MacArthur: Acts 12 (Pt. 1)

Acts 12 (Pt. 1) Outline notes included.


I. Meanwhile, back in Jerusalem. A pre-summary (Chapter 12).

A.    Political circumstances are the background for the chapter.

B.    The impact on the church.

II. The death of James.

A.    “By the sword” probably meant beheading.

B.    This is the first of the twelve apostles to be martyred.

1.     James is the brother of John.

(a)  Sons of thunder who wanted to call down fire on Samaria (Luke 9.54).

(b)  Sons of Zebedee, a fisherman (Mark 1.20). Partners with Peter (Lk. 5.10).

(c)  Part of Jesus’ “inner circle.” Transfiguration, etc.

(d)  Asked for privileged position in the Kingdom (Mark 10.35).

2.     Tradition has it the John was the last of the disciples to die.

C.    Why did God allow James execution?

1.     Two approaches to the “problem of pain.”

(a)  God’s perfect or permissive will in all circumstances.

(b)  God’s sovereignty in a world plunged into war at the fall (Genesis 3).

III. Herod: vanity and villainy.

A.    Herod, called “Agrippa.”

1.     Not Herod the Great who slaughtered the children in Bethlehem.

2.     Not Herod Antipas who beheaded John the Baptist.

3.     Shrewd politician who was given authority over the region by the emperor.

B.    Herod’s interest in the church was to ingratiate himself to the Jewish population.

1.     He may have been influenced behind the scenes to arrest James.

2.     Positive results motivated him to go after Peter.

C.    He was not stupid, but he was vain and powerful, a dangerous combination.

1.     Probably placed an embargo on food to Tyre & Sidon.

(a)  We don’t know why he was angry with Phoenicia (Tyre & Sidon).

(b)  Their embassy may have bribed the king’s assistant, Blastus.

2.     Visit to Caesarea may have been strategic.

(a)  There was a military outpost and a strategic harbor.

(b)  It is just south of Phoenicia.

(c)  Makes sense to flatter the angry king at your back door! .

D.    His death in Caesarea is reported by other historians (Josephus).

IV. Passionate prayer accompanied the arrest of Peter.

A.    Prayer is the quality of a vibrant church.

B.    Thanksgiving prayer is key to spiritual vitality.

1.     Persecution often awakens spiritual fervor.

2.     Thanksgiving is the alternative to fervor born of persecution.

C.    Kinds of prayer.

1.     Wanting prayer (supplication).

2.     Warring prayer (intercession) on someone’s behalf.

3.     Waiting prayer. Trusting the Lord’s timing.

D.    Prayer is the act of aligning ourselves with the Father.

1.     We discover the heart and will of the Father.

2.     Learning to ask according to His will and not contrary to His nature.

(a)  In scripture.

(b)  Through time with Him in prayer.

(c)  Counsel from mature believers.

3.     Becoming a child of God by knowing Him.

(a)  Greek Teknon is the child by birth alone.

(b)  Greek Huios is the child who has begun to reflect the nature of the parent.

(c)  Jesus modeled the behavior of a Son relating to His Father.

E.     But note the outcome: passionate, fervent prayer for Peter (v. 5).

1.     Supernatural deliverance.

2.     Principle: From negative circumstance, God brings positive outcomes.

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