By the time Peter returned to Jerusalem in chapter 10, news that the Gentiles also had received the word of God had already spread back to the other apostles and the brothers and sisters throughout Judea. In verse 2, Peter was getting criticism from the “circumcision party.” Their issue was with Peter having eaten with these uncircumcised Gentiles.
Peter had that same attitude toward Gentiles before his vision and before the conversion of Cornelius and his family. Indeed, that was the attitude of most of the church before the Jerusalem conference in chapter 15. Even after The conversion of Cornelius, Peter withdrew from the gentile believers for a while out of fear of the circumcision party. And Paul speaks of rebuking him for this in Galatians 2:11-12.
But after peter told them of the vision, the command from the Spirit to go to Cornelius, and the entire conversion story. Upon hearing that the Holy Spirit had fallen on these gentiles, they had no choice but to concede that “to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”
Chapter 12 says that Herod Agrippa I, the grandson of Herod the Great “laid violent hands on members of the church.” We know from history that he died in 44 A.D. so, considering the events of the latter part of the chapter, it is likely that all of this took place in that year. Verse 2 says that “he killed James the brother of John with the sword…”
The text goes on to say that it pleased the Jews when Herod had this done. That would of course be the Jewish leaders, who already had deep animosity for the apostles. Seeing how the death of James pleased them, he had Peter arrested. This was during the Feast of Unleavened Bread; and Herod intended to bring Peter out after Passover and undoubtedly do the same with him as he had done with James.
But on evening before he was to be brought to Herod, an angel of the Lord came to Peter as he slept between two soldiers, made the chains fall off of him, led him past two guards and compelled the iron gate to open on its own, as they walked through. And then the angel left. Peter had been thinking that he was having another vision. But in verse 11, he realizes that the Lord had sent his angel to rescue him “from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.”
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