Seen in the text is a church facing lots of adversity, and through numerous challenges, growing more and more confident in Jesus.
It’s like nothing can stop them.
Hardship grows them fast, it sanctify’s them, and makes them sweeter.
Lots of time has gone by since the resurrection, and Herod mentioned is not Herod the Great, but his grandson, Herod Agrippa, a man who grew up in Rome and had deep ties the Caesar’s.
Herod attempted a copycat crime, Herod the Great assisted in putting Jesus on the cross at Passover, so Agrippa would put Jesus’ followers to death after Passover (Feast of Unleavened Bread). Leaving nothing to chance he sent four squads to arrest Peter in order to keep him from preaching the gospel. We are not certain how many compose four squads but safe to say around twenty soldiers or more, went to arrest an unarmed fisherman.
They never stood a chance.
When Peter was thrown into prison, the church mobilized and began to pray with Holy Spirit fire.
Let’s unpack the word “earnest prayer.”
In Greek, the word “earnest” (ektenos) means to stretch out, and the word for “prayer” (proseuche) means “coming toward God.”
Let’s explore “proseuche,” since it has lots of depth.
“Proseuche” in Greek, references the activity of a worshipper at a Pagan Temple. The worshipper was not asked to believe in the pagan religion, what mattered most was the ritual itself, just do it and everything was fine.
“Proseuche” means to engage in the ritual by “making confident statements” about oneself,” in other words boasting before the pagan deity that you are in fact a super great person who deserves to be super blessed.
Now stay with me—as the word “proseuche” evolved, Christians changed the meaning, in effect saying to the culture, proseuche truthfully means “making bold statements about God.” Instead of coming to worship and making bold statements about oneself, “proseuche” meant you came to worship and made bold statements about God’s character, as well as anything else related to God’s glory.
When God favors you, you are unstoppable.
Peter was favored, sleeping, bound between two soldiers, and an angel came, “struck him,” gave him instructions (was even told to get dressed), and off they went out of the prison.
Proof that God has a sense of humor is seen in the follow up to Peter’s release from prison. The Apostle knocks on a door, and is greeted outside by a servant girl named Rhoda. The girl was too excited when she saw Peter, and ran to tell the rest of the church gathered in prayer, those praying thought she was crazy, but soon enough Peter came inside and they all spread the word of God’s amazing power.
Herod experienced God’s promise of sowing and reaping. The terrible king put to death those who were with Peter, even though Peter’s escape was not their fault, then later on gave a speech so well received people claimed it was the voice of God. The context shows the crowd was kissing up to the king so that politically they could get what they wanted, but Herod received the worship, and the Lord sent an angel to immediately strike Herod dead because he did not give God the glory.
A great lesson for us all to learn
I love this phrase, “the word of God increased and multiplied.”
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Peace and love.