Acts 12 Image.001


Download the Notes:




Man Fails, God Prevails 

Even great men fail, but God always prevails

Acts 12

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • April 2, In the year of our Lord, 2017

Scripture Reader and Reading: Billy Henshall – First Corinthians 2.1–5

Song Leader and Song Suggestions: Phil Joseph – Songs on the Bible


  1. The Jews fought the church through persecution, 
    1. then the church had to contend with a worldwide famine.
    2. As if that was not enough,
      1. the Romans began their persecution
      2. around this time.


  1. Acts 12.1–4 | Harassing the Church

    1 Now about that time Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church. 2 Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword. 3 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. 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.

    1. The world will not let the church continue to prosper
      1. as it did in Acts 11 and previous chapters for long.
      2. The world will use the power of the government, or
        1. whatever the dominant power is,
        2. to smash the church.
    2. With the church gaining popularity and spreading,
      1. it became an easy target for an evil man like this Herod.
        1. (There are others in the New Testament.)
      2. Therefore, he started harassing them.
        1. He ordered the execution of James,
          1. the brother of John and
          2. fishing business partner of Peter.
        2. The Jews liked it when Herod killed James, and
        3. Herod decided to do more to please the Jews and
          1. arrested Peter.
          2. Since it was the Days of Unleavened Bread,
            1. Herod put Peter in prison, and after the Passover,
            2. Herod would bring Peter out before the Jews.
    3. Herod had four squads of soldiers guarding Peter!
      1. Herod may have heard of the angel letting Peter and John out of jail.
      2. Herod may have just figured that the church would rise up and
        1. make an armed assault on the prison to rescue Peter.
        2. Whatever his thoughts, Herod wanted Peter secure.
  2. Acts 12.5 | Praying to God for a Brother

    5 Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church.

    1. Do you not love the contrast of this sentence?
      1. Herod kept Peter in prison with four squads of soldiers, but
      2. the church prayed to God for Peter constantly.
    2. What can a powerful man like Herod do against God?
      1. Can a prison keep God out?
      2. What are four squads of the best trained soldiers in the world going to do?
    3. Who has more power: Herod or God?
  3. Acts 12.6–11 | God Answers Prayer

    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. 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.”

    1. Just before Herod prepared to bring out Peter, during the night he slept
      1. while bound with two chains
      2. between two guards and
      3. with guards outside the door.
    2. Back in chapter 5,
      1. during the night an angel freed Peter and John from prison, and
      2. here it happened again to Peter.
    3. Look at the angel:
      1. The angel stood by Peter,
      2. the light of the angel lit up the cell,
      3. the angel hit Peter on the side,
      4. the angel ordered the apostle
        1. to get up,
        2. to gird himself,
        3. to tie on his sandals, and
        4. to follow the angel.
    4. Although he had had a similar experience, and
      1. he had seen angels before, and
      2. saw the transfiguration, and
      3. many other wonderful heavenly things in the spirit,
        1. he still thought that he experienced a vision.
        2. It did not seem real to him.
    5. They went past two guard posts,
      1. came to the iron gate of the prison,
      2. which led to the rest of the city and freedom,
      3. it opened by itself, and
        1. they kept walking out,
        2. then down a street,
          1. when finally the angel left Peter, and
          2. he realized that his deliverance was real.
  4. Acts 12.12–17 | Not Believing Answer to Prayer

    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.” 16 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.

    1. Peter went where he knew that he would find disciples.
      1. They were at the house of Mary,
      2. the mother of Mark,
        1. the preacher who would work with Peter later, and
        2. who would write down what we call the Gospel According to Mark.
    2. When Peter arrived and knocked,
      1. a girl went to answer the door, but
      2. Peter identified himself,
        1. knowing that the church meeting in that house
        2. might fear Jews or Romans looking for them to persecute them.
      3. Rhoda recognized the voice of Peter, and
        1. in her excitement she did not answer the door, but
        2. ran into the place where everyone was…
          1. now did you get it…
          2. praying for Peter’s release, and
            1. when she told them that he was outside,
            2. they told her that she was crazy, and
              1. after she insisted that she heard his voice,
              2. they explained that it must have been his angel, since
                1. they all knew Peter was in prison,
                2. although they were praying for his release!
    3. While Rhoda and the brethren talked about whether Peter was truly outside,
      1. since no one had gone to see whether Rhoda was right,
      2. he continued to knock, and
        1. finally they went to open the door, and sure enough
        2. Peter himself stood right there.
    4. That astonished them!
      1. They prayed for his release.
      2. When it happened, they were astonished!
    5. Anyway, lifting up his hand,
      1. he motioned for them to be silent, and
      2. he explained how the Lord brought him out of prison.
        1. Having explained everything,
        2. he instructed them to tell James,
          1. not the apostle, because Herod had killed him, but
          2. the Lord’s biological half-brother.
      3. Then just like that, Peter went somewhere else.
  5. Acts 12.18–19 | Secularists Do Not Understand the Works of God

    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.

    1. You can imagine the pandemonium back at the prison.
    2. Herod could only conclude one thing,
      1. that the soldiers had colluded to let Peter escape and
      2. Herod had to do what any leader of Romans had to do;
        1. he put the Roman guards to death.
        2. Then he left the area and went to Caesarea.
  6. Acts 12.20–23 | Man’s Word Fails

    20 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.

    1. We have seen what the church can do or rather
      1. what the Lord does through the church and
      2. on behalf of the church.
        1. What about powerful entities like Herod
        2. who use their authority to silence the church?
      3. How do they end up?
    2. Herod had become extremely angry with Tyre and Sidon.
      1. Knowing it was in their best interest to have peace with him,
        1. they made a friendship with Blastus, because
        2. he was a personal aide to Herod.
      2. Then the people of Tyre and Sidon came together and approached Herod,
        1. for you see, it was from King Herod’s region that those two areas ate.
        2. Going overboard trying to please Herod
          1. on one day when he arrayed himself in his royal apparel,
          2. he sat on his throne and gave an oration, and
        3. the people acted so impressed with his speech
          1. that they declared they were hearing
          2. the voice of a god and not of a man.
            1. Herod did not refute them or silence them.
            2. The Lord used an angel again to work against Herod,
              1. this time striking him with worms,
              2. which ate him and killed them.
            3. Does that sound like a god to you?
            4. Or does it just sound like a man?
    3. Herod persecuted the church and did not glorify God, but
      1. allowed others to think of him as a god, and
      2. for those grievous errors,
        1. the man died a shameful, disgusting death
        2. that showed him to be anything but a god.
      3. A man made an oration, and
      4. people claimed him as a god, but
        1. we do not even know what he said.
        2. Now note what Luke said next.
  7. VII.Acts 12.24 | God’s Word Prevails

    24 But the word of God grew and multiplied.

    1. Herod’s word has vanished.
    2. Contrariwise, the word of God has grown and multiplied.
      1. It has gone throughout the world.
      2. Into how many languages has it been translated?
  8. VIII.Acts 12.25 | A Fulfilled Ministry

    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.

    1. Back to Barnabas and Saul,
      1. they returned from Jerusalem
      2. when they finished their work in Antioch and other places.
    2. They also took Mark with them, for
      1. he was related to Barnabas, and
      2. Mark himself would have a great place in the work of God.