The Jewish leaders were so jealous of Jesus’ disciples that they arrested them and threw them in prison (Acts 5:17, 18). “But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out” (v. 19). Imagine the captain of the guard’s surprise when, in the morning, the prison cell was empty and the disciples were standing in the temple and teaching. “They never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah” (v. 42).
God has the power to open prison doors, literally and figuratively. Just as locked doors were no barrier to the risen Christ, they were no barrier to His followers. This didn’t mean Christian prisoners were always freed, as in Acts 5. The apostle Paul, for example, was imprisoned two separate times.
But today’s passage does narrate another miraculous release. Herod found that persecuting the new sect that called Jesus the Messiah and Son of God was a popular thing to do (vv. 1–3). He killed James, the brother of John, and put Peter in prison. Peter was shackled directly to two soldiers, with two more standing guard outside. Nonetheless, an angel easily rescued him (v. 7). His chains fell off, and the iron gate of Antonia Fortress, the military base where he was being held, “opened for them by itself” (v. 10).
Peter assumed this was all a vision, but when he realized he was actually free he went straight to a local house church. Though they were praying for him, they hadn’t looked for such an immediate answer. Imagine their surprise when he appeared at the door (v. 14)!
>> Are you waiting on the Lord today? Remember that God holds the power to free you physically, emotionally, and spiritually. When Paul and Silas were in jail in Philippi (Acts 16:16–34) they sang hymns while they waited, showing faith. What a great example to imitate!