ImmerseMessiah NLT - Flipbook - Page 93
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blessing, he was filled with joy, and he encouraged the believers to stay
true to the Lord. Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and
strong in faith. And many people were brought to the Lord.
Then Barnabas went on to Tarsus to look for Saul. When he found
him, he brought him back to Antioch. Both of them stayed there with the
church for a full year, teaching large crowds of people. (It was at Antioch
that the believers were first called Christians.)
During this time some prophets traveled from Jerusalem to Antioch.
One of them named Agabus stood up in one of the meetings and predicted by the Spirit that a great famine was coming upon the entire Roman
world. (This was fulfilled during the reign of Claudius.) So the believers in Antioch decided to send relief to the brothers and sisters in Judea,
everyone giving as much as they could. This they did, entrusting their
gifts to Barnabas and Saul to take to the elders of the church in Jerusalem.
About that time King Herod Agrippa began to persecute some believers in
the church. He had the apostle James ( John’s brother) killed with a sword.
When Herod saw how much this pleased the Jewish people, he also arrested Peter. (This took place during the Passover celebration.) Then he imprisoned him, placing him under the guard of four squads of four soldiers
each. Herod intended to bring Peter out for public trial after the Passover.
But while Peter was in prison, the church prayed very earnestly for him.
The night before Peter was to be placed on trial, he was asleep, fastened
with two chains between two soldiers. Others stood guard at the prison
gate. Suddenly, there was a bright light in the cell, and an angel of the Lord
stood before Peter. The angel struck him on the side to awaken him and
said, “Quick! Get up!” And the chains fell off his wrists. Then the angel
told him, “Get dressed and put on your sandals.” And he did. “Now put on
your coat and follow me,” the angel ordered.
So Peter left the cell, following the angel. But all the time he thought it
was a vision. He didn’t realize it was actually happening. They passed the
first and second guard posts and came to the iron gate leading to the city,
and this opened for them all by itself. So they passed through and started
walking down the street, and then the angel suddenly left him.
Peter finally came to his senses. “It’s really true!” he said. “The Lord has
sent his angel and saved me from Herod and from what the Jewish leaders
had planned to do to me!”
When he realized this, he went to the home of Mary, the mother of John
Mark, where many were gathered for prayer. He knocked at the door in the
gate, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to open it. When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed that, instead of opening the door,
she ran back inside and told everyone, “Peter is standing at the door!”