Sermon Overview & Discussion Questions: "A Divine Prison Break"

 Sermon Overview:

As the early church continues to grow, so too does persecution increase for these first Christians. King Herod kills James, the brother of John, and arrests Peter, intending the same punishment for him. However, as Peter awaits execution in his prison cell, the early church prays for his deliverance, and God acts. An angel, sent from the LORD, appears at Peter’s cell and breaks him out, leading him to freedom at the city gate. Astonished, Peter then makes his way to the house of Mary, the mother of John, where God’s people are still praying. The gathered church initially disbelieves that Peter has been rescued from prison before finally receiving him in great, loud amazement. Unable to recapture and kill the escaped Peter, Herod is then judged by the LORD for his blasphemous arrogance, and he, instead, is the one who is put to death. All the while, the theme song of Acts drums along: the unstoppable gospel continues to increase and multiply among all peoples.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How does Luke describe the level of security in and around Peter’s prison cell? Why do you think he includes so many details about this in the narrative?
  2. What was the expectation of both Peter and the gathered church regarding whether Peter would be broken out of prison? How does the passage express this attitude, and how does it add to the drama of the story?
  3. What role do the prayers of God’s people have in Peter’s escape, as expressed in v. 6 and v. 12? What does this tell us about the character of God and how he chooses to act in the world?
  4. Do you tend to view the LORD’s providence as usually ordaining suffering, as in the case of James, or usually bringing about deliverance, as in the case of Peter? How does this passage give you a fuller view of God’s multi-faceted providence?
  5. Though Herod sought to kill Peter, ultimately, Herod was the one to be put to death in this narrative. How is the justice of God on display in this reversal, and how does his justice inform our attitude towards suffering caused by God’s enemies?
  6. Without a doubt, Peter’s rescue from certain death is directly linked to the gospel continuing to go forth in increase and multiplication. In what ways has the LORD delivered you from a specific sin, illness, or situation so that you’re able to proclaim the gospel in a uniquely powerful way? How does this deliverance impact how you share the gospel?