We pick up with verse 11 after Peter is led out of prison by an angel. Peter gathers his thoughts and runs to the house of Mary the mother of John Mark. This is where a group of Christ’s followers are praying for Peter. Peter knocks on the door and calls to a young girl who answers. No one inside the house believes it is Peter. After persisting in knocking on the outer door, Peter is finally let in and the people are astonished.
The group had been faithfully praying for Peter yet are surprised to see him alive. I can imagine how they felt. Too often we pray yet are surprised when God answers. May God forgive our weakness of faith.
Peter tells them the story of how the angel released him from prison. I’m sure the church was greatly uplifted to hear this account and word quickly spread among the faithful.
Now back in the prison area and inside the local political structure, the news was not so well-received. Verse 18 and following tells of the reception of Herod to this news. The guards were executed for their ‘failure’ to keep their prisoner secure.
Herod’s plan to garner increased favor among the non-Christian Jews had been derailed and he was furious. I would bet he searched for Peter harder than he had ever searched for anything yet Peter was gone. Herod then does the only thing a spoiled brat can do when defeated… he runs away to Caesarea. News didn’t travel as quickly then as today. Maybe he could outrun the news for a while or even get his mind occupied by badgering other people for a change.
Now on to more of Herod’s vain self-absorption. He held the power strings that controlled the food supply to Tyre and Sidon. He was miffed at them for some reason not given to us. A feast was held in honor of Roman Emporer Claudius according to historical writings of Jewish historian Josephus. It was possibly at this feast that the events of verses 21 – 23 took place.
The people of Tyre and Sidon and other locals who were at the event where Herod gives an oration, applauded him wildly. This was perhaps due to the splendid apparel he was wearing and the assumed power he wielded and could also have been at least partially due to their desire to flatter him in order to gain something from him later.
The people cried out, “The voice of a god and not of a man” which was complete foolishness. Herod took the glory upon himself according to Josephus’ account and the Bible doesn’t say exactly but the implication is that he loved the flattery and was puffed up with himself. Verse 23 says that an angel of the Lord struck Herod because he did not give glory to God. Herod later dies of being consumed (internally) by worms.
Verse 24 tells us that the word of God grew and multiplied which is exactly what it does according to God’s will. There is no stopping it. Herod was shown not to be all that he believed himself to be and that the people who flattered him hoped he was. However, God always proves to be exactly who He has told us He is. Praise His name.