Acts 12:6-10
Acts 12:6 (KJB)
And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison.
Since they probably heard how the apostles escaped from prison, they were taking no chances on keeping Peter from any way of escaping. So to make sure that this was escape proof, Peter was chained between two soldiers and not only with one chain but with two chains. To double the security, there were even guards outside the door in case somehow Peter was able to get loose and make it to the door. Now if you notice that Peter was sleeping and it seemed that he was calm about the entire situation. I am sure that he heard of James being killed by Herod and the same fate probably awaited him. However, Peter had one thing James did not and that was a promise that he would live into his old age and then be martyred. (John 21:18 KJV) 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. Peter knew what the Lord Jesus had told him and knew that his time was not yet and that is why he slept.
Acts 12:7 (KJB)
And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands.
Smote - To strike or hit hard
Peter was now in prison for seven days and the church had been praying for him. Then when it was God’s timing, He then dispatched an angel of the Lord to the prison where Peter was being kept. The presence of the angel caused a light to shine in the prison and then he proceeded to strike Peter on the side and raised him up. The Lord must have given the angel the order to strike him hard because throughout the earthly ministry of Jesus, we find Peter sleeping in many situations and the Lord knew Peter was a sound sleeper. As soon as the angel hit Peter and he arose, the chains fell off from his hands. Whenever the Lord enters the scene, whatever binds us in our Christian walk will be removed so we can be free to serve the Lord. This scenario became the inspiration for the fourth stanza of Charles Wesley’s famous Hymn, “And Can It Be” written in 1739.
Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
fast bound in sin and nature's night;
thine eye diffused a quickening ray;
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
my chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed thee.
Acts 12:8 (KJB)
And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me.
Peter may have been still half asleep or thought he was seeing a vision but the angel had to give him direction to get dressed and to follow him. There was not one bit of unrest in that prison. It seems that the Lord had caused the guards and everyone else at that time in the prison to be in a deep sleep. No one saw the light and no one heard anything which was going on in Peter’s cell. Peter then proceeded to follow the angel.
Acts 12:9 (KJB)
And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision.
Just as with the vision he experienced in the episode with Cornelius, at this time he thought that he was experiencing another vision. He did not know that was happening to him was real and that he was being released from prison. He probably though that once the vision was completed, he would be back in the cell chained to the two soldiers.
Acts 12:10 (KJB)
When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him.
Herod had made sure that there was no way Peter would escape. Not only did he have guards placed strategically inside the prison, he had them stationed outside the prison. As they went past the outer guards, they came to an iron gate which was probably very heavy and maybe needed two men to open and close it. When they approached it, it opened on its own accord which means that the power of God had opened it for them to pave the way for their escape. Peter and the angel had now made it to the street and once they were there, the angel had departed from Peter. Peter was probably held in the Fortress of Antonia which Herod had built in honor of Mark Anthony.