The Apostolic Martyrdom

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This peace is not founded on comforting lies that deceive us into believing we will never be hunted for our faith, and that God is going to overlook the sin of our nation. True peace assures us that, if we obey His voice, He will never leave us nor forsake us – even in the midst of tribulation. – Kevin Kleint, Prophetic Masquerade

Now about that time Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church. Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also. Now it was during the Days of Unleavened Bread. 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 (Acts 12:1-4 NKJV).

Around the time that Barnabas and Paul went to Jerusalem, Herod Agrippa, the son of Aristobulus, grandson of Herold the Great, began to stretch forth his hand against the church. James, the brother of John, was the first of the Apostles to die a martyr’s death. And Herod Agrippa seized and imprisoned Peter.

Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church. 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. 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. 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.” 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 (Acts 12:5-10 NKJV).

Herod had probably spread the word all over Jerusalem, which would have been crowded at Passover, that he was going to put on a show—the death of the Apostle Peter. But here we see Peter sleeping, even though he was supposed to die the next day. The LORD Jesus had told Peter that he would not die young, but old.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, When you were young, you girded yourself, and walked where you would; but when you shall be old, you shall stretch forth your hands, and another shall gird you, and carry you where you would not (John 21:18 KJV).

An Angel of the LORD comes to Peter in prison as he sleeps. Seemingly stupefied, Peter does as the Angel tells him, but he wasn’t certain he was in reality, thinking perhaps he was seeing a vision. Quite interesting.

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. 13 And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a girl named Rhoda came to answer. 14 When she recognized Peter’s voice, because of her gladness she did not open the gate, but ran in and announced that Peter stood before the gate. 15 But they said to her, “You are beside yourself!” Yet she kept insisting that it was so. So they said, “It is his angel” (Acts 12:11-15 NKJV).

The Believers were still praying for Peter in the middle of the night. But when the girl named Rhoda recognized Peter’s voice from the gate and ran in to announce that he had come, they thought her mad. When she insisted with conviction, they thought she had seen an angel.

Now Peter continued knocking; and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. 17 But motioning to them with his hand to keep silent, he declared to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, “Go, tell these things to James and to the brethren.” And he departed and went to another place. 18 Then, as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers about what had become of Peter. 19 But when Herod had searched for him and not found him, he examined the guards and commanded that they should be put to death. And he went down from Judea to Caesarea, and stayed there (Acts 12:16-19 NKJV).

Peter keeps knocking harder until they open the door and see him for themselves. He tells them the miraculous story of his prison escape and tells them to go tell James and the Elders of the church in Jerusalem.

Now Herod had been very angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon; but they came to him with one accord, and having made Blastus the king’s personal aide their friend, they asked for peace, because their country was supplied with food by the king’s country. 21 So on a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat on his throne and gave an oration to them. 22 And the people kept shouting, “The voice of a god and not of a man!” 23 Then immediately an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give glory to God. And he was eaten by worms and died. (Acts 12:20-23 NKJV).

This account presents the fact that this ceremony was done with great fanfare. Herod spoke with great pride about the agreement he had just made with Tyre and Sidon. He made it appear that he was the savior of these cities, and whatever he was saying greatly pleased the people. So much so that they cried again and again, “It is the voice of a god and not of a man!”

Herod received their acclamation that he a god. No doubt, reveled in their worship of him. And “ an Angel of the LORD struck him because he did not give glory to God.” The historian Josephus said that he lingered for five days with agonizing pains in his stomach before he died.

But the word of God grew and multiplied 25 And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their ministry, and they also took with them John whose surname was Mark (Acts 12:24-25 NKJV).

The proclamation of the Word of God “grew and multiplied” through all this. And after Barnabas and Paul had delivered the offerings to those in Jerusalem from the Believers in Antioch, they returned to Antioch with John Mark. This young man would accompany Barnabas and Paul on the very first missionary journey.

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witness, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which does so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our Faith; Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the Cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the Right Hand of the Throne of God (Heb 12:1-2 KJV).