Herod Agrippa I, like the others of the
Herod dynasty proved himself to be a powerful foe of Christ and his followers. But as we see in this text, his persecution of Christians was an assault against
the Christ himself. In the end, Herod is destroyed and Christianity continues. The power of the Almighty is greater than the power of the most mighty of this
I. The power of persecution: Vs. 1-4
1. Nearly ten or so years after the death of Jesus, King Herod Agrippa
ruthlessly and without conscience nor reason had the apostle James slain with a sword. Perhaps he was attempting to show those who acknowledged Jesus as their
king, that Herod was their "only king." Or perhaps he was simply a bully that enjoyed hurting the helpless. What would be the advantage of
attacking the leadership of the church?
2. Only about eleven words are used to describe the death of James. Why do you think the Bible does not
indulge in excessive eulogies? It is interesting that after the death of James, there was not any effort to find a replacement for his apostolic office.
3. Discuss why Herod seized Peter. Do the politics of
hatred and prejudice still exist today? If so, discuss some examples of such today. Is it possible for politicians today to be more concerned with popularity
than with right and wrong? Does one have to be a king or politician to be governed by such motives? Is it ever right to put popularity over principle? Have you
ever prayed for the strength to do what is right regardless of the pressure?
4. Compare several translations
of the word "Easter" in verse 4. What word is used other than Easter? The correct and original Greek word in this text is the word
"Passover." This is a reference to the Jewish festival and not to a special holy day for Christians. Neither Jesus nor the apostles instituted a
special holy day called Easter.
Actually the term "Easter" came from the Anglo-Saxons, who had a spring festival
during which they offered sacrifices to their pagan goddess "Estera." About the 8th century, the Catholic church transferred this name
"Easter" to a festival that had arisen to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.
II. The power of prayer: Vs.5-16
1. Release: Vs.5-10. How many soldiers had been assigned to guard Peter. Why do you think there was such a heavy guard? Had Peter escaped prison before?
(Cf., Acts 5.) Was it humanly possible for Peter to escape? List some of the miraculous aspects of
Peter's escape. Many commentaries point out that we have strong reason to believe that the prayers were not for
Peter's miraculous release. After all, God had not rescued James. Also, far from hoping for Peter's release, they could not believe it when he came to
where they were praying. The scripture says that they prayed "for him," which implies that they prayed that his faith not fail as it had in the past,
that he have courage, strength and like both James and Stephen, he would glorify God in his death. (See
McGarvey, Acts p. 234.)
2. Realization: Vs. 11-12 When did it dawn on Peter that this was not a dream? Whose home did he go to once he realized that he was safe?
3. Rejoicing: Vs. 13-16 Who was Rhoda? What was her humorous
and scatterbrained reaction when she heard Peter's voice? What did the others think about Rhoda? The term "angel" can also be translated as
"messenger." The comment that it was Peter's "angel" likely was meant as his "messenger" or envoy. In other words, someone that
Peter had sent. Meanwhile what did Peter keep doing at the door?
III. The power of providence: Vs. 17-25
1. Report: Vs. 17 Who did Peter say had brought
him safely out of prison? Peter wanted word of his escape to be known by others and made certain word of his
miraculous escape was told to James. Since the apostle James had been slain by the sword of Herod, who was this James? Discuss some possible reasons why Peter
went to another city. What would be the advantages of this for Peter, the church, and even Herod?
2. Rage: Vs. 18-19 The confusion the next morning at the
prison, when they discovered that Peter was missing, must have created a great stir of emotion and panic. What did Herod do to all 16 guards. What did Herod
3. Retribution: Vs. 20-25 As Herod got back to "politics as usual" he made a public appearance and speech during which the people said that he was
a god and he failed to correct them. The Jewish historian Josephus wrote that on that day Herod had on a robe woven entirely of silver which glistened in the
morning sun. According to our text, what happened to Herod and for what reason?