Peter Delivered: Part 5 of 7

by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)

11 And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.

Where did Luke get his information about Peter’s thoughts? This verse sounds like first-hand knowledge. Possibly, John Mark may have been his confidant, for we know that both were in Rome together at a later period. In any case, it is clear that, through whatever channels this piece of minute knowledge reached Luke, it must have come originally from Peter himself. And what a touch of naturalness and evident truth it adds to the narration! It’s no wonder that the Apostle was half dazed as he came from his dungeon, and walked through the prison corridors and out into the street. To be wakened by an angel, and to have the experience of following him to freedom, would amaze most men.

And when Peter was come to himself,
“When did Peter was come to himself?” It was after being awakened out of sleep, after seeing an uncommon light which shone around him, and after the appearance of the angel, and the chains dropping from his hands, and after his surprising escape through the wards, and after the iron gate opened on its own: He was so filled with amazement, that he was not himself; he could scarcely tell whether he was in the body or not, and whether he was in a dream or a trance, or whether he saw a vision or not; but upon the angel's leaving him he came to himself, the amazement wore off, and he found himself thoroughly awake, and perfectly in his senses, and that the deliverance was real. It was only then, after he had recovered from his amazement and bewilderment at his unexpected deliverance, and had time to look back upon all the events that had followed each other in such rapid succession, that he was able to turn things over in his mind and reflect upon them. He finds himself alone, at night, free, in the open street. He had been amazed by the whole transaction. He thought it was a vision: and in the suddenness and rapidity with which it was done, he had no time for cool reflection. The events of divine providence often overwhelm and confound us, due to their suddenness, and rapidity, and their unexpected nature which prevents calm and collected reflection.

This clause and other subjective features of the narrative shows that the account must have been derived from St Peter himself. No one else could describe the astonishment he felt after the realization that it all actually happened, and was no vision.

He said, Now I know of a surety,
When Peter was come to himself, and was able to reflect upon all he had heard and seen, which he knew had been done for him by the angel sent by the Lord. He knew “of a surety” (for certain) that his deliverance was real and successful. As before, his Master had sent His angel to deliver him: “But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth” (Acts 5:19).

That the Lord hath sent his angel,
Peter said, now I know for certain that the Lord has sent his angel. He was thankful to God, and showed it by acknowledging that his deliverance, though it was by the ministration of an angel, yet it was due to the goodness and power of God, who sent his angel, and his salvation was of the Lord's doing, and it marvelous in the eyes of Peter, and he was very grateful to Him.

And hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod,
A statement of confident knowledge that he was delivered from Herod, who had resolved to kill him, just as he had recently killed James (see verse 2), and thought he had taken all the measures necessary to ensure that he would be locked up in prison until then. And in a sense, he was delivered from the people’s expectation, who had heard the report of Herod’s resolution, and longed to see it fulfilled. This is evidence that Peter expected nothing but to seal his testimony with his blood on this occasion. But, God sent his angel, and delivered him, as He had done once before (Acts 5:19). It was not yet the time for Peter to die. Jesus, after His resurrection, spoke to him about how he would die: “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me” (John 21:18-19).

And from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.
The Jews had been gratified by the death of James, and now they earnestly desired to see another of the Apostles put to death; not only the inhabitants of Jerusalem, but the body of the Jewish nation, who were now at Jerusalem, on account of the Passover; and who before they departed to go to their own cities and towns, expected to have had Peter brought out of prison, and put to death before them. And this after the many beneficial miracles he had done among them; but now both Herod and they were disappointed.

12 And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying.

And when he had considered the thing,
As the apostle walked along the streets, there was plenty of time for mulling over his great deliverance and meditating upon the magnitude of the danger that he had been in, and the goodness of God in delivering him. And he must have wondered, “What should I do next,” and “Where should I go?” Perhaps he knew that there was a prayer meeting in progress at Mary’s house. And, he certainly would have desired to tell his friends about the wonderful miracle that was responsible for his release. He was happy, and he didn’t want to celebrate his release alone.

He came to the house of Mary
The house of Mary was probably nearby; and he would naturally seek the company of a Christian friend. She must have had a large house and some property and other assets, for we find in the last clause that “many were gathered together {in her house] praying. We read that her brother Barnabas (Col 4:10) was a person of substance:
• “And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas. . . a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet.” (Ac 4:36-37).
She must also have been distinguished for faith and courage to allow a meeting of Christians in her home, in the face of persecution. It was natural that Peter would go to such a house. This good woman seems to be a widow, since no mention is made of her husband; and, like her brother, she may have possessed the means which enabled her to put her house, or a part of it, at the service of the Church, as a meeting-place for prayer.

The mother of John,
Mary was “the mother of John,” whose family name was Mark. So far, we can say the following things about him:
1. Peter calls him his “son,” meaning that he was probably converted by him: “The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you; and so doth Marcus John Mark my son” (1Peter 5:13).
2. He was cousin to Barnabas, probably through his mother, and was therefore at least connected with the tribe of Levi and possibly belonging to it: “And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus” (Acts 4:36). This relationship accounts for the way in which the uncle clung to his nephew, even when St Paul declined to have Mark as a companion on their second proposed missionary journey. We do not read of the father of Mark anywhere.
3. The fact that Mary’s house was the meeting-place of the Church indicates comparative wealth, as did Barnabas’s sale of his estate.
4. The absence of any mention of Mark’s father makes it probable that she was a widow.
5. The Latin name of Marcus indicates some point of contact with Romans or Roman Jews.
6. She is called the “mother of John” to distinguish her from the other Mary; he is called John Mark to distinguish him from the apostle John.
7. It was probably this John Mark who wrote the Gospel of Mark; but this is not certain.

She is described (or “labeled”), “The mother of John,” because, after this, he will become well-known and will be mentioned frequently in Christian circles. Here she gains a reputation, and will be remembered in this Scripture, for her son’s sake. Thus a wise son made a glad mother, as it says in Proverbs 10:1—“A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother.

Her house was large, and her heart as large as her house; the saints met there, and she made them feel welcome, and that is where they were at this time, though the hour was late. If Paul and Barnabas were not in her house at the time (which there is no evidence that they were), it is likely that all the particulars of Peter's escape may have been communicated to Paul by John Mark, and by him repeated to Luke. That they went to the house of Mary before their return seems certain from their taking Mark with them to Antioch (ver. 25), possibly to remove him from the danger Christians were in at Jerusalem at this time.

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