New Life Version
The King Makes It Hard for the Church
12 At that time King Herod used his power to make it hard for the Christians in the church. 2 He killed James, the brother of John, with a sword. 3 When he saw that it made the Jews happy, he took hold of Peter also. This was during the special religious gathering to remember how the Jews left Egypt. 4 Herod took Peter and put him in prison and had sixteen soldiers watch him. After the special religious gathering was over, he planned to bring Peter out to the people.
Peter Goes Free
5 So Peter was held in prison. But the church kept praying to God for him. 6 The night before Herod was to bring him out for his trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers. He was tied with two chains. Soldiers stood by the door and watched the prison.
7 All at once an angel of the Lord was seen standing beside him. A light shone in the building. The angel hit Peter on the side and said, “Get up!” Then the chains fell off his hands. 8 The angel said, “Put on your belt and shoes!” He did. The angel said to Peter, “Put on your coat and follow me.” 9 Peter followed him out. He was not sure what was happening as the angel helped him. He thought it was a dream.
10 They passed one soldier, then another one. They came to the big iron door that leads to the city and it opened by itself and they went through. As soon as they had gone up one street, the angel left him.
The Christians Find It Hard to Believe Peter Is Free
11 As Peter began to see what was happening, he said to himself, “Now I am sure the Lord has sent His angel and has taken me out of the hands of Herod. He has taken me also from all the things the Jews wanted to do to me.” 12 After thinking about all this, he went to Mary’s house. She was the mother of John Mark. Many Christians were gathered there praying.
13 When Peter knocked at the gate, a girl named Rhoda went to see who it was. 14 She knew Peter’s voice, but in her joy she forgot to open the gate. She ran in and told them that Peter was standing outside the gate.
15 They said to her, “You are crazy.” But she said again that it was so. They kept saying, “It is his angel.” 16 Peter kept knocking. When they opened the gate and saw him, they were surprised and wondered about it. 17 He raised his hand and told them not to talk but to listen to him. He told them how the Lord had brought him out of prison. He said, “Tell all these things to James and to the other Christian brothers.” Then he went to another place.
The Death of Herod
18 In the morning the soldiers were very troubled about what had happened to Peter. 19 Herod looked for him but could not find him. He asked the soldiers who watched the prison about Peter. Herod said that the soldiers must be killed because Peter got away. Then Herod went down from the country of Judea to the city of Caesarea to stay for awhile.
20 Herod was very angry with the people of the cities of Tyre and Sidon. They went to him and asked for peace to be made between them and the king. They asked this because their country got food from the king’s country. The people made friends with Blastus, the king’s helper. 21 A day was set aside. On that day Herod put on purple clothes a king wears. He sat on his throne and spoke to the people. 22 They all started to speak with a loud voice, “This is the voice of a god, not of a man.” 23 The angel of the Lord knocked him down because he did not give honor to God. He was eaten by worms and died.
24 The Word of God was heard by many people and went into more places. 25 Saul and Barnabas went back to Jerusalem after they had finished their work. They took John Mark with them.