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The Prison Experiences Of The Bible

Sermon #5


Acts 12:1-19


Intro: The early days of the church witnessed the power of God moving on miraculous ways. 3,000 people were saved on one occasion, Acts 2:41; and 5,000 were saved on another occasion, Acts 4:4. The early church was marked by the manifest presence and power of God. He was on them to such a degree that “fear came upon every soul, Acts 2:43. God’s power and presence produced peace and harmony within the church, Acts 2:42-47. Souls were being saved on a daily basis, Acts 2:47. The people were excited, busy and holy. God was working and His power was felt by saint and sinner alike. The church was growing; God was glorified; Jesus was being preached and sinners were being saved. It was a great time to be a part of the local church!

But, not everyone was pleased! The Jews hated the early church because the church said that Jesus was the Messiah. The church said that Jesus had been killed by the Jews and, most amazing of all; they even claimed that He had risen from the dead. The Jews hated the message of the Gospel, and with so many Jews turning from Judaism to follow “that way, Acts 19:9; 23; 24:22; it wasn’t long before the church came under fire from its enemies.

The Jewish leaders had tried arresting the Apostles and forbidding them to preach the Gospel, Acts 4:1-23. That did not work, so they arrested Stephen, tried him and stoned him to death in an effort to stem the growth of the church, Acts 6:8-7:60. This failed to achieve the desired results as well. The Jews continued their efforts to try and stop the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They used hired guns like Saul of Tarsus; but he wound up getting saved. They persecuted the saints and many members of the church were scattered to the four winds of the earth. Still, the church continued to grow and prosper.

That brings us to our passage of Scripture today. Herod, seeking to curry favor with the Jews, arrested James, the brother of John and had him executed. When he saw this pleased the Jews, he arrested Peter, and planned to kill him too. So, this passage opens with the Apostle James dead and the Apostle Peter in prison, about to be put to death. In this prison experience, God flexes His muscles in some amazing ways and gives His servants a great victory.

By way of introduction, let me point out that Peter arrived in this prison through no fault of his own. He was living right; walking with God; doing the best he could do; preaching Jesus; honoring the Lord and trouble still came his way. There is a lesson here for us as well. We must never get the idea that a good, godly life is a hedge against troubles. Sometimes, the closer one lives to Jesus the more that person suffers for Jesus. Consider Job. He was clean, holy and good, by God’s Own estimation. He was doing his best to serve the Lord and to live for God and still trouble came his way, Job 1-2. Trials marked the lives of David, Paul, Elijah, and even the Lord Jesus. Jesus is called “a man of sorrows, Isa. 53:3. If Jesus suffered trials and set backs in life; we should expect no better treatment ourselves.

I think the Bible is pretty clear on this matter. Every person who comes into this world is going to experience troubles and trials, Job 5:7; 14:1. Those people who live for the Lord are going to have their trials too, John 16:33; 2 Tim. 3:12.

Peter discovered this when he was thrown into Herod’s prison. But, it was in that prison experience that Peter experienced the power of God in some wonderful ways. I want to look into Peter’s prison experience today and show you the ways God manifested His power to Peter in that prison. We need this teaching because we will find ourselves shut up in this prison at some point in our lives. When we do, we need to know that our God is God in the prisons of life also. As the Lord gives grace, I want to preach on the thought The Prison Of His Power. Let’s notice the ways God manifested His power in this prison experience.



A. Peter is scheduled to be tried and executed the very next morning and what is he doing? He isn’t in there praying for deliverance. He isn’t writing his last will and testament. He isn’t crying, screaming and begging for mercy. The night before he is to die, Peter is sleeping in his prison cell like a little baby! (Ill. He slept through the angel coming in and the light shining around him. The angel has to hit him to wake his up, v. 7.) He may be chained between two soldiers, but he is sound asleep, without a care in the world. God had given Peter “peace that passeth understanding. (Ill. This wasn’t the first time Peter had been in jail. He had already been delivered in Acts 5:19 by the angel of the Lord. Maybe Peter believed the Lord would come through again.)


