HOW THE IRON GATE WAS OPENED
Acts xii: 1 to 24.
OU remember that in the years while Jesus was teaching,
Jerusalem and the part of the land near it was ruled by
a Roman governor, whose name was Pilate; and that he
was the ruler who sent Jesus Christ to the cross.
After some years, the emperor at Rome, who ruled all
the lands around the Great Sea, gave all the country of
the Jews to a man named Herod Agrippa, and made him
King of Judea. He was the nephew of the Herod who
killed John the Baptist, as was told in Story 127,
and the grandson of the other Herod who
killed all the little children of Bethlehem, in trying
to kill the little child Jesus, as we read in Story
112. Herod Agrippa was the King of Judea
when Peter saw the vision on the housetop, and preached
to the Gentiles, as we read in the last Story.
Herod wished to please the Jews in Jerusalem; and he
seized one of the apostles, James, the brother of John,
one of the three disciples who had been nearest to
Jesus. He caused his guards to kill James with the
sword, just as John the Baptist had been killed by his
uncle, Herod Antipas. When he saw how greatly this act
pleased the chief priests and rulers, he laid hands on
Simon Peter also, and put him in prison, intending at
the next feast of the Passover to lead him forth, and
to put him to death.
Peter, therefore, was kept in the prison, with sixteen
soldiers around the prison to guard him, four soldiers
watching him all the time; but all the church prayed
very earnestly to God for him. On the night before the
day when Peter was to be brought out to die, he was
sleeping in the prison, bound with two chains, while
guards before the door were watching. Suddenly a
bright light shone in Peter's cell and an angel from
the Lord stood by him. The angel struck him on the
side, and awoke him, and said, "Rise up quickly."
AN ANGEL ENTERS THE PRISON CELL
as Peter awaked and stood up, his chains fell from his
hands. And the angel said to him:
"Tie your girdle about your waist, and bind your
sandals on your feet."
And Peter did as he was told, scarcely knowing what he
was doing. Then the angel said:
"Wrap your cloak around you, and follow me."
And Peter followed the angel, thinking that he was
dreaming. They passed the first guard of the soldiers,
and the second; but no one stirred to hinder them.
Then they came to the great iron gate on the outside of
the prison; and this opened to them, as if unseen hands
were turning it. They went out of the prison into the
city, and passed through one street. Then the angel
left Peter as suddenly as he had come to him. By this
time Peter was fully awake and he said:
"Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and has
set me free from the power of King Herod."
 Peter thought of what he should do, and where he should
go; and he turned toward the house of a woman named
Mary, who was near of kin to Barnabas; and who had a
son named John Mark, then a young man, the same who
many years afterward wrote "the Gospel according to
Mark." At Mary's house many were met together, and
they were praying for Peter.
Peter came to the house and knocked on the outside
door, and called to those who were within. A young
woman named Rhoda came to the door. She listened, and
at once knew the voice of Peter. So glad was she, that
she did not think to open the door, but ran into the
house, and told them all that Peter was standing at the
door. They said to her, "You are crazed!"
But she said that she was sure that Peter was there,
for she knew his voice. And then they said:
"It must be an angel who has taken Peter's form!"
But Peter kept on knocking; and when at last they
opened the door, and saw him, they were filled with
wonder. With his hand he beckoned to them to listen;
and he told them how the Lord had brought him out of
the prison. And Peter said to them:
"Tell these things to James and to the other apostles."
And then he went away to a place where Herod and his
men could not find him. The morning came, and there
was a great stir among the soldiers, as to what had
become of Peter. Herod the king sought for Peter, but
could not find him; and in his anger he ordered that
the guards in the prison should be put to death. And
not long after this Herod himself died so suddenly that
many believed his death came from the wrath of God upon
him. So Herod perished; but Peter, whom he sought to
kill, lived many years, working for Christ.
The James of whom Peter spoke, when he said, "Tell
these things to James," was not James the apostle, the
brother of John, for already that James had been put to
death by Herod. He spoke of another James, a son of
Joseph and Mary, a younger brother of Jesus, one who
was always called "the Lord's brother." This James was
a very holy man; and a leader of the church in
Jerusalem, where he lived many years. Some time after
this James wrote the book of the New Testament called
"The Epistle of James."