Since he had been sleeping and "did not know that what was done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision" (Acts 12:9) until after the fact, he probably thought he was enjoying a good dream.

ACTS 12:11-12  11 And when Peter had come to himself, he said, “Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent His angel, and has delivered me from the hand of Herod and from all the expectation of the Jewish people.” 12 So, when he had considered this, he came to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together praying.

Did God's miraculous guidance of Peter end outside the prison gate?
Unless the many who "were gathered together praying" (Acts 12:12) were praying very loudly, which is doubtful since it would have risked them being arrested as well, and since Peter's visit shocked them, God also miraculously led Peter to them.

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