“Lesson 90: Acts 12,” New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2016)
“Lesson 90,” New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual
Herod killed the Apostle James and then arrested and imprisoned Peter. The night before Peter was to be executed, an angel helped him escape from prison. Herod was smitten by an angel from God, and the gospel continued to move forward.
Display a compass or draw one on the board. Invite a student to explain how a compass works and what it is used for.
Because a compass always points north, how can using a compass help us make correct decisions about where we should go?
Draw an X on the board somewhere near the compass (but not near the north compass point), and ask the class to imagine that the X represents a handheld magnet.
How would this magnet influence the behavior of the compass needle? (The needle will point to the nearby magnet because it interferes with magnetic north.)
How would this magnet affect your ability to make the right choice about what direction you should go?
Encourage students to look as they study Acts 12 for an influence that can interfere with our ability to make correct decisions.
To help students understand the context of Acts 12, explain that since the martyrdom of Stephen, the Christians in and around Jerusalem had experienced increasing persecution.
Invite a student to read Acts 12:1–4 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how King Herod Agrippa I contributed to this persecution. (Explain that a quaternion is equal to four soldiers).
Who did Herod have killed with a sword?
According to verse 3, who was pleased with James’s death?
Explain that the phrase “the Jews” in verse 3 refers to influential Jewish leaders in Jerusalem who encouraged the persecution of the Church of Jesus Christ. Herod sought to please these Jewish leaders (see Bible Dictionary, “Herod”). Near the X on the board write the following incomplete statement: If we seek to please others rather than God, then …
What did Herod do after he saw that the murder of James pleased the Jewish leaders? (He planned to publicly put Peter to death.)
Point to the picture of the compass on the board, and ask:
How did Herod’s desire to please others rather than God affect Herod’s direction in life?
Based on what we can learn from Herod’s example, how would you complete the statement on the board? (After students respond, complete the statement on the board so that it conveys the following truth: If we seek to please others rather than God, then we can be led further into sin.)
What are some other examples that demonstrate how seeking to please others rather than God can lead someone to sin?
Invite students to ponder ways they may be allowing their desire to please others to direct them away from their Father in Heaven.
Explain that students will be invited to act out the events of Acts 12:5–17. Invite several students to play the parts of Peter, two guards, the angel, Rhoda, and one or two disciples at the home of Mary, the mother of Mark. You or another student can act as the narrator.
Ask the narrator to read Acts 12:5–6 aloud, and invite the students whose roles are mentioned to act out what is read. To help students understand the content, pause after each group of verses is read and acted out, and then ask the associated questions.
What were the Church members doing at this time?
Ask the narrator to read Acts 12:7–10 aloud while the designated students act out what is read.
What restraints or barriers did Peter make it through during this escape?
Ask the narrator to read Acts 12:11–15 aloud while the designated students act out what is read.
When did Peter realize what had happened?
What happened when Peter knocked at the gate of Mary’s house?
Ask the narrator to read Acts 12:16–17 aloud, and invite the designated students to act out what is read. After these verses are read and acted out, invite the students to take their seats.
Invite students to review Acts 12:5 and look for how this verse is related to what happened to Peter.
What do you think the phrase “prayer was made without ceasing” (verse 5) suggests about the sincerity and fervency of the Church members’ prayers?
What principle can we learn from this account about the effect our prayers can have on ourselves and others? (Students should identify a principle similar to the following: Our sincere and fervent prayers invite God’s miracles and blessings into our lives and the lives of others. Write this principle on the board.)
What does it mean to pray sincerely and fervently?
Explain that this principle does not mean that if our prayers are sincere and fervent, we will automatically receive what we are praying for. Other contributing factors to receiving God’s miracles and blessings include God’s will and timing as well as individual agency.
Invite a student to read the following statement aloud. Ask students to listen for how our sincere and fervent prayers affect God’s will.
“Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings” (Bible Dictionary, “Prayer”).
According to this statement, what is an important purpose of prayer?
Why is it important to remember that the purpose of prayer is not to change the will of God?
Invite students to respond to the following question in their class notebooks or scripture study journals:
When has prayer invited God’s miracles and blessings into your life or into the lives of others for whom you have prayed?
After sufficient time, consider inviting a few students to share what they wrote. Following their comments, invite students to consider how they may be able to pray more sincerely and fervently in order to invite the blessings and miracles that God is willing to bestow upon them and those they pray for.
Summarize Acts 12:18–22 by explaining that the following day, Herod learned of Peter’s escape and executed the guards he felt were responsible for allowing Peter to escape. Later, Herod gave a speech to the people, who praised him for his speech.
Invite a student to read Acts 12:23–24 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what happened to Herod.
What happened to Herod? Why?
What happened to the missionary work of the Church despite the persecution that Church members faced?
Conclude by inviting students to review the truths they learned and ponder how they will apply those truths in their lives.