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Studies in ACTS

"Acts 11:27 - 12:25 The First Apostle Goes Home"

From: "Pastor Buddy Martin" <>
Date sent: Thu, 26 Sep 2002 18:06:11 -0500
Subject: [HF] Act026 - Acts 11:27 - 12:25 The First Apostle Goes Home


In reading Acts it is easy to get the idea that things are happening in fairly
rapid succession. But this simply isn't the case. We have already covered seven
years of church history. Acts covers roughly thirty-five years.

Think about it --- If the apostles were about the same age as Jesus, and the
Lord was crucified at age thirty-three, this means the apostles are now forty
years old. When we complete Acts, the apostles will be over sixty years old.

Let's continue ...

In our last study of Acts we found that the name 'Christian' had been given to
new covenant believers. We also saw where the Old Testament prophet said that
God's people would be given a new name. However the name Christian took awhile
to complete its rounds. The early Jewish believers in Judea were generally known
as 'the sect of the Nazarenes.'

Where are we now in the history of the early Church? Cornelius came to the Lord
about seven years after Pentecost. A great movement has taken hold in Antioch.
Barnabas brings Saul to Antioch, and they teach in the Church there for a year.
The beginning of this study will put us at about eight years after Pentecost. It
will extend itself to about eleven years after Pentecost.

This is Act026 - Acts 11:27 thru 12:25 The First Apostle Goes Home.

Acts 11:27-30: " Now at this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to
Antioch. One of them named Agabus stood up and began to indicate by the Spirit
that there would certainly be a great famine all over the world. And this took
place in the reign of Claudius. And in the proportion that any of the disciples
had means, each of them determined to send a contribution for the relief of the
brethren living in Judea. And this they did, sending it in charge of Barnabas
and Saul to the elders."

... The role of the early church prophet was not only to expound on the
prophetic mysteries of the former testament, they were also gifted to foretell
future events. They were forthtellers with an additional gift of foretelling. It
is known that the prophets during that time were relatively itinerate in that
they traveled from place to place. Some historians seem to think that Agabus was
one of the seventy disciples that Jesus had sent out.

.... Agabus speaks of a famine about to descend on all the world. A number of
ancient secular writers speak of this famine, including Josephus. Josephus said
that it was especially hard on Judea. It is quite possible that this famine was
a judgment from God. But the believers were to the be prepared beforehand. The
church in Antioch sent contributions to Jerusalem by Barnabas and Saul.

Acts 12:1,2: "Now about that time Herod the king laid hands on some who belonged
to the church in order to mistreat them. And he had James the brother of John
put to death with a sword."

.... This statement fixes our time frame in the early part of 44 a.d., which is
the date of Herod's death. (About eleven years after Pentecost.) Once again we
see spaces of time in the book of Acts.

.... Troublesome times were on the Church. About the time Barnabas and Saul
brought the contribution to Jerusalem, Herod put the apostle James to death with
a sword. Herod was taking over the wishes of the Sanhedrin.

.... Death by the sword was one of the most disgraceful of capital punishments
allowed by the Jews. It was usually reserved for those considered to be
deceivers of the people. In later Talmudic writings, Jesus is spoken of as 'the
deceiver in Israel.' If you recall, after the burial of Jesus, the chief priests and 
Pharisees said to Pilate, "Sir, we remember that when He was still alive that 
deceiver said, ' After three days I am to rise again.' Therefore, give orders for 
the grave to be made secure until the third day, otherwise His disciples may 
come and steal Him away and say to the people, 'He has risen from the dead,' 
and the last deception will be worse than the first." (Matt27:63,64)

Vss3-5: "When he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter
also. Now it was during the days of Unleavened Bread. When he had seized him, he
put him in prison, delivering him to four squads of soldiers to guard him,
intending after the Passover to bring him out before the people. So Peter was
kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to

.... Herod took advantage of this feast to give the Jewish leadership a special
present. The leadership was especially happy to see Peter placed in prison. Of
course Peter was familiar with the prison. He had been there before. So he
settles for a night's sleep. The man Peter doesn't seem to be worried for the

.... This took place during Passover. Four quads would be sixteen soldiers.
Seems everyone remembered that this man Peter had been delivered out of prison
before. Four soldiers were assigned to Peter on each watch. He would be chained
to two soldiers, and the other two kept watch outside the cell.

.... God's peoples throughout the city were praying fervently for Peter. This
was a moment of crisis for the church. One apostle had been beheaded. Another
was waiting the same judgment.

Vss6-17: Rather than comment on each verse, let me give a brief synopsis on
Peter's deliverance by an angel. An angel of the God appears and light fills
Peter's cell. What is Peter doing? He is sleeping. The angel strikes Peter on
the side to awaken him. He is told to gird himself and put on his sandals. Peter
thought he was dreaming. The chains fall off. They walked out of the prison,
past the guards, and then out of the city gate. The huge iron gate opens by
itself. Peter then goes to the house of John Mark's mother, Mary. After some
astonishment, Peter motions for them to be silent. He says, "Report these things
to James and the Brethren." Peter then leaves for another place.

Vss18,19: "Now when day came, there was no small disturbance among the soldiers
as to what could have become of Peter. When Herod had searched for him and had
not found him, he examined the guards and ordered that they be led away to
execution. Then he went down from Judea to Caesarea and was spending time

.... Here we see the severity of Herod. Herod would kill anyone who got in his
way, or who questioned him. He was of a vile temper. Herod actually murdered his
own wife, Mariamne. In addition he murdered Mariamne's mother and his own three
sons. There was a common saying that it was better to be Herod's pig than
Herod's son.

.... It should also be noted that the rule of Rome for soldiers was, if you let
a prisoner escape, you forfeit your life for his. In this case it wasn't only
Herod's vile temper, but also the following of the rule of Rome.

Vss20-23: "Now he was very angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon; and with one
accord they came to him, and having won over Blastus the king's chamberlain,
they were asking for peace, because their country was fed by the king's country.
On an appointed day Herod, having put on his royal apparel, took his seat on the
rostrum and began delivering an address to them. The people kept crying out,
'The voice of a god and not of a man!' And immediately an angel of the Lord
struck him because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and

.... The Jewish historian Josephus says that Herod's apparel was of silver, and
when the early morning sun hit it, it sent out brilliant rays. This was one
reason for their outcry in saying Herod was a god. But there was another reason
-- Herod struck fear into anyone he was around. The cry was a desperate at
flattery. Of course Herod took it to himself.

.... Josephus records this incident and says that the angel appeared in the form
of an owl. But the Christian historian Eusebuis, says Herod looked up and saw an
angel sitting over his head. The angel smote him with a disease. What was the
cause? Herod took to himself the glory that belonged to God alone. But it was
also time to avenge God's servants of whom Herod had dared to touch.

Vss24,25: "But the word of the Lord continued to grow and to be multiplied. And
Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their mission,
taking along with them John, who was also called Mark."

.... This is where we can see the truth in what the prophet said; "'No weapon
that is formed against you will prosper; and every tongue that accuses you in
judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and
their vindication is from Me,' declares the LORD." (Isaiah 54:17)

.... After the death of Herod, believers became even more vocal in their
declaration of Jesus as Messiah, and many more converts were added to the faith.
The opposition was losing ground.

.... Barnabas and Saul returned to Antioch. They take John Mark with them. From
here we are about to enter into another chapter of history.

The study is open. Dialogue and questions are invited.

Shalom in Christ,

Lawrence E. (Buddy) Martin, HF Host

"See to it that no one comes short of the grace
of God; that no root of bitterness springing up
causes trouble, and by it many be defiled." (Heb12:15)

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