Persecution of the Church

Scripture Reading — Acts 12:1-11

King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. — Acts 12:1

James, along with his brother John, were called by Jesus to become his disciples. They had such fiery personalities that Jesus gave them the nickname “sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17; see Luke 9:54). Along with Peter, they became Jesus’ three closest disciples (Mark 9:2; 14:33). And when the church began to grow after Jesus’ death and resurrection, James became the first apostle to be killed for his faith in Christ.

“King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them.” Herod had James killed, probably because James was known as a leader, and when Herod saw that the Jewish authorities approved of this, he arrested Peter also.

This led the church to pray earnestly for Peter. And the Lord surely had more work for Peter to do, because on the night before Peter’s trial, God sent an angel to break Peter out of prison. Amazing!

Sometimes people have a question about this. Why did God allow James to be killed, but then God sent an angel to save Peter? Was God showing favoritism? No.

God has a plan for each of us in our lives, and he calls us to serve him until he is ready to take us to be with him. And while we continue to live in this world of suffering, God will provide what we need.

Our eternal destiny is safe with God, and nothing can take us out of his hands (John 10:28-30).

Prayer

Holy God, let us fulfill the calling you have given us to spread the gospel and build up the church, even in the midst of suffering and persecution in this world. In Jesus’ name, Amen.