(Note: If you are saved, God has already delivered you from the worst prison of all; He has delivered you from sin, judgment and Hell. If He can deliver a sinner from that prison, any other prison will be a pushover!)


B. That is an amazing thing to see! Sadly, very few of the Lord’s people have arrived at that kind of place in their life. Sometime it seems that the least little thing can come along and it sends us reeling into fear, panic and worry.

God has a better plan! He desires to give His children peace, John 14:27; Phil. 4:6-7. Do you have that kind of peace in your heart today?

C. That brand of peace is on display in the Word of God. The Three Hebrews had it, Dan. 3:16. Daniel had it, Dan. 6:10. Job had it, Job 13:15. You and I can have it too! Thank God for His peace!



A. As Peter lay there sleeping, the angel of the Lord came into that very cell. The bars, the locks, the guards and the walls proved to be no barrier to the Lord! He came right in and did as He pleased. He meant to come to Peter and nothing was able to stop Him.

B. When we find ourselves in these prisons of despair and trials, we need never fear being there alone. Our Lord promised us that He would ever be with us and He meant every word that He said, Heb. 13:5; Matt. 28:20; John 14:18.

He has never forsaken His people and He never will, Psa. 37:25! When Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were thrown into the furnace, they found the Lord already there, Dan. 3:25. When Daniel went into the lions den, he found the Lord was already there, Dan. 6:22. When Paul was on the ship in the stormy sea, he found the Lord was there with him, Act 27:23.

C. No matter where the path of your life leads you, you will never go there alone. The Lord will be with you in every trial and along every mile. He will never let you down!



A. Ill the Context – God moved in might, supernatural power to deliver His servant from that prison. Chains fell off, doors opened by themselves and Peter was delivered from his prison.

B. God will use whatever means is necessary to care for you in all the prison times of his life. When you find yourself in a prison situation, you need to know that God will move Heaven and earth if necessary in order to meet your needs.

C. This is seen throughout the pages of the Bible - Elijah and the ravens, 1 Kings 17:2-7; the widow and her meal and oil, 1 Kings 17:8-16; The Three Hebrews and the flames, Daniel 3; Daniel and the lion, Daniel 6; The children of Israel and the Red Sea, Ex. 14, the Manna, Ex. 16, the water from the rock, Ex. 17, the shoes and clothes that did not wear out for 40 years, Deut. 29:5; the Disciples in the storm, Mark 6:45-51; The hungry multitudes, John 6:1-13; Mary, Martha and Lazarus, John 11:1-45.

If He will do this for these folks, He will do what He has to do to meet you need as well. That is His promise, Matt. 6:25-34. And, that is just what He will do!



A. Ill. The Context. The Lord used Peter’s prison to teach Peter and the members of the church to place their trust in God and to leave the matter in His hands. Those folks could not have delivered Peter by their power. They could not have stormed that prison and secure his release. They did what they could though. They prayed and God worked. This prison experience taught them all that God is greater than our needs and that He is worthy of our faith!

B. As we pass through this life and as we move through our various troubles, trials and prison, we probably will not understand the reason and the purpose behind all we face. That is why verses like Rom. 8:28; Rom. 8:18; 2 Cor. 4:17 are so vital to our faith.

C. Why does the Lord allow these things in our lives? I cannot answer that, but I can say this: God has a purpose for every prison He allows you to pass through. That purpose may be to grow you. It may be to help someone else. It may be simply to glorify the Lord. He has a plan and He has a purpose and He wants us to come to place where we simply trust Him for all we need and for all we face.


(Note: After these events, you will notice that Peter gave glory to the Lord for his deliverance, v. 17. You will also notice that Herod received the praise of men and refused to give glory to God, v. 21-23. God killed Herod and when that threat was removed, the Gospel spread faster than ever before, v. 24.

That may be God’s sole purpose for the prison. He may be using your prison experience as a means to glorify His name and to draw others to Jesus. Are you willing to submit to His purpose, even though you may not understand it?)


Conc: Are you in a prison of sorts today? Are you in a place where you need to see the Lord flex His muscles and demonstrate His power in your life? Let me invite you to come before Him to place your burden at His feet and get the help you need at this stage in your life. This altar is open for whatever you may need!

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