The Death of the Apostle James; Peter’s Miraculous Escape From Prison; The Death of Herod Agrippa I (Acts 12)

Scripture Text:

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Acts 12

Persecution of the first Christians now resumes – at the hands of the Roman representative King, Herod Agrippa 1 (the nephew of Herod Antipas, who questioned Jesus before His death). Click here for more history of the Herodian family in the New Testament.

Questions:

1. Who was the most surprising person to ever show up at your door?

2. If you were arrested by a dictatorial government for being a Christian, what evidence might they point to as proof of your guilt? What could some “well meaning” character witness point to as proof of your innocence?

3. If one of the people in your group (or church) were put to death and another were thrown into jail, what would that do your group (or church)?

  • It would bring us closer together.
  • It would cause us to really pray.
  • We would stand up for our faith.
  • We would likely go into hiding.
  • We would likely give up our faith.
  • I don’t know what we do.

4. This Herod is the nephew of the Herod who ruled in Jesus’ day. What do you learn of his character in verses 20 – 23? Why would his choice to arrest Peter (verses 2 – 4) please the Jewish leaders?

5. Why do you think Herod, as a Roman official, would now join in the Jewish opposition to the church?

6. How do you feel about the fact that God saved Peter but not James? In light of John 21:18 – 19, how might Peter respond to this question?

7. If the Christians were asking God to deliver Peter from jail, why were they so surprised when he showed up at the door?

  • They knew how tight the security would be.
  • They didn’t really expect God to answer their prayer.
  • They were afraid it was a trick.
  • They were caught off guard.
  • They reacted the same way I probably would have.

8. If you had been present at this prayer meeting, what would this miracle have done for you?

  • given me courage
  • boosted my prayer life
  • made me ashamed for doubting
  • drawn our group closer together

9. Who is the James of verse 17 (see Galatians 1:18 – 19)? Why do you think he is mentioned? What does this tell you about his importance in the Jerusalem church?

10. Putting yourself in the place of the soldiers (verse 18), what would you say to each other in the morning?

11. In verses 20 – 22, what contrasts do you see between Herod’s power and God’s power?

12. What do you make of Herod’s death (verses 21 – 23)?

13. In this “Judea and Samaria” phase (chapters 8 – 12) of God’s plan (Acts 1:8), how has the church fared? What opposition has it faced so far? How far has it expanded?

14. When has God surprised you by intervening in a situation that you thought was hopeless?

15. Where do you find yourself in prison, so to speak, right now?

  • in my family relationships
  • to a craving that holds me captive
  • to a physical limitation that holds me back
  • to feelings of low self-worth
  • to a stagnant spiritual life

16. What would most help you to find freedom from this?

  • an angel rescuing me
  • some friends praying for me, and really believing it can happen
  • my own confidence in God’s ability to help me
  • my own desire to change

17. How can your small group (or church) assist you in your situation?

  • leave me alone
  • pray for me
  • help me deal with the relationship that binds me
  • call me every now and then
  • hold me accountable
  • other: _________________

18. In this chapter who truly has power: Herod or the Lord? What does this tell you about how Christians ought to deal with opposition and persecution? What worldly forces seem all-powerful to you? How does this chapter put them in perspective?

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The Church In Antioch (Acts 11:19 – 30)

Scripture Text:

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Acts 11:19 – 30

Questions:

1. What is the farthest from home you have ever been? Why were you there?

2. Antioch was the third largest city in the Roman empire. What might the apostles feel as they hear the Gospel is taking root there (verse 23)?

3. Write a character reference for Barnabas based on verses 22 – 26 (also Acts 4:36, 37)? From this profile, why did Barnabas recruit Saul (chapter 9:27, 28)?

4. With whom do you associate that no minister would normally contact? How do you share the Gospel with those people?

5. Would these people be comfortable in your church?

6. What is the most unusual thing the Holy Spirit has done in your life?

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Peter Explains His Actions To The Church At Jerusalem (Acts 11:1 – 18)

Scripture Text:

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Acts 11:1 – 18

Questions:

1. What was the wrong crowd to hang out with when you were in school? Did you go anyway?

2. Why did Luke take the time and space to record the events of Acts 10:9 – 46 all over again?

3.Of what importance is the gift of the Holy Spirit in Peter’s argument? Why would this have such a strong effect on the Jerusalem believers? Why is this gift misunderstood (see verse 5 – 8)?

4. Why do you think God chose Peter to be the first to go to the Gentiles? Would any other disciple have been successful in both Caesarea and Jerusalem? Why or why not?

5. How do you explain the change in attitudes from verse 2 to verse 18? How does this story relate to Acts 1:8?

6. How can the principle of God bestowing His Spirit on non-Jews affect the way you treat unacceptable people you meet?

7. How have you been criticized for breaking religious traditions? What did you feel was at stake?

8. The lesson of Acts 10:34 – 35 and Acts 11:18 was not easily learned, even by Peter (see Galatians 2:11 – 14). What might have happened if the early church ignored this principle?

